CHSY is a medical devices company based in Munich. The company is privately owned, and products are sold into the pathology labs. Examples from CHSY will be used throughout the assignment for teamwork in a sales environment.
Teamwork can be a very rewarding method to efficiently achieve tasks. A feeling of euphoria and power can descend on a team of people to share similar values and ideas and striving towards the same objectives. The team can work in a collaborative nature to complete projects and share problems. Teamwork can increase productivity, enhance the quality of work, reduce cost and time. Teamwork can also create a positive working environment and increase goodwill amongst employees. However, by the very nature of sales this can naturally be a very competitive environment. Sales in the past has historically been a one-man band strategy, fighting for business. Today, companies are taking a more dynamic approach and adopting a more holistic view of the sales process. Not all sales people can value this, and by the nature of the profession, teamwork may not be readily accepted. Sales people can be suspicious, and selfish in sharing ideas. Teamwork can also raise the awareness of the competency levels of some employees and some employees are happy for the determined employees to carry the load of teamwork. Teamwork is also heavily driven by the managers and the employees and the willingness of these two parties to be involved and create a successful environment.
Culture is incredibly important in any organisation and a strong culture can ultimately achieve high performance and long-term employee retention. Clear communication of culture in the company can contribute to how the employee performs the tasks to achieve overall project objectives. When organisations do not transmit the culture very well, this can lead to disastrous consequences. Many employees have decreased job satisfaction and as a result leave contributing to high employee turnover. Culture is not something that is achieved in one day, this is embedded from the first day and conveyed over multiple periods. Employees learn from experiences and put this into working practice and other employees learn from this. Recruitment of new employees is often difficult, and many will conform to what the existing culture is to refrain from being seen as a troublemaker. The culture in CHSY is one of bullying and fear. All instructions and day-to-day decisions are made by the managers of the company. The managers operate a micro-management system, where customer meetings, expenses and monitoring of employees is all performed. A recent employee in CHSY had to have emergency unexpected surgery. This sadly resulted in time-off from the company. The employee was new to the organisation and did not understand the culture. Unfortunately, the time taken to recover was not seen as favourable by the managers of the company. This led to the impression that the employee was not dedicated to CHSY.
Edward Schein postulates that there are three levels to the culture of an organisation as shown in Figure 1: Iceberg model depicting culture (Source: Padma Sekhar Leadership Assignment 12/17)
Artefacts are objects that can be viewed easily. In CHSY, the dress code is conservative, employee behaviour is sedentary; and the layout of the office space is all controlled and dictated by the managers of the company. The managers make the decisions, and the employees carry out their duties, and never question anything. Despite having evidence and data to suggest that operating another way can result in greater revenue and efficiency for the business. Deadlines are given, and the managers tolerate a zero policy for no excuses. It’s not clear to employees, particularly the foreigners what’s expected in terms of the culture. The managers never filter this to all the employees, as they believe this is something that employees should decipher for themselves. However, to work as a team and achieve company ambitions it is important to understand this and subsequently deliver the results. The assumed values, is perhaps one of the hardest facet to measure in CHSY. The values are so embedded and unspoken in the organisation, many long-term employees who have been with the business for a long time, no longer question this and perform their jobs. CHSY employ an international sales team, and many employees, particularly new recruits do not understand what the owner’s expectations are. A British employee suffered a bereavement after being employed in the company for one year. Not realising the culture in the company, the employee was signed off from work to grieve during this period. The employee was away from work for four weeks. In CHSY, many employees take annual leave to attend the funeral and return to work.
This is the culture of the company and the managers of the company did not understand why the British employee took this leave. The British employee was unfortunately made to feel very bad after returning to work, and as a result left the company to join another organisation.
CHSY decided to restructure the sales team to remove the distributors in the respective countries and direct account managers to develop greater relationships with the customers. The new sales team were asked to attend a meeting to discuss sales targets and work together to formulate ideas on how to promote products and win business and market share. An initial meeting prior to the official sales meeting, would’ve allowed everyone to become acquainted with one another and learn to listen to each other.
Figure 2: Tuckman and Jensen revised small group development (Source: Bonebright, 2009)
The revised Tuckman model is shown in Figure 2. However, as CHSY operate a culture where the managers of the company do not want their employees to have innovative ideas. The sales targets are decided before the meeting takes place. This exercise of working as a team and generating ideas has very little credence. The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum is another theory that mandates how much freedom the manager chooses to offer to the employees. To foster a culture of creativity and innovation will engage employees and help the organisation. The employees subsequently become demotivated and despondent and never take teambuilding exercises seriously.
