+1(978)310-4246 credencewriters@gmail.com

I’m working on a writing case study and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

8. Evaluate the differences in the department before and after the change. How did the department change structurally? What were the outcomes for the employees? For the performance of Derrick’s unit?
9. At the end of the case, the department still faces a number of challenges even after all the changes Derrick has made. What are they? If you were in charge, how would you propose the department move forward? What would the boundary be for power and decision-making for the self-managed sales team and the management team?
10. Derrick envisions the entire athletic department eventually adopting the SMT structure. What are the benefits and challenges of doing so? Your answer should consider the benefits and challenges at multiple stages of (a) design of new SMTs, (b) launch of the new SMTs, and (3) managing the new SMTs teams.
11. Do you agree or disagree with Derrick’s vision? Why or why not?case Studies
Volume 5 Case Study 9
Implementing Self-Managed Teams
at Western Field University:
A Human Resource and Leadership Case Study
Jeffrey Graham and Sylvia Trendafilova
University of Tennessee
This case challenges future sport managers to consider the importance of organizational structure and the
impact structure has on job performance and motivation. In the case, students are presented with a university
ticket sales department with a traditionally tall bureaucratic organizational structure. In 2014, the department
struggled with poor performance, high turnover, and low levels of employee morale. However, the department
took drastic steps and adopted an organizational structure that is based on the idea of self-managed teams. Now
in 2016 the department is undergoing a thorough evaluation to see whether the organizational change made
two years ago has had a positive impact. Even though the case uses a fictional university (i.e., Western Field
University), the issues and challenges involved in changing an organizational structure, motivating employees,
and leading change stem from real-world situations. The case contains ticket sales data, employee turnover
information, and sample quotes from employees that aid in the analysis. This case is intended for use in human
resource management classes, but it also has implications for organizational behavior or leadership courses.
Keywords: self-managed teams, situational leadership, human resource management, motivation, organizational structure
It was a beautiful clear Monday morning near the end of May 2016. Derrick Moore looked out his car window to
see Western Field University’s football complex as he pulled into his parking spot beneath the stadium. As the director
of ticket operations, Derrick was looking forward to reviewing his department’s yearly performance.
Two years earlier, in Spring 2014, Derrick had spent 2 weeks at a leadership retreat in Denver where he had learned
of an exciting new idea for motivating employees and increasing productivity. The conference suggested implementing
an organizational structured that used self-managed teams (SMTs). At that time, Derrick was ready for new and exciting ideas; in fact, he felt he needed to do something radical to combat the lackluster sales progress his department had
experienced since he had been hired at Western Field University.
After the conference, Derrick decided he wanted to implement SMTs in his ticket operations department. Derrick
had learned that in some cases SMTs boasted productivity improvements of 30% and even 40% (Garvin, 1997). To be
fair, these reports came from various industries—the food and beverage industry and the consumer goods industry—but
Derrick felt that the SMT model could also be effective in a college athletic sales setting.
Back then, Derrick’s first step was to convince the athletic director that this new organizational structure would
be effective, efficient, and worth the work. He discussed his vision for a flattened and simplified organizational hierarchy that would empower a committed workforce. He explained that this new organizational structure would result
in a sense of ownership by the employees, one that would produce improved processes, innovation, productivity, and
quality. Ultimately, Derrick hoped his department would sell more tickets, increase fan satisfaction, and generate more
revenue for the overall athletic department. The athletic director gave Derrick the green light, and he implemented the
new organizational structure in Fall 2014.
Now it is 2016, and the athletic calendar is nearing a conclusion. Derrick feels it is time to evaluate the changes.
He is planning on spending the day with his associate director, Sarah Johnson, evaluating how the change in structure
has affected a number of important organizational metrics. On the employee side, he is curious how it has affected
worker morale and absenteeism. On the ticket sales side, he is anxious to see the sales performance numbers, including
Jeffrey Graham and Sylvia Trendafilova are with the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Address author correspondence to Jeffrey Graham at jgraha38@utk.edu.
