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Leading and Developing a Work Team

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UNIT 9 LEADING AND DEVELOPING A WORK TEAM Distinguish between management and leadership and assess the implications of each on effective team performance. Managers depend on their people. They cannot do without their wholehearted commitment and support. But gaining that support, motivating and engaging them and ensuring that they know what they are expected to do and how to do it is down to managers and it is a difficult task.

This book How to Manage People of Michael Armstrong 2008 is designed to make it easier by going into the main actions that managers have to carry out to get things done through people, namely: managing effectively overall, leading, motivating, team building, delegating, interviewing, managing performance, developing and rewarding people, managing change and handling people problems. As a manager you are there to get things done through people. You are engaged in a purposeful activity involving others.

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But you are concerned with defining ends as well as gaining them. You decide what to do and then ensure that it gets done with the help of the members of your team. You deal with programs, processes, events and eventualities. All this is done through the exercise of leadership. People are the most important resource available to you as a manager. It is through this resource that other resources are managed. However, you are ultimately accountable for the management of all resources, including your own.

When dealing with immediate issues, anticipating problems, responding to demands or even a crisis, and developing new ways of doing things, you are personally involved. You manage yourself as well as other people. You cannot delegate everything. You frequently have to rely on your own resources to get things done. These resources include skill, know-how, competencies, time, and reserves of resilience and determination. You will get support, advice and assistance from your own staff and specialists, including human resources, but in the last analysis you are on your own.

It is important to examine particular aspects of managing people, such as leadership, organizing and motivation including teamwork. There is a need to exercise your people management responsibilities effectively. It starts with an overall look at the criteria for managerial effectiveness. This is followed by a review of the attributes of effective managers. The rest of the chapter deals with a number of the key aspects of management. As a manager and a leader you will be judged not only on the results you have achieved but the level of competence you have attained and applied in getting those results.

Competence is about knowledge and skills – what people need to know and be able to do to carry out their work well. You will also be judged on how you do your work – how you behave in using your knowledge and skills. These are often described as ‘behavioral competencies’ and can be defined as those aspects of behavior that lead to effective performance. They refer to the personal characteristics that people bring to their work roles in such areas as leadership, team working, flexibility and communication.

As a manager of people your role is to ensure that the members of your team give of their best to achieve a desired result. In other words you are a leader – you set the direction and ensure that people follow you. It is necessary to distinguish between management and leadership: Management is concerned with achieving results by obtaining, deploying, using and controlling all the resources required, namely people, money, facilities, plant and equipment, information and knowledge.

Leadership focuses on the most important resource, people. It is the process of developing and communicating a vision for the future, motivating people and gaining their engagement. The distinction is important. Management is mainly about the provision, utilization and control of resources. But where people are involved it is impossible to deliver results without providing effective leadership.

Describe the processes of team formation, and evaluate strategies for encouraging team formation and development One of your most important roles as a manager is to act as a team builder – developing and making the best use of the capacity of your team so that its members jointly deliver superior levels of performance. Team building takes place when you clarify the team’s purpose and goals, ensure that its members work well together, strengthen the team’s collective skills, enhance commitment and confidence, remove externally imposed obstacles and create opportunities for team members to develop their skills and competencies.

A team is a group of people with complementary skills who work together to achieve a common purpose. Their team leader sets the direction, provides guidance and support, coordinates the team’s activities, ensures that each team member plays his or her part, promotes the learning and development of team members, consults with the team on issues affecting its work and, in conjunction with team members, monitors and reviews team performance.

However, some organizations have developed the concept of self-managing teams which are largely autonomous, responsible to a considerable degree for planning and scheduling work, problem solving, developing their own key performance indicators and setting and monitoring team performance and quality standards. The role of their team leaders is primarily to act as coordinators and facilitators; their style is expected to be more supportive and facilitative than directive.