Although still relevant, there are several limitations to the team building development model proposed by Tuckman. Studies need to be performed regarding where the team building exercise occurs, and study different sectors. The Tuckman model has largely been derived from literature reviews. Once the team building exercise has completed, what happens? Teams and people develop and change through the course of their employment. What’s the suggested time-frame between the stages of the Tuckman model? It depends on the team, and suggested task. Also, the objective of the teams coming together, does the topic of the task hinder or progress team building? It’s also difficult to study team building depending on male versus female teams and the distribution of gender in these studies.
Douglas McGregor developed theory X and Y about employee motivation and management styles. The management style at CHSY is very much driven by theory X. The managers of the company do not trust the employees and as result monitors and collects data on everything. The managers believe that the employees are unmotivated, lazy, and have no ambition or drive to perform the tasks. This is particularly true of the field-based account managers. The field-based account managers work from home and in their respective home countries. Every week a report is sent to the managers and details of the activities for the week are included. The meeting report is logged into the CRM and matched against the expenses report completed by the account managers.
The managers have contacted customers by email or phone, and used the excuse ‘sorry, I couldn’t join you for the meeting with respective account manager’. It’s a very non-aggressive method to check on the employees. There is also a Skype online program, and when account managers are working from home, must log in. This maintains the impression that the account manager is ‘working’. However, no details of emails or calls are asked to be provided. This does not mean the employee is necessarily working/not working because they are connected online. It’s not entirely clear why employees continue to work in this environment. The fear of leaving what’s familiar and moving to a new team in another company? Certain employees have worked at CHSY since the company started, and so believe that this is the way that teams operate in organisations.
Theory Y managers are very engaging with their employees and employees in turn feel happier to work in this environment. The theory Z style of management by William Ouchi is driven by high loyalty and Japanese culture. The managers truly invest in their employees and are concerned with their well-being and employment security. However, no isolated theory is perfect in this management approach. An amalgamation of all management theories can be used to bring the best out of the employee and for the beneficial needs of the organisation. No single employee is the same, and all driven by different habits, behaviours and motivational factors. Although, a consistent approach to treating employees in the same manner has some merits, different employees are driven by different motivational influences. For a given task to be completed, what makes this employee committed to achieving the final result? Maslow’s hierarchy needs theory can help CHSY to understand their employees better. Maslow has characterised human needs into five basic groups, which are physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualisation shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs visualised as a pyramid (Source: Harrington and Lamport, 2015).
The theory is typically depicted as a pyramid, and the lower need must be satisfied first in order for the employee to move to the next level. Generally, in any sales environment, the physiological need is driven by salaries and the commission. The more the sales people sell, the higher the earning power. CHSY can implement a European commission structure, so not only does the employee receive commission when the individual goal is achieved, but also when the European target is met. Employee safety is paramount in any organisation, and when travelling to customer sites and performing product demonstrations. Managers must disclose every aspect of the job, particularly if equipment is involved. Many employees will question the safety aspect, and managers must provide this information. No employee should fear what they do in their job and must be safe. CHSY operates a culture of fear, and employees generally complete the tasks without questions. Although the goal of the company has been met, and the employee has performed the tasks through fear, if a fatality was to occur this will not look good for the organisation. CHSY never thank their employees for their hard work and goals achieved. Many employees feel undervalued and often wonder why they achieved the tasks in the first instance. CHSY also does not value career progression, training and team spirit. Many sales people have joined the organisation, and as a result have left the business because they can benefit from these things in other organisations. In the period of three months, five sales people left the business, and the whole European team was left feeling very despondent, and fearful as to why this was happening. Although Maslow’s theory is very useful, in practice, it is very difficult to measure the satisfaction level in each tier. Also, the timeframes required to more to different levels. Different cultures and sectors need to be explored and the model fails to account for spiritual needs. Also, employees can multi-task and work on more than one need at a time.
Goal setting is a fantastic way of getting people to work together and achieve a common task. Employees can often feel empowered when challenging, specific and realistic goals are presented to them. Managers can use goal setting to enhance employee motivation and monitor their performance. Goals can also be used to measure the performance of the employee and feedback suggestions can be directed to the employee and a performance plan can be implemented.
