Team Management in West Coast Transit Case Study

Three Criteria for Evaluating Effective Team/Group Work

Newtons (2011) state’s that three criteria can be used to define the effectiveness of a team. The first criteria is evaluating if the productive output of the team exceeds or meets the standards of quality and quantity. Output can be measured in terms of services rendered or goods produced. It is either expressed in terms of financial value or physical quantity. In terms of financial value, team effectiveness is measured using the value they have added, total sales and production value. This is because at organizational level, output is rarely uniform. On the other hand, physical quantity where services and products are homogeneous, the measuring of output can be in terms of units like number of customers that the team serves. These measures are a reflection of physical efficiency and effectiveness of a process and cannot be affected by price fluctuations.

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The other criterion that defines team effectiveness according to Newtons (2011) is if team members remain committed to working on another project together. Frequently, teams will stick together due to their assignments but are not willing to remain together. A team that positively solves their conflicts may be willing to work together again which is a sign of its effectiveness. An effective team also ensures that team members have their personal needs satisfied. Every team has both team needs and personal needs and realizing both can be used to measure its effectiveness. An effective team helps its members to grow individually in their assignments.

According to the West Coast Transit Case, the team formed by Bernie Hollis and Pete Denson cannot be termed as effective. This is because the team members are not willing to work on another project together. Mahonney and Tanney, for example, are giving various reasons not to engage in the upcoming project. The team is also failing to meet their personal satisfaction. For example, Tanney is having some personal issues and being in the project will only mean more time in her workplace instead of being with her family and attending her therapy.

Tuckman’s Five Stages of Group Formation

According to Wilson (2010), Bruce Tuckmun developed a 5-stage model of group formation which describes the phases that a group goes through from the time of inauguration to the successful completion of a project. These stages include forming, storing, norming, performing, and adjourning. The forming stage characterizes personal relations with dependence. In the stage, the group members desire acceptance from the team, rely on safe patterned behavior, and tend to seek direction and guidance from their leaders. The members avoid serious feelings and topics as they get oriented to the group and to each other. For a team to go to the next stage, every member relinquishes the non-threatening topics’ comfort and the risk of conflict possibility.

            The storming stage is characterized by conflict and competition on the organizations’ personal relations dimensions. Conflict inevitably springs up as group members attempt to organize their tasks, make individuals bend their ideas, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs to suit the organization of the group. Due to fear of failure or fear of exposure, an increase in desire for structural commitment and clarification will be present and for the team to move to the next stage, the members have to move from testing and proving mentality to a mentality of problem solving (Wilson, 2010).

Wilson (2010) continues to explain that the norming stage characterizes interpersonal relations with cohesion. The team members are engaged in active acknowledgement of all members’ problem solving, community building and maintenance, and contributions. At this stage, the group members are willing to change their preconceived opinions and ideas to embrace facts that their members present, as well as question each other actively which increases trust levels in their personal relations. At this stage, the group acquires a feeling of relief and sense of belonging as a resultant of resolving interpersonal conflicts. The stage’s major task function is data flow between members and its major drawback is fear of inevitable future breakups of the group.

According to Wilson (2010), the performing stage is not attained by most groups and when achieved, the depth, range and capacity of personal relations between group members develop to true interdependence. At this stage, the members work independently making the stage to be marked by interdependence in problem solving and personal relations. The members are highly people oriented and task oriented. The loyalty of the group is very intense, group morale is high, group identity is complete, and there is unity. The overall group at this juncture is productive through work and problem solving.

The last stage according to Wilson (2010) is adjourning which involves disengagement from relationships and termination of task behaviors. A planned conclusion will involve recognition of achievements and participation with an opportunity to say goodbye to each other. At conclusion, minor crisis or apprehension may occur. Group termination is a regressive movement from giving up control on group to giving up inclusion. At this stage, the most effective interventions are those facilitating task disengagement and termination of the process.

In the case study, the group is in the forming and storming stage. They are in forming stage as they are receiving task orientation. However, having previously worked together in other projects, the members can be said to be in storming stage as well. This is illustrated with the erupting conflicts among them. This is also seen by silence from Tanney as Denson tries to dominate. The members are still in the testing and proving mentality.

