The following report evaluates the role played by leadership in successful teams, and the effectiveness of measuring team performance. Based upon this evaluation, I will critically examine my own leadership style, and highlight changes which could be implemented. I work for Westminster Drug Project, a charity which helps people with drug and alcohol dependency. We are based in London but work across several London boroughs. I am the financial accountant for the organisation. For a fuller description of the organisation and my role, see appendix
Assessment of the Effectiveness of Organisation in Measuring Team Performance against Organisational Goals and Objectives
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Measurement Methods Used
Our organisation uses two main methods of assessing team performance against organisational goals and objectives. These are ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPIs) and the ‘Balanced Scorecard’ approach. KPIs are also sometimes known as ‘Key Success Indicators’. For a fuller description of KPIs and the Balanced Scorecard approach, see appendix 2. We adapt the balanced scorecard framework by specifying individual objectives within each perspective (see appendix 3 for full details).
Team Objectives and Measurement Against Organisational Targets
My company uses both KPI and balanced scorecards to identify a number of team objectives, and to allow progress towards these to be measured. For all objectives, the process is similar: objectives are agreed overall at board level, then these are filtered down to individual managers and their teams. Managers discuss team targets (what they are, how to progress towards them, and how they will be measured) in meetings with staff. Discussions are mainly amongst the whole team, but sub-teams and individuals can also be the focus.This section looks at our different objectives and the measurements for these, and identifies task and behaviour elements of them, looks at how these targets contribute to the organisation as a whole, examines the line of sight to strategic objectives, and critically assesses the efficacy of the measurements.
Our organisational objectives are primarily maintaining accurate budgets and cost control. These ensure that our services are financially strong with an aim of facilitating growth (particularly diversifying into other areas in the drug / alcohol field, for example last year we took over an organisation offering residential rehabilitation services).
Team objectives fit into organisational budgets in this respect, as company-wide standards for budgeting and cost-control are implemented. Team behaviour is designed to ensure that standards within the department are those used within the organisation as a whole. For example, my budgeting activities are spot-checked by my line manager, against methods used organisation-wide. In this sense there is a good ‘fit’ between team objectives and organisational ones. I feel also that the line of sight to the strategic objectives is well-managed. That is, we are trained not only in the methodology of budgets and cost control but also in the reasons why we use the particular methods we do, with the reasons always tying back to the organisation as a whole.Measurements are varied and include monitoring of behaviour (periodic watching of staff carrying out budgeting tasks etc.), spot-checks of records and other administration. Measurements are carried out by in-team management but also by auditors from outside the team.Cost control in particular is monitored regularly as there are so many outside and internal factors which can affect costs.I feel that overall the correct aspects of organisational objectives are measured, and that the ‘fit’ between team and organisation are well managed and that the balanced scorecard method and use of KPIs is well-integrated. This area corresponds to 1.a in the appendix below.
Developing our Reputation
In this area I feel there is a poorer fit between team performance and organisational objectives. The latter include full transparency in financial procedures and excellent customer relations. Most of our income is from grants and contracts, which means that some funds are restricted (that is, must be spent on what the money was donated for). We have to provide very detailed accounts to funders of our spending, with complete transparency.There is clearly a strong need to adhere to these constraints, with the rationale for doing so a part of the overall vision for the organisation. In practice, however, I feel that customer relations are often side-lined in terms of team management and goals. The emphasis within the team seems to be primarily upon meeting goals in this area and this is managed with something of a feel of reluctance and antagonism. I feel more could be done to disseminate a positive approach here. This area corresponds to 1.b in the appendix below.
Understanding what we Have to Do
In this case, the requirement translates into financial analysis and also understanding how projects work overall. The problem here is that working in the financial department can be isolating, and team members can become separate from the overall purpose of the organisation. There is less client-facing contact. For this reason, site visits and other ways of helping us understand the vision behind projects have been introduced.In this case I feel a poor fit between overall objectives and team ones has been overcome through thoughtful planning.Historically workers in finance had a poor line of sight between team objectives (quantitative and financially based) and the overall purpose of the organisation. However, this has been overcome. However, I feel more could be done to measure the impact of these new initiatives. For example, although I feel, through talking to colleagues, that site visits have improved the team sense of what the organisation is about, there needs to be formal measurement of this, perhaps through employee questionnaires. This area corresponds to 1.c in the appendix below.
Developing the Potential of our People
Developing the potential of employees is something that the organisation as a whole are very committed to. However, I feel there is something of a mismatch here between the holistic vision and the department interpretation of this. In finance we do provide training to everyone, and additionally provide training on financial matters to people from other departments, however the training tends to be predominantly focussed upon technical aspects of our job. I understand that this reflects our role, but I feel that more could be done to integrate the overall vision which seems to be holistic in approach and focused upon developing people to their full potential, which integrates areas outside the narrow focus of the job. For example, I would like to see more access to education of all sorts, for example learning new languages or arts related, as I believe this would both produce more rounded employees and fit better with organisational goals. This area corresponds to the KPI 1.d in the appendix below.
Developing Financial Resources
I feel that the ‘fit’ here is fairly good. This objective means, in practice, managing financial resources prudently. This is a clear objective which has been tackled well through straightforward departmental systems. We work closely with senior management to provide information, for example monthly management accounts. Measurement of success here is straightforward: we are asked for figures and provide them. I feel team objectives contribute greatly to organisational success, as without the information we provide we would be unable to provide information to funders, and hence our income would be withdrawn. This area corresponds to KPI 1.a in the appendix below.
