Posted: May 24th, 2022
Lumen and Absorb Team Case Study
At Crutchfield, there are two elite technology development teams. They are both vital to the development of products, but they are also different in their creativity and motivation. The Lumen team is very highly motivated, while the Absorb team has the lowest motivation out of all five of the groups that Burke oversees. Naturally, this was a serious concern for Burke and for others at Crutchfield. Since there has been a recent restructuring and a large round of layoffs, some of the current thinking is that the employees are not comfortable and do not feel safe in their jobs. However, all of the team members that are currently working at Crutchfield in the teams experienced the same things, so it seems odd that one team would be excelling while other teams – most notably the Absorb team – are floundering. Overall, it is this extreme difference that Burke wishes to address. With the help of an outside consultant and some work of his own, Burke has gotten closer to each team in an effort to find out where the problems lie and what can be done.
The research done by the consultant and the work that burke did on his own determined that the Lumen team was very excited about its work. It was the only team where Burke had trouble getting away once he got them talking. They were very interested in showing him what they were working on and how what they were doing could benefit the company. They were creative and motivated, and their production had gone up recently – unlike any of the other teams. In contrast to the Lumen team’s enthusiasm, the Absorb team appeared apathetic about what they were doing. They did not want to talk to Burke about their work, and were more interested in small talk and asking about organizational changes. This may indicate that they are still feeling unsafe after the layoffs, and the outside consultant pointed out that motivation and creativity are very strongly linked in the majority of individuals.
The electronic daily diaries provided information about the behaviors of the team leaders, the thoughts and behaviors of the team members, and the dynamics of the team overall. From those diaries, it can be seen that the Lumen team does well because of the leadership it has and because it actually works together as a team, the way it is supposed to. The team leader is interested in what the workers are doing, but he is also a very involved and focused leader. He does not give the impression that he is “above” the other who are on the team. He also keeps things moving forward and keeps the people on his team interested. Because he is engaged in the process and because he talks to the rest of his team and keeps them in the loop, he is succeeding in moving his entire team forward. That is very important, and it is reflected not only in his own diary entries but in the diary entries of the people on his team. They all seem to be on the same page, which is more than can be said for the Absorb team – where workers and the leader seem to be struggling.
The Absorb team diaries indicate a much higher level of frustration than is seen in the Lumen team. Overall, the consensus in that team is that they do not have good leadership. Some of the workers on that team feel that the team leader is always in their business and they cannot get anything done because he is so picky. Others feel as though they are being left out of the loop. There was a rumor that someone was going to leave the team, and that caused a lot of speculation and discussion that derailed the cohesiveness that a team should have. If the Absorb team is to get back on track, there is a lot of work that team will have to do. There is also the question of personality, as some of the individuals on the team do not have personalities that work well with some of the other team members. While that is far from the only issue, it could be part of the problem. The team leader and his inability to pull everyone together is also a significantly troubling issue.
In order to enhance creativity, one of the key components is motivation. These two things are highly linked, and people who do not feel as though they are doing anything to be creative and help the team are not going to be motivated. Conversely, it is hard to keep people creative if they do not have any motivation. Because the two issues must be addressed together, especially when people are working in teams, the Lumen team is succeeding and the Absorb team is having difficulties. The Lumen team members are being encouraged to be creative and contribute to what the team is doing, and that is working to keep them highly motivated. The Absorb team, on the other hand, is very disjointed and many of the members of that team do not see how what they are doing is helping the team overall. Because they do not feel as though they are actually contributing anything of value, they are losing their desire to contribute anything at all to their team.
In order for a person to be an effective leader, people have to want to follow him or her. That is the case with the Lumen team, and not the case with the Absorb team. It is becoming more and more obvious as time goes on that the Absorb team is struggling, and the most logical place to look for a problem of this nature is in the leadership that is seen. In this case, the leader is very transactional in nature. In other words, he focuses on what he wants done and then moves on, without really talking to the team about why certain things are getting done. Instead, the leader of the Absorb team should focus on a more transformational leadership style, where everyone works together for the greater good of the team. If this were to be the case, and the entire team could pull together and focus, they would see both their motivation and their creativity rise. This is taking place in the Lumen team, because that team has a leader who understands that he must also work with and for the people he oversees as part of his team. That is something the Absorb team leader has not yet learned.
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