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The importance of a team is hard to underestimate. Even when a group has needed skills, passion, knowledge and desire to perform, it will not achieve success if there is no unity among the group members. Building an effective team can not only solve many problems, but also serve as a preventative measure to avoid failures. Thereafter, the objective of the following paper is to discuss a case study of a free rider based on the knowledge about the management of team performance.
The experience shows that well-designed teams are better that those having only good leaders as tasks, people and processes are the major factors that draw the attention of a team. Being goal-directed entities, teams are required to use the practices of preplanning and online planning, which helps to constantly monitoring the situation. The goals of the team should be well-defined, and the expectations should be clearly established. Teams with high-learning orientation are more likely to adapt and perform well. There are different types of teams, such as tactical, problem-solving and creative. The degree of interdependence among the team members is also very important, as the higher it is, the better the team performs. It is crucial to promote cooperation and decrease the level of competition among team members as this might ruin the team and demotivate the employees. Open communication as well as tolerance and external support can help to build stronger teams and foster transparent cooperation.
Employees assuming roles and responsibilities within the team must possess certain capabilities that would help the whole team to complete the task. Sometimes there might be backing-up behavior, which, according to Porter, Hollenbeck, Ilgen, Ellis, West and Moon (2003), refers to the discretionary provision of resources and task-related effort to another member of ones team that is intended to help that team member obtain the goals as defined by his or her role (as cited in Thompson, 2015, p. 98). Still, such type of behavior is not always beneficial and can cause free riding.
Based on the information that has been provided in the case study, it is obvious that Joe has become a member of the team with reciprocal interdependence, where the members share meritocratic values. Moreover, the team probably used backing-up behavior, and workload has been unevenly distributed among the team members, which has led to Joe becoming a free rider. He had no support and felt that everyone was ignoring him, which has contributed to his reduced sense of self-efficacy. Moreover, another aspect that Joe has experienced was about sucker aversion. When he tried to demonstrate his skills and performance, everyone just ignored or criticized him, which is a wrong attitude that has demotivated the newcomer.
Even though it may seem logical to dismantle the team, there are certain things that can be done in order to prevent Joe from being a constant free rider. In order to solve the problem, Joe would need support from another member of the group. This person should be well-trusted among other members, but must have no bias so he or she can give fair feedback to Joe about his performance and then suggest what areas of improvement he should have and how to achieve it. Moreover, this person should organize a meeting with other team members and ask them why they do not see Joe as a part of their group. Once the reasons are revealed, there must be certain onboarding program developed that would help Joe to integrate into the team. Such program may include displaying his performance equally with other team members and sharing and taking responsibilities from other employees.
In addition, it is important to mention that Joe has probably faced biased treatment due to the fact that he belongs to a nationality that is cliched as unproductive, lazy and prone to criminal behavior. It is definitely the fault of the management of the organization, who failed to provide proper training to the employees regarding the importance of diversity and unbiased treatment. Joe has made certain attempts to become a full member of the team since he did his best to add value and offer possible solutions, but the members of the team including the supervisor wanted to neither listen to him nor help him when he needed guidance. Every team member should understand the importance of diversity as it allows considering problems from different angles and using multiple problem-solving techniques, improves the team performance, and expands talent pool of the company. Unconscious homogeneity might take place in every organization and one of the best practices to avoid it is to intentionally create diverse teams that have public commitment to valuing diversity. Moreover, it is important to solicit the best practices related to diversity as well as provide regular trainings (Thompson, 2015, p. 113).
In conclusion, it is essential to note that accomplishments of the team depend on the actual performance of every member, and the management must prevent the occurrence of free riders. Unfortunately, it may happen unintentionally and due to the lack of emotional intelligence as well as unconscious bias. Such issues must be resolved immediately. Another significant thing to be done is constant training and promotion of diversity and equal treatment of every team member.