Discussion of Case Study’s Findings
British Telecom (BT) is a multinational company operating in Asia-Pacific, American, and European regions, providing telecommunication services to more than twenty-million residential and corporate customers within the United Kingdom. With headquarters in London, the company has 104,700 employees, whose strong commitment to the company is evident (Quader & Quader, 2009).
The company greatly emphasizes on the role of teams in achieving its objectives, where the term ‘team’ to them means “people interrelating with each other on one or more basis and working together” (Quader & Quader, 2009, p. 186). Teams in BT are of five different types depending on problem advancement that needs to be defined and solved. These include fact-finding teams (for problem identification), swat team (highly skilled people responsible for solving problems), formal project teams (working on projects), program teams (managing projects), and business-as-usual teams (in charge of operations).
According to the BT case study, composition of teams is quite critical because it is the determinant of whether they will be successful in realizing their objectives or not. Teams must have the “right mix of specialist knowledge, interpersonal skills, and role behaviour” (Quader & Quader, 2009, p. 188) for them to be able to fulfill a given task’s standards in relation to timeliness, quantity, and quality. The organization believes that the only way the teams can achieve their desired objectives is if they have the right people forming such teams. Formation of teams in BT is based on the roles of such teams, challenges they are likely to encounter, and the requirements of tasks ahead, which determine the personalities, skills, competencies, and capabilities of potential candidates, following the company’s bias of “fit for purpose.” Having defined the team’s purpose, BT’s managers create job profile for team members, which include the primary purpose, objectives, required skills, and specialist knowledge.
Such an approach to formation of teams is ideal because one of the most important aspects of a team is the ability to function for a certain task. This is in line with the observations of Katzenbach and Smith (1993) on team formation, where they emphasized on the need to look at the combination of members’ skills, especially in relation to functional expertise and technical knowhow, as well as decision-making and problem solving skills. With people of various skills on board, a team is likely to function more effectively because each member can contribute where they are most suitable and experienced, and thus realize the overall goals of the team (Center for Creative Leadership (CCL; Kanaga, & Kossler, 2011). However, BT’s approach to team’s composition has a major shortcoming in that the approach is only suitable while building new teams, but not very effective whenever new members need to come on board or to fill in a vacancy. In case a team member leaves a team, it can sometimes prove quite challenging to get an equally skilled individual to fill in the vacancy and effectively co-work with the old members.
The managers in BT are responsible for team formation as earlier mentioned, based on the identified purpose or goal. This approach is highly commendable because once the managers have rightly identified the purpose of the team, it becomes easy to create a job profile. With such a job profile based on purpose or goals of the team, chances are that the persons selected to form the team will be the most appropriate ones, thus increasing the probability of the team in realizing its objectives (Snell, Morris, & Bohlander, 2015). However, this approach is characterized by a major challenge in that if the managers fail in task definition, it will lead to several other failures and costs for the organization, in terms of lots of resources. Wrong identification of task will lead to failure in job profile creation, leading to selection of wrong team members and ultimately failure to realize the organization’s objectives. Incorporation of other organization members besides the managers in identification of team goals can go a long way in addressing this challenge (Mickan & Rodger, 2000).
Of the many concepts discussed by the article about BT, one concept that I felt should be incorporated in my workplace is the “Field Reward System” within the company’s motivational framework. This system seeks to motivate workers through points earned even as they deliver services to clients and as they carry out their other duties. The system uses customers’ satisfaction, access fault rate, and network team efficiency in earning points for individual members. Even if a customer were to be biased in favor of or against a certain individual in the team, the other measures used will motivate team members to work harder and smarter to earn the points, which are to be translated to financial bonuses. The main reason why I would recommend such a system is because it seeks to recognize individuals’ efforts within the team, thus motivating individual members to put more effort towards realizing their set targets. However, in application, I would give a higher percentage to customer satisfaction than the BT’s Field Reward System rate of 10 percent. However, the percentage for customer satisfaction needs not to be too high, as this would cause intense competition among team members, thus affecting network team efficiency.
Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Kanaga, K., & Kossler, M. (2011). How to Form a Team: Five Keys to High Performance. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Katzenbach, J., & Smith, K. (1993). The discipline of teams. Harvard Business Review, 71(2), pp. 111-120.
Mickan, S., & Rodger, S. (2000). Characteristics of effective teams: a literature review. Australian Health Review, 23(3), pp. 201-208.
Quader, M. S., & Quader, M. R. (2009). A critical analysis of high performing teams: A case study based on the British Telecommunication (BT) PLC. Journal of Services Research, 8(2), pp. 175–216.
Snell, S., Morris, S., & Bohlander, G. (2015). Managing human resources. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.