Section 1: Introduction
Moving from New York City to the Midwest, Eric Holt has recently taken a new job as the director of strategy at a regional glass manufacturer named FireArt Inc. The CEO of the company, Jack Derry, has tasked Eric with developing a comprehensive plan for the company’s strategic realignment which needs to be implemented and working within the next six months. Eric has put together a team of the top six managers, one from each division, to accomplish this task. Unfortunately for Eric and his team, after the first four meetings, there has been little progress towards their goal. The lack of progress is not due to an insufficient amount of knowledge by each manager, but rather their inability to work together as a cohesive team. The team is dysfunctional, lacking structure from the start. Eric did not implement an organized decision making process. Eric also did not attempt to discuss psychological contracts or meta-contracts with the team in order to lay out expectations. Eric may have falsely presumed that everyone was as experienced as he when it came to teamwork. He became anchored with information Jack gave him prior to the first team meeting. Through the first four meetings each team member was focusing solely on the groups he or she directs, and each seemed to be pursuing his or her own agenda; the team has been employing an advocacy approach to their decision making. Eric has attributed much of the problem to Randy Louderback, the director of sales, who has continuously projected negativity to the team process and to other team members. Although valued in his industry knowledge and analytic thinking, he has clearly been a disruptive force. Eric does not effectively communicate with Randy or the team to deal with these issues. Upon confronting Randy on his actions in the third meeting, team members stormed out of the room angered and frustrated. At the surface of the problem are Randy’s uncooperative actions. However, the contributing and underlying problem lies in the way the team has been guided in the time leading up to, and including, this fourth meeting. Section 2: Problems
One of the initial problems in this team dynamic was the anchoring trap. Jack brought Eric into the glass company with beliefs that anchored Eric’s expectations. Before Eric started working with the team, Jack highlighted Randy as having “the best mind” at FireArt. Randy was identified as the star from which all great ideas would come. Eric’s initial information about Randy was that he would be the “idea guy,” the one with “all the answers.” When Jack said, “Randy is the future of this company” Eric’s expectations soared. He quickly believed that Randy would be the team player that he was looking for.
Eric did not communicate or enforce his decision making process and meeting structure. When the team was brainstorming solutions, Randy interrupted and belittled other team members’ ideas by saying, “Let’s just do everything, why don’t we, including redesign the kitchen sink!” This brought the meeting to an abrupt end. Additionally, competition within the team seemed to exist. Eric’s team used the advocacy approach to decision making. When teams follow the advocacy process, the participants approach decision making as a contest (Garvin and Roberto 2). The director of manufacturing presented a plan that involved how the manufacturing department could expedite its processes while reducing raw materials costs. The distribution director suggested accelerating shipping and delivery times. The head of the art department pushed for adding more artists and more innovative designs as the solution. Participants were passionate for their position, making it impossible to remain objective, and hence they did not spend time debating or considering all of the ideas.
The team also lacks explicit balanced psychological contracts and meta-contracts. One problem for Eric occurred during the creation of the...
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