Leadership, Teambuilding and Communication
A successful team is linked to the effectiveness of teamwork, leadership and communication (LaFasto & Larson, 2001). Communication is a fundamental element of effective leadership and a prerequisite for the success of any organization. Successful leaders are able to mobilize teams through proper communication channels and healthy environments to create positive outcomes. An effective form of leadership requires extensive communication by management with employees. Team building is intended to improve the performance of a team and involves activities meant to promote communication and encourage cooperation.
The success or failure of any organization is dependent upon its ability to effectively function as a team. Effective leadership cites teambuilding as one of the most effective tools a strategic leader should have (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). This essay focuses on PepsiCo Inc, which is an American multinational food and beverage corporation. The performance of the company is a subject to its “purpose” agenda, which has four components, which Are: performance, human, environmental and talent sustainability (PepsiCo, 2013).
Leadership Styles and Their Impact on Organizational Performance
Effective team leaders have long-term perspectives on goals as well as innovative ways of achieving them. Team leaders learn from experience and focus on goals or objectives of their teams despite adverse conditions. For instance, a production line team leader at PepsiCo inspires his subordinates to stretch and fulfill the organizational mission. PepsiCo invests in its associates to develop their talent and leadership skills to achieve success (PepsiCo, 2013).
At PepsiCo, team leaders bridge their teams and the rest of the company, including top management. They do not only link the team’s goals to those of higher management, but also share information, status updates and feedback. PepsiCo production line team leaders help individuals to build their group process and interpersonal skills.
There are three predominant leadership styles with many variations. These include democratic, autocratic and laissez-faire leadership (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Autocratic style of leadership is both directive and controlling. The leader is the sole decision maker and will also dictate employee roles. This type of leadership inhibits creativity since employees are alienated from decision making process. Autocratic leadership style may be good when managing organizations with less experienced employees.
Democratic leadership style focuses on employee participation in the decision-making process. The decision making process is by consensus and consultation. This style leads to empowerment of employees, because it makes them responsible for the decisions made by the management (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). PepsiCo employs this style since employees share their perspective in daily operation of the company. It is also effective, because the PepsiCo has highly skilled and experienced employees. Democracy is instrumental tool in resolving team conflicts.
Laissez-faire style of leadership makes employees responsible for most of the decisions that are made under minimal supervision. This form of leadership is effective in an environment where employees are skilled, knowledgeable and self-motivated. Employees must have a personal drive to achieve goals. Laissez-faire leadership is not effective where employees feel insecure as a result of their team leader’s inability to carry out their own work.
Other styles of leadership are transformational and transactional. Transformational leadership is characterized by leaders who have a clear vision and communicate it effectively to others. Transactionalleadership style is characterized by centralized control over employees. Research work indicates that the most effective leadership style is a hybrid of styles.
Organizational Stressors and Management
Mild stress gives people motivation and stimulation for a personal growth. However, extreme amounts of stress impact negatively on our behavior, health and performance. Individual or organizational performance can be disrupted even by low levels of stress. Job performance is adversely affected by greater levels of stress people encounter on the job. Stressed workers tend to be prone to accidents, have weakened relationship, closed minded and reduced life expectancy (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Stress adversely affects the physical and mental health of employees. Job stress also affects employees’ contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations.
Stress stems from so many different factors and conditions. Stressors are factors that cause stress in any set up. Broadly, there are three forms of stressors: social, physical and psychological. Physical stressors are external factors including noise, radiation, extreme temperatures, pollutants and chemicals (LaFasto & Larson, 2001). Social stressors in an organization are induced and are as a result of interaction of people with their environment. Therefore, these include disharmony between team members, demotion, change of residence and increased financial responsibilities without prior consent. Psychological stressors are extreme emotions brought on by social and physical stressors. These include fear, internal dialogue, frustration, hate, worry, inferiority feelings, jealousy and feeling of not being appreciated at work.
