Henry Tam was an MBA student in Harvard School of Business (HSB) in the year 2002. When he was in his final semester, things did not augur well for him because the job market did not seem promising and the school’s internet had crashed. In an attempt to prove his worth and capabilities, Henry entered a business plan contest six weeks in advance. He teamed up with Dana Soiman and the founders of Music Games International (MGI). They later brought other two students from other schools creating a strong team with diverse talents and views. The team was dynamic, but full of conflicts while their performance was slow, despite their products being promising. They failed to agree on fundamental issues such as planning, and target market, which made it rather difficult for the team to move on.
Since the primary goal of the team was to realize success, it had to find ways to solve the conflicts and bring members to a consensus for them to move in one direction (Boller, 2005). Several recommendations could have helped achieve this and much more. Such recommendations include understanding the importance of working in a team, importance of team building, and the need to set objectives. The team also needed to know the contribution of effective communication, importance of member empowerment, the importance of the code of conduct and the relevance of the art of positivity.
Teamwork can do great things even the seemingly impossible. It is defined as being a collection of work done to achieve a certain goal by a group. Teamwork enables an organization realize success and gain competitive advantage at the expense of its competitors. Working together as a team in of great importance regardless of the kind of group one is involved in. In a business set up, it helps the subordinate staff to perform their job at a faster rate. Henry’s group knew the importance of teamwork, but failed to implement it in their daily activities. Well-developed teamwork could have enabled them to put their differences away and contribute a share each to see the team through with the business plan.
Group training or team building is vital in creating and improving teamwork in a group setup. This promotes the teamwork culture as well as teaching the group on the values of brainstorming issues/ideas together for the benefit of the team members. This is what Henry and his group members could have done before starting on the business plan job.
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Objectives are a necessity if the group is success oriented. Setting objectives should be done during team building sessions and should involve all the individuals in the group (Kandula, 2006). Henry and MGI should have set their objectives such as formulating a team culture, creating permanent relationships, having in mind that they can control every result they get, improving skills of communication and having fun. Objectives provide the group with a sense of direction and better understanding of their roles. Henry’s group had the capital objective, but for such to be effective it has to contain other minor objectives that will help achieve the prime one. This lack of supportive objectives made them experience conflicts and contributed greatly to their failure to register any progress in their meetings.
Communication skills are essential and should be taught to the members of the group (Sadowski-Rasters, Duysters & Sadowski, 2006). Communication together with language strengthens the bond and builds trust amongst the members. It is all to do with listening and speaking, but many group members only know how to talk when conveying messages. People usually want their opinions heard and have no time for what other people have to say. People should be informed that listening is even better that talking. However, talking thoughtfully is beneficial and such skill should be taught to all members so that they can know how to communicate effectively. Henry’s group did not possess the desired communication skills as they shared ideas with disparities and this constituted the main deficiency of the group.
Member empowerment is critical for a team to be most efficient. This simply means that trust and confidence must be installed as an element of motivation. The failure or bad conduct significantly affects the team at large. If one member is possessed with negativity, the whole team becomes liable and the results of the team are affected negatively. Being a diverse group, Henry’s group should have portrayed a positive attitude that would have made them move in one direction and integrate their ideas to write a business plan within the shortest time possible. The group should also be able to trust that each member can bring relevant materials for incorporation in the business plan as opposed to how the members failed to believe in some materials brought about by Henry who even got emotional.
This group needed to be taught the art of positivity, which significantly help in achieving the set goals. The art would eventually bring about quality output and excellence in everyone. This could have empowered the members to trust themselves as well as each other and eventually boost their performance. They ought to understand that they are always members of the team and they are resourceful in problem solving.
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The most appropriate leadership approach for Henry and the MGI team is the contingency theory approach, with a bias towards task orientation. According to contingency theory, leaders are either relationship oriented or task oriented. Those who value relations with their workgroups are said to be relationship oriented. Relationship oriented leaders hold that for different tasks to be performed perfectly there must exist a good relationship between the leader and the workgroup. This approach is out of question when it comes to Henry and the MGI team. The reason for this is rather obvious, first because there was no ground for mutual agreement and everyone wanted to prevail over every conversation and meeting. This curtailed formation of a good working relationship between the members, from who a leader was expected. Second, there was no clearly defined task to be performed.
Because of lack of leadership in the team, there was no one to give direction as to what tasks would constitute the best results for the goals the team wanted to accomplish. The task- oriented approach of contingency theory is, therefore, the most logical one for the team. The first thing the team ought to have done is to choose a leader to generally guide the team on the direction to follow even if there was participation by members. Bearing in mind the composition of the group, and the degree of incompatibility among members, the only leader who would succeed in providing the required results was a task-oriented leader. To ensure the crucial tasks towards accomplishing the set goals were performed without being affected by the differences in relationship between members, the task oriented leader would assign each team member a task to perform, depending on their capabilities. Moreover, the team members would be made aware that failure on their part would lead to the full blame being directed to them. By so doing, the members would focus on task performance to avoid blame in case of failure rather than concentrating on their personal differences and wanting to take the lead in everything.
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Blanchard and Hersey situational model asserts that the behavior of a leader should be adjusted depending on the level of maturity of the followers (Northouse, 2009) Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Model, combined with contingency theory approach to leadership would help Henry and his team to achieve their goals through giving them direction. When dealing with a group that is unable and unwilling to perform, a leader should use a telling style whereby he dictates the tasks to be done by each member. A selling style is recommended for those groups willing to perform the stipulated tasks, but lack the ability to do so. Selling style involves the reader in such a way that he is concerned both with the tasks to be performed and the relationship of the people in the teams performing the tasks. Participating style is used with team members who have the ability to perform, but have no will (Adeniyi, 2007). In this style, the leader shows more concern for the people and less emphasis on task performance. For those groups where members have the capacity and will to perform, delegating style is used. Leaders working with such groups should exercise control to avoid showing concern for tasks as well as relations. This group portrays acceptance for responsibility and performance and can work with minimal supervision.
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Henry and MGI team were unable and unwilling to perform tasks that would result to completion of their intended goals. The style that would suit them thus is the telling style. They needed a leader who would give directions on tasks to be done by different team members. To deal with such a disoriented team, the leader needs some competences such as intrinsic motivation and optimism. These competences help the leader to hold his head high even in times when things don’t go according to plan. The leaders positive attitude towards work acts to motivate the employees when the going get tough. Leading by example is a personal style that always gets things done. The leader should exemplify what is expected of the team members by ensuring that his part of task is done in the best way possible and within the set time frame.
In conclusion, if only the team had known of these recommendations the results would have been as expected and the business plan could have been completed in time. Cohesiveness could have been achieved in the group and the atmosphere conducive for creative working. The group had diverse resources, ideas and knowledge and the only thing it lacked was coordination and exploitation. However, the recommendation can’t achieve a successful result of making members as team players if some of the members are not willing to play their role in the team. Teamwork requires dedication and personal sacrifice and if this is ignored the recommendation can’t help to realize the desired results.
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This approach should help the so fragmented team in terms of determining direction for achieving its goals has a sense of direction, with clearly defined tasks assigned to specific members. Performance of such tasks in the manner stipulated is an indicator that the team is headed in the right direction towards achieving the set goals.
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