Learning Activity #1
Chapter 8, page 33 
Do the following exercise.
One student, a veteran of team based assignments, has some good advice to offer students who are following in her footsteps. Don‘t start, she advises, until you‘ve drawn up a team charter. This charter (or contract) should include the following: the goals of the group; information on meeting times and places; ways to ensure that each member‘s ideas are considered and respected; methods for resolving conflicts; a kick-out clause - a statement of what will happen if a team member skips meetings or fails to do his or her share of the work. [12]
Now assume that you‘ve just been assigned to a team in one of your classes. Prepare a first draft charter in which you spell out rules of conduct for the team and its members.
This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
Chapter 8 Teamwork and Communications The Team with the RAZR’S Edge In the fall of 2011, Motorola spun off its Mobile Devices division creating a new publically traded company, Motorola Mobility. The newly formed company‘s executive team was under intense pressure to come out with a winner: a smartphone that could grab substantial market share from Apple‘s iPhone 4S and Samsung‘s Galaxy Nexus. To do this, the team oversaw the design of an Android version of the Motorola RAZR, which used to be the best-selling phone in the world. The hope of the executive team is that past customers who loved the RAZR will really love the new ultra-thin smartphone—the Droid RAZR. As with other products produced by Motorola, the Droid RAZR was designed by a team of individuals. To understand how this team approach is implemented at Motorola, let‘s review the process used to design the original RAZR. The mood was grim at Motorola in winter 2003, especially in the cell phone division: The company that for years had run ringtones around the competition had been bumped from the top spot in worldwide sales. [1] Sporting a popular line of ?candy bar? phones (the ones without the flip-top lids), the Finnish company Nokia had grabbed the lead in global market share, and Motorola found itself stuck in the number-three slot (Samsung had slipped into second place). Why had sales at Motorola been put on hold? Among other things, consumers were less than enthusiastic about the uninspired style of Motorola phones, and make no mistake about it—for a lot of people, style is just as important in picking a cell phone as its features list. As a reviewer for one industry
publication puts it, ?With some phones, we just want to see the look on people‘s faces when we slide it out of our pockets to take a call.? And yet, there was a glimmer of hope at Motorola. Despite its recent lapse in cell phone fashion sense, Motorola (like just about every other maker of wireless hardware) still maintained a concept-phone unit—a group responsible for designing futuristic new product features such as speech-recognition capability, liquid batteries, flexible touchscreens, and touch-sensitive body covers. Now, in every concept-phone unit, developers are engaged in an ongoing struggle to balance the two often-opposing demands of cell phone design: how to build the smallest possible phone with the largest possible screen. The previous year, designers in the Motorola concept-phone unit had unveiled the rough model of an ultratrim phone—at 10 millimeters, about half the width of the average flip-top or ?clamshell? design. It was on this concept that Motorola decided to stake the revival of its reputation as a cell phone maker who knew how to package functionality with a wow factor. The next step in developing a concept phone, of course, is actually building it. And this is where teamwork comes in. For one thing, you need a little diversity in your expertise. An electronic engineer, for example, knows how to apply energy to transmit information through a system but not how to apply physics to the design and manufacture of the system; that‘s the specialty of a mechanical engineer. And engineers aren‘t designers—the specialists who know how to enhance the marketability of a product by adding aesthetic value. In addition, when you set out to build any kind of innovative high-tech product, you need to become a master of trade-offs—in Motorola‘s case, the compromises resulting from the demands of state-of-the-art functionality on the one hand and fashionable design on the other. Negotiating trade-offs is a team sport: it takes at least two people, for example, to resolve such disputes as whether you can put the antenna of a cell phone
inside its mouthpiece or whether you should put the caller-ID display inside or outside the flip-top. The responsibility for assembling and managing the Motorola ?thin-clam? team fell to veteran electronic engineer Roger Jellicoe. His mission: create the world‘s thinnest phone, do it in one year, and try to keep it a secret. Before the project was completed, the team had grown to more than twenty members, and with increased creative input and enthusiasm came increased confidence and clout. Jellicoe, for instance, had been warned by company specialists in such matters that no phone wider than 49 millimeters could be held comfortably in the human hand. When the team had finally arrived at a satisfactory design that couldn‘t work at less than 53 millimeters, they ignored the ?49 millimeters warning,? built a model, handed it around, and came to a consensus: As one team member put it, ?People could hold it in their hands and say, ?Yeah, it doesn‘t feel like a brick.‘? Four millimeters, they decided, was an acceptable trade-off, and the new phone went to market at 53 millimeters. Team members liked to call this process the ?dance.? Sometimes it flowed smoothly and sometimes people stepped on one another‘s toes, but for the most part, the team moved in lockstep toward its goal. After a series of trade-offs about what to call the final product (suggestions ranged from Razor Clam to V3), Motorola‘s new RAZR was introduced in July 2004. Recall that the product was originally conceived as a high-tech toy—something to restore the luster to Motorola‘s tarnished image. It wasn‘t supposed to set sales records, and sales in the fourth quarter of 2004, though promising, were in fact fairly modest. Back in September, however, a new executive named Ron Garriques had taken over Motorola‘s cell phone division, and one of his first decisions was to raise the bar for RAZR. Disregarding a 2005 budget that called for sales of two million units, Garriques pushed expected sales for the RAZR up to twenty million. The RAZR topped that target, shipped ten million in the first quarter of 2006, and hit the fifty-million mark at
midyear. Talking on a RAZR, declared hip-hop luminary Sean ?P. Diddy? Combs, ?is like driving a Mercedes versus a regular ol‘ ride.? As for Jellicoe and his team, they were invited to attend an event hosted by top executives. As they walked into the room, they received a standing ovation—along with a cartload of stock options—and outside observers applauded them for revitalizing ?the stodgy, engineering-driven, Midwestern company that was Motorola.? One of the reasons for the RAZR‘s success, admits Jellicoe, ?was that it took the world by surprise. Very few Motorola products do that.? After the introduction of the RAZR, perceptions of the company‘s flair for fashion and innovation underwent a critical change: ?Now,? reports Jellicoe, ?whenever we say we have this secret program we‘re working on, nobody wants to be left out….It‘s kicked down some doors…and gets us noticed. It really is a tremendous brand builder. As for credibility in the marketplace, it‘s been a very big win.? In fact, for a while it was the best selling phone in the world. Will the Droid RAZR be as successful as the original RAZR? Only time will tell, but many are optimistic about its chances. In a November 2011 New York Times article, ?Motorola‘s Droid Razr Still Has It,? Roy Furchgott conveys the opinions of many in the tech field: The new Droid RAZR has a lot to live up to. The original RAZR was a flip-phone marvel of sleek design. It became the best-selling phone in the United States until the iPhone knocked it from its perch. The new RAZR, while lacking the wow factor of the original, is still a credible heir to the name. Two things—speed and battery life—set the phone apart. [2] And, if an incredibly fast download speed and approximately 12 hours of talk time and 250 hours of standby time are not enough to get customers onboard, they might be won over by the purple version.
