Management And Accounting Web

Wisner, P. S. and H. A. Feist. 2001. Does teaming pay off? Strategic Finance (February): 58-64.

Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Productivity Main Page | Teams and Teamwork Main Page

This paper describes a research study conducted at Bell Atlantic Corporation on the benefits of teaming.

The authors discuss ten critical factors that make teams work:

1. The need for a champion - a leader who demonstrates teaming behavior and is willing to share power.

2. The need to assess the systems that support teamwork such as communication, performance measurements, performance feedback, continuous improvement, etc.

3. The need to develop a roadmap for team implementation.

4. The need to take the long term view of teaming as a continuous journey.

5. The need for a comprehensive training program for team members.

6. The need to select a management team that supports teaming.

7. Need to "walk the talk", i.e., the team leaders must demonstrate teaming behavior.

8. The need for teams to understand boundaries, restrictions and desired outcomes before they are empowered.

9. The need to recognize the performance at every opportunity.

10. The need to identify the critical success factors that are tied to the strategic objectives of the company.

They also discuss the following:

1. The critical issues at Bell Atlantic, or drivers of corporate value including: productivity improvement, service quality and employee satisfaction.

2. How they implemented teams. Of forty-five call centers staffed with around 6,000 sales consultants, about half were converted to a team structure.

3. The evaluation of teaming. Two groups were compared, 53 teamed sales consultants versus 84 non-teamed sales consultants. The teamed group out performed the non-teamed group in 3 out of 4 measurements of productivity including: average call length, call conversion ratio - (i.e., percentage of calls that included a sale) and  products sold rate.

In addition, service quality improved more at the teamed offices than at the non-teamed offices and employee satisfaction improved 21% for the teamed group versus 16% for the non-teamed group.

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