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
Self-Managed Teams at Western Field University   65
overall ticket sales, season ticket sales, luxury seat sales, and ticket renewals. Derrick is looking forward to reviewing
the changes, evaluating the progress, and discussing the challenges.
Background: Western Field University
Western Field University is located in Southern California. The school was founded in 1907 as a land grant institution
and remains one of the oldest and most prominent public state schools in California. The university has approximately
27,000 students, 6,000 of whom are graduate students. Much of the student body is from California, but roughly 10%
(2,550) of the student population is from out of the state. The university is a traditional liberal arts college, offering a
wide range of departments and majors for the students to concentrate on.
Western Field University College Athletics
Western Field University has a strong tradition in collegiate athletics, especially in women’s basketball and men’s football. Overall, the school has a balanced lineup of 18 different athletic teams that participate in NCAA Division 1–level
competitions. For women, the school offers basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming
and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and water polo. For men, the school offers baseball, basketball, football,
golf, soccer, track and field, swimming, and tennis.
Traditionally, women’s basketball, softball, and volleyball and men’s basketball, baseball, and football generate the
highest attendance numbers, both among the student body and from the community. The other sports, such as tennis,
golf, track and field, lacrosse, and cross country, are free for fans to come and enjoy, so no tickets are sold to these events,
although attendance is recorded. The school views men’s and women’s soccer as a potential revenue-generating sport
for the future and hope to build these teams’ prominence in the upcoming years. Western Field has a number of different
athletic facilities to house sporting events. The facilities, capacities, and seating options are summarized in Exhibit 1.
Moving Toward a Self-Managed Sales Team
Ticket Operations Department in 2014
In Spring 2014, Derrick was the associate director of ticket operations at Western Field University and managed all
ticket sales for athletics at the university. His department had three main goals: Attract new ticket holders, sell tickets,
and provide customer service for already-established season ticket holders, especially those who purchased suites or
club seats.
Derrick was hired to rejuvenate the ticket operations department, but progress was slow and the department was
underperforming. In Summer 2013, when Derrick was hired, he felt that his enthusiastic and positive attitude would
inspire and motivate his subordinates in the department to generate more contacts, sell more tickets, and provide better
customer service. Employees initially seemed more upbeat, but this only lasted a few weeks. Something else was
needed to make a more enduring and substantial change in the department. Derrick felt that changing the organizational
structure of the department to an SMT was just what was needed.
In 2014, the department structure was tall and split into multiple subdepartments with strict boundaries. The four
different subdepartments included suite sales, club seat sales, group ticket sales, and general admission/season ticket
sales. Each subdepartment was led by a subdepartment manager, and each manager was in charge of approximately
two senior and three junior sales representatives (about 20 sales representatives in total). Each of the subdepartment
sales managers reported to Sarah, the associate director for ticket operations, who then reported to Derrick, the director
of ticket operations (see Exhibit 2 for a graphic of the 2014 organizational chart).
This organizational structure created a number of challenges for the employees and for customers. One challenge was
that the junior and senior sales representatives had little personal contact with Derrick or even with Sarah. This created
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
Self-Managed Teams at Western Field University   67
difficulties when customers requested special accommodations that required approval. To maintain control and equity,
the subdepartment manager was required to sign off on all special approvals. However, some of these managers felt
uncomfortable approving special accommodations without first discussing the issue with Sarah or Derrick. As a result,
sales representatives often felt restricted in their ability to work with customers and provide excellent customer service.
Furthermore, customers felt that simple requests (e.g., adding a cushion seat to their season ticket order) took too long,
and they were often frustrated with their ticket purchasing experience. This was likely one factor that contributed to the
decline in season ticket and club seat renewals to a level at which only 60% of ticket packages were renewed in 2014.