[1] This vignette is based on the following sources: Adam Lashinsky, ?RAZR‘s Edge,?Fortune, CNNMoney.com, June 1, 2006,http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/06/12/8379239/index.htm (accessed October 11, 2011); Scott D. Anthony, ?Motorola‘s Bet on the RAZR‘s Edge,? HBS Working Knowledge, September 12, 2005, http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4992.html(accessed October 11, 2011); ?The Leading Edge Is RAZR-Thin,? BusinessWeek, December 5, 2005, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_49/b3962087.htm (accessed October 11, 2011); Arik Hessedahl, ?Motorola vs. Nokia,? Forbes.com, January 19, 2004, athttp://www.forbes.com/2004/01/19/cx_ah_0119mondaymatchup.html (accessed October 11, 2011); ?Talk Like a Supermodel: Sexy Fashion Phones,? CNET.co.au, April 2008,http://www.cnet.com.au/talk-like-a-supermodel-sexy-fashion-phones-240058430.htm(accessed October 11, 2011); Vlad Balan, ?10 Coolest Concept Phones Out There,?Cameraphones Plaza, April 17, 2007, http://www.cameraphonesplaza.com/10-coolest-concept-phones-out-there/ (accessed October 11, 2011); Mike Elgan, ?All-Screen Clamshell Concept Phone: A Glimpse of the Future,? Computerworld Blogs, August 1, 2008,http://blogs.computerworld.com/all_screen_clamshell_concept_phone_a_glimpse_of_the_future (accessed October 11, 2011); ?Motorola Gains on 10 Mn in RAZR Sales,? The Financial Express, January 19, 2006,http://www.financialexpress.com/old/latest_full_story.php?content_id=115012 (accessed October 11, 2011). [2] Roy Furchgott, ?Motorola‘s Droid Razr Still Has It,? New York Times, November 28, 2011,http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/motorolas-droid-razr-still-has-it/(accessed January 24, 2012). 8.1 The Team and the Organization LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Define a team and describe its key characteristics. 2. Explain why organizations use teams, and describe different types of teams. What Is a Team? How Does Teamwork Work? A team (or a work team) is a group of people with complementary skills who work together to achieve a specific goal. [1] In the case of Motorola‘s RAZR team, the specific goal was to develop (and ultimately bring to market) an ultrathin cell phone that would help restore the company‘s reputation as a designer of stylistically appealing, high-
function phones. The team achieved its goal by integrating specialized but complementary skills in engineering and design and by making the most of its authority to make its own decisions and manage its own operations. Teams versus Groups ?A group,? suggests Bonnie Edelstein, a consultant in organizational development, ?is a bunch of people in an elevator. A team is also a bunch of people in an elevator, but the elevator is broken.? This distinction may be a little oversimplified, but as our tale of teamwork at Motorola reminds us, a team is clearly something more than a mere group of individuals. In particular, members of a group—or, more accurately, a working group—go about their jobs independently and meet primarily to share information. A group of department-store managers, for example, might meet monthly to discuss their progress in cutting plant costs, but each manager is focused on the goals of his or her department because each is held accountable for meeting only those goals. Teams, by contrast, are responsible for achieving specific common goals, and they‘re generally empowered to make the decisions needed to complete their authorized tasks. Some Key Characteristics of Teams To keep matters in perspective, let‘s identify five key characteristics of work teams: [2] 1. Teams are accountable for achieving specific common goals. Members are collectively responsible for achieving team goals, and if they succeed, they‘re rewarded collectively. 2. Teams function interdependently. Members cannot achieve goals independently and must rely on each other for information, input, and expertise. 3. Teams are stable. Teams remain intact long enough to finish their assigned tasks, and each member remains on board long enough to get to know every other member.
4. Teams have authority. Teams possess the decision-making power to pursue their goals and to manage the activities through which they complete their assignments. 5. Teams operate in a social context. Teams are assembled to do specific work for larger organizations and have the advantage of access to resources available from other areas of their organizations. Why Organizations Build Teams Why do major organizations now rely more and more on teams to improve operations? Executives at Xerox have reported that team-based operations are 30 percent more productive than conventional operations. General Mills says that factories organized around team activities are 40 percent more productive than traditionally organized factories. According to in-house studies at Shenandoah Life Insurance, teams have cut case-handling time from twenty-seven to two days and virtually eliminated service complaints. FedEx says that teams reduced service errors (lost packages, incorrect bills) by 13 percent in the first year. [3] Today it seems obvious that teams can address a variety of challenges in the world of corporate activity. Before we go any further, however, we should remind ourselves that data like those we‘ve just cited aren‘t necessarily definitive. For one thing, they may not be objective—companies are more likely to report successes than failures. As a matter of fact, teams don?t always work. Indeed, according to one study, team-based projects fail 50 to 70 percent of the time. [4] The Effect of Teams on Performance Research shows that companies build and support teams because of their effect on overall workplace performance, both organizational and individual. If we examine the impact of team-based operations according to a wide range of relevant criteria—including product quality, worker satisfaction, and quality of work life, among others—we
find that overall organizational performance improves. Table 8.1 "Effect of Teams on Workplace Performance" lists several areas in which we can analyze workplace performance and indicates the percentage of companies that have reported improvements in each area. Table 8.1 Effect of Teams on Workplace Performance
Area of Performance
Percent of Firms Reporting Improvement
Product and service quality
Customer service
Worker satisfaction
Quality of work life
23 Source: Adapted from Edward E. Lawler, S. A. Mohman, and G. E. Ledford,Creating High Performance Organizations: Practices and Results of Employee Involvement and Total Quality in Fortune 1000 Companies (San Francisco: Wiley, 1992). Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. Types of Teams Teams, then, can improve company and individual performance in a number of areas. Not all teams, however, are formed to achieve the same goals or charged with the same
responsibilities. Nor are they organized in the same way. Some, for instance, are more autonomous than others—less accountable to those higher up in the organization. Some depend on a team leader who‘s responsible for defining the team‘s goals and making sure that its activities are performed effectively. Others are more or less self-governing: though a leader lays out overall goals and strategies, the team itself chooses and manages the methods by which it pursues its goals and implements its strategies. [5] Teams also vary according to their membership. Let‘s look at several categories of teams. Manager-Led Teams As its name implies, in the manager-led team the manager is the team leader and is in charge of setting team goals, assigning tasks, and monitoring the team‘s performance. The individual team members have relatively little autonomy. For example, the key employees of a professional football team (a manager-led team) are highly trained (and highly paid) athletes, but their activities on the field are tightly controlled by a head coach. As team manager, the coach is responsible both for developing the strategies by which the team pursues its goal of winning games and for the final outcome of each game (not to mention the season). He‘s also solely responsible for interacting with managers above him in the organization. The players are responsible only for executing plays. [6] Self-Managing Teams Self-managing teams (also known as self-directed or self-regulating teams) have considerable autonomy. They are usually small and often absorb activities that were once performed by traditional supervisors. A manager or team leader may determine overall goals, but the members of the self-managing team control the activities needed to achieve the goals, such as planning and scheduling work, sharing tasks, meeting quality standards, and handling day-to-day operations.
