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Creating Team Based Organizations

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Autor:  anton  09 December 2010
Tags:  Creating,  Organizations
Words: 1167   |   Pages: 5
Views: 561


Sandra Kay Richardson of the Center for the Study of Work Teams cites fourteen common blunders organizations face when trying to create a team-based, empowered organization (2002). Some of the more noteworthy include:

• Assuming teams are for everyone

• Lack of planning to implement changes

• Lack of customization to fit current organizational culture

• Relying entirely on outside consultant

• Underestimate money and time needed

• Expect immediate results

• No long term direction to managers and they fear loss of power

• Lack of training managers in new role

The common misconception and the general theme of the above blunders is that throwing a team together is a fix-all for any organization. The above blunders should be taken seriously. An organizational shift to a team-based, empowered organization cannot be accomplished by upper management simply dictating that everyone will be in teams by next week. Planning, education, training, money and time are all needed in order to begin to navigate and put into place such a large organizational change.

Dealing with the Situation

When the manager decides to move to a team environment and to push many of the decisions to the lowest possible levels, he is attempting to rid the company of bureaucratic layers of decision making that are not value adding. In other words, he is attempting to create a self-sufficient team-based, empowered organization that can act decisively with upper management’s support in order to "to do whatever it takes to accomplish the objectives and implement the plan" (Parker, 1998).

The manager championing such a change must first ensure the effort is mobilized up front through diligent planning. It simply will not suffice to demand change for change’s sake; rather the needed change must be determined by the end results desired by the company, its employees, its clients and its culture.

Arguments to Persuade Managers

“When used effectively and provided with proper training…teams could lead to increased production, morale, creativity and innovation” (Dionne, Yammarino, Atwater, Spanger, 2004). These points entice corporations to embrace team empowerment over individual power for the greater good of the organization. With proper planning, time, management, commitment and resources a successful team empowerment culture will leverage the potential of the team to positively affect the bottom line. The participants of a successful team feel that collectively they add more value to the organization than the sum of each part of the team. This creates an atmosphere conducive to improved morale and team unity with a high rate of job satisfaction. In turn, creativity and innovation are invoked with a corresponding positive effect on production. This increased productivity is noticed at both the team level as well as the individual level (Kirkman & Rosen, 1999). Other improved areas within an environment of empowered teams include quality, low costs, safety, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment (Kirkman & Rosen, 1999).

The team potency is the “collective belief of a team that it can be effective” (Kirkman & Rosen, 1999). Obviously the more potent a team is, the greater the room for success. With differing roles, team participants can be adequately assigned responsibilities to compliment their strengths and minimize their weaknesses while also effectively cross-training.

Manager’s Change of Style

Education and training are key areas not to be overlooked when committing to and planning for success in changing management styles. Front-line managers may feel that employees are not ready for the organizational change. Managers may also insist and in some cases fear the empowerment of teams. Increased participation from the group can convey a sense of loss of power to a front-line manager used to a “command and control” environment. Without the proper tools, a miss-informed or un-informed manager cannot be relied upon and failure is almost imminent when changing to an empowered team organization.

The tools needed to combat potential failure are education and training. Education and training are available from a myriad of sources. There is almost no limit to the amount of written and online material available on the topic of empowered teams. In depth training should precede any attempt at an organizational change of this magnitude. Change should not be taken lightly and simply sitting Joe, Jane and Jean together by the water cooler for an hour each day after lunch with no direction is not the definition of an empowered team. The individuals will need to be educated about their roles, resources and limits and trained in leadership, communication, delegation, etc. It is no small task and empowering teams is a great undertaking with substantial rewards if planning, education, training, money, time and other precious resources are allocated and utilized properly.


Upon collectively making the decision to empower teams, the management staff must fully support and embrace the decision. If this is not the case, ultimately failure will ensue if the effort is half baked and the change is simply for the sake of change. It is common in the business world to copy the successes of other organizations without fully understanding the implications of such decisions. Industry key words and jargon can be commonly slung around in attempts to create an empowered synergy from a hodgepodge of industrial fads; but big words and empty planning will only make for empty promises (as well as two lines of text in my analysis!).

My actions and decisions as the manager initiating this change must be substantiated and communicated to the group. Initial training and insight should be given to the management staff to clarify the unknown. If the managers, after training, still feel they will lose control and cannot possibly manage in such an empowered environment, this would imply they are not dedicated or this organization is not ready for such a change. They must, as a group, truly believe in the concept in order to form the foundation needed for success.


Time and patience are a virtue but certainly not an excuse for failure to meet target dates and goals. The effort to empower teams must be wholehearted and built from the ground up with support from all echelons. I definitely believe that in the right environment, with the proper planning, education, training, money, time and other precious resources, empowered teams increase production, improve morale, raise quality, lower costs, increase safety, and overall strengthen job satisfaction.


Dionne, S., Yammarino, F., Atwater, L., and Spangler, W. (2004). Transformational leadership and team performance. Journal of Organizational Change Managemen, 17(2), 177. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from

Kirkman, B. and Rosen, B. (1999). Beyond self-management: Antecedents and consequences of team empowerment, 42(1), 58. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from

Nahavandi, A. (2006). The art and science of leadership. (4th edition) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Parker, G. (1998). Cross-Functional Teams: Working With Allies, Enemies and Other Strangers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Richardson, S. (February 6, 2002). Classic Blunders in Re-Design: 14 Ways to Turn Your Organization into a Mess. Retrieved August 29, 2006, from

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