Trouble with Teamwork
Mary Owen examines the role and efficiency of teams
Recruiters say that candidates who can give examples ofwork they have done as members of a successful team are in asstrong a position as those who can point to significant individualachievement. Indeed, too much of the latter may suggest thatthe person concerned is not a 'team player' - one of the moreserious failings in the book of management.
The importance of being a team player is a side effect of the increasing interaction acrossdepartments and functional divides. Instead of pushing reports, paperwork and decisions aroundthe organisation, 'teams provide a dynamic meeting place where ideas can be shared and expertisemore carefully targeted at important business issues,' says Steve Gardner, in his book KeyManagement Concepts. He adds, 'Globalisation has added a further dimension to teamwork.Multinational teams now study policy decisions in the light of their impact on the local market.'
But is teamworking being overdone? 'Some managers are on as many as seven or eightdifferent teams', says Dr Cathy Bandy, a psychologist who recently ran a conference on thesubject. 'They take up so much time that managers can't get on with core tasks.' Forming teamsand having meetings has, she says, become an end in itself, almost regardless of purpose. There isalso the danger of an unhealthy desire to keep the team going after the work has been done. 'People feel the need to belong, and team membership can provide a kind of psychologicalsupport.'
The idea behind teamworking is that, when the right group of people is brought together, a'force' develops which is greater than the sum of their individual talents. This is often true in sport,where good players can reach unexpected heights as members of an international team.However,few business situations have as clear a set of objectives, or as clear criteria of success orfailure, as winning a match.
'In business, everyone needs to be clear about what the challenge is and whether a team isthe right way of approaching it', says Steve Gardner. 'Unfortunately, people focus instead on whothe members of the team should be and what roles they are to play' Dr Bandy agrees. 'There isalways a danger that teams can turn into committees,' she says. 'In a lot of situations, one or twoindividuals would be much more effective.'
So what makes a successful team? There are some general qualities that have been identified.Steve Gardnerrecommends that in every team there should be someone who is good atresearching ideas and another who is good at shooting down impractical ones. There should bethose who can resolve the tensions that naturally occur in a team and others who are focused ongetting the job done. Also, providing a clear and achievable target at the outset is the best way ofensuring that the team will move on to greater things.
13、 What point does the writer make about teamworking at the beginning of the article?
A It is the most successful form of management.
B It has changed the recruitment procedure in companies.
C Well-run teams still allow individuals to demonstrate their talents.
D Being a team player is now considered an essential management skill.
14 、According to the article, teamwork developed within companies as a response to
A modern office design.
B changing work practices.
C a reduction in administrative tasks.
D the expansion of international business.
15 、In the third paragraph, Dr Bandy suggests that
A many employees do not enjoy working in teams.
B some managers are not very effective team leaders.
C some teams are created unnecessarily.
D few teams are well organised.
16 、According to the writer, teamwork is more effective in the field of sport because the players
A know what they want to achieve.
B are more competitive by nature.
C have more individual talent.
D can be driven by national pride.
17 、Steve Gardner and Dr Bandy agree that when a business team is created people do notpay enough attention to
A the structure of the team.
B alternatives to the team.
C selecting the team members.
D directing the team's activities.
18、 What is Steve Gardner's advice on operating a successful team?
A Maintain a flexible approach to membership.
B Allow personalities to develop within the team.
C Select people who fit naturally into certain roles.
D Make every effort to avoid conflict between members.
What a lovely place Xerox is to work Kim Moloney, a client services executive, can’t say enough nice things about her employer. ‘It’s a very special environment,’ she says. ‘People describe Xerox as a family and I was amazed at the number of people who have worked here for so long.’ It’s tempting to take Moloney’s comments with a pinch of salt, especially considering that when you’ve been working somewhere for only two years, as she has at Xerox, everyone seems old and established. But there’s truth behind her enthusiasm.
Take Carole Palmer, the group resources director. She joined Xerox in 1978 as a temp and has been in her present role for seven years. ‘Xerox has been good to me over the years,’ she says. ‘It has supported me through qualifications … and last year I took part in the vice-president incumbent program.’ Human resources is taken seriously at Xerox, Palmer says, and the company has a policy of promoting from within (which would explain Moloney’s amazement at her colleagues’ longevity). The company takes on only fifteen to twenty graduates each year and Moloney was part of an intake who joined having already acquired a couple of years’ work experience. She started as a project manager for Xerox Global Services before moving into sales. Now her responsibility is to ‘grow and maintain customer relationships’.
Moloney is based at the head office in Uxbridge. ‘It’s great in terms of working environment,’ she says. ‘We’ve just got a new provider in the canteen and … we have brainstorming rooms and breakout areas.’ Much of Moloney’s role is visiting clients, so she doesn’t have a permanent desk at head office. ‘I’m a hot-desker, which is good because you get to sit with different people in the hot-desk areas. And you’re given a place to store your things.’ Head office staff numbers between 1,200 and 1,500 people, Palmer says. The company has four other main offices in the UK. The nature of the organization, which encompasses sales and marketing, global services (the biggest division), developing markets, research and development and manufacturing, means that the opportunities at the company vary from service engineers to sales roles and consultants.
Perks include a final-salary pension scheme and various discount schemes. The reward and recognition scheme is a little different, and rather nice: ‘Each manager has a budget every year to recognize and reward staff,’ Palmer says. ‘It can be in the form of a meal for two, or a bottle of wine. It can be up to £1,000. There’s the recognition, and then there’s putting money behind it.’ Moloney, however, likes the non-cash rewards. ‘Xerox takes care of all its staff but it also recognizes the people who put in the added effort,’ she says. ‘It offers once-in-a-lifetime incentive trips, and recently I organized a sailing trip for my team.’
The idea of working abroad with the company appeals to her, and she says that her career goal is to be part of the senior management team. Here’s another employee, it would seem, who is in it for the long haul.
( )1.The journalist of this article thinks that .
A. staff at Xerox are not telling the truth abut the company.
B. Xerox offers great benefits to staff.
C. Xerox is the best company in the world.
D. Xerox has the best working environment.
( )2.The company tends to find its new manager .
A. only form graduates B. on training courses
C. from existing staff D. from job markets
( )3.What does the phrase “to take on” in the sentence “The company takes on only fifteen to twenty graduates each year and …” of the second paragraph mean? .
A. To train B. To employ
C. To interview D. To maintain(A)
( )4.As well as recognizing its staff through promotion, Xerox .
A. gives cash bonuses
B. gives unpaid leave to take trips of a lifetime.
C. provides a number of perks.
D. provides huge end-of-year bonuses.
( )5.One common feature of Xerox staff is that they tend .
A. to work hard B. to get promoted
C. work longer hours each day D. not to change employer