Sharing what we learn with others
In practice this objective translates into clinical governance, team meetings and making sure all skills are utilised. We do address both these elements within the finance department, however I think there is a slight mismatch here between team and organisational objectives. Governance and meetings in our department tend to be very focused upon detail, and the wider, more visionary objectives are not really translated into the team context.Occasionally we will discuss what the organisation is really ‘about’, but I feel this gets forgotten as there is simply so much detail to get through. However, at the same time, I do feel that by sharing knowledge regularly, we fulfil an important organisational function. Also, I think we, as a department, fully utilise and share skills at team meetings. By open communication I believe we learn from past mistakes and tell others how to avoid making the same mistakes. This is facilitated by an atmosphere of seeing ‘mistakes’ as opportunities to learn, not blame.
Evaluation of Effectiveness of Organisational Leadership in Helping Teams to Achieve the Set Goals
Overall, I feel that there is a mis-match between organisational leadership and the desire of individual team management to achieve goals. The overall culture at the organisation is somewhat lassie faire (Tannebaum and Schmidt 1973), that is, individuals are given a high degree of autonomy to achieve goals in their own way. This has been called a type of non-management (Bilton 2007) and, I believe, in my organisation is not effective.Aside from cost-control and budgeting, there is a mis-match between what the organisation as a whole seems to champion and both what individual managers consider desirable and the means they employ to achieve the desirable. Individual staff are also left to their own devices to pursue team goals, and organisation wide there is little cohesion or sense that individuals are part of a large, organic whole.There is little intervention from higher levels in terms of achieving goals, rather an assumption that if targets are met the method must be correct. Additionally, targets tend towards the quantitative, and primarily the cost related. While individuals display high degrees of creativity in achieving goals, there is little sense that achieving those goals will fit into a corporate vision. I also find that this high degree of individualism works against effective teamwork. Where individuals do work together as a team, this is frequently motivated (with the support of team managers) by short-term goals (such as winning a evening out for the team) rather than a larger sense of organisational purpose.In my experience this leads, long-term, to individual ‘burnout’, high turnover and a lack of longer term motivation. I have also had experience of lack of communication and understand across organisational teams, for example recently I did a financial report for a manager, to find that not only had he not seen such a report before but worse that he had no clear understanding of what it meant.
There needs to be better training of managers regarding how to motivate teams in a way which fits organisational objectives, but perhaps more importantly better promotion within our organisation of what these objectives actually are. Managers need to go on more training courses. There also needs to be more open communication between managers in the organisation so they can share knowledge and learn from each other.Career structure within the organisation needs to be addressed. Currently there are very few opportunities to progress within the organisation, as most vacancies seem to be filled by people new to the organisation. This is not good for staff morale, and it creates a situation in which there is no sense of possibility within the organisation. Finally, there is a lack of communication of the deepest values held by the organisation across all employees. It seems to me that many managers are unaware of the corporate vision. However, there is also a problem because not all agree with some parts of the vision, for example some believe we should not hold reserves, although by doing so we are able to invest in new directions and ultimately help more people.
Tannebaum and Schmidt (1973) discuss other types of leadership in addition to the laissez faire,They suggest a continuum of styles from the extreme of laissez faire leadership to a situation where the manager controls all activity. I believe that an intermediary position between the two extremes, for example the position where the manager engages with a team to discover different viewpoints before assimilating this knowledge into decisions is more appropriate.
Being Able to Develop and Lead Teams
There are some areas in which I would welcome training to better manage teams. I am fairly new to the experience, and have been learning as I progress. I have been helped along the way by other managers in the organisation who have given useful feedback. As I wasn’t expecting to be promoted to a managerial position, I feel I was particularly unprepared. I have been daunted by the challenge, but also have become aware of the difference a good manager can make. Initially I have made many mistakes, but I now feel I am learning from them. I feel this is helped because the department has quite an open culture and learning from others is highly valued. One particular challenge so far has been to communicate with others in my team, particularly as I was unclear myself about what my role precisely involves, and what my objectives are. However, through learning to use tools such as delegation, empowerment and motivating others I’m now much more confident in communicating with others. I have had success by developing action plans in past unit reviews, for example I set the goal of clarifying my job role and what it entails, breaking this down into a series of achievable steps and setting a time-scale to complete each step by. Having done this I have a full understanding of my objectives and am working towards achieving them, but I am also convinced of the effectiveness of practical action plans.
Although I have made many improvements in managing teams, there remain changes which I need to make to more effectively lead teams in the future, which I will address through action planning.The main change is to do with my line-management skills. I believe that by setting achievable goals for the people who report directly to me, clarifying the objectives expected of them, and being better trained in motivating and empowering people I can make my department more productive and a happier place to work.Please see the appendix for the action plan
This report has critically assessed the situation in my organisation in regards to leadership and team performance. I have looked at the ways in which team goals are matched to organisational goals across a range of relevant areas. I have also evaluated the extent to which leaders are effective in helping teams achieve goals, and looked at my own successes and shortfalls in this area.
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- Kaplan, R S and Norton, D P (1992) ‘The balanced scorecard: measures that drive performance’, Harvard Business Review, 70:1, 71-79
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- Tannebaum, R and Schmidt, W (1973) How to Choose a Leadership Pattern, Harvard Business Review, May/June 1973
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