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Building a Coalition Argumentative

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Part I: Group Development
After reading the case study “Building a Coalition” I think that within the five-stage group-development model described in our textbook the group involved in the case is somewhere between the forming stage and storming stage, I can see signs of both stages at the same time.

The textbook says that during the forming stage – first stage of group development – is characterized by a great deal of uncertainty about the group’s purpose, structure, and leadership. Members “test the waters” to determine what types of behaviors are acceptable. This stage is complete when members have begun to think of themselves as part of a group. (Robbins 275)

Looking closely at the case we can see a just formed coalition of thee organizations with three different organizational backgrounds that have been brought together in order to achieve one specific goal (to create an experimental after school program), still each member of the group has different perception of the problem itself. There is definitely much uncertainly, but members of the group realize that they will have to work together and that there is a common goal to achieve.

Storming stage is one of intragroup conflict. Members accept the existence of the group but resist the constraints it imposes on individuality. There is conflict over who will control the group. When this stage is complete, there will be a relatively clear hierarchy of leadership within the group. (Robbins 275)

Following the case we can see that coalition is currently facing the conflict due to opposed visions of the root matter of the problem and the degree to which each organization believes it should influence the decision making process, and we can also guess the resistance to constraints the purpose of the group imposes of everyone’s perception of the problem. At the same time there is no distinct leader of the group, which tells that the group hasn’t still proceeded to the norming stage.

Understanding the stages the group is currently going through can help Woodson foundation explain the reasons why the members of the group interact the way they do and predict their general behavioral patterns for the nearest future. Being able to predict the way the group will develop makes it possible to allocate resources reasonably and maximize group’s productivity.

Part II: Problem Identification

The coalition needs to form an executive development team which will be functional within the long period of time and include the members of all three parties involved – the Woodson foundation itself, the school system representatives and NCPIE, allowing them to work successfully on establishing the operating plan for improving school performance, while bringing unique experiences of each member to the table. Looking through the case I think primary problem the Woodson foundation is facing now is the proper allocation of roles and setting structure in the team, which is not yet done and significantly impairs team’s chances to reach the goal successfully. There is no distinct leader, which causes the team instability and doesn’t allow set clear goals and allocate recourses reasonably.

From the description of the case it is clear that the team agrees on main common goal, but we can still see a number of conflicts going on, for example: School district representatives want to ensure the new jobs will be unionized and will operate in a way consistent with current school board policies. They are very concerned that if Woodson assumes too dominant a role, the school board won’t be able to control the operations of the new system. The complexity of the school system has led to the development of a highly complex bureaucratic structure over time, and administrators want to make sure their policies and procedures will still hold for teachers in these programs even outside the regular school day. (Robbins 629)

Their (Woodson’s) focus on using hard data to measure performance for all their initiatives is not consistent with the school district culture. (Robbins 629) The NCPIE is driven by a mission to increase parental control. … The organization is strongly committed to celebrating diversity along racial, gender, ethnic, and disability status categories. Its members are most interested in the process by which changes are made, ensuring everyone has the ability to weigh in. (Robbins 629-630) So as two secondary problems I would name high tendency to developing conflicts due to diversity of the team members and discrepancies in their perceptions of what should be done and how.

Careful diversity management along with steps to prevent too much conflict and keep it at a healthy level are needed to ensure the team members are can work cohesively and productively as a result. Understanding the basics of individual membership in a team and working on job involvement, job satisfaction and motivation of each member can help to form a team that is able to work to its full potential and create outputs greater than the sum of their inputs, as when a diverse group develops creative alternatives. (Robbins 319). Also knowing principles of individual membership in a team the Woodson foundation will be able to avoid common mistakes, which make teams with great potential dysfunctional, for example, setting wrong goals and using wrong tools to achieve them.

Part III: Retrospective Evaluation

There are lots of factors that can help to create a team that will be effective. Creating a structured team and assigning the roles properly can be taken as one of most relevant. As the textbook says – to increase the likelihood the team members will work well together, managers need to understand the individual strengths each person can bring to a team, select members with their strengths in mind, and allocate work assignments that fit with members’ preferred styles. (Robbins 317) I can suggest 2 approaches to form a team and allocate roles in the case: 1. Assign roles on the basis of tenure and individual contribution. The longer the tenure is the more superior role the member takes in the group.

Pros: Unique experience and expertise brought to the table by members with longer tenure can make a huge contribution to solving the problem and allow coming up with most comprehensive and appropriate solution possible. Some ongoing problems might be solved faster and more efficient as the members with longer work history could have faced them in the past already and resolved them successfully.

Cons: Possible discrimination of members with less tenure and favoritism towards members with longer tenure. Members with longer tenure sometimes are reluctant to embrace changes or new techniques of problem solving along with having tendency to be very dominant in group decision-making. Having longer tenure sometimes is not equal to being successful in the past, and having a leader with average abilities can lead to average level of productivity.

Steps to implement: preliminary work involves carefully studying the demography of the organization as well as members’ personal work and achievement history. Firm allocation of the roles follows as well as distribution of functions.

Possible leader from the case: Duane Hardy has been a principal in the Washington area for more than 15 years. He also thinks the schools should have the most power. “We’re the ones who work with these kids every day. I’ve watched class sizes get bigger, and scores and graduation rates go down. Yes, we need to fix this, but these outside groups can’t understand the limitations we’re dealing with. We have the community, the politicians, the taxpayers—everyone watching what we’re doing, everyone thinking they know what’s best. The parents, at least, have more of a stake in this.” (Robbins 630)

2. Assign the roles on the basis of personality, abilities and skills of the members. Pros: composing the team with high-ability member can be beneficial, as well as the ability of the team’s leader also matters. Smart team leaders help less-intelligent team members when they struggle with a task. But a less intelligent leader can neutralize the effect of a high-ability team. (Robbins 316).

Cons: due to the lack of experience and expertise leader of the group can fail to perform proper management functions and make the whole team collapse for a number of reasons, for example, by bad decision making, setting unclear goals or using the wrong tools to solve right goals.

Steps to implement: carefully examine personality and abilities of each member of the team. Define the roles essential for the team structure. If there in a choice to form a team from a scratch – chose the members in accordance with existent roles and how many of them an individual can fill at the same time. Is the team already exists – review the roles currently assigned and rearrange them when necessary to use personalities in the team to their full potential. Hire additional members to make sure all the relevant roles are filled and the team has enough resources to work productively.

Possible leader from the case: Candace Sharpe thinks the schools are doing the best they can. She is a county social worker, relatively new to the D.C. area. “Parents say they want to be involved but then don’t follow through. We need to step it up, we need to lead the way. Lasting change doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from the home.” (Robbins 630)

Both approaches to the problem of allocating roles in a team have their pluses and minuses, as well as there are some other ways to address the challenge. As all the organizations are different as well as all people are unique there is no one-fit-all solution to every task, so the best one has to be chosen based upon the resources available.

Part IV: Reflection
A strategy for managing diversity issues for program leaders largely depends on context of the satiation. The example of Sodexo showed that sometimes hiring professionals and putting greater emphasis on education of the employees on the matter of diversity can be helpful. By encouraging the interaction of the employees, providing feedback, making sure that each member of the team at least has his or her opinion voiced and participates in decision-making process can also help resolve conflicts and add to job satisfaction of the workers in order develop organizational commitment and to make the team successful and productive.

Source: Robbins, Stephen P., Timothy Judge. Organizational Behavior, 15th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 01/2012. VitalBook file.

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