Methods of Poor Communication in West Coast Transit Case Study

Team Effectiveness

Describe the three criteria for evaluating effective team/group work (as stated in the textbook) and use the criteria to analyze the effectiveness of the team.

An effective team/group meets the three criteria. The three criteria include achievement of high levels of task performance, team member satisfaction, and team viability (UhlBien et al., 2020). According to UhlBien et al., a team achieves high levels of task performance by meeting standards of quality, quantity, and timelessness of the work results. Regarding the team formed to handle the West Coast marketing project, judging from the first meeting, the team is not well-positioned to achieve high levels of task performance. The team seems demotivated and disintegrated as evident in the way the members appeared for the first meeting unprepared and two team members even stated that the proposed plan is massive and unattainable. The second criterion, team member satisfaction, involves having members satisfied with their team tasks, interpersonal relationships, and accomplishments (UhlBien et al., 2020).

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The West Coast marketing project team is not satisfied with its tasks and does not believe it can accomplish the project within the allocated time. Also, the interpersonal relationships are not all healthy as some team members, such as Tanney, believe they are not being treated with the respect they deserve. The third criterion, team viability, entails members being able to work together as a team on an ongoing basis (UhlBien et al., 2020). The West Coast marketing project team’s viability is in jeopardy as Tanney has already threatened not to be part of the team until she receives an apology from Denson and is promised to be treated respectfully. Thus, the West Coast marketing project team is not effective.

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Group Formation

Review each of the five stages of group formation. Determine what stage(s) are evident in the case and provide a justification of your response.

There are five stages of team development namely: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. The forming stage entails the first entry of individual members into the team. The storming stage is characterized by high emotionality, rendering it a critical phase. As a result, it can be hard for a team to pass through successfully. During the norming stage, team members begin to cooperate leading to the development of initial feelings of closeness, shared expectations, and division of labor. The performing stage is the second last phase and is characterized by teams being more mature, organized, and well-functioning. The team has already established a clear and stable structure and all members are motivated to accomplish their shared goals. The last phase, adjourning, occurs when team members prepare to close and disband the team. It occurs when a team has achieved its set goals (UhlBien et al., 2020).

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The West Coast marketing project team is in the second stage of team development, storming. This is evident through the high emotionality characterizing the team. There are tensions over tasks and interpersonal concerns. Regarding tasks, some team members feel that they cannot successfully complete the project within the allocated time. There is also interpersonal tension between Tanney and Denson whereby Tanney feels that Denson is not treating her with the respect she deserves.

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Schein’s Three Behavioral Profiles

Apply Schein’s three behavioral profiles to specific members of the team. Identify how the profiles are demonstrated in the case.

The three behavioral profiles identified by Edgar Schein include the tough battler, the friendly helper, and the objective thinker. The tough battler is frustrated by the lack of identity in the new group which may cause him/her to act aggressively or reject authority (UhlBien et al., 2020). In the West Coast marketing project team, this is Tanney. She believes that the project will further complicate her familial issues. She is also bitter because the team is not receiving extra payment for carrying out the project despite the associated pressure. When Denson encourages team members to voice their complaints, Tanney takes it as disrespect and she storms out of the room demanding to be treated with respect. The friendly helper profile is characterized by being ready to extend help to other team members. The friendly helper is likely to pursue alliances in subgroups (UhlBien et al., 2020).

In the West Coast marketing project team, the friendly helper profile suits Mahonney. He appears afraid to offend anyone and is keen on the words he uses. When he speaks up, he reminds all team members that they have been selected because they are the only ones who can make the project work. Lastly, the objective thinker is the voice of reason who usually acts in a reflective and single-minded fashion (UhlBien et al., 2020). In the West Coast marketing project team, the objective thinker is Jing. She has a collected and calm personality and when she speaks up, she is objective. She is even the only one on the team who reviewed the agenda, printed it, and came to the meeting with suggestions.

Evaluation of Communication

Evaluate whether the communication among the participants in the case was effective or not. Justify your answer by considering any existing barriers to communication.

            The communication between the West Coast marketing project team members was not effective. The existence of communication barriers rendered the interaction between the participants ineffective. The barriers present in the interaction include lack of attention, interests, irrelevance to the receiver, and distractions. Only Mahonney and Jing seemed attentive in the meeting. However, even Mahonney was not interested in the project as he believed that it was massive and unattainable. The communication seemed irrelevant to Tanney as she believed it would only aggravate her family problems and she is not receiving payment for the project. There are also emotional barriers to communication. Tanney felt that Denson treated her condescendingly which resulted in her leaving the meeting before it was adjourned. Mahonney’s agreeableness is also a barrier to effective communication. He does not believe that the project is attainable but still insists that they should move forward with it as they are the only ones who can handle it. This is contradictory and counterproductive. According to Doyle (2018), effective communication requires honesty and transparency.