An effective team is likely to be one in which its purpose is clear and its members feel the task is important, both to them and to the organization. The structure, leadership and methods of operation are relevant to the requirements of the task. Team members will be highly engaged in the work they do together and committed to the whole group task. They will have been grouped together in a way that means they are related to one another through the requirements of task performance and task interdependence.

The team will use discretionary effort – going the extra mile – to ensure that its work gets done. The main features of well-functioning teams as described by Douglas McGregor (1960) are that the atmosphere tends to be informal, comfortable and relaxed; team members listen to each other; most decisions are reached by consensus; when action is taken, clear assignments are made and accepted, and team leaders do not dominate their teams – the issue is not who controls but how to get the work done.

The performance of teams should be assessed in terms of their output and results and the quality of team processes that have contributed to those results. Output criteria include the achievement of team goals, customer satisfaction and the quantity and quality of work. Process measures comprise participation, collaboration and collective effort, conflict resolution, joint decision making, planning and goal setting, interpersonal relations, interdependence and adaptability and flexibility.

How you and your team apply these criteria will be related to the following factors that affect team performance: the clarity of the team’s goals in terms of expectations and priorities; how work is allocated to the team; how the team is working its processes in terms of cohesion, ability to handle internal conflict and pressure, relationships with other teams; the extent to which the team is capable of managing itself – setting goals and priorities, monitoring performance; the quality of leadership – even self-managed teams need a sense of direction which they cannot necessarily generate by themselves; the level and range of skills possessed by individual team members; the extent to which team members work flexibly, taking advantage of the multi-skilling capabilities of its members; the systems and resources support available to the team.

Good support to your team-building efforts will be provided if you conduct regular team performance review meetings to assess feedback and control information on their joint achievements against objectives and to discuss any issues concerning team work. The agenda for such meetings could be as follows: general feedback review of the progress of the team as a whole and problems encountered by the team which have caused difficulties or hampered progress, and helps and hindrances to the operation of the team. Work reviews of how well the team has functioned. The group problem solving, including an analysis of reasons for any shortfalls or other problems and agreement of what needs to be done to solve them and prevent their re-occurrence.

Update objectives – review of new requirements, opportunities or threats and the amendment of objectives as required. Evaluate the stages of development of their work group as a team and select and employ strategies to improve and develop team working. One of your most important, if not the most important, responsibilities as a manager is to ensure that the members of your team achieve high levels of performance. You have to ensure that they understand what you expect from them, that you and they work together to review performance against those expectations and that you jointly agree what needs to be done to develop knowledge and skills and, here necessary, improve performance. Your organization may well have a performance management system which provides guidance on how this should be done but ultimately it is up to the manager. You are the person on the spot. Performance management systems only work if managers want them to work and are capable of making them work. You have to believe that your time is well spent in the process of managing performance as described in the first part of this chapter. You need to know about performance planning (agreeing what has to be done), managing performance throughout the year and conducting formal performance reviews as covered in the next three parts.

You should have no problems in appreciating the importance of the first two activities. It is the third activity – performance reviews – managers often find hard to accept as necessary and even more difficult to do well. The process of managing performance is based on two simple propositions. First, people are most likely to perform well when they know and understand what is expected of them and have taken part in defining these expectations. In other words, if you know where you are going you are more likely to get there. Second, the ability to meet these expectations depends on the levels of knowledge, skill, competency and motivation of individuals and the leadership and support they receive from their managers.

As a manager or team leader you need skilled, knowledgeable and competent people in your department or team. You may appoint able people from within and outside the organization but most of them will still have a lot to learn about their jobs. And to improve your team members’ performance you must not only ensure that they learn the basic skills they need but also that they develop those skills to enable them to perform even better when faced with new demands and challenges. Most learning happens at the place of work, although it can be supplemented by such activities as e-learning (the delivery of learning opportunities and support via computer, networked and web-based technology) and formal ‘off-the-job’ training courses.

