Project Management (BS 6079, 1996) is the “planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality and performance.” For any project to become a success, team work plays a major role. One of the most renowned and widely used practical and management team developments is the Belbin team roles. The argument from Belbin is that team composition plays a major factor in influencing the performance of the team (Water et al, 2008). The fundamental aspect of human existence is the working together as groups. The main purpose of this is to survive, adapt and thrive to different situations by using individuals’ intellect and co-operation (Riding and Rayner, 2001). The team roles are classified into organisational roles and the functional roles (Atkinson, 1999). “A team role is a set of behaviours grouped in a cluster” (Belbin, 1993). The main objective of this essay is to evaluate the teams performance based on the Belbin self perception theory discussing the team’s roles, team life cycle and other aspects with respect to the project management exercise.
Belbin Team Roles:
Team roles are defined as “a pattern of behaviour characteristic of the way in which one team member interacts with another” (Belbin, 1981). Every individual will take preferred roles in the management exercises and the outcome purely depends on the balance in the team (Riding and Rayner, 2001). It is always a good team with a good balance of individuals will result in a good outcome and vice versa (Belbin, 1993). Belbin has differentiated nine team roles based on the behaviour of people and is classified by feeling, will power, thinking and decisiveness. In the Belbin later research, he added one more role called as SP (Specialist) which refers to single mindedness, acting always alone and dedicated to specialism. The main function of this role is that people will behave in a extremely silent, introvert and will not contribute other than their special interest areas. This is considered as the negligible contribution to the team (Atkinson, 1999). Belbin uses an instrument for quantifying the team role preferences which is called as the Self Perception Inventory. This consists of 70 points by evaluating seven statements in each questions. For each question 10 statements are given and can be prioritised based on the individual behaviour in which 10 points can be distributed. In predicting the performance of the team Belbin succeeded based on the information from the role profiles of each member. “In this view a team is balanced when each role appears in atleast one team members profile as high-scoring role (Atkinson, 1999).
From the Henley workshops, Belbin was able to specify the composition of the team and arrived at conclusions. This was characterised by (Furnham, 1992): attributes of a leader are similar to chairman profile (CH) now called as Co-ordinator (CO) and the team should have a range of mental abilities which includes a person generating creative ideas and giving practical solutions to the problems encountered. The team should include one Completer Finisher (CF), Implementer (IM) and the members can suit the other team roles based on their personal characteristics and ultimately the team which can identify and improve on their competencies by doing mistakes is considered as the best team (Riding and Rayner, 2001).
Teams Belbin profiles:
For the project management exercise, the teams were divided based on the Belbin team roles. As said earlier, in a team it is must to have a Completer Finisher (CF) and Implementer (IM). The team were asked to choose from Team Workers (TW). Person having primary reference as Team Workers are few and so persons having secondary and tertiary references as Team Workers were called for choosing the team.
Evaluating the team roles and functions:
First, from the team balance sheet it is clear that the team has no primary references for SH, PL, RI, TW, CF and can be considered as scarce for the team. This team has three implementers (IM) which is good in terms of delivering the project fast. Having more implementers is not a problem in any team as they move towards implementing the project. But having more shapers is a problem because of their characteristics.
Person 1 who is ME can act as a CF and TW because of his secondary and tertiary preferences. Person 1 shows major characteristics of ME because of the feasibility characteristics. In this exercise, person 1 is very much interested in calculating the Critical path, always analysing the situations, showing temperament and whenever anything goes out of plan again doing the critical path whether there is feasibility of completing the project on time. The main advantage with person 1 is that he maintains good temperament in all the situations even if it is good or bad. The disadvantages is that in some situations person 1 whose Belbin profile shows weakness as decision making is very true. Sometimes person 1 took some hasty decisions which have affected the team’s profit (decision of choosing the manufacturing subcontractor). Always took more time in making next moves since the basic nature of ME is analysing situations. Sometimes person 1 also did the role of CF when it comes to planning the project. The project plan was for 140 days with 7 periods of 20 days. One of the persons in the team were modifying the plan for days and the person striked the number of resources and wrote the new allocation of resource. Person 1 thought that this can make confusions and he acted as a CF by rubbing of the resources and wrote the allocation as clear as possible so that everybody can understand.
Person 2 who is CO acted as a RI and PL in the initial phase of the exercise. As depicted by Belbin, RI used to interact a lot with the external environment is very true. Person 2 whenever any problems are faced by the team, he used to interact more with the teacher understanding the problem and gives new ideas to solving the problem. Person 2 organises well with the resource facilities for the game with the flip charts, pens and other requirements for smooth functioning of the game. At only one stage person 2 acted as a CO in the decision of choosing suppliers. Person 2 behaves more as RI and PL in this exercise.