Self-managing teams are the organizational hallmark of Whole Foods Market, the largest natural-foods grocer in the United States. Each store is run by ten teams (produce, prepared foods, and so forth), and virtually every store employee is a member of a team. Each team has a designated leader and its own performance targets. (Team leaders also belong to a store team, and store-team leaders belong to a regional team.) To do its job, every team has access to the kind of information—including sales and even salary figures—that most companies reserve for the eyes of traditional managers. [7] Needless to say, not every self-managed team enjoys the same degree of autonomy. Companies vary widely in choosing which tasks teams are allowed to manage and which ones are best left to upper-level management only. As you can see in Figure 8.1 "What Teams Do (and Don‘t) Manage", for example, self-managing teams are often allowed to schedule assignments, but they are rarely allowed to fire coworkers. Figure 8.1 What Teams Do (and Don?t) Manage
Cross-Functional Teams Many companies use cross-functional teams—teams that, as the name suggests, cut across an organization‘s functional areas (operations, marketing, finance, and so on). A cross-functional team is designed to take advantage of the special expertise of members drawn from different functional areas of the company. When the Internal Revenue Service, for example, wanted to study the effects on employees of a major change in information systems, it created a cross-functional team composed of people from a wide range of departments. The final study reflected expertise in such areas as job analysis, training, change management, industrial psychology, and even ergonomics. [8] Cross-functional teams figure prominently in the product-development process at Nike, where they take advantage of expertise from both inside and outside the company. Typically, team members include not only product designers, marketing specialists, and accountants but also sports-research experts, coaches, athletes, and even consumers. Likewise, Motorola‘s RAZR team was a cross-functional team: Responsibility for developing the new product wasn‘t passed along from the design team to the engineering team but rather was entrusted to a special team composed of both designers and engineers. We can also classify the RAZR team as a product-development or project team(a topic we‘ll discuss in more detail in Chapter 10 "Product Design and Development?). Committees and task forces, both of which are dedicated to specific issues or tasks, are often cross-functional teams. Problem-solving teams, which are created to study such issues as improving quality or reducing waste, may be either intradepartmental or cross-functional. [9] Virtual Teams
?Teamwork,? said someone (we‘re not sure who), ?doesn‘t tolerate the inconvenience of distance.? Indeed, technology now makes it possible for teams to function not only across such organizational boundaries as functional areas, departments, and divisions but also across time and space, as well. Working in virtual teams, geographically dispersed members interact electronically in the process of pursuing a common goal. Such technologies as videoconferencing, instant messaging, and electronic meetings, which allow people to interact simultaneously and in real time, offer a number of advantages in conducting the business of a virtual team. [10] Among other things, members can participate from any location or at any time of day, and teams can ?meet? for as long as it takes to achieve a goal or solve a problem—a few days, a few weeks, or a few months. Nor does team size seem to be an obstacle when it comes to calling virtual-team meetings: In building the F-35 Strike Fighter, U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin staked the $225 billion project on a virtual product-team of unprecedented global dimension, drawing on designers and engineers from the ranks of eight international partners ranging from Canada and the United Kingdom to Norway and Turkey. [11] KEY TAKEAWAYS ? Teamwork brings diverse areas of expertise to bear on organizational problems and projects. ? Reaching teamwork goals requires skills in negotiating trade-offs, and teamwork brings these skills into play at almost every step in the process. ? To be successful, teams need a certain amount of autonomy and authority in making and implementing their decisions. ? A team (or a work team) is a group of people with complementary skills who work together to achieve a specific goal. Members of a working group work independently and meet primarily to share information. ? Work teams have five key characteristics: 1. They are accountable for achieving specific common goals. 2. They function interdependently.
3. They are stable. 4. They have authority. 5. They operate in a social context. ? Companies build and support teams because of their effect on overall workplace performance, both organizational and individual. ? Work teams may be of several types: 1. In the traditional manager-led team, the leader defines the team‘s goals and activities and is responsible for its achieving its assigned goals. 2. The leader of a self-managing team may determine overall goals, but employees control the activities needed to meet them. 3. A cross-functional team is designed to take advantage of the special expertise of members drawn from different functional areas of the company. 4. On virtual teams, geographically dispersed members interact electronically in the process of pursuing a common goal.
