The main characteristic of an organization is that it consists of different sub-units, which are made up of different groups of people. The group that has the best quality of teamwork is mostly the best performer amongst the different subunits of an organization. Hence the nature of work groups or teams is an important concept of organization behavior. In the words of Mullins, “ Social interaction is a natural feature of human behavior but ensuring harmonious working relationships and effective teamwork is not an easy task. ” (2005,p.528)
One of the problems related to this important aspect of an organization, gave me the opportunity of using the diagnostic approach to wipe off the differences that had arose between a few members of the organization. The organization in which I used to work earlier consisted of 126 people of which only 35 members used to report to the office daily and work from there. Rest of the 91 employees used to directly go on the fieldwork. They either visited the office every alternate day or once a week depending on the nature and location of their jobs.
Some of the employees were outstation employees so their visit to our centralized office was even rare. So the organization thrived on remote teamwork. Though the organization was making profits and the customer relationship was strong, there appeared certain discord within the workforce. The higher management was not able to understand how to remove this discord. The animosity between employees working in the fields and those working in the office was the main concern.
The higher management thought that it has done everything that can ensure a good teamwork. They had given laptops and mobile phones to people on field and assumed that these technological devices were enough to keep the entire workforce connected. The problem was that many employees of the organization were new to this kind of work culture. The concept of being on field and still feeling a part of the organization was alien to them. So though the clients of the field managers were satisfied with them, there was lack of group cohesiveness.
Those working in the office understood the group norms, as they were an integral part of creating these norms. Since the field staff made little or no contribution to the group norms and had no idea of what is expected of them, it was difficult for them to conform. They felt like an outsider whenever they were in office. The people working in the office shared an informal relationship as they were together for many hours every day. The reporting days and time of field staff were different. Many of them didn’t know each other.
So not only they felt left out whenever they were in office but also when they were with someone who was not working in their region. This feeling is a challenging issue for any organization. Rue and Byars rightly observed “…informal work groups can provide satisfaction and a sense of security to employees. They can also provide a useful channel of communication in the organization. ” (1992, p. 282) The management felt that earlier there was a better group cohesiveness when the number of field staff was lesser.
In order to give better services to the customer they had started the concept of remote working, which ended one problem but started a new one. There are many approaches to address this problem. The first and foremost approach is to increase the communication level between the management and the remote workforce so that the employees open up. It is very difficult to read one’s emotional state when interacting only through emails. Hence the group leaders located in the centralized office require initiating more of telephonic conversations.
Other staffs like the staff from the HR department also require being encouraged to not just interact by emails but also by the phone in order to avoid misunderstandings if any. Since working in a distant place away from the centralized office can be very lonely, another approach is to boost up the morale of those people and provide motivation to them so that they feel connected to the management and other staff. No matter how skilled or experienced a leader is, he needs to adapt his leadership style according to the changing organizational scenario.
Hence the people at the top level also need specific training on how to effectively manage a remote workforce and build a sense of team spirit. There is also need of a training program even if it is just for 1 day in which all the staff meets at a given venue and there is also lunch or dinner so that the staffs get immense time to interact with each other. On holidays a picnic with games in which people from office as well as the field staff is mixed to form different groups can also help in bridging the gaps.
Just using one or two approaches would not solve the problem so it is important to use a blend of these approaches. In order to implement these approaches and bring a positive change in the team spirit it is important to consult a professional consultancy service that have experience of guiding staff of all the levels of an organization about the steps they should take to build an excellent group cohesiveness. They would be able to design specific techniques for each group and each level of staff and guide them on how they can improve their communication and emotional skills.
They can also train the staff on how the emails should be worded to give a friendlier feel to colleagues on the other end. These trainings can be organized as one-day workshops and should be timed in such a way that all the staff is able to attend collectively. Interviews and surveys before and after the workshops and other initiatives with all groups and levels of the organization might be helpful in evaluating whether the implementation of the approaches have been successful or not. The degree of difference in the answers would generate the success level of the efforts.
I advised the management about all these approaches and made them hire a professional consultancy service that were experts in developing training programs based on the specific problems of an organization. With my ideas and help of the professional service, the organization was able to turn into a friendlier place not only for the office staff but also for those who were on the fields. References Mullins, L. J. (2005). Management And Organizational Behavior. (7 ed. ) England: Pearson Education Limited. Rue, L. W. , Byars, L. L. (1992). Management Skills And Application. (6 ed. ) USA: IRWIN.