Army Crew Team Case Study – Team Building Essay
Team Submission: Bad Jazz Jane Blatz; Zachary Brado; Adam Medwetsky; David Cooper; Burhan Saiyed; Tian Wang Case Study: The Army Crew Team Reason: Why does the Varsity Team Lose to the JV Team? Varsity’s consistent losses to the JV team can be explained by their lack of characteristics that make up a true team.
The losses can also be attributed to JV’s strong team cohesion and the presence of team disrupters on the Varsity team. Team Playing vs. Individuality The Army’s Varsity Crew team was not a true team. They were merely eight star athletes, with no cohesion or team chemistry, thrown together.
The players and positions were selected strictly on physical strength and capabilities. This completely contradicts the views of the more experienced crew coaches, who rank psychological factors as the most important aspect of a successful crew team. Instead of selecting players by the single most important aspect of a team’s success, these factors were ignored.
In a sport where team trust and dependence is of utter importance, where even a hair flip can throw off an entire race, the lack of team cohesion and trust within one another caused great failure.
It proved foolish to simply throw a group of good athletes together and expect them to be compatible. This strategy is a prime example of when “the whole is less than the sum of its parts. ” Lack of Shared Goal In addition, the Varsity “team” had no solid team goal that they were working towards. Yes, they all wanted to win; however they were unclear as to how they would work together to accomplish this. This was evident from the team e-mails and discussions. The individual players proved to be too egotistical and centrally focused on their individual goals of personal success and opinions to function.
They were too focused on individual blame and accountability to work together successfully. They never discussed bettering themselves as a team unit. Lack of Direction – Absent Leadership The Varsity team also had no leadership or productive communication. There was never any motivational leader. The team had nobody to inspire them to work together to improve the team. Whenever team discussions occurred, no facilitator was present. This resulted in poor communication and resentment and hard feelings among teammates. There was constant complaining and blaming of other teammates.
Individuals expressed clear frustration by feeling underappreciated. This negative atmosphere resulted in the Varsity team becoming angry, discouraged and completely disenfranchised. Nobody seemed to have any hope that the team could improve. They seemed to have given up. In contrast, the JV team, although weaker in physical ability, functioned very well together as a team. They had great team cohesion and adjusted to each other extraordinarily. JV Team Collective Growth and Positive Outlook The JV team was also very team-oriented.
Unlike the Varsity team, they avoided individual blame. When they did discuss improvement, only team improvement was brought up. Instead of criticizing individuals and adding unnecessary pressure, they looked for productive solutions in a positive way. Instead of fearing resentment from individual teammates, the JV team simply motivated themselves by “not wanting to let each other down. ” The JV teammates also offered each other positive support, which proved to be better than Varsity’s negativity, which was reflected in their e-mails to the coach.
The JV team was also willing to improve itself in unconventional ways. They openly embraced the CEP psychologist activities as an exciting opportunity. On the other hand, the Varsity team was skeptical and said it was too “touch-feely. ” Given their failure thus far in the season, the Varsity team should have been open-minded to opportunities to improve as a team. FINDINGS A combination of JV’s exemplary teamwork and support and Varsity’s negative environment and unwillingness to cooperate with each other is the reason that the JV team was able to outperform the Varsity team.
Although the Varsity team was better on paper, the JV’s superior psychological factors, compared to the Varsity’s disenfranchisement and team disruptors, gave them the extra team strength they needed for success. Mistake: What was Coach P. doing wrong? Forgetting Fundamentals of the game Coach P. put too much emphasis on the individual members for each rower. Master Coaches report that psychological factors are the most important component of great teams, and Coach P. didn’t emphasize this aspect enough.
The Varsity team is made up of the top rowers compared individually, with each compared against each other, through “seat racing. ” This is not how the rowing teams actually perform. Coach P. should have utilized more team-based trials to include variable intangibles like team cohesion and team leadership. More than just seat numbers – Looking at the players rather than the purpose Once the Junior Varsity team started beating the Varsity team regularly, Coach P. had a dilemma. If he switches the JV team to be the Varsity team, he has the 8 weakest rowers on the Varsity team. This is no way to pick a team.
When testing, Coach P. saw that adding Varsity players to the JV squad made the team faster, so the JV squad was not ideal when left alone. Despite this, they did beat the Varsity squad many times, so it is clear that the Varsity squad is yet slower, though it isn’t for lack of talent. Thus, Coach P. should have first reformulated the Varsity squad, adding leaders from the JV squad to achieve a proper balance of intangibles. Possible seats for switching include the 5 and 6 seats. These seats tend to be for stronger rowers with poorer technique, and the two strongest players on the entire team are on the JV squad right now.
If these players are good leaders, they would fit well in the captain’s chair, seat 6. The coach should try to find the best team, and the best player for each individual seat, instead of picking the best from the whole team. Coach P. Intervention Once the new Varsity team is formed, the team should do more teambuilding and trust-building exercises, as well as participate in and embrace the CEP training. There needs to be buy-in for the team as a whole, and a good culture of working hard and trusting each other. The team cannot work as a group of individuals.
The teamwork for this sport is reciprocal teamwork, because the team must work well together and mesh to succeed, always trying to achieve “swing. ” This recommendation only works when there is time for the team to mesh. The proper time to intervene is early in the season, when the team has time to work together and learn to trust each other. The four days before nationals is not the time to switch things up. The time to intervene is as soon as it became clear that there was an inherent problem in the Varsity team. After the first time the JV squad beat the Varsity squad, it could have been a fluke, or even after the second game.