As a matter of fact, academic research indicates that team leaders show more physical and psychological stress symptoms than senior managers. This is subject factors such as work overload, deadlines and time pressures. Some sources of stress in an organizational role include role conflict and role ambiguity. Lack of clear definition of goals and job descriptions generates stress. Other role stressors include a lack of support from the management and a lack of participation in decision making. Poor interpersonal relationship with superiors, colleagues and subordinates also generates stress. Group cohesion and social support are extremely beneficial in overcoming such sources or stress (Hackman & Johnson, 2009).
Poor career development is also a stressor in the sense that, employees get frustrated and stressed when they feel stagnated in a level of their career. PepsiCo has established proper career development mechanisms in order to eliminate uncertainty and stress (PepsiCo, 2013). Other sources of stress include life strains, social change, line staff conflicts, absence of helping relations and cooperation, technological change, lack of effective consultation, relocation as well as little opportunity for development. Poor leadership is generally considered as a source of stress due to unpredictability and erosion of the subordinates’ self esteem.
Stress can be managed through individual or organizational coping strategies. PepsiCo encourages positive attitudes and involve its workers in regular and regulated physical exercises. Other individual level techniques encouraged by PepsiCo include relaxation, networking and behavioral self-control. Activities such as team building, swimming and playing out door games combat stress through its side effects such as diversion, relaxation and enhanced self esteem. Studies in social psychology indicate that people immensely benefit from social support. Close associations between team members help them to get through stressful situations (Hackman & Johnson, 2009).
Since stress can lead to unpredictable behavior, which tends to lower performance and turnover, it is, therefore, extremely valuable for an organization to make tangible efforts to reduce or prevent job stress. One of the strategies is emotional climate control. This involves creating an environment of esteem and regard to employees. Employees should also be allowed to participate in decision making. PepsiCo provides a supportive organizational climate. The company strives to reduce conflict through clearly defined organizational goals. Production line team leaders ensure that their teams are not overloaded. Employee roles are also clearly defined in job descriptions to eliminate role conflict and role ambiguity. PepsiCo is characterized by effective communication flow, which improves performance and quality of work. Its human resource department has established programs for prevention of job stress in areas like personnel selection, job design, the organizational structure and climate, placement as well as training (PepsiCo, 2013).
Critical Elements for Effective Group and Work Team Performance
Teams are an integral part of daily operations of any organization. Teamwork is a set of inter-related activities done by more than one person in order to achieve a common objective. Teams may be created to deliver a one-time project or work together on an ongoing process. PepsiCo embraced team approach to bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives into play. Team work is pivotal in reducing non-productive hours, consequently, increasing productivity and ensures maximum utilization of human resource. This is the key reason why PepsiCo promotes teamwork in the workplace.
Team development has been broken into five phases: form, storm, norm, perform and adjourn. Therefore, in order to develop effective teams at PepsiCo, there has to be effective leadership in place.Each employee's ideas must be considered in the forming stage as valuable. Members must alsotry to understand their own roles, the roles of the other team members and their purpose in the group.Conflicts should also be addressed by facilitators in the storming stage of team development. For effective and productive teams, it is advisable to review ground rules, revisit the purpose and related administrative matters of the team.
Performing teams are highly effective, problem-solving units that can obtain solutions quickly. One of the critical elements of an effective team is a common understanding. Every member of an effective team accepts the purpose of the team, its goals and objectives. Team members with diverse perspectives are immensely valuable. Effective teams are composed of members from various levels in the organization.
Effective teams are more strategically aware and share a vision. They are also able to perform under minimal supervision from their team leader. Effective teams focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader.Effective teams are also pro-active and not necessarily wait for direction from management. Team members demonstrate loyalty to their group, and respect individual dissension and disagreement (LaFasto & Larson, 2001).
Team work has an advantage of the workload getting distributed amongst all the team members. People working with a team tend to learn things at a faster rate based on experiences and knowledge of the older team members. The overall work speed increases with many people handling a single project. Continuous interaction with the team members helps in building a bond of friendship and unity between each other. Teamwork also improves individual performance, which is linked to job satisfaction and motivation.