Person 3 who is IM, SP and has two tertiary references as CO and ME has shown good characteristics of implementer role in this exercise. Sometimes person 3 behaves more as ME than CO which is good for the team, because one or more CO’s have different approaches for the project. Person 3 is always striving hard to implement the project on time and sometimes showed good character for team worker. Person 3 always strives hard to stick to the plan and whenever plan changes, organises well for implementing the plan. The disadvantage is that this person lacks flexibility sometimes when it comes to implementation.
Person 4 who is IM, secondary is CF and tertiary is SH initially has shown SH characteristics by challenging and arguing the facts that were made by the team. Person 4 is always interested in results and sometimes behaved as CO by taking decisions. Person 1 and 4 since showed shaper characteristics sometimes had difference of opinion but were well managed by team members. Person 4 showed good implementer characteristics in the final stages of the exercise.
Person 5 who is IM, ME as secondary and CF as tertiary initially were helping the team with PL characteristics, sometimes RI when CO has to take decisions by going to the external world and discussing with people. Very sincere, hard working when it comes to implementation. Main advantage is that very well organised in implementing things, interested in sticking to the plan and sometimes resources were provided by him. Person 5 showed a major of Team Worker in many aspects because of the fact that TW always want to harmony among the teams.
The team Belbin’s profiles helped a lot in choosing a balanced team and are 60% accurate with respect to our team. For a project to become a success, it is always helpful with people taking new roles under a good leadership. Finally, good team work will always succeed and makes the project success. Persons took roles which are not their primary, secondary or tertiary references sometimes worked out well and made benefits to the team but many of the times it failed. The people showed majority of the characteristics as depicted by Belbin and is helpful in the team’s success. One important learning with Belbin self perception theory is that having two or more shapers in a team is dangerous and will lead to poor project management. It is always helpful to have one PL and one CO as their primary reference.
Team Life Cycle:
The basic behaviour of any team is that they are dynamic. As an individual, they can perform effectively but as a team they can fail and vice versa. Attention and maintenance are always required for the teams. The first person to bring a chart for team’s progression is Tuckman. He has identified four stages in a team’s development which are forming, storming, norming and performing (Kakabadse et al, 2004).
In the forming stage, team members got to know about each other and started establishing their relationships. The learnings are based on the organisations culture and standards. Project task behaviours and interpersonal relationships are very important in binding the team together.
In the storming stage, a person starts expressing the views and there is a chance of difference in opinion. Leadership challenges occur and may lead to rivalry between people because of their behaviours. Because of these conflicts, the main objective of the organisation cannot be met which lead to separation of groups.
In the norming stage, groups will start gelling towards one another and each strengths and weaknesses can be known. The teams will set their standards and roles can be clearly defined at this stage.
In the performing stage, actual team working takes place and people starts performing their tasks together.
If the team loses the energy or support, then a stage called restoring or declining stage may follow. Further in this stage, the strengths, weaknesses of the team is analysed with respect to the task is discussed and learnings are recorded for effective project management in future.
Evaluating the team’s life cycle:
In the project management exercise, different sets of problems are encountered by the team and creative solutions are identified to solve these problems. Some of the solutions clicked and some lead to major failures for the team.
The forming stage provided opportunities for the new team to understand each other and gave different settings. When first given the exercise, some team members easily understood the process and some found difficult to understand the process. In the initial stages it took more time for the team to decide the strategy for proceeding with the project. Person 1, 3 expressed their views which were not agreed by the team whereas person 2, 4 had expressed their concerns which again not accepted by the team members. Finally, a conclusion has been made with the project plan and the identification of first, second and third critical paths are identified. This stage is all about trusting and building confidence on other team members. The team lacks leadership in this phase. “A leader is clearly needed in this phase to provide direction and guidance” (Lee, 2008).
The storming stage provides openness for feelings and the team discusses the issues very seriously even if the point is not valid. The existing plan with respect to the actual working is modified and refined well. Person 1, 4 had conflicts in choosing the suppliers whether to go for delivery or quality. Person 2, 3 and 5 also contributed but a single decision has to be taken by the team. The team debated on these issues and finally person 1 compromised person 4 for going to a quality supplier by explaining with the fact which will not affect the delivery of the product. The teams’ weaknesses are that for first three periods did good jobs but didn’t celebrate any success. The other weaknesses are builds, integration points between team members, conflicts within the team and sometimes role conflicts.