Another challenge was that the sales representatives felt that sales goals, quotas, and general work policies were
imposed on them, which created pressure and stress in the position that resulted in high turnover at the senior and
junior sales representative levels. This high turnover meant that subdepartment managers were in a continual cycle
of training new employees. This resulted in two additional undesirable outcomes. First, it often made new employees
feel like a burden as sales managers vocalized their frustrations about the new employees’ lack of sales abilities and
having to train so many new skills. Second, it took time away from the sales managers to work on generating new sales
or to provide direct customer service, which resulted in fewer ticket sales overall. In fact, the ticket sales department
had not experienced a sold-out stadium, field, or arena since 2012, and seating capacity across the different sports was
currently only at approximately 64%. It was also clear that department morale was low, and there did not seem to be a
lot of hope (see Exhibit 3 for end-of-season 2014 sales figures).
Ticket Operations Department: Changes Made in 2014
At the end of Derrick’s first sales season, May 2014, he and Sarah sat down to map out how they would change the
structure of the department to embrace the SMT ideas. They knew it would be difficult, but they felt that it would result
in a culture change in the department, which they hoped would result in an increase in morale as well as performance.
They especially focused on the areas of job definitions, hiring, team definitions, boundary of team responsibilities, and
the special role of the new coordinator position they hoped to create. Their overall goal was to develop a department in
which the team had cooperation, more autonomy for problem solving, room for innovation, and internal control over
goals and processes.
Job definitions. The first big step was to eliminate the artificial boundaries separating the different subdepartments.
Derrick and Sarah felt that these distinctions did not provide the flexibility and cooperation needed to make the SMT
a cohesive unit. The new structure would allow all of the sales representatives to work in each of the different ticket
sales areas. This way any customer could be serviced by any member of the sales team, rather than having to transfer
customers back and forth between subdepartments, as was done previously.
The second step was to remove the hierarchical distinctions between the junior sales representative, senior sales
representatives, and the subdepartment managers. Instead, two levels of sales representatives were created, the coordinator and the sales representatives. This meant that each sales representative had more decision-making power and
autonomy in how best to meet the needs of the customer. Rather than requiring special approval at each step of the
way, sales representatives were able to respond and make decisions when helping customers (see Exhibit 4 for a visual
of the revised 2014 organizational chart).
Hiring. Hiring also had to be changed for the new SMT to work. Derrick and Sarah realized that for the SMT system
to reach its potential, a different kind of salesperson was needed, one in whom nontraditional skills and attitudes were
necessary. Fully participating in an SMT requires an individual capable and willing to solve problems, continuously
learn, show initiative, and be adaptable. Previously, candidates were evaluated on the basis of past sales experience
and their desire to continue working in sales. With the new SMT structure, however, a new hiring strategy was created.
Rather than depend on traditional interviewing techniques, Sarah and Derrick created a set of three simulation
tasks for potential job candidates to complete as a team. In one simulation, a group of candidates were given a realistic
sales problem (e.g., not reaching a sales goal for an event) and are charged with discussing innovative ways to develop
new sales leads. The candidates were then evaluated on how well they participated, the quality of their ideas, and their
willingness to challenge and push their fellow teammates during the exercise.
In another exercise, potential new hire candidates were given the task to develop a ticket sales goal as a group. The
team then discussed why goals are important, how they should be implemented, and what measures should be taken
by the group if an individual does not meet the decided-on sales goal. The candidates were again measured by their
willingness to engage in the process, the quality of their input, and their ability to articulate thoughts and feelings to
the group. In the end, a number of candidates were excited about the prospect of working for a department that wanted
collaboration and discussion among the sales team. Others seemed displeased with the hiring process, feeling unsure
of what the hiring team was looking for and unsure of how their previous sales experience was being evaluated.
Team definition. Derrick and Sarah had a lengthy discussion of what the definition of the team should be. Should there
be multiple teams? How big could a team be and still remain functional and productive? Should the subdepartments
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
Self-Managed Teams at Western Field University   69
remain intact and teams simply created around those special areas? In the end, they felt that a single team in which
all sales types were mixed together would be best. This created workers who had a deeper understanding of the entire
ticket sales process at all the different levels. Furthermore, it created a more cohesive unit in which each salesperson was
accountable