Od Action Research (Step Wise Example)

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Step -1 : Top management perception of the problem
Company ABC grew from 20 people to 500 in the past 3 years. Recently, the company developed from being regionally based to becoming a national organisation, with three divisions and four corporate service groups. These subgroups comprised seventeen people from four areas: delivery services, sales support, production planning and invoicing. There were three team leaders. The sub groups were reluctant to get together. There was frustration; unmet expectations and negativity between the different teams. Some team members felt special and others felt invisible, and this is causing friction and reduced effectiveness in the organisation.

Step -2: Consultation with Behavioural Science Consultant
At this point the consultant was called upon to suggest and work out the solution seeking the following outcomes from the project: •To develop a happy and functional team so that staff want to come to work •That staff cope well with the changes ahead including the shared physical environment •Staff are comfortable with each other and understand their different responsibilities, and deliver to both internal and external customers •That staff support each other as a new team.

Step -3: Data gathering & preliminary diagnosis of the problem Knowing that some of these people have worked together for a number of years it was difficult to understand the reported negativity and reluctance to get together. Consultant suggested exploring the existing network of relationships and the informal lines of communication. A series of discussions with team members were held to discover their way of thinking, and some of the skills, experience and attributes they are bringing to the new team.

Step -4: Feedback to the key clients or client group
The meetings were lively and open. Staff wanted to see five outcomes achieved:

Clear definition of responsibilities – “the grey areas to be defined, especially where it’s no-one’s job, but it has to be done. “ •Communication – “we share information versus chasing around trying to get it. Not expecting people to know when they haven’t been told”. •Manager and team leaders relationships – “we can raise issues and the manager/team leaders are available to us. Don’t let problems hang around.” •Team qualities – “knowing you can rely on people to help when you are overloaded. And, with a large group of busy people who rush around a lot – the need for some privacy and our own space.” •The barriers of ‘getting together’ so we are no longer ‘us and them’ are addressed

Step -5: Joint problem diagnosis
The interviews revealed three examples of ‘us and them’
oSome staff (sales support & production planning) were closer to the managers and had better working conditions than others. oThose closer to managers worked with external customer relationships, and the others related mainly to internal customers. Internal customers were perceived as less important, and hence those working with them were also seen as less important. oThe production planning team reported directly to the national manager. These people valued highly their independence and were reluctant for this to change. Others perceived these team members as aloof and unavailable.

Step -6: Joint action Planning
To address team members concerns and to achieve the results both they and their manager wanted, team building approach was used. This utilized the team’s normal meeting structure – reinforcing team development as not special or separate from operational activities to give a chance for building ongoing relationships in the workplace.

Step -7: Action
A series of half-day team sessions over a three-month period were held. These focused on developing relationships, enabling communication, problem solving and decision making within the newly formed group, ensuring their concerns were addressed. The criterion used here was: 'Who in this group can I rely on to help me solve a...
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