In the norming stage, the teams had fewer conflicts and started communicating more effectively with others. The team emerged with good practices; loop integration exists because of better communication, the person understands their balance and develops their required skills and role clarity is clearly defined. Person 1 decision will be treated as final since some of the decisions worked out well in the earlier periods and didn’t analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the decision which lead to a disaster in period 4, 5. The team didn’t properly review the operation in a regular basis which also leads to a failure (not delivering the product on time). The team didn’t celebrate success in this stage also.
In the performing stage, since person 1 decision went wrong it is important for the team members to chip in with leadership and person start taking responsibilities for leadership which is a very good sign for the team. This allows rotation of leadership and helps team members to grow their own skills. The team started to treat seriously the views from team members as well as outside members which is done for the betterment of the project work. Finally, the team made a little profit and starts celebrating the success which has to be done earlier. In this stage it is always good to have an outsider to comment on the team’s performance which helps in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
In the last stage, the team learnt their mistakes and starts working on improving individual competencies and the advantages of team work. Every individual is important for a team and it is the individuals who are building the team. The project management exercise can be done more effectively if the same team is given one more chance based on their learnings. The output required from this phase is the prevention of failures for a future project.
Decision making procedures:
The team’s success depends on the decision making and it is the key factor in project management. The working definition of decision making (Ullman, 2006) is that “Decision making is a process that commits resources to resolving an issue.” Making a decision is not an event; it is a process for arriving at the correct decisions based on uncertain, incomplete, incomplete, inconsistent and evolving information. It is important for the team to get the best out of these results. In practice, every decision the team trying to make must address two issues:
- Merit decision – quantitative way of taking the decision based on merits
- Acceptance decision – acceptance by the people by the decision taken by the team.
A decision is a choice made from several alternatives (Lewis, 2004).
The decision is going to be effective when merit and acceptance are considered.
For any decision the important criteria is to understand the problem and issues are to be clarified. Then as a team alternatives are generated and criteria are developed for robust decision making. The next important step is the evaluation part which tells the importance of the criteria. This also generates value to the alternatives that are developed for the criteria. Fuse is the next step in decision making which generates decision measures by evaluating process. The last stage is what to do next which reduces consensus, uncertainty, criteria and further revising the alternatives. Hence,
(Ullman, 2006)”A robust decision is the best possible choice, one found by eliminating all the uncertainty possible within available resources and then choosing with known and acceptable levels of satisfaction and risk”. Some of the problems that are encountered during the decision making are team members have different judgement and their outcomes may be different due to different knowledge level, preferences. In order to evaluate a decision, managers have to choose a proper method (Fan Fu-Rong et al, 2008). Consultative approach is the most widely used approach for decision making. For handling group decision, the rules are shown in the below table 2.
Evaluating the decision making procedures:
Decisions taken in project management exercise by the team sometimes based on merit and sometimes based on acceptance and sometimes a combination of both. A consultative approach is followed when taking a decision. Initially for the first two decisions, it took more time for the team to understand the problem and team is not clear in the issues. The project delivery time is 140 days and the CPM shows that there is 285 days for the product to come out. A project plan is made for getting the product on time and it is always difficult to stick to the plan. Team members initially found difficult to generate alternatives for the decision and initially the team followed a consensus with team members. The first decision is based on merit as to reduce the lead time from 285 to 140 days. The teams weaknesses in the understanding phase are took more time for taking a decision, no clarity on problems, no criteria developed for taking the decision. Also, initially since team members are of different competencies it took time for gelling together. Then after the decision the team started to develop criteria for the decisions.
The team in evaluating phase started to understand the importance of criteria developed and started generating alternatives for the criteria. One important thing is that decisions are always subject to change and it is important to review the earlier decisions. In the exercise, the team decided to go for good quality suppliers which actually paid very well for the team. When it comes to manufacturing sub contractors, due to cost pressure some compromise has to be made by the team and went ahead with the cheap sub contractor. The team took a risk but didn’t work out well. The teams’ decision is partially a combination of merit and acceptance. The teams’ weakness in this stage is that it never had a backup plan till the failure has happened. In this stage, the resources are shuffled inorder to deliver the product on time which is a good move based on earlier decisions. But in actual practice it is difficult to execute as per the plan and is important to review the decisions as a team by discussing the merits and demerits of the team.
In Fuse stage, the result from the earlier decisions gives the team of measuring the decisions. In the initial stage, Person 1 took the decision of going ahead with the good quality suppliers and convinced the team members, since it clicked the team went ahead with that person’s decision for the future also. Every time when a decision is taken it is important to discuss as a team by evaluating the results of the decision and have a backup plan if that decision went wrong. During the periods 4, 5, 6 the teams took decisions in a fast, accurate way by learning from the mistakes earlier. It is important to learn from mistakes as a team.
