Causes of dysfunctional behaviour within self-directed work teams : a case study
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The key to production effectiveness lies in the optimal utilisation of the organisations own employees. This has been accomplished by changing the power structure within organisations with the introduction of self-directed work teams. In addition to carrying out the work, SDWT members make decisions that are traditionally the jurisdiction of first line supervisors. This method of management and work planning can lead to added stress and behaviour not anticipated from employees. This behaviour, if not addressed, may have a debilitating effect on the team's performance and therefore on the organisations' bottom line. To address this behaviour, the specific causes must first be identified. The pressure within the teams of a gold mine is increased due to the fact that one day's loss of production can cost hundreds of thousands of rand. The objective of the research was to determine what causes certain dysfunctional behaviours in self-directed work teams, and the effect this has on the workplace and performance. A qualitative study was done whereby a single group of subjects was obtained. This group consisted of 40 subjects (N=40). Three different work groups were part of the case study. These groups were observed in the workplace, the group's interactions with other members in the group were observed, and the group's interactions with leadership figures were observed, and finally individual members participated in unstructured interviews in order to identify the experience of members in the work groups and also to discover what elements contributed to the dysfunctional behaviour identified in the workplace. Data from interviews was used to develop major groupings, or general classifications of broad categories of themes, where a theme is a recurrent topic of discussion or often mentioned key factor with regards to behaviour. Information was also gathered by observing individuals in their places of work. The results showed that the factors, which were most frequently sited, were the issues of contradictory demands and control (leadership). Another factor considered important by all role players was relationships. Other influences identified, but of less importance, were support, trust and communication, cultural diversity, role clarity and finally, individual needs. By way of conclusion, recommendations for future research are made.
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