Schein’s Three Behavioral Profile Roles during Team Entry

According to MSG (2017), Edgar Schein explains that organizations do not embrace a culture in one day, but in due course of time as employees solve problems and adapt to external forces. He develops three organization culture levels – artifacts, values, and assumed values. An artifact is the first level and includes office furniture, employees’ dress codes, organization mission and vision, employees’ behavior, and facilities which all define the culture of an organization. The behaviors of employees portrays a working place full of pressure and cohesion

 According to Schein, the next level is values which form the culture of an organization. MSG (2017) explains that the employees’ attitude and thought process impacts culture as the mindset of an individual will influence the culture of an organization. In this case study, one just one participant, Lea Jing, has viewed the agenda and printed it. The other members had reasons not to be involved in a project that was to consume their time without overtime pay. Assumed values are the third level which is immeasurable but makes a difference. Some facts and beliefs are hidden but affect an organization’s culture. This level is well illustrated in the case study due to lack of employee motivation which makes them to work more without additional benefits.

Communication Effectiveness

In the case study, the communication between the team was not effective as they failed to solve the problems together. Mahonney and Tanney are against what their leader wants to discus and they do not give room for discussion as a group as one of them storms out in the middle of the meeting.  Another reason it was ineffective is the failure to manage their conflict which is illustrated by the storming out of Tanney. Denson, their leader also failed when he retorted rudely which only worsened the issue instead of solving it. Denson, as the leader, lacked conciseness where he could not be empathetic with his colleague’s, Tanney, condition. This team also lacked a mutual interest as they would be willing to work if they were more motivated which was one reason for communication breakdown.

Types of Conflict

In a team, there are two main types of conflict that may occur. The first type is called A-type conflict or effective or emotional conflict which is personal, resentful, and defensive. It is generated by anger, tension, ego, personality clashes, and personal friction, all which lower the efficiency of a group. The second type is C-type conflict or cognitive conflict which is largely depersonalized and may involve debate of merits of projects, plans and ideas that require people to consider other members’ view. A -type conflict is always associated with lower performance and satisfaction with significant reduced commitment, decision quality, acceptance, and understanding. C -type on the other hand is associated with more acceptance, higher commitment, greater understanding and reduced decision quality.

In the case study, the members are experiencing A-type conflict. This is because it is as resultant of dissatisfaction emotion. It is also rooted with anger where Denson gets angry to his members reaction and through his anger he makes a comment which makes Tanney to leave in the middle of a session. The conflict is also A -type as there is reduced acceptance, commitment, understanding and decision quality

Conflict Management

In managing the conflict of the group, Denson can apply the collaborating strategy. This will directly integrate ideas that are set by each member in order to find a creative solution that will be acceptable to all members. This will create mutual respect between the members as they will equally be involved in solving the issue. Denson can also solve this conflict using an indirect strategy like meditation. In this, he will try and discover the interests of the members which is a good strategy of creating clearer communication lines.

Leadership Activity, Maintenance Activity, and Disruptive Behavior

One leadership task that Denson should use is motivating his colleagues. He should therefore deal with circumstances that are making his members to withhold their efforts. The three members seem to be demotivated and as a leader the major thing that Denson can apply is to motivate and raise their morale. One activity that can be used to maintain an effective team is appraisals for best performance and achievements after the project is over. However, there is one major disruptive behavior that should be avoided, disruption of an ongoing meeting. Conflicts should be solved as they arise while avoiding storming out during a meeting.

Motivational Issue

Jing, Mahonney, and Tanney are all demotivated in one way or another. They experience pressure in their working area since they have a lot of work and having to work overtime without extra pay. An added project in their line is just an added burden that none of them is ready to embrace. They are given little support and time to complete their projects. Denson, the manager and leader of the team, needs to motivate his members individually in order to complete the project flawlessly and swiftly.

Jing is always diligent with her work but she still requires personal motivation to continue with her zeal and aim for productivity through extrinsic rewards like compliments. Tanney is more than demotivated as his work is already affecting her family life and is programed to a therapy session. An added assignment is an added burden especially due to lack of additional income. Denson should encourage Tanney to love her work in order to receive personal satisfaction and not just aim for pay rise. She should also be allowed to make decision in order to empower her, and permitted to attend counseling sessions by reprogramming their project. Mahonney on the other hand is controlling and demotivated due to long hours without pay. Similar to Tanney, Denson should aim at changing his attitude using intrinsic rewards which will entice the manager to love his new task and view it as a chance for development


MSG,. (2017). Edgar Schein Model of Organization Culture. Management Study Guide. Retrieved from

Newtons, R. (2011). The management book : mastering the art of leading teams (1st ed.). Harlow, England ; New York: Prentice Hall.

Wilson, C. (2010). Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing Team Development Model. (1st ed.). Retrieved from

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