Finally, in the decide stage, the team started looking at the future in what has to be done next by reducing the uncertainty, refining the interpersonal skills. In this stage, the team started to work on a consensus basis. Even a single member points are taken seriously and started discussing the merits and demerits with refining the criteria. The team started to work on the alternatives and focus more towards for addressing the next issues. The team weakness in this stage, it is important to document the deliberation so that these failures cannot happen in the future.
The key learning from the decision making procedures are decisions are subject to change and have to be reviewed consistently. Consensus approach has to be followed inorder to make a decision which can be based on merit and acceptance.
Conflict within the team:
Many organisations have changed to project management structures because of their inability to resolve conflicts. In a project life cycle, conflicts are part and parcel of life and can happen at any levels of the organisation. “The project manager is often described as a conflict manager” (Kerzner, 2001, 2009). Conflicts generally happen because of misunderstanding between team members and have different interpretations of company’s objective. Inorder to avoid that, projects have to be defined in a clear way so that it can be understood by all the team members. Some people use SMART criteria for defining the project which says;
R- Realistic or Relevant
T- Tangible or time bound (Kerzner, 2009).
Time management is crucial in any project and it is important to manage time by avoiding conflicts. Some conflicts are relevant and provide valuable results. Most common types of conflict involve in the allocations of manpower resources, using the equipments and facilities, expenditure on capitals, cost and technical opinions and trade offs (Kerzner, 2001, 2009). Moreover the seven potential sources of conflicts are shown in the Fig 4. Goal, Plan and Belief conflicts are the three types of conflicts (Jain et al, 2007). If a conflict happens in a project, there are five different ways of resolving the conflicts which are shown in fig 5 which are confrontation, compromise, smoothing, forcing and withdrawal.
Evaluation of conflicts:
The team initially had conflicts in allocating the man power resources like employing in design, assemblers and testers. The team had a conflict over schedules in attaining the project on time. The team members’ person 1, 2 and 4 had difference of opinions in schedules and the resolution mode of compromise is used to resolve that issue. Person 1, 3, 4 had conflicts in priorities in choosing the suppliers. Person 1 suggested a supplier part can be taken just before the assembly but the team members took a decision by smoothing mode. In case if anything fails the team need to reorder again this may take time. “Inorder for the project manager to be effective an understanding of how to work with various employees who must interface with the project is necessary” (Kerzner, 2001, 2009). The various members in the team include upper management, functional managers etc and it is important to understand the sub ordinate and functional conflicts. The relationship between conflict causes and sources is shown in the figure 6.
The teams’ strength is that none of the members in the team had personality conflict which is very important for project success. When deciding the manufacturing sub contractor person 1 suggested for a reliable sub contractor, but all the other members in the team are cost conscious in which person 1 and other members had a conflict over cost. The teams’ choice of choosing a good quality supplier had a conflict with other members which is a functional conflict provides good benefits for the team in terms of quality, time and cost. During the period 3, 4 the team members had a conflict of allocating the inspectors which is the conflict over schedule and had a good result during the period. But during the period 5, the team had a conflict on schedule in resource allocation of assemblers but not with the inspectors. All the five resolution modes of conflicts are used for resolving conflicts in almost all the stages. The team weaknesses include conflicts have to happen and has to be resolved systematically. But as a team, conflicts at the initial stages of the project give good results and when it comes to final stages conflicts started coming down. The figure 7 shows the conflict intensity in the team during the project life cycle.
The key learnings from the project management exercise are that time management is important and the conflicts have to be resolved within the time. Team members have to understand the sub ordinate and their opinions and have to be evaluated inorder to get a good result in the project. It is important to have a plan for resolving conflicts in the planning phase itself. Constant communication of the project objectives to the team members will help in minimising or even eliminating the conflicts. Sometimes direct contact with people will reduce the conflicts. In project management hierarchical issues are to be resolved and there shall not be any domination from the project manager or the functional mangers. Companywide policies can be adapted for resolving the conflict issues for smooth functioning of the project. Role clarities have to be clear which will reduce the conflicts.
Team leadership is one of the main aspects in the project success. In any projects, leadership becomes a problem because project management involves group of people who are frequently in interaction for a specific project. The following tasks are required for a leader to achieve the tasks;
- Tasks are defined and shall be achieved
- Team shall be build and can be properly co-ordinated
- Leader shall satisfy individual team members
Task needs – It is important for the leader to clearly define the objectives of the project and leadership shall aim at achieving these goals.
Team needs – The element of leadership shall hold the team together inorder to produce efficient results for the project. If the team have conflicts, then it is the leader who has to convince the team members effectively.
