THE ROLE OF TEAM WORK IN MANAGING MODERN ORGANIZATIONS
Teamwork plays a multitude of roles, in managing modern organizations. Indeed if emphasis is put onto it, by the public sector in Uganda, business management opportunities shall expand in the 21st century as we are going to see shortly.
My paper is organized in to three parts; the introduction, body and conclusion.
The public sector in Uganda includes a wide range of governmental organizations or agencies involved in different activities for the welfare and development of society. These include; the civil service- government ministries, local authorities responsible for internal government administration, implementation of public policy and service delivery.
The public enterprises which started during colonial rule and proliferated following the establishment of Uganda development corporation in 1952 with the intent of; taking commanding heights of the economy, spear heading industrial development which the indigenous private sector was incapable of undertaking due to lack of capital and the lastly through them an attempt was made to create a managerial cadre and to indigenize the economy. (Tukahebwe, 2000:1).
Today, just a few of these are remaining most have been privatized.
Regulatory agencies- created to regulate market failure and to ensure the well being of citizens, these include the central Bank, civil Aviation authority, Uganda national bureau of standards and National Drug authority all of which assumes the role of protecting interests of citizens.
Central agencies which cut across government ministries and their role are to coordinate. They include the central tender board, central Purchasing Corporation and the treasury.
The judiciary and the court systems, these settle disputes, interpret and enforce the law and ensure that justice is done (constitution of Uganda 1995:83).
The army as a public sector institution is charged with the ensuring security of the state and its citizenry, preserving and defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda among others (Constitution of Uganda, 1995:134).
And lastly the legislature which makes public policies/laws, of the country (Constitution of Uganda 1995:49).
Uganda’s public sector has got many problems. Team working in the public sector is budding and traditional bureaucratic structures with traditional rules of the thumb featuring prominently, organizational structures are highly hierarchical with rudimentary appraisal techniques such as confidential report, graphic scales method, and straight ranking methods among others.
For purposes of this work, we shall draw our working definition of team work from Michael Armstrong (2003). He defines team work as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Armstrong identifies characteristics of effective teams as:
Basic units of performance for most organizations they meld together the skills, experiences and insights of several people.
Team work applies to the whole organization as well as specific teams. It represents a set of values that encourage behaviors such as listening and responding cooperatively to points of view expressed by others, giving others the benefit of doubt, providing support to those who need it and recognizing the interests and achievements of others.
Teams are created and energized by significant performance challenges.
Teams out perform individuals acting alone in large organizational groupings especially where performance requires multiple skills, judgment and experiences.
Teams are flexible and responsive to changing events and demands. They can adjust their approach to new information and challenges with greater speed accuracy and effectiveness than can individuals caught in the web of larger organizational conventions.
High performance teams invest much time and effort exploring, shaping and agreeing on a purpose that belongs to them both collectively and individually. They are characterized by a deep sense of commitment to their growth and success.
Team work in the case of the public sector in Uganda, manifests in form of committees task forces instituted by government to carry out investigations on issues deemed unpalatable by the general public. Stoner et al, (1995) identifies two traditional types of teams that have existed in organizations namely; Formal and informal.
He identifies a committee as a type of a formal team, which generally lasts along time and deals with recurrent problems and decisions. He further contends that some formal teams are temporary. They may be called task forces or project teams. These teams are created to deal with a specific problem and are usually disbanded when the task is completed or the problem is solved.
A multitude of commissions of inquiry (namely that on the mismanagement of the Global fund, the Sebutinde commission of inquiry into the purchase of junk helicopters and others in the police force and the National tax body, then the public service review commission) that have been instituted by the government is manifestation of team work in the public sector despite its limited role and scope.
As we look forward to expanding Business management opportunities in the 21st century, we need to desist from the old paradigm of organizational structure premised on the assumptions of hierarchy that top leadership knows all the answers and is in charge of the goals and work processes for the organization for this is incompatible with team work and team building.
Also team work assignments needs to address specific concrete issues rather than broad generalizations evident in the public sector.
Further more, team membership must be based on what each member can achieve and the skills that each has rather than on the formal authority or organizational position of the person. This is common with the public sector in Uganda, we need to stop it.
Teams will work only if the traditional hierarchical pattern of communication and interaction is broken down for it is not the position you hold that is important but what you can contribute to the team.
The emerging team paradigm is constructed on new assumption that knowledge and therefore insight and answers are found throughout the organization in the abilities and know how of all organizational members when brought together in teams. In this model goals are mutually determined and work processes are built around teams of experts. Stoner et al, (1995) further asserts that with organizational environment likely to remain unstable and turbulent, the flexibility and adaptability created by teams is a significant advantage. It is predicted that teamwork will replace hierarchy as a dominant form of organization in the twenty first century the demise of the old authoritarian hierarchies, from the USSR to general motors is a global historical phenomenon that none can evade.
Businesses of the 21st century will be organized some what like a movie production company. Teams of specialists will come together for a specific project and then move on into other teams in the same or other organizations. The only condition for success is that managers no matter whether from public or private sector organizations must share both power and responsibility with teams of people who were once disempowered by the rigid bureaucratic lines of authority. This is very true of the public sector in Uganda.
Whereas today’s private sector organizations are characterized by: flatter, leaner and fitter organizations structures, public sector organizations are still hierarchical emphasizing pharisaic observance of rules and regulations. However waves of change have spread out to the public sector organizations. a lot of changes have taken place. The public sector is undergoing a transformation process which has cultivated team spirit as stoner (1995) notes: the downsizing of many corporations creating flatter organizations with fewer middle managers available to manage in the traditional hierarchical manner has freed organizations to move fully empower organization members into true teams.