Potential Sources of Conflict within the Group or Work Team
Conflict is generally defined as disagreement or struggle between two or more people or groups (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Conflicts faced in organizations stems from a variety of sources, such as: time pressures, communication breakdowns, ambiguous roles, competition for scarce resources, personality clashes, unreasonable standards or rules and unrealized expectations. When employees hold grudges, they lose energy and focus that could have been directed to productive organizational endeavors. Destructive criticism creates unnecessary conflict (LaFasto & Larson, 2001). Negative feedback often angers the involved parties. Team leaders are encouraged to use constructive criticism to improve team members’ performance.
Since organizations never have unlimited resources such as personnel and equipment, conflicts over the distribution of those resources emerge. This can be managed through expansion of scarce resources to enable all team leaders to achieve common goals. The most common way to resolve conflict between individuals, teams or even the entire company is to negotiate a solution that is acceptable to all the affected parties. This process is known as bargaining (LaFasto & Larson, 2001).
Conflict can also be resolved by a third party intervention. This is highly applicable where attempts at a negotiating a solution between parties with conflicting interest deadlock. A third party intervention can also be referred to as mediation. Another form of third party intervention is known as arbitration. Arbitrators have the power to impose terms of an agreement (LaFasto & Larson, 2001).
Impact of Communication Barriers on the Group and Work-Team Performance
Communication is a process of conveying some understanding or information from one party to another (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). As a result, communication is the life line of any entity. For this reason, effective communication upholds the spirit of a teamwork and understanding between management and employees. It is, therefore, vital for an organization to lay down good channels of communication to keep the integrity of its formal structure. Communication is also instrumental in case of conflict management within any entity (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). All organizations have a hierarchical line of authority through which messages flow.
Ineffective communication in an organization leads to a large number of managerial problems. Consequently, the performance and productivity of teams fall. Poorly conveyed information from team leaders may lead to conflicts, which have an adverse effect on the morale of subordinates. Demoralized teams are likely to underperform, which consequently reduces productivity. Barriers of communication are difficulties or obstacles that come in the process of communication. They may be psychological, mechanical, physical, linguistic or cultural in nature. Mechanical and external barriers are defects in the devices used for communication. These include absence of communication facilities, defective telephone and cross talks. Physical barriers include traffic, mood variation, noise environmental stress, ill health and ignorance about the medium. Psychological barriers are those, which are based on the fact that there is a variation on how humans think or reason. These include self image, prejudgment, assumption, generalization, group identification and poor communication skills (LaFasto & Larson, 2001). For instance, a worker with ill-health is most likely to have his ability to communicate reduced to inadequate energy.
Poor communication skills prevent the sender in encoding his messages properly and to attract listeners. These skills can be improved through suitable training. Counseling can be used to overcome the problem of closed mindset, which arises as a result of narrow interest and intellectual background (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Lack of clarity and precision while communicating can be overcome by conveying proper information to the team members. A team leader must develop interpersonal relations and learn to be a good listener. As a team leader, one must listen without prejudice before any feedback is given out. A good team leader must translate the directive into a language that is appropriate to the context in which his subordinates understand avoiding the risk of poor communication. Sometimes laziness or lack of urgency in transmitting messages either upward or downward becomes a barrier in effective communication in an organization (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Particularly, timely communication achieves healthy cooperation and coordination in any entity. Subordinates should also be given reasonable time for adjustment in scenarios where messages conveyed have a bearing on their working conditions. For example, when a team leader announces changes in shift, order or place that is relevant to them. Members of a team require ample time to understand messages sent to them. It is inappropriate for a team leader to force changes on the subordinates before they adjust with such changes. Other ways of overcoming barriers of communication within the PepsiCo include feedback of information, use of proper language and conveying information through action and deeds.
In summary, leadership can significantly affect an entity, by either determining its success in a market or by defining the organizational culture. Strong, ethical leadership is very crucial in any business climate. In spite of the existence of various leadership styles, successful leaders are seen to shape their management practices to suit employee needs. Moreover, good leadership is characterized by having a vision and implementing it to a reality. Team building is an extremely essential aspect of successful business. Teams are effective when they have a team leader who is able to help see them through some of the more difficult stages of the team-building process.
Communication is highly instrumental in motivating employees since it gives expression to ideas and thoughts. Effective communication improves performance. Lastly, regular feedbacks help to reduce barriers in communication.