Levi Strauss & Co.'s Flirtation with Teams - Chapter 7
November 9, 2005
Discuss the stages of group development and the implementations of them for the development of the teams at Levi Strauss?
Generally, five (5) stages of development are experienced by any team implemented to work together. These five stages are identified as Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. At Levi Strauss & Co. Ltd., in going through these stages, it was the team members' handling of the inevitable conflicts that developed, which had severe and far-reaching implications for team development at the organization. Team members became frustrated and remained stagnated for long periods in certain stages.
Forming is the first stage of group development. Teams in this stage come together and begin to identify their collective purpose. There is an initial belief that synergy will be created and that the team will perform at a higher level than the sum of the individual members. At Levi Strauss the employees did not form their own teams but were placed by middle management into teams. The building of trust and a team's foundation, an expected step in forming, did not occur at Levi Strauss. There was thus no natural flow of information on tasks, goals and processes.
Team members were generally aware of their common purpose of increasing production in a self-managed environment, but how this was to be accomplished was not clearly defined. Consequently, instead of leaders emerging and synergy developing, conflict reigned. Storming the second stage of team development, should see the clarification of goals and the adoption of an accepted decision-making process. Successful teams learn to accommodate diversity. Conflict, which is not necessarily a negative feature, is characteristic of this stage. At Levi Strauss, no guidelines for resolving conflict were established. Instead, teams became divided, small alliances of like interests were established and conflict reached alarming proportions.
Norming - In this stage, performance of teams reaches a level of acceptability and the minimum is required to maintain it. Tasks become routine and there is an efficiently developed communication system. Since team members at Levi Strauss remained inundated in conflict, they lingered for an inordinate amount of time at the Storming stage, and production levels never reached organizational expectations.
Performing - The performing stage of team development tends to unleash the teams' creativity, focus on goal achievement and shared support. At Levi Strauss, the latter was evidenced when workers performed the tasks of absent members of the team.
Adjourning- The final stage of team development. At this stage, the team accomplishes its goals and completes its mission. Team members disengage from task and relationship oriented behaviour. Team members never accomplished their goals of increased productivity and profitability for the Levi Strauss & Co. Their inability to handle conflict at the storming stage did not auger well for the other stages of team development. Consequently, the company did not reach this stage since the team structure remained. 2.
Discuss some of the norms that emerged in the teams. What was their function and how did they influence the behaviour of group members?
Norms may be defined as unwritten and often unspoken rules that govern behaviour. They are expected to provide regularity and predictability to behaviour and are often developed to control loyalty, performance and reward allocation. In this regard, two specific norms that emerged at Levi Strauss were Performance Norms and Reward Allocation Norms.
Performance Norms - The function of performance norms is to ensure that workers maintain high productivity levels, which directly result in higher wages for all. They provide members with explicit cues on how...
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