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IBM’s Multicultural Multinational Teams

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Today’s work environment is more complex than it has ever been. With the number of global companies increasing and the competition that has resulted from this business practice, there has been tremendous demand for organizations to improve their workforce practices. The pressures of organizations to be globally competitive has led to drastic changes in the way that business work practices are utilized. Organizations had to develop strategies that increased efficiency, productivity, and also profitability. The resulting changes has shifted the work environment from an individualistic nature to more of a team oriented structure. The complexity and makeup of some projects makes it difficult for an individual to complete designated tasks effectively. As a result, organizations will develop teams of people with complementary abilities which allows for the combining of knowledge and experience to accomplish widespread objectives. Work teams can consist of not only domestic teams, but also of teams that are multicultural and multinational.
Multinational, multicultural teams have to be innovative and productive in order to overcome the intense competition that exists in today’s business environment. If you calculate the person-hours devoted to IBM’s team projects, they amount to more than 180,000 hours of management time each year. Do you think this is a wise investment of IBM’s human resources? Why or why not? The amount of hours IBM devotes to management time for team projects is an excellent idea along with being a wise investment that has proven to various organizations how well work teams can transform an organization for the better. A multicultural and multinational team can offer a company tremendous benefits, however there are some major obstacles that need to be overcome. Our text states that “research on global considerations in the use of teams is just

beginning, but three areas are particularly worth mentioning: the extent of teamwork, self-managed teams, and team cultural diversity”(Robbins; S. & Judge, T. 2010, p.331). The objective of a multicultural and multinational

high performance work team would be to: deliver the highest quality product possible, provide extraordinary service, along with achieving the highest efficiency, productivity, and profitability. (South University Online, 2014, Work Teams, para.2). The conflicts and challenges of dealing daily with individuals from different nationalities and cultures are numerous. These include the ability to understand, appreciate, and respect ethnic diversity, different cultures, and individual personalities. An organization can reap tremendous benefits from an organizational team that overcomes these obstacles. IBM is an example of an organization that invested a lot of time and resources into forming successful multinational, multicultural teams.
Why do you think IBM’s culture changed from formal, stable, and individualistic to informal, impermanent, and team oriented? IBM was a company that saw the benefits of progressing from a individualistic organization into a team oriented organization. The IBM culture changed in 1993 when Louis Gerstner was named CEO. He was the first executive of IBM that had not been promoted from within the organization, and his goal was to transform IBM into a more streamlined corporation which led to improved efficiency, productivity, and profitability (IBM, 2014, para.4) Mr. Gerstner realized that he had to take dramatic action in order to keep IBM a major player and be globally competitive in an ever changing market. He realized that IBM at the time was an individualistic organization, where employees and departments worked solely by themselves. A majority of  IBM’s business was global, so IBM needed to increase awareness about the company and the products they offered. What better way to increase the interest in the company than to incorporate a team structure that would involve teams from areas which were not totally aware of IBM’s products.
Once IBM became so wide and diverse the need for an informal, impermanent, and team oriented environment became necessary. Describe the stages of group development these teams should expect to experience. At each stage, make recommendations that will help move the team into the next stage. There are five stages of group development that teams will experience. These stages are all needed and should be anticipated in order for the team to develop, to deal with challenges, to undertake problems, to uncover solutions, to strategize the effort, and to provide the desired outcome. The initial stage involved in the team building process is the forming stage. This is when the forming of the team occurs and the team members are uncertain about what the process will be. This stage is to identify group behaviors, principles and standards and methods to manage behavioral problems. In this stage team members get to know one another and develop opinions about one another’s personalities.
The team members are finding out the extent of the mission and how to tackle the opportunities and challenges they will encounter, along with establishing and agreeing to goals. After the group begins to get fairly comfortable with one another’s behavioral characteristics and the details of the project are sorted out, the team will begin the advancement to the next stage of the group development. The second stage involved in the team building process is the storming stage. This stage is identified by competition and conflict as a way for team members to express their individuality and compete for their thoughts  and ideas to be considered. This stage is when team members take an intense stand on the issue and support their positions against others, therefore it is during this stage where disagreement is expected to be greatest. The team members may also struggle with the desire to take control of the leadership of the group. If there is too much conflict involved, some groups never escape from the storming stage. If all team members accept practical methods and produce remarkable responses that offer the opportunity to complete the task and produces satisfactory results for all team members involved, then the team will advance to the next stage of the group development.
The next stage involved in the team building process is the norming stage. The norming stage happens when the team members conclude their disagreements and come together to resolve the dilemma. This emergence phase is identified after one member assumes more of a leadership role, although leadership can be cohesive. At this point the team members choose to abandon their own agendas and ideas and come to an agreement with other team members in an effort to make the team perform successfully In this stage, all team members take responsibility and move to sharing the same objective, which is to work toward the successful achievement of the team’s goals. After coming together to work toward achieving the necessary goal, the team will now begin the transformation toward the next stage of the group development.
The next to last stage involved in the team building process is the performing stage. This is the stage where the group should perform at the most productive level. The task purpose becomes problem resolving, which will guide the team toward the best possible solutions and optimum group development. There is collaboration for testing solutions to solve problems and an emphasis on attaining the desired result. Team motivation is at the maximum level. The team consensus is to generate the productivity necessary to achieve the common goal of completing the task through