Figure 4: Conceptual model linking goal and goal-setting attributes to workplace unethical behaviours
Goals for many employees are a way of increasing their salary, receiving a higher bonus, or even career progression. However, goals can also lead to undesirable and unethical behaviour as shown in Figure 4. At CHSY, certain performance measures were implemented regarding sales visits and number of meetings that the sales people must perform. CHSY is selling clinical diagnostic products, as a result, the conversation that the sales people should have is always consultative and contributing to relationship building with the customers. This forced the sales people to often behave in an unethical manner regarding the customer visits. Employees were often given warning in this situation as the managers felt the employees were not working hard enough or contributing to the team. The sales people will often ‘invent’ numbers for the sake of fulfilling an objective. The sales visits with customers must always have a purpose and an opportunity must arise from the discussions. These subsequent opportunities are then used to derive a monetary value for the order. However, as the sales people were often scared, this unethical behaviour will result in forecasting for the business that is not necessarily reflective of true business. The customer meetings are also arranged in advance and respect is always given to the client for their schedule and time. However, as these numbers had to be achieved, many sales people will often just arrive at the customer site. This will be at the detriment of the sales person, and the company itself. Many customers complained directly to the managers of the company, and the sales person was often on a warning. Managers at CHSY should listen to the sales people and understand what is feasible for a given week.
As the European team has to work together, this creates a very selfish environment. When one sales person develops a bad reputation, unfortunately, this spoils the reputation for everyone in the team and the company. The ramifications for these unrealistic expectations are often resulting in huge consequences for the business.
Etzioni postulated two types of power dynamics, position and persona. This was enhanced by French and Raven in 1959, and employees obey orders from those in authority positions. In contrast, many people want to feel valued and through this power is generated. Power in many ways is very subjective and difficult to quantify. People that have power may not want this or may not understand what to do with it. People that possess the power, may use this to influence employees, sometimes, in a positive or negative manner and can manipulate individuals to obtain what they desire. Power can be classified into five categories, coercive, reward, legitimate, expert and referent power. CHSY very much operates through coercive power. Employees in the organisation are so fearful they may lose their jobs or be demoted they often submit and perform the task or agree, even in situations when they know that this should be questioned. A situation arose with one account manager who did not agree with the company target for the territory. As a result, refused to sign the agreement regarding the target. The managers of the company refused to pay the bonus for the sales, even though the customers were buying. After three months of no payment for the bonus, the account manager eventually signed the contract. By way of demonstrating that challenging the managers will not be tolerated, the money owed to the account manager was never paid. This target, if not realistic, can make a difference to the bonus payment. The managers perhaps did this as a way of not wanting to pay employees more than they should be. Another power dynamic can be expert power. In CHSY they employee an R;D director to oversee the clinical projects and ensure guidelines and methods are adhered to. During the sales meeting, the sales people will commonly talk about trends and changes in the market place. Not only does this have an impact on the territory, this can also affect the team and the company. Data and market research will be done, to provide evidence and sustain the credibility of these market changes. However, as the R;D director is very influential and knowledgeable, this person influences the manager of the company. Ultimately, the managers can override the director’s decision if they feel the person is wrong. Projects and new clinical products can be easily disregarded due to the director’s opinion. This is very unfortunate for the sales people in question, as we have an ambitious target to achieve, we try to see large business potential and increase the sales and work as a team. The managers of the company and the director’s often don’t want to do this, as it’s seen as too much hard work. It’s quite often as attitude, of sell what we currently have in the product portfolio.
In conclusion, various examples from employment in a previous organisation have been used to access the advantages and disadvantages of teamwork. This will all depend on the organisation in question, the ethics of the people in power as well as the employees themselves. There are multiple hidden dynamics and feelings that are at play when people work in teams. On the whole, if teamwork is applied appropriately, can be very fruitful for the organisation and the employees themselves. Employees can learn to listen to one another and can develop themselves and learn from other individuals in the team. Leveraging on different strengths of weaknesses of employees is key to achieving a common objective. Although the examples used are from the scientific sector, the examples in the assignment are not true of all professional organisations and job descriptions. Team dynamics can vary depending on the various ages of the employees, male versus female numbers in a team and the team itself.