Building High Performance Management Teams

By Longenecker, Clinton O. | Industrial Management, November/December 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Building High Performance Management Teams

Longenecker, Clinton O., Industrial Management

Executive Summary

Teams are everywhere because most everyone agrees that good teams mean good work. But what happens when you take a group of self-directed managers who thrive on accomplishing individual goals and put them on a team? Often, nothing, because neither their personality nor their performance goals lend themselves to cooperation. Turning a group of managers into a team of managers takes decisive action and strong leadership.

"Getting the players, that's the easy part. Getting them to play as a team, now that's the hard part."

-Casey Stengel

New York Yankee Hall of Fame manager

The use of teams in manufacturing organizations has skyrocketed in the past two decades. Recent estimates suggest that between 70 percent and 80 percent of all U.S. manufacturing enterprises use some form of teams for a wide variety of purposes. Team initiatives are frequently designed to improve productivity, quality, efficiency, and overall operating performance. A manufacturing operation might make use of a variety of teams, including quality improvement teams, problem solving teams, self-directive production teams, cross-functional planning teams, technology integration teams, employee involvement teams, and safety teams.

The philosophy behind the team approach is based on the notion that performance is enhanced when people with a vested interest take ownership of an issue or process in a cooperative fashion. The literature on teams is replete with examples of the effectiveness of teams when they are properly focused, trained, implemented, and supported. During the past several years, I have witnessed a host of organizational successes using teams, including:

* An appliance manufacturing plant increased productivity by 22 percent in eight months using self-directed work teams across all shifts.

* A mid-sized furniture factory reduced lost time for on-- the-job injuries by 30 percent in one year with an active and empowered safety team.

* A large wat opera tion reduced the cycle time for filling orders by a full day by creating an active operational improvement team with top management support.

* A large stamping plant created empowered maintenance teams that "adopted" specific machines in the operation for both preventive and rapid-- response maintenance, resulting in a 28 percent reduction in machine downtime.

There are four keys to these success stories:

* The team concept was appropriately applied to a specific organization concern.

* These efforts had the support of top management.

* The people involved were given the tools and time they needed to develop into real teams.

* These efforts were not seen as quick fixes, but represented real changes in the organization's modus operandi.

Given this background, a simple and obvious truth emerges: When employees in organizations cooperate and work together, good things happen. What might not be as obvious is the application of this concept to people in the managerial ranks. In many manufacturing organizations, the term "management team" is an oxymoron because managers simply do not function as a team at even a rudimentary level. These managers are more typically lone rangers, or teams of one. In the words of one highly successful plant manager, "My biggest challenge is not getting our employees to work together because they will if we lead them that way .... The biggest issue is getting all our managers to work together and cooperate, which can be a daunting task."

Baseball manager Casey Stengle was right: "Getting them to play as a team, now that's the hard part."

The costs of not working together

Developing a manufacturing management team can be a daunting task, but we all know that when managers in an operation do not work together as a team, the outcomes are often negative. In previous research I asked a sample of manufacturing managers to identify the problems created when managers in a manufacturing operation do not work together.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Building High Performance Management Teams


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?