Individual needs – The performance and contributions of the project by every member of the team have to be understood by the leader and sometimes can reward for good work (Reiss, 1995).
From the moment the leadership is taken it is important for the leader to ensure that the project is heading in correct direction (Heerkens, 2002). The biggest problem that a leader is facing in the project management is that managing the anxieties which were developed by the team members. Sometimes if it is not evaluated may lead to slow down the project and work output. The anticipation by the leaders when questioned by the team members are:
- “Whats in it for me?
- What will be expected out of me?
- What will life on your team like?” (Heerkens, 2002)
Evaluation of team leadership:
In the project management exercise, the team leadership was with no one and totally a team effort. But it is always important to have a leader for the team for the above reasons stated. Sometimes Person 1 took the leadership in choosing the suppliers, sub contractors, person 2 took the leadership in periods 4, 5 of the project. Person 4 took the leadership in the periods 6, 7 and person 3 during the period 2 of the project. The teams’ strength is that everybody in the team understands the leadership attitudes which are important for project success. The anxieties by the team members can be reduced by having conversations within the team. The team members frequently had meeting openly for achieving the following:
- Project objectives were reviewed (the true need for the project) and the justifications were explained as a team (benefits).
- Project planning and its proposal were reviewed (the solution) and the team leader took a decision for the preferred approach.
- Initially the team faced problems of leadership and all members expressed their views and constraints.
- Roles and responsibilities are not clarified clearly by functional categorisation which leads to some problems within the team. This is considered as one of the teams weaknesses.
- It is important to honestly characterise the style of leadership (free, open, trusting, reacting to situations)
- The leader has to explain the expectations that are required from the team members regarding the delivery by frequent conducting of meetings.
- Communication plays a major role in leadership and the leader has to explain the behaviour style. (Adopted from Heerkens, 2002 Modified for Project Management exercise).
The team initially went ahead with no leader and later person characterised by Belbin as CO started taking leadership which was helpful for the team. The team had good mutual relationships with other members and used visual charts when sketching the plan, reviewing the plan. Professional ethics are maintained throughout the project which is the biggest advantage for the project success. Celebration of project milestones and its success are very important to improve the morale of the members is considered to be one of the team weaknesses.
Any team before starting the project must have a leader and it is the leader who assigns the roles and responsibilities of the team members clearly. One of the main leadership qualities is the flexibility in their approach, style in adapting to the situations, communications with the team members. It is not always necessary that leader should have technical skills, but a little amount of knowledge in the particular field is sufficient for managing the project.
Organisational behaviour is very important for project management and using Belbin profiles in dividing the organisation is helpful in achieving the objectives. Team work is important for the project to succeed and lies on every individual of the team. It is important for the leader to motivate the members and constantly encourage them for the effective functioning of project teams. Belbin team life cycle shows that evolution of teams and tells the effective functioning of teams. The decision making procedures are important for projects success and has to be reviewed consistently. Project planning is considered to be the important phase in project management and plan gives only the direction. It is important for the team to learn from mistakes.
TVS Motors is the third largest two wheeler manufacturers in India and one among the top ten in the world with annual turnover of more than USD 1 billion 2008-2009 and is the flagship company of the USD 4 billion TVS group. The company has four plants located in Hosur and Mysore in South India, Himachel Pradesh in North India and one in Indonesia. The company has a production capacity of 2.5 million units per year. TVS strength lies in the design and development of new products. TVS delivers total customer satisfaction by anticipating customer needs and presenting quality vehicles at the right time and right price. The customer and his ever changing need is our continuous source of imspiration.TVS always stood for innovative, easy to handle, environment friendly products, backed by reliable customer service. TVS manufactures a wide range of products as shown below.
- Motorcycles – Apache RTR, Flame DS 125, Flame, Jive, Star City, Sport
- Variomatic Scooters – Wego, Scooty Streak, Pep+, Teenz
- Mopeds – TVS XL Super, TVS XL Heavy Duty
- Step thrus – TVS Neo, Rockz (TVS Motors, 2010).
The main objective of this essay is to evaluate the project management of a sub system (Fit and Finish Engineering section – part of R&D) in the TVS Motors and suggesting improvement points for betterment of the project management.
Any organisation exists to achieve the objectives by maintaining good relationships with its customers and its employees. The main objective of organisation is profitability.
TVS Motor Company Mission Statement
We are committed to being a highly profitable, socially responsible, and leading manufacturer of high value for money, environment friendly, life time personal transportation products under the brand, for customers predominantly in Asian markets and to provide fulfilment and prosperity for employees, de