Coach P. should be alert after the first loss, and once a pattern appears and Coach P. determines that the Varsity time is slowing down, the change should be made. The Action: What Can Be Done Next? Damage Control – 1st Step: Communication Coach P. needs to take a few specific actions in order to try to salvage the situation. The first thing he needs to do is let the Varsity Team know the truth: exactly what situation they are in. He should explain that he is debating not having them start at the final meet, and they should know what dire situation they have put themselves in.
Then, Coach P needs to set an ultimatum. They have 3 days to get their act together and race one last time against the Junior Varsity squad. If Varsity loses again after their three day team building efforts, then the Junior Varsity squad will take over as the number one Army Crew Team and will compete as such at the crew meet on Tuesday. 2nd Step: Call to Action After laying down the ultimatum, he must then also let them know he hasn’t given up on them, and is willing to help them be the team they all know they can be.
He can first point out the problems they have; lacking of shared-goals, team roles, teamwork and communication. Then Coach P. needs to ask them to all speak freely and get their own worries out in the open. Finally, he can then provide teambuilding exercises and drills focusing on addressing the issues, with hopes that it will fix the situation. In the end, the team can then vote on a leader to be the coxswain as well, allowing for agreement between all as to who should lead them and prepare for the race against JV team. Alternative:
The other possible solution that was considered was building a team of mostly JV members including a few Varsity crew, but was scrapped because there wasn’t enough time to build a new efficient team. These actions are recommended for a few reasons. The first is to set a sense of urgency for the team to help establish a team goal, something that was lacking before. By having the coach list out and explain the issues the team is facing, and by illustrating that it is a psychological and team based problem it would help rid them of the notion that is was one person’s fault.
If all of the crew members are on the same page, they can get rid of the issue of lack of buy in, which is also helped by the fact they voted for their leader. Having a leader who they can believe in will also help the issue of motivation. The reason they should all speak freely and get their worries out is to also get rid of any blame going on, get all issues on in the open. And then they may begin to build trust and cohesiveness which is essential for a team that has no individual MVP. All members know they rely on each other and are interdependent, and this will greatly increase cohesiveness.
The final reason why these actions were recommended is that they address the issue of putting the best team first when it comes actually winning the meet. It fairly gives both teams a chance to compete as the Varsity team. This also takes advantage of the rivalry effect in place. Since it has been helping the JV team win, there is no reason why the Varsity can’t also take advantage of the benefits the competition would yield for them. The Lessons: Army Crew Team and its similarity with other professional organizations Interdependence of Departments:
The idea of interdependence amongst the team members is the main similarity between the Army Crew team and other types of organizations. In the broader aspect of interdependence, in order for organizations to run smoothly, all of the facets of the particular business must fit together in a way that is profitable. Each department within the company has its job to do and it is expected to be done well. Well, this is not so different from the Army Crew team since the sport consists entirely on the interdependence of team members. This is the same when working with teams inside a company.
Each member of the team is expected to get their job done which directly impacts the work of every other employee within the company. An environment that fosters strong trust and leadership is needed in all types of organizational teams. The importance of Leadership: A lack of leadership was evident with the varsity crew team, proving to be extremely detrimental to the team. This is the same within any organization. Whether it is a manager led team or a self-managed team, strong leadership is important. At Ingram Micro, the employees are split into teams and assigned a vendor that they will be dealing with.
Much like the Army Crew team, these teams were manager led in terms of placement within the teams and the particular job they were hired for. At the same time, they were self-managed when dealing with day to day activities with the team. As a result, we saw a lack of leadership by the manager decrease employee morale. However, the leadership within the team, outside of the manager, shared the goals of the team and therefore increased overall success. Teams are seen as a collective whole: Although the Army Crew team has its share of similarities with other organizational teams, it does have its differences.
For instance, there is no way to measure individual performance. This would be extremely inefficient to other organizations because the very best people at the company might not stand out if placed on the wrong team. Teams in other organizations do in fact operate as a single unit, but each member has their own part to contribute that can be measured and evaluated. In the sport of crew, when a member of the team messes up or falls behind, each teammate must fight the natural instinct to overcompensate for the weak link and continue their same stroke over and over again.
In an organization, this cannot happen. Even though you have to expect employees to fix their own mistakes most of the time, sometimes team members have to be willing to help out their teammates to benefit the team as a whole. CONCLUSION: The case allowed us to highlight some key lessons that can be useful to teams. A manager must realize that sometimes the best individual performance is not necessarily the best indicator for the make-up of the team.
In terms of sports, you don’t want to have the 5 best players in the NBA on your team if they are all shooting guards, or the 11 best soccer players in the world if they are all defensemen. Now in the context of a business, you don’t want hire the person with the most impressive resume, but you want the employee who will fit the best within the organization. The importance of culture and leadership was evident with the Army Crew team as well as when discussing the Navy Black Aces in class. Both teams illustrate how a circle of trust must be built for the team to perform most effectively.
The goals of each team cannot be met without a culture that fosters trust. The Navy Black Aces had a shared identity that was not so different from that of the JV crew team. Each member of the team was on the same page and knew what they had to do to get the job done. This all falls back into the notion of having an effective leadership style. Effective leadership can create trust by making sure that members have the same goals as the team as well as the right fit. The right fit leads to knowing and doing the right things which will lead to positive results.