Addressing the Challenges of Groups and Teams

Addressing the Challenges of Groups and Teams
University of Phoenix
March 22, 2010

Addressing the Challenges of Groups and Teams
With today??™s large corporations using the team approach to complete projects and increase production, chances for poor group cohesion and ineffectiveness exists. Different behavioral styles, influences, education, and ways of thinking can hinder production, leading to poor outcomes, and even scandal. The worldwide telecommunications company WorldCom first handedly became the biggest corporate bankruptcy case at the time when on June 25, 2002, admitted to inflating earnings by $3.8 billion. The CEO, Bernie Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison for accounting fraud and being the leader of hundreds of employees who hid fraudulent activity from the SEC. Of course, not every employee knew of these dealings, but Ebbers set the tone of the culture and put pressure on the employees which allowed this fraud to transpire (Scharff, 2005). According to Scharff (2005), teamwork and being a team player was the tone set in the organization. The teams obviously lacked development of a cohesive plan which may have prevented employees from feeling as though they had to go along with these fraudulent dealings. The importance of incorporating a training plan into group and team work is necessary to increase the effectiveness of the group. Additionally, a plan would hope to prevent a repeat of numerous headline- making CEO??™s which instill inappropriate cultures throughout an organization. The purpose of this paper is to address a training plan for groups and teams to increase its effectiveness, address the challenges and benefits of a functioning team, and to explain how the plan may have helped WorldCom.
The training will foster an environment that feels safe for employees to speak their minds, and promote an awareness of group collaboration and conflict management. Additionally, the plan will promote an atmosphere where the utmost ethical behavior is present as to prevent any more corporations from taking advantage of its employees unknowingly involved in corporate scandal.
The team forum indicated necessary characteristics of a cohesive team which promotes autonomy, good communication, the importance of collaboration, and conflict management techniques. A plan will include a time line, training goals, objectives, learning activities, documentation/evidence of learning, and an evaluation (McNamara, 2010).
The timeline addressed in the team forum implies an approximate six week learning session prior to the formation of teams so that enough time is available to address the necessary fundamentals needed for a cohesive team. The allotted timeline is necessary to ensure that workshops, coaching, and role playing are addressed to maximize the training plan.
The goals of the training are aimed at increasing team communication, collaboration, promotion of ethical behavior, and conflict management. McNamara (2010) states the goals should incorporate two to four learning objectives which are specific to the organization and not used from another developed plan. The goals determined by the group in terms of benefits of communication, collaboration, and conflict are to instill trust, integrate solutions, and merge insights from people with different perspectives (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Challenges from the goals include poor communication skills, or misinterpretation of information, and people afraid to address any wrong-doing since fear is instilled.
Learning objectives for the plan will incorporate what will be learned from completing these objectives (McNamara, 2010). The plan??™s objectives are to address the challenges and benefits in communication, collaboration, conflict management, and ethical behavior.
The learning activities will promote application to the specific goals addressed in the plan. Whether through role playing, scenarios, or verbal discussions, the learning activities describe what the team will do to achieve the goal of the group.
Documentation or evidence of learning will provide evidence produced during the learning activities. McNamara (2010) states these results are tangible such as a written self-evaluation or a SWOT analysis. Additionally, behavioral assessments provide insight into each member??™s behavioral styles to facilitate a knowledge base of what kind of people works the best together, and how to deal with others with a different behavioral style. The documentation will be kept in each employees file for future reference.
The evaluation will be an assessment of how well each member achieved the learning objectives (McNamara, 2010). The evaluation can include ways to improve the planning process for the future, evaluate how well the training plan worked for the group, and to acknowledge any rewards that should be received once completing the planning process (McNamara, 2010).
If WorldCom were to incorporate a culture that promotes teams and being a team player, they should have started with a plan to address each challenge groups face in a corporate setting. The fall of WorldCom was not all from the unethical and devious behaviors of its chief officers, but that of many employees at all levels. Groupthink, or the mode of thinking people engage in when deeply involved within a group where motivation to be realistic in their appraisal of an alternative course of action, may have played a role in the fall according to Scharff (2005). By addressing groupthink behaviors such as arrogance, over commitment, and blind loyalty (Scharff, 2005), employees may have noticed something unethical happening in their organization and may have been avoided to some extent.

The problems WorldCom faced were many employees were turning a blind eye to what was happening in the accounting department for fear of speaking out and losing their jobs. WorldCom employed too many ???yes??? people and the ability to question authority was removed. Implementing a training program would provide the necessary tools to employees and executives in how to deal with people at all levels and instill confidence in one another. These training programs would include ethics training and ways of identifying fraudulent activities and necessary actions to follow. If the employees in the accounting department felt that they were in an environment where they could express what was going on, a whistleblower may have come out sooner.

McNamara, C. (2010). Complete guidelines to design your training plan. Retrieved from
Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. A. (2007). Organizational behavior (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Scharff, M. M. (2005). Understanding WorldCom??™s accounting fraud: Did groupthink play a role. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 11, 109-118. Retrieved from