The Army Crew Case


1) One of the issues is the lack of cohesiveness and willingness to contribute in a team environment. Crew relies heavily on teamwork and demands that all team members “buy in” to the concept of performing as one athlete. 2) As the leader of the group, coach Preczewski did not effectively incorporate the proper team building exercises or instill trust among teammates that is critical in a team environment. 3) A “star mentality” was evident among the members of the varsity team. Members of this group would routinely critique each other individually on the details of practice or a race. However, members of the junior varsity team did not criticize each another individually. If corrections were needed, they never singled out a crewmember, but made comments about the necessary adjustments needed to improve the effort of the team.

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1) Organizations must have employees who believe in the direction of the company and willing to make contributions that move the business forward. Likewise, members of the Army Crew team should have a mindset that has the consistency of a cohesive unit. In general, as the cohesiveness of a work group or team increases, the level of conformity to group norms will increase. (Ivancevich, Konopaske, Matteson 2011) In order to understand the importance of cohesiveness in a team or group environment, one must identify the level of agreement with team goals. Throughout the case study, there was a


lack of clear understanding of the team concept and an emphasis on individual results, in particular present within the varsity team. For example, a sampling of the varsity’s boat emails to Coach P. read as follows: “Now … my bitching session about Jim since I haven’t gotten a chance to talk with you. Besides his “great personality” (which I won’t even get into) he is not consistent at all and I don’t know if you can tell this from outside the boat. I really need someone that I feel a bond with and it isn’t happening with Jim.” In contrast to the varsity crewmember’s email to Coach P., the junior varsity crew emails were more positive and cultivated an environment of cohesiveness, such as, “We have the confidence and the control to row our own race. We know how to win and will do it on our terms. We will succeed together, we will fail together.” “We are not rowing for ourselves, Coach, or Army Crew.

When push comes to shove, in that last 1,000 meters, we’re rowing for every guy in that boat because we don’t want to let him down.” These emails from the junior varsity team embody the essence of a cohesive and a like-minded team. 2) Leadership is the ability to provide direction to a group of people and influence those individuals to follow in a prescribed direction and act accordingly. “There is a difference between a leader and a manager. A leader is as much about inspiration as anything else. A manager is more about process … In the end, maybe you can’t plant leadership in person, but you certainly can enhance it in a person.” George Buckley, CEO of 3M. (Ivancevich, Konopaske, Matteson 2011) Coach P. realized the inability of the varsity crew to pull together as a group, set aside individual differences, and work as a cohesive team. However, he was challenged in identifying the best way to overcome


these team hurdles. While his painstaking analysis of testing strength and rowing ability proved that the varsity did have the better individual members, they struggled as a team of eight rowers that made “the whole less than the sum of the parts.” In addition, the junior varsity and varsity teams appeared to have dislike for each other that created unhealthy competition among the team, along with cultivating an environment of mistrust. Based on Coach P’s. lack of decisive leadership, many crew members were left to their own vices in handling controversy, team cohesiveness, and identity. However, despite the leadership deficiencies at the coaching level, the junior varsity crew appeared to have the ability to overcome differences, believe in each other and the team concept, along with the maturity to recognize the need for adjustments for the betterment of the team.

3) The varsity crew team had excellent individual erg scores in strength and rowing ability. However, when the top eight rowers were combined as a group, they did not achieve the expected results consistent with their individual scores. In fact, as a comparison to the junior varsity crew team, the varsity club lost to the JV team two-thirds of the time. After finishing a practice on the Hudson River, the varsity crew was very critical of one another. Initially, Coach P. took this as a good sign: “I thought this was an indicator of their striving for excellence. In retrospect, it should have been seen as an omen of the hard times awaiting for me.” There are individual performers and there are team players. Cleary, the varsity team consisted of more performers than individuals who were willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the success of the team.



1) Coach Preczewski should continue his efforts on the primary issue with the team relative to members acting as individuals rather than as a team. While the team meetings appeared to be somewhat awkward, it is important for everyone to understand were team members stand relative to team roles. As such, there are a few things that Coach P. and the team can do to help promote a team environment. a) Social Team Events – Plan social activities that involve the team; dinners, sporting events, bowling, paintball. These types of activities build team spirit and encourage loyalty. Interacting in less stressful atmospheres will allow the team to express their personalities and feel more comfortable around each other. b) Celebrating the Strengths of Team Members – Identify the strengths and skills of team members and celebrate these areas with the team.

In fact, taking this a step further, celebrate the desirable traits that the team would like to instill in the group members. c) Promoting Fairness – Define team goals and communicate uniformly to the team. In turn, this will build trust in knowing that everyone is equal within the team environment. (Hikichi, 2010) 2) As the coach of the team, there are several performance management tools or steps that should be incorporated to help solidify team cohesiveness and positive group dynamics. a) Team Member Selection – This is a critical first step in developing a cohesive team — careful selection of team members. Team members should get along well with each other. Avoid individuals who are not cooperative or have “star-like” mentalities. b) Objective Identification – In order to function as a cohesive team, all team members must clearly understand the team


objectives. Developing an objective is the first task that team or a leader should undertake. This will help direct focus and work as a team in a cooperative manner. c) Open Communication – Communication is critical for successful team building. Develop methods or activities that will encourage the team to interact on a regular basis. d) Promote Trust – Cohesive teams have high levels of trust. This can be promoting trust building exercise and encouraging team-members develop relationships that extend beyond the practice or game time slots. e) Encourage Feedback – Coaches and managers want to create cohesive teams that are largely autonomous.

However, there may be times when it is necessary to step in and correct or prevent problems before it becomes a bigger issue. As such, coaches/managers should encourage feedback from the team in order to monitor how the team is performing. f) Time for Fun – Cohesive teams must have fun together and enjoy their teammates or coworkers. Allow the team to socialize, celebrate success at all levels, and build meaningful relationships. (Schreiner, 2009) 3) Generally, if a group is cohesive, they pull together in order solidify their togetherness that mobilizes group resources in dealing with the perceived “enemy” and tends to result in the suppression of internal disagreements. (Ivancevich, Konopaske, Matteson 2011) In order for the team to arrive at this level, there must be an emphasis on leadership, loyalty, and reverting back to what the team does best. As such, focusing on the first two solutions that build team cohesiveness will encourage the team to identify the negative aspects or traits among the team and work to eliminate the sources in a timely manner.


Hikichi, Takuya. 2010.
Schreiner, Erin. 2009. Ivancevich, M., John, Konopaske, Robert, Matteson, T., Michael, (2011) Organizational Behavaior and Management. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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