Teamwork plays many roles and these go beyond managing modern organizations; and indeed are compatible with the idea of expanding business management opportunities in the 21st century. Stoner (1995) laments that the team phenomenon is particularly suited to the era of information technology and globalization. Information highways and networks connect teams from all over the continent and the globe facilitating the exchange of information and creation ideas. Global alliances create new opportunities to use multinational teams to develop cooperation and creative exchange. Global alliances will seem like “standard operating procedure” in the next century as multinational teams create new ventures for an exciting future.
Similarly, (Griffin 2001:328) contend that the reason to create teams is because teams make sense for that organization. The best reason to start teams in any organization is the positive benefits, reduced costs, improved organizational communication, benefits of expanded job training, improved employee motivation, organizational flexibility and organizational enhancements.
Enhanced performance can come in many forms, including improved productivity, quality and customer service. Working in teams enables workers to avoid wasted efforts, reduced errors and react better to customers, resulting in more output for each unit of employee input. Such enhancement emanate from pooling of individual efforts in new ways and from striving to continuously improve for the benefit of the team.
In addition, employees tend to benefit as much as organizations in a team environment.
Moorhead and Griffin (2001) asserts that much attention has focused on the differences between the baby-boom generation and the “post boomers” in attitudes toward work, its importance to their lives and what they want from it. Young workers tend to be less satisfied with their work and the organization, to have lower respect for authority and supervision, and to want more than a paycheck every week. Teams can provide a sense of self-control, human dignity, identification with the work, and sense of self worth and self fulfillment that current and future workers seem to strive for.
Furthermore, rather than relying on traditional hierarchical manager-based system, teams give employees freedom to grow and gain respect and dignity by managing themselves, making decisions about their work and really making a difference in the world around them. Consequently, employees have a better work life, face less stress at work and make less use of employee assistance programs. The reverse is true of the public sector in Uganda.
Motivation is an important factor which encourages persons to give their best performance and help in reaching enterprise goals. It is the core of management which shows that every human being gives a sense of worth in face-to-face groups which are most important.
Gupta and Joshi (2004) notes that teams are an effective means for management to democratize their organization and increase employee motivation. work teams encourage employee involvement and individuals are likely to perform better when they are working in the presence of other people. Individuals will work harder and put in a lot of extra efforts to remain in the teams good graces.
The performance of public sector organizations in Uganda is hampered by surging administrative costs, which make these organizations inefficient and less effective. Moorhead and Griffin (2001) posit that as empowered teams reduce absenteeism and turnover, organizations based on teams are showing significant cost reductions. Team members feel that they have a stake in the outcomes, want to make contributions because they are valued and are committed to their team and do not want to let it down. We must embrace team work as a cost cutting mechanism this will help us expand business management opportunities in the 21st century.
Communication constitutes a very important function of management. Nothing happens in management. Nothing happens in management until communication takes place. Effective communication helps management in maintaining good relations with workers, customers, suppliers, shareholders, government and community at large. As teams encourage interactions, it will lead to improved communication in the organization. Gupta and Joshi (2004) believe that incase of self managed teams interpersonal dependences are created which require the members to interact considerably more than when they work on jobs alone. Cross functional teams create inter-functional dependences and increase organization wide communication.
The process of team development takes time for teams to go through the full development cycle and become mature, efficient and effective. this calls for the re-organization of organizational processes and structures. The implementation of team work always leads to expanded jobs training. Through this training employees build their; technical, decision making and interpersonal skills
(Gupta and Joshi 2004)
As we strive to expand business management opportunities in the 21st century, it is imperative that we change our public sector organizations to team-based organization where roles of public sector managers will change to that of coaches and facilitators. This will enhance organizational flexibility. Teams are more flexible and responsive to changing events than are traditional departments or other forms of permanent groupings. They encourage cross training so members can do each others jobs and expansion of skills. This expansion of skills increases organizational flexibility (Gupta and joshi, 2004:28.5).
Finally teamwork brings about organizational enhancements which are essential in managing modern organizations. Moorhead and Griffin (2001) identifies other improvements in organizations that result from moving from a hierarchically based, directive culture to a team-based culture to include; increased innovation creativity and flexibility.
Use of teams can eliminated redundant layers of bureaucracy and flatters the hierarchy in large organizations.
Employees feel closer and more in touch with top management .employees who feel their efforts are important and more likely to make significant contributions. in addition ,the team environment constantly challenges teams to innovate and solve problems creatively. If the “same old way” does not work, empowered teams are free to throw it out and develop a new way. With increasing global competition, organizations must constantly adopt to keep abreast of changes.
In conclusion, team work plays a multiplicity of roles in managing modern organizations. These range from; enhanced performance, employee benefits reduced costs, improved communication, benefits of expanded job training improved employee motivation, organizational flexibility. transforming public sector organizations into team –based organizations ,can eliminate redundant layers of bureaucracy and flatten the hierarchy in large organizations .this will not only make them more efficient and effective but also business management opportunities shall expand in the 21st century.
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Tukahebwa G. “The politics of privatization in Uganda” paper presented in a workshop entitled: Transformation and challenges to Development in Uganda, Held at Jinja Uganda 2nd – 4h may, 2000.