It is your job to ensure that favorable conditions for learning ‘on the job’ exist generally in your area as well as taking steps to help individuals develop. To do this job well you need to know about: the conditions that enable effective learning to take place; the importance of ‘self-managed learning’, i. e. individuals taking control of their own learning; the contribution of formal learning; the advantages and disadvantages of informal learning and development approaches; how you can contribute to promoting learning and development in your department or team; the use of such learning and development aids as coaching, mentoring, learning contracts and personal development plans; how to instruct people in specific tasks should the need arise. Set standards and targets and review performance.

Managing performance is about getting people into action so that they achieve planned and agreed results. It focuses on what has to be done, how it should be done and what is to be achieved. But it is equally concerned with developing people – helping them to learn – and providing them with the support they need to do well, now and in the future. The framework for performance management is provided by the performance agreement, which is the outcome of performance planning. The agreement provides the basis for managing performance throughout the year and for guiding improvement and development activities. It is used as a reference point when reviewing performance and the achievement of improvement and development plans.

You should treat your responsibility for managing performance as an integral part of the continuing process of management. This is based on a philosophy which emphasizes: the achievement of sustained improvements in performance; the continuous development of skills and capabilities; that the organization is a ‘learning organization’ in the sense that it is constantly developing and applying the learning gained from experience and the analysis of the factors that have produced high levels of performance. You should therefore be ready, willing and able to monitor performance and define and meet development and improvement needs as they arise. As far as practicable, learning and work should be integrated.

This means that encouragement should be given to your team members to learn from the successes, challenges and problems inherent in their day-to-day work. You should carry out the process of monitoring performance by reference to agreed objectives and to work, development and improvement plans. You have to decide how tightly you monitor on the basis of your understanding of the capacity of individuals to do the work. Identify own leadership style and skills, and assess own effectiveness in leading and developing the team and its performance. Self-managed learning style involves encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their own learning needs.

The aim is to encourage ‘discretionary learning’, which happens when individuals actively seek to acquire the knowledge and skills required to perform well. It is based on processes of recording achievement and action planning, which involves individuals reviewing what they have learned, what they have achieved, what their goals are, how they are going to achieve those goals and what new learning they need to acquire. The learning program can be ‘self-paced’ in the sense that learners can decide for themselves, up to a point, the rate at which they work and are encouraged to measure their own progress and adjust the program accordingly. Self-directed learning is based on the principle that people learn and retain more if they find things out for themselves.

But they still need to be given guidance on what to look for and help in finding it. Learners have to be encouraged to define, with whatever help they may require, what they need to know to perform their job effectively. They need to be provided with guidance on where they can get the material or information that will help them to learn and how to make good use of it. Personal development plans as described later in this chapter can provide a framework for this process. People also need support from their manager and the organization, with the provision of coaching, mentoring and learning facilities, including e-learning. The leadership style I would apply is the combination of a Transformational and Transactional Leader.

As a leader I can be both arouse emotions of my followers which motivates them to act beyond the framework of what may be described as exchange relations at the same time be aware of the link between the effort and reward. I can be proactive and form new expectation and be responsive from the basic orientation in dealing with present issues. Transformational leaders are distinguished by their capacity to inspire and provide individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation and idealized influence to their followers while transactional leaders rely on standard forms of inducement, reward, punishment and sanction to control followers. Leaders create learning opportunities for their followers and stimulate followers to solve problems at the same time they can motivate followers by setting goals and promising rewards for desired performance.

A trait that a leader should possess good visioning, rhetorical and management skills, to develop strong emotional bonds with followers and depends on the leader’s power to reinforce subordinates for their successful completion of the bargain. Lastly, leaders motivate followers to work for goals that go beyond self-interest.

REFERENCES: http://www. ehow. com/how_5485211_evaluate-team- performance. html#ixzz1sqUbPZyH accessed on July 18, 2012 How to Manage People. Michael Armstrong 2008 accessed on July 24, 2012 How to Evaluate Team Performance | eHow. com accessed on August 3, 2012 http://www. ehow. com/how_5485211_evaluate-team-performance. html#ixzz1sqUbPZyH accessed on August 10, 2012

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