EXERCISE (AACSB) Analysis You‘re a marketing researcher for a multinational food-products corporation, and for the past two years, you‘ve been able to work at home. The international division of the company has asked you to join a virtual team assigned to assess the prospects for a new sandwich planned for the Indian market. List a few of the challenges that you‘re likely to encounter as a member of the virtual team. Explain the steps you‘d take to deal with each of the challenges that you‘ve listed. [1] This section is based in part on Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 4. [2] Adapted from Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 4–5. See C. P. Alderfer, ?Group and Intergroup Relations,? in Improving Life at Work, ed. J. R. Hackman and J. L. Suttle (Palisades, CA: Goodyear, 1977), 277–96. [3] Kimball Fisher, Leading Self-Directed Work Teams: A Guide to Developing New Team Leadership Skills, rev. ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999). See Jerald Greenberg and Robert A. Baron, Behavior in Organizations, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 315–16. [4] Jerald Greenberg and Robert A. Baron, Behavior in Organizations, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 316; Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 5. [5] See Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 8–13.
[6] Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 9. [7] Charles Fishman, ?Whole Foods Is All Teams,? Fast Company.com, December 18, 2007,http://www.fastcompany.com/node/26671/print (accessed October 11, 2011). [8] Human Technology Inc., ?Organizational Learning Strategies: Cross-Functional Teams,?Getting Results through Learning, http://www.humtech.com/opm/grtl/ols/ols3.cfm(accessed October 11, 2011). [9] See Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge, Organizational Behavior, 13th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2009), 340–42. [10] See Jennifer M. George and Gareth R. Jones, Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior, 5th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 381–82. [11] ?Lockheed Martin Chooses Mathcad as a Standard Design Package for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Project,? Adept Science, September 23, 2003,http://www.adeptscience.co.uk/pressroom/article/96 (accessed October 11, 2011).
8.2 Why Teamwork Works LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Explain why teams may be effective or ineffective. 2. Identify factors that contribute to team cohesiveness. Now that we know a little bit about how teams work, we need to ask ourselves why they work. Not surprisingly, this is a fairly complex issue. In this section, we‘ll answer these closely related questions: Why are teams often effective? Why are they sometimes ineffective? Factors in Effective Teamwork First, let‘s begin by identifying several factors that, in practice, tend to contribute to effective teamwork. Generally speaking, teams are effective when the following factors are met: [1]
? Members depend on each other. When team members rely on each other to get the job done, team productivity and efficiency are high. ? Members trust one another. Teamwork is more effective when members trust each other. ? Members work better together than individually. When team members perform better as a group than alone, collective performance exceeds individual performance. ? Members become boosters. When each member is encouraged by other team members to do his or her best, collective results improve. ? Team members enjoy being on the team. The more that team members derive satisfaction from being on the team, the more committed they become. ? Leadership rotates. Teams function effectively when leadership responsibility is shared over time. Most of these explanations probably make pretty clear intuitive sense. Unfortunately, because such issues are rarely as clear-cut as they may seem at first glance, we need to examine the issue of group effectiveness from another perspective—one that considers the effects of factors that aren‘t quite so straightforward. Group Cohesiveness The idea of group cohesiveness refers to the attractiveness of a team to its members. If a group is high in cohesiveness, membership is quite satisfying to its members; if it‘s low in cohesiveness, members are unhappy with it and may even try to leave it. The principle of group cohesiveness, in other words, is based on the simple idea that groups are most effective when their members like being members of the group. [2] What Makes a Team Cohesive? Numerous factors may contribute to team cohesiveness, but in this section, we‘ll focus on five of the most important:
1. Size. The bigger the team, the less satisfied members tend to be. When teams get too large, members find it harder to interact closely with other members; a few members tend to dominate team activities, and conflict becomes more likely. 2. Similarity. People usually get along better with people like themselves, and teams are generally more cohesive when members perceive fellow members as people who share their own attitudes and experience. 3. Success. When teams are successful, members are satisfied, and other people are more likely to be attracted to their teams. 4. Exclusiveness. The harder it is to get into a group, the happier the people who are already in it. Status (the extent to which outsiders look up to a team, as well as the perks that come with membership) also increases members‘ satisfaction. 5. Competition. Members value membership more highly when they‘re motivated to achieve common goals—especially when those goals mean outperforming other teams. There‘s such a thing as too much cohesiveness. When, for instance, members are highly motivated to collaborate in performing the team‘s activities, the team is more likely to be effective in achieving its goals. Clearly, when those goals are aligned with the goals of the larger organization, the organization, too, will be happy. If, however, its members get too wrapped up in more immediate team goals, the whole team may lose sight of the larger organizational goals toward which it‘s supposed to be working. Groupthink Likewise, it‘s easier for leaders to direct members toward team goals when members are all on the same page—when there‘s a basic willingness to conform to the team‘s rules and guidelines. When there‘s too much conformity, however, the group can become ineffective: It may resist change and fresh ideas and, what‘s worse, may end up adopting its own dysfunctional tendencies as its way of doing things. Such tendencies may also encourage a phenomenon known as groupthink—the tendency to
conform to group pressure in making decisions, while failing to think critically or to consider outside influences. Groupthink is often cited as a factor in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986: Engineers from a supplier of components for the rocket booster warned that the launch might be risky because of the weather but were persuaded to reverse their recommendation by NASA officials who wanted the launch to proceed as scheduled. [3] Why Teams Fail Teams don‘t always work. To learn why, let‘s take a quick look at four common obstacles to success in introducing teams into an organization: [4] ? Unwillingness to cooperate. Failure to cooperate can occur when members don‘t or won‘t commit to a common goal or set of activities. What if, for example, half the members of a product-development team want to create a brand-new product and half want to improve an existing product? The entire team may get stuck on this point of contention for weeks or even months. ? Lack of managerial support. Every team requires organizational resources to achieve its goals, and if management isn‘t willing to commit the needed resources—say, funding or key personnel—a team will probably fall short of those goals. ? Failure of managers to delegate authority. Team leaders are often chosen from the ranks of successful supervisors—first-line managers who, as we saw in Chapter 6 "Managing for Business Success", give instructions on a day-to-day basis and expect to have them carried out. This approach to workplace activities may not work very well in leading a team—a position in which success depends on building a consensus and letting people make their own decisions. ? Failure of teams to cooperate. If you‘re on a workplace team, your employer probably depends on teams to perform much of the organization‘s work and meet many of its goals. In other words, it is, to some extent, a team-based organization,
and as such, reaching its overall goals requires a high level of cooperation among teams. [5] When teams can‘t agree on mutual goals (or when they duplicate efforts), neither the teams nor the organization is likely to meet with much success. Motivation and Frustration Finally, remember that teams are composed of people, and whatever the roles they happen to be playing at a given time, people are subject to psychological ups and downs. As members of workplace teams, they need motivation, and as we observed in Chapter 7 "Recruiting, Motivating, and Keeping Quality Employees", when motivation is down, so are effectiveness and productivity. As you can see in Figure 8.3 "Sources of Frustration", the difficulty of maintaining a high level of motivation is the chief cause of frustration among members of teams. As such, it‘s also a chief cause of ineffective teamwork, and that‘s one reason why more employers now look for the ability to develop and sustain motivation when they‘re hiring new managers. [6] Figure 8.3 Sources of Frustration
KEY TAKEAWAYS ? Generally speaking, teams are effective when the following are true: 1. Members are interdependent. 2. Members work better together than individually. 3. Teams work well enough to satisfy members. 4. Leadership rotates. 5. Members help one another. 6. Members become boosters. 7. Members trust one another. ? Group cohesiveness refers to the attractiveness of a team to its members. If a group is high in cohesiveness, membership is quite satisfying to its members; if it‘s low in cohesiveness, members are unhappy with it and may even try to leave it. ? Common obstacles to team success include the following: 1. Unwillingness to cooperate 2. Lack of managerial support 3. Failure of managers to delegate authority 4. Failure of teams to cooperate
EXERCISE (AACSB) Analysis At some point in the coming week, while you‘re working on an assignment for any one of your classes, ask at least one other member of the class to help you with it or to collaborate with you in studying for it. After you‘ve completed your assignment, make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of working on the assignment with another person.