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Review the two main types of conflicts described in the textbook. Explain how each type of conflict is evident in the case.

            The two main types of conflict are substantive conflict and emotional conflict. Substantive conflict refers to disagreement over goals or ends to be pursued and their means of accomplishment (UhlBien et al., 2020). According to UhlBien et al., when people work together it is normal that varying viewpoints on different substantive work issues will arise. Substantive conflict is evident in the West Coast Transit case study when Mahonney and Tanney insist that the project is massive and unattainable. However, on the other hand, Denson believes that if the team members put their minds to the task, they can successfully complete the project within the given time frame. Comparably, emotional conflict entails interpersonal difficulties that arise due to feelings of resentment, anger, fear, mistrust, dislike, and like (UhlBien et al., 2020).

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In the case study, emotional conflict is evident in the interaction between Denson and Tanney. Tanney is going through family problems and he blames the company. She believes that the company is overworking her leading to a work-life imbalance. It is for this reason that she seems hostile towards Denson and even threatens to quit the team if Denson does not apologize and promise to treat her respectfully moving forward.

How Denson Should Resolve the Conflict

Propose how Denson should resolve the conflict in this case using one direct conflict management approach. Explain your response.

            A direct conflict management approach that Denson can use to resolve the conflict in the team is collaborating. According to Rubenstein (2018), collaborating as an approach to conflict management entails findings a solution that satisfies the concerns of all team members. This approach leads to a win-win outcome by blending high assertiveness and high cooperativeness. Denson needs to get the team members to agree that there is an issue that needs urgent attention. To address the relationship conflict that is evident in the group, Denson must get the team to find a common ground. He also needs to appeal to the mission, vision, and higher values of the organization. Perspective-taking can also help address the relationship conflict. Denson also needs to appeal to sportsmanship and team expectations (UhlBien et al., 2020). For the collaboration to work, each team member must be willing to commit.

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Leadership Activity and Maintenance Activity

Identify one specific leadership activity and one specific maintenance activity that should be encouraged. Identify the most significant disruptive behavior that should be discouraged.

            Effective team leaders utilize both leadership activities and maintenance activities to ensure team effectiveness. A leadership activity that should be encouraged in the West Coast marketing project team is the offering of ideas. Rather than every team member focusing on why a project is not attainable, they should emphasize offering ideas that can lead to the success of a project. A maintenance activity that should be encouraged is reconciling differences. When Tanney feels that Denson has disrespected her, she storms out of the room. This is an avoidance strategy, which should not be promoted at West Coast Transit. Tanney should have stayed in the meeting and reconciled the differences with Denson. A significant disruptive behavior that must be discouraged is slackness. Whereas all the team members received the meeting agenda, only Jing had reviewed it, printed it, and came to the meeting with suggestions. The rest of the team members came to the meeting unprepared as they felt that the project is massive and unattainable.

Motivational Problems

Identify a significant motivational problem experienced by each individual: Jing, Mahonney, and Tanney. Describe how Denson should motivate each person. Be sure to provide a specific motivational suggestion for each person based on their motivational needs. Ensure that you have at least one suggestion from each of the motivational theory/techniques: content theories, process theories, and reinforcement strategies.

  Jing, Mahonney, and Tanney are facing significant motivational problems. To start with, Jing only has a month left in the marketing department before relocating to another department. She, therefore, feels that she should not be part of the marketing project team. Denson should motivate Jing by using an intrinsic motivator. Jing has a reputation for being conscientious. According to Manifest Needs Theory, the need for achievement is a great motivator for people who are intrinsically motivated (UhlBien et al., 2020). Thus, Denson needs to remind Jing that her input is desperately needed to ensure that the company remains afloat. Regarding Mahonney, her motivation problem stems from him believing that the project is unattainable. Nonetheless, he still believes that the selected team is the best suited to handle the task. Denson should motivate Mahonney by boosting his self-efficacy.

The Self-Efficacy Theory states that self-efficacy allows individuals to believe that they can effectively perform a specific task. Self-efficacy boosts an individual’s confidence in their ability and allows them to maintain a positive attitude towards a task (UhlBien et al., 2020).  Lastly, Tanney’s motivational problem stems from work-life balance stemming from the high turnaround demand by the organization. Denson should motivate her by promising her a paid leave after the project is done. Alderfer’s ERG Theory insists that individuals have relatedness needs, which are desires for satisfying interpersonal relations (UhlBien et al., 2020). Tanney needs time off to mend her family issues but this can only happen after a project is done.

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