problem solving and maximum effort. When the relative team achieves the ultimate goal of task completion, they now begin the journey to the last stage of the group development For work teams that are continuous or permanent, the last stage involved in the team building process is the performing stage. When it comes to short-term groups or teams, that have a limited task to perform, the adjourning stage is the final stage of the group development. The adjoining stage involves the process of disbanding the team. Tying up any loose ends is the concentration rather than high task performance This process involves the termination of task performances and disengagement from personal relationships. This finality stage usually includes recognition for everyone’s participation and the team’s achievement along with an opportunity for members to give final farewells.(University of Oregon Teaching Effectiveness Program, 2014, pages 1&2). Multicultural project teams often face problems with communication, expectations, and values. How do you think some of these challenges can be overcome?

For many global organizations, there is an increasing need to get teams or groups from different nationalities and cultures to work together effectively either as permanent teams or as temporary teams assembled to address specific projects involving key business concerns. The primary step in overcoming any challenges is to identify the potential personality differences or any nationality and cultural differences within the team. Once these differences are identified, a plan needs to be developed to ensure that the team members can put any individualistic differences aside for the betterment of the team. Unless people come to comprehend the differences among them through cultural awareness, problems can continually persist and even intensify. A way to combat this issue is to form a team that has members who are properly trained to be fluent and

understanding in various languages and cultures, and ensure that they can emotionally handle and thrive in such situations. Cultural diversity can be an asset for situations that have a need for a variety of viewpoints Planning the structure for developing a high performing team which not only takes into account the cultural differences, but also uses the diversities present in an international team, is paramount to the success of the team.(Moon, D., 2012.) Discuss at least three recommendations to help make these teams effective. Building effective multicultural teams is about increasing awareness and tolerance towards nationalities and cultures, and eliminating, or even decreasing, confrontation and conflict towards one another. The challenge in managing multicultural teams effectively is to recognize the issues that are present. Three recommendations to make these teams effective are to provide the resources and other contextual influences, the team composition, and the process variables necessary to make teams effective.

Together these three components allow the team to overcome the underlying cultural causes of conflict, intervene in ways that get the team back on track, and empower team members to deal with future challenges themselves. (Robbins; S. & Judge, T. 2010, p.318) Identify three factors that will help make individuals into team players. The three factors that can turn individuals into team players by including the proper selecting of team players, the proper training of employees to become team players, and rewarding the appropriate team behaviors such as encouraging cooperative efforts rather than competitive ones. These will enhance and ensure that the individuals to become very effective team players in the organization. (Robbins; S. & Judge, T. 2010, p.329-330)

In conclusion this paper provided and explained various topics involving multicultural, multinational teams. The first topic covered if IBM made a wise investment of the organization’s human resources, what possessed IBM’s culture to change from formal, stable, and individualistic to informal, impermanent, and team oriented. Then it described the stages of group development these teams should expect to experience and at each stage, make

recommendations that will help move the team into the next stage. after that it described how multicultural project teams often face problems with communication, expectations, and values and how some of these challenges can be overcome. Next this paper explained some of the group decision-making challenges the team may experience and recommended ways to overcome them. The next topic discussed at least three recommendations to help make these teams effective. Finally this paper identified three factors that will help make individuals into team players.

Robbins, S. and Judge, T. (2011). Organizational Behavior, 14th Edition [Vital Source digital version]. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Retrieved from: http://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/books…. South University Online. (2014). MGT3002 S01:Organizational Behavior Week 3 Work Teams Retrieved from myeclassonline.com…. IBM. (2014). Chronological History of IBM 1990s, Retrieved 4/22/2014 from: http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/history/decade_1990.html University of Oregon Teaching Effectiveness Program, (2014) Managing Groups, Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group Development. Retrieved 4/22/2014 from: Moon, D., (2012). Multicultural Teams: Where Culture, Leadership, Decision Making, and Communication Connect Retrieved 4/22/2014 from: http://www.wciujournal.org/uploads/files/Don%20Moon%20Where%20culture%20leadership%20decision%20making%20and%20communication%20connect.pdf

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