[1] This section is based on David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 497. [2] This section is based mostly on Jennifer M. George and Gareth R. Jones, Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior, 5th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 371–77. See Leon Festinger, ?Informal Social Communication, Psychological Review57 (1950): 271–82. [3] See Em Griffin, ?Groupthink of Irving Janis,? 1997,http://www.doh.state.fl.us/alternatesites/cms-kids/providers/early_steps/training/documents/groupthink_irving_janus.pdf (accessed October 11, 2011). [4] This section is based on Jerald Greenberg and Robert A. Baron, Behavior in Organizations, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 317–18. [5] See Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 323–24. [6] See Leigh L. Thompson, Making the Team: A Guide for Managers (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 18–19. 8.3 The Team and Its Members LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Understand the importance of learning to participate in team-based activities. 2. Identify the skills needed by team members and the roles that members of a team might play. 3. Learn how to survive team projects in college (and actually enjoy yourself). 4. Explain the skills and behaviors that foster effective team leadership. “Life Is All about Group Work” “I?ll work extra hard and do it myself, but please don?t make me have to work in a group.” Like it or not, you‘ll probably be given some teamwork assignments while you‘re in college. More than two-thirds of all students report having participated in the work of an organized team, and if you‘re in business school, you will almost certainly find yourself engaged in team-based activities. [1]
Why do we put so much emphasis on something that, reportedly, makes many students feel anxious and academically drained? Here‘s one college student‘s practical-minded answer to this question: ?In the real world, you have to work with people. You don‘t always know the people you work with, and you don‘t always get along with them. Your boss won‘t particularly care, and if you can‘t get the job done, your job may end up on the line. Life is all about group work, whether we like it or not. And school, in many ways, prepares us for life, including working with others.? [2] She‘s right. In placing so much emphasis on teamwork skills and experience, college business departments are doing the responsible thing—preparing students for the business world that awaits them. A survey of Fortune 1000 companies reveals that 79 percent already rely on self-managing teams and 91 percent on various forms of employee work groups. Another survey found that the skill that most employers value in new employees is the ability to work in teams. [3] If you‘re already trying to work your way up an organizational ladder, consider the advice of former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca: ?A major reason that capable people fail to advance is that they don‘t work well with their colleagues.? [4] The importance of the ability to work in teams was confirmed in a survey of leadership practices of more than sixty of the world‘s top organizations. [5] When top executives in these organizations were asked, ?What causes high-potential leadership candidates to derail? (stop moving up in the organization),? 60 percent of the organizations cited ?inability to work in teams.? Interestingly, only 9 percent attributed the failure of these executives to advance to ?lack of technical ability.? While technical skills will be essential in your getting hired into an organization, your team skills will play a significant role in your ability to advance. To be team-ready or not to be team-ready—that is the question. Or, to put it in plainer terms, the question is not whether you‘ll find yourself working as part of a team. You
will. The question is whether you‘ll know how to participate successfully in team-based activities. Will You Make a Good Team Member? What if your instructor in this course decides to divide the class into several three-, four-, or five-member teams and assigns each team to develop a new product plus a business plan to get it into production and out on the market? What teamwork skills could you bring to the table? What teamwork skills do you need to work on? What qualities do you possess that might make you a good team leader? What Skills Does the Team Need? Sometimes we hear about a sports team made up of mostly average players who win a championship because of coaching genius, flawless teamwork, and superhuman determination. [6] But not terribly often. In fact, we usually hear about such teams simply because they‘re newsworthy—exceptions to the rule. Typically a team performs well because its members possess some level of talent. This doesn‘t mean, however, that we should reduce team performance to the mere sum of its individual contributions: Members‘ talents aren‘t very useful if they‘re not managed in a collective effort to achieve a common goal. In the final analysis, of course, a team can succeed only if its members provide the skills that need managing. In particular, every team requires some mixture of three sets of skills: ? Technical skills. Because teams must perform certain tasks, they need people with the skills to perform them. For example, if your project calls for a lot of math work, it‘s good to have someone with the necessary quantitative skills. ? Decision-making and problem-solving skills. Because every task is subject to problems, and because handling every problem means deciding on the best
solution, it‘s good to have members who are skilled in identifying problems, evaluating alternative solutions, and deciding on the best options. ? Interpersonal skills. Because teams are composed of people, and because people need direction and motivation and depend on communication, every group benefits from members who know how to listen, provide feedback, and smooth ruffled feathers. The same people are usually good at communicating the team‘s goals and needs to outsiders. The key to success is ultimately the right mix of these skills. Remember, too, that no team needs to possess all these skills—never mind the right balance of them—from day one. In many cases, a team gains certain skills only when members volunteer for certain tasks and perfect their skills in the process of performing them. For the same reason, effective teamwork develops over time as team members learn how to handle various team-based tasks. In a sense, teamwork is always work in progress. What Roles Do Team Members Play? Like your teamwork skills, expect your role on a team to develop over time. Also remember that, both as a student and as a member of the workforce, you‘ll be a member of a team more often than a leader (a subject that we‘ll take up in the next section). Team members, however, can have as much impact on a team‘s success as its leaders. The key is the quality of the contributions they make in performing nonleadership roles. [7] What, exactly, are those roles? At this point, you‘ve probably concluded that every team faces two basic challenges: 1. Accomplishing its assigned task 2. Maintaining or improving group cohesiveness
Whether you affect the team‘s work positively or negatively depends on the extent to which you help it or hinder it in meeting these two challenges. [8] We can thus divide teamwork roles into two categories, depending on which of these two challenges each role addresses. These two categories (task-facilitating roles and relationship-building roles) are summarized in Table 8.2 "Roles that Team Members Play". Table 8.2 Roles that Team Members Play
Task-facilitating Roles
Relationship-building Roles
Direction giving
?Jot down a few ideas and we‘ll see what everyone has come up with.?
?Now, that‘s what I mean by a practical application.?
Information seeking
?Does anyone know if this is the latest data we have??
?Actually, I think you‘re both saying pretty much the same thing.?
Information giving
?Here are latest numbers from.…?
Tension relieving
?Before we go on to the next section, how many people would like a pillow??
?I think a good example of what you‘re talking about is.…?
?How does that suggestion relate to the topic that we‘re discussing??
?Let‘s try to finish this proposal before we adjourn.?
?It‘s been a long time since I‘ve had this many laughs at a meeting in this department.?
Task-facilitating Roles
Relationship-building Roles
?If you‘ll take care of the first section, I‘ll make sure that we have the second by next week.?
?If you need some help pulling the data together, let me know.?
Process analyzing
?What happened to the energy level in this room??
Consensus building
?Do we agree on the first four points even if number five needs a little more work??
Reality testing
?Can we make this work and stay within budget??
?It‘s not you. The numbers are confusing.?
?We‘re getting off track. Let‘s try to stay on topic.?
?Before we jump ahead, here‘s what we‘ve decided so far.?
Source: Adapted from David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 517, 519. Task-Facilitating Roles Task-facilitating roles address challenge number one—accomplishing the team goals. As you can see from Table 8.2 "Roles that Team Members Play", such roles include not only providing information when someone else needs it but also asking for it when you need it. In addition, it includes monitoring (checking on progress) and enforcing (making
sure that team decisions are carried out). Task facilitators are especially valuable when assignments aren‘t clear or when progress is too slow. Moreover, every team needs people who recognize when a little task facilitation is called for. Relationship-Building Roles When you challenge unmotivated behavior or help other team members understand their roles, you‘re performing a relationship-building role and addressing challenge number two—maintaining or improving group cohesiveness. This type of role includes just about every activity that improves team ?chemistry,? from confronting to empathizing. Bear in mind three points about this model of team-membership roles: (1) Teams are most effective when there‘s a good balance between task facilitation and relationship building; (2) it‘s hard for any given member to perform both types of roles, as some people are better at focusing on tasks and others on relationships; and (3) overplaying any facet of any role can easily become counterproductive. For example, elaborating on something may not be the best strategy when the team needs to make a quick decision; and consensus building may cause the team to overlook an important difference of opinion. Blocking Roles Finally, review Table 8.3 "How to Block Teamwork", which summarizes a few characteristics of another kind of team-membership role. So-called blocking roles consist of behavior that inhibits either team performance or that of individual members. Every member of the team should know how to recognize blocking behavior. If teams don‘t confront dysfunctional members, they can destroy morale, hamper consensus building, create conflict, and hinder progress. Table 8.3 How to Block Teamwork
Blocking Strategy
Talk as much as possible; interrupt and interject
Split hairs and belabor every detail
Frustrate efforts to come to conclusions: decline to agree, sidetrack the discussion, rehash old ideas
Remain passive
Stay on the fringe; keep interaction to a minimum; wait for others to take on work
Blow things out of proportion; float unfounded conclusions
Find fault
Criticize and withhold credit whenever possible
Make premature decisions
Rush to conclusions before goals are set, information is shared, or problems are clarified
Present opinions as facts
Refuse to seek factual support for ideas that you personally favor
Object to ideas offered by people who tend to disagree with you
Pull rank
Use status or title to push through ideas, rather than seek consensus on their value
Throw up roadblocks to progress; look on the negative side
Refuse to stay on topic; focus on minor points rather than main points
Source: Adapted from David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 519–20. Class Team Projects As we highlighted earlier, throughout your academic career you‘ll likely participate in a number of team projects. Not only will you make lasting friends by being a member of a team, but in addition you‘ll produce a better product. To get insider advice on how to survive team projects in college (and perhaps really enjoy yourself in the process), let‘s look at some suggestions offered by two students who have gone through this experience. [9] ? Draw up a team charter. At the beginning of the project, draw up a team charter (or contract) that includes the goals of the group; ways to ensure that each team member‘s ideas are considered and respected; when and where your group will meet; what happens if a team member skips meetings or doesn‘t do his or her share of the work; how conflicts will be resolved. ? Contribute your ideas. Share your ideas with your group; they might be valuable to the group. The worst that could happen is that they won‘t be used (which is what would happen if you kept quiet). ? Never miss a meeting. Pick a weekly meeting time and write it into your schedule as if it were a class. Never skip it. And make your meetings productive. ? Be considerate of each other. Be patient, listen to everyone, communicate frequently, involve everyone in decision making, don‘t think you‘re always right, be positive, avoid infighting, build trust. ? Create a process for resolving conflict. Do this before conflict arises. Set up rules to help the group decide whether the conflict is constructive, whether it‘s personal, or whether it arises because someone won‘t pull his or her weight. Decide, as a group, how conflict will be handled.
? Use the strengths of each team member. Some students are good researchers, others are good writers, others have strong problem-solving or computer skills, while others are good at generating ideas. Don‘t have your writer do the research and your researcher do the writing. Not only would the team not be using its resources wisely, but two team members will be frustrated because they‘re not using their strengths. ? Don?t do all the work yourself. Work with your team to get the work done. The project output is not as important as the experience of working in a team. ? Set deadlines. Don‘t leave everything to the end; divide up tasks, hold team members accountable, and set intermediary deadlines for each team member to get his or her work done. Work together to be sure the project is in on time and in good shape. What Does It Take to Lead a Team? ?Some people are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon them.? Or so Shakespeare might have said if he were managing a twenty-first-century work team instead of a sixteenth-century theater troupe. At some point in a successful career, whether in business, school, or any other form of organizational work, you may be asked (or assigned) to lead a team. The more successful you are, the more likely you are to receive such an invitation. So, what will you have to do as a leader? What skills will you need? Like so many of the questions that we ask in this book, these questions don‘t have any simple answers. As for the first question—what does a leader have to do?—we can provide one broad answer: A leader must help members develop the attitudes and behavior that contribute to team success: interdependence, collective responsibility, shared commitment, and so forth. Influence Team Members and Gain their Trust
Team leaders must be able to influence their team members. And notice that we say influence: except in unusual circumstances, giving commands and controlling everything directly doesn‘t work very well. [10] As one team of researchers puts it, team leaders are more effective when they work with members rather than on them. [11] Hand in hand with the ability to influence is the ability to gain and keep the trust of team members. People aren‘t likely to be influenced by a leader whom they perceive as dishonest or selfishly motivated. Assuming you were asked to lead a team, there are certain leadership skills and behaviors that would help you influence your team members and build trust. Let‘s look at seven of these: ? Demonstrate integrity. Do what you say you‘ll do, and act in accordance with your stated values. Be honest in communicating with members, and follow through on promises. ? Be clear and consistent. Let members know that you‘re certain about what you want, and remember that being clear and consistent reinforces your credibility. ? Generate positive energy. Be optimistic and compliment team members. Recognize their progress and success. ? Acknowledge common points of view. Even if you‘re about to propose some kind of change, before embarking on a new stage of a project recognize the value of the views that members already hold in common. ? Manage agreement and disagreement. When members agree with you, focus on your point of view and present it reasonably. When they disagree with you, acknowledge both sides of the issue and support your own with strong, clearly presented evidence. ? Encourage and coach. Buoy up members when they run into new and uncertain situations and when success depends on their performing at a high level. Give them the information they need and otherwise help them to perform tasks.
? Share information. Let members know that you‘re knowledgeable about team tasks and individual talents. Check with team members regularly to find out what they‘re doing and how the job is progressing. Collect information from outside sources, and make sure that it gets to the team members who need it. KEY TAKEAWAYS ? As the business world depends more and more on teamwork, it‘s increasingly important for incoming members of the workforce to develop skills and experience in team-based activities. ? Every team requires some mixture of three skill sets: 1. Technical skills: skills needed to perform specific tasks 2. Decision-making and problem-solving skills: skills needed to identify problems, evaluate alternative solutions, and decide on the best options 3. Interpersonal skills: skills in listening, providing feedback, and resolving conflict ? Team members deal with two basic challenges: (1) accomplishing the team‘s assigned task and (2) maintaining or improving group cohesiveness. ? Task-facilitating roles address challenge number one—accomplishing team tasks. Relationship-building roles address challenge number two—maintaining or improving group cohesiveness. Blocking roles consist of behavior that inhibits either team performance or that of individual members. ? The following are eight ways to add value to and survive team projects in college: 1. Draw up a team charter. 2. Contribute your ideas. 3. Never miss a meeting. 4. Be considerate of each other. 5. Create a process for resolving conflict. 6. Use the strengths of each team member. 7. Don‘t do all the work yourself. 8. Set deadlines.
? The following are seven types of skills and behaviors that help team leaders influence their members and gain their trust: 1. Demonstrating integrity 2. Being clear and consistent 3. Generating positive energy 4. Acknowledging common points of view 5. Managing agreement and disagreement 6. Encouraging and coaching 7. Sharing information
EXERCISE (AACSB) Analysis One student, a veteran of team-based assignments, has some good advice to offer students who are following in her footsteps. Don‘t start, she advises, until you‘ve drawn up a team charter. This charter (or contract) should include the following: the goals of the group; information on meeting times and places; ways to ensure that each member‘s ideas are considered and respected; methods for resolving conflicts; a ?kick-out? clause—a statement of what will happen if a team member skips meetings or fails to do his or her share of the work. [12] Now assume that you‘ve just been assigned to a team in one of your classes. Prepare a first-draft charter in which you spell out rules of conduct for the team and its members. [1] David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 498–99. See Richard S. Wellins, William C. Byham, and Jeanne M. Wilson, Empowered Teams (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991). [2] Hannah Nichols, ?Teamwork in School, Work and Life,? iamnext.com, 2003,http://www.iamnext.com/academics/groupwork.html (accessed September 1, 2008). [3] David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 498–99. See Edward E. Lawler, Treat People Right (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). [4] Quoted by Terry L. Paulson, ?Building Bridges vs. Burning Them: The Subtle Art of Influence,? 1990, at http://books.google.com/books?id=iXkq-IFFJpcC&pg=PA55&lpg=PA55&dq=%22capable+people+fail+to+ advance%22&source=web&ots=a2l2cJ2_AF&sig=4Xk7EuOq2htSf2XqBWSFQxJwVqE &hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result (accessed September 2, 2008). [5] ?What Makes Great Leaders: Rethinking the Route to Effective Leadership,? Findings from the Fortune Magazine/Hay Group 1999 Executive Survey of Leadership
Effectiveness,http://ei.haygroup.com/downloads/pdf/Leadership%20White%20Paper.pdf (accessed August 9, 2008). [6] This section is based on Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge, Organizational Behavior, 13th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2009), 346–47. [7] This section is based on David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 516–20. [8] David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 516–17. [9] Hannah Nichols, ?Teamwork in School, Work and Life,? iamnext.com 2003,http://www.iamnext.com/academics/groupwork.html (accessed August 10, 2008); and Kristin Feenstra, ?Study Skills: Team Work Skills for Group Projects,? iamnext.com, 2002, http://www.iamnext.com/academics/grouproject.html (accessed October 11, 2011). [10] This section is based on David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 510–13. [11] David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, Developing Management Skills, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007), 511. [12] Kristen Feenstra, ?Study Skills: Teamwork Skills for Group Projects,? iamnext.com, 2002, http://www.iamnext.com/academics/grouproject.html (accessed October 11, 2011). 8.4 The Business of Communication LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Discuss the role of communication in the design of the RAZR cell phone. 2. Define communication and discuss the ways in which organizations benefit from effective communication. Communication by Design As the chief designer assigned to the ?thin-clam? team at Motorola, Chris Arnholt was responsible for some of the phone‘s distinctive physical features, including its sleek aluminum finish and backlit keyboard. In fact, it was he who pushed the company‘s engineers and marketers to buck an industry trend toward phones that were getting fatter because of many add-ons such as cameras and stereo speakers. For Arnholt had
a vision. He called it ?rich minimalism,? and his goal was to help the Motorola cell phone team realize a product that embodied that profile. But what exactly did Arnholt mean by rich minimalism? ?Sometimes,? he admits, ?my ideas are tough to communicate,? but as a veteran in his field, he also understands that ?design is really about communication.? [1] His chief (and ongoing) task, then, was communicating to the cell phone team what he meant by rich minimalism. Ultimately, of course, he had to show them what rich minimalism looked like when it appeared in tangible form in a fashionable new cell phone. In the process, he also had to be sure that the cell phone included certain key benefits that prospective consumers would want. As always, the physical design of the finished product had to be right for its intended market. We‘ll have much more to say about the process of developing new products in Chapter 10 "Product Design and Development". Here, however, let‘s simply highlight two points about the way successful companies approach the challenges of new-product design and development (which you will likely recognize from reading the first part of this chapter): 1. In contributing to the new-product design and development process, industrial designers like Chris Arnholt must effectively communicate both ideas and practical specifications. 2. The design and development process usually succeeds only when the assigned team integrates input from every relevant area of the organization.[2] The common denominator in both facets of the process is effective communication. The designer, for example, must communicate not only his vision of the product but also certain specifications for turning it into something concrete. Chris Arnholt sculpted models out of cornstarch and then took them home at night to refashion them according
to suggestions made by the product team. Then he‘d put his newest ideas on paper and hand the drawings over to another member of his design team, who‘d turn them into 3D computer graphics from which other specialists would build plastic models. Without effective communication at every step in this process, it isn‘t likely that a group of people with different skills would produce plastic models bearing a practical resemblance to Arnholt‘s original drawings. On top of everything else, Arnholt‘s responsibility as chief designer required him to communicate his ideas not only about the product‘s visual and physical features but also about the production processes and manufacturing requirements for building it. [3] Thus Arnholt‘s job—which is to say, his responsibility on the cell phone team—meant that he had to do a lot more than merely design the product. Strictly speaking, the designer‘s function is to understand a product from the consumer‘s point of view; develop this understanding into a set of ideas and specifications that will satisfy not only consumer needs but producer requirements; and make recommendations through drawings, models, and verbal communications. [4]Even our condensed version of the RAZR story, however, indicates that Arnholt‘s job was far broader. Why? Because new-product design is an integrative process: contributions must come from all functions within an organization, including operations (which includes research and development, engineering and manufacturing), marketing, management, finance, and accounting. [5] Our version of the RAZR story has emphasized operations (which includes research and development, engineering, and manufacturing) and touched on the role of marketing (which collects data about consumer needs). Remember, though, that members from several areas of management were recruited for the team. Because the project required considerable investment of Motorola‘s capital, finance was certainly involved, and the decision to increase production in late 2004 was based on numbers crunched by the accounting department. At every step, Arnholt‘s drawings, specs, and recommendations reflected his collaboration with people from all these functional areas.
As we‘ll see in Section 8.4.2 "What Is Communication?", what all this interactivity amounts to is communication. [6] As for what Arnholt meant by rich minimalism, you‘ll need to take a look at the picture of the RAZR at the beginning of the chapter. Among other things, it means a blue electroluminescent panel and a 22 kHz polyphonic speaker. What Is Communication? Let‘s start with a basic (and quite practical) definition of communication as the process of transferring information from a sender to a receiver. When you call up a classmate to inform him that your Introduction to Financial Accounting class has been canceled, you‘re sending information and your classmate is receiving it. When you go to your professor‘s Web site to find out the assignment for the next class, your professor is sending information and you‘re receiving it. When your boss e-mails you the data you need to complete a sales report and tells you to e-mail the report back to her by 4 o‘clock, your boss is sending information and, once again, you‘re receiving it; later in the day, the situation will be reversed. Your Ticket In (or Out) Obviously, you participate in dozens of ?informational transfers? every day. (In fact, they take up about 70 percent of your waking hours—80 percent if you have some sort of managerial position. [7]) In any case, it wouldn‘t make much sense for us to pursue the topic much further without assuming that you‘ve gained some experience and mastered some skills in the task of communicating. At the same time, though, we‘ll also venture to guess that you‘re much more comfortable having casual conversations with friends than writing class assignments or giving speeches in front of classmates. That‘s why we‘re going to resort to the same plain terms that we used when we discussed the likelihood of your needing teamwork skills in an organizational setting: The question is not whether you‘ll need communication skills (both written and verbal). You will. The
question is whether you‘ll develop the skills to communicate effectively in a variety of organizational situations. Once again, the numbers back us up. In a recent survey by the Association of Colleges and Employers, the ability to communicate well topped the list of skills that business recruiters want in potential hires. [8] A College Board survey of 120 major U.S. companies concludes that writing is a ?threshold skill? for both employment and promotion. ?In most cases,? volunteered one human resources director, ?writing ability could be your ticket in—or your ticket out.? Applicants and employees who can‘t write and communicate clearly, says the final report, ?will not be hired and are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion.? [9] Why Are Communication Skills Important? They‘re important to you because they‘re important to prospective employers. And why do employers consider communication skills so important? Because they‘re good for business. Research shows that businesses benefit in several ways when they‘re able to foster effective communication among employees:[10] ? Decisions are more convincing and certain, and problem solving is faster. ? Warning signs of potential problems appear earlier. ? Workflow moves more smoothly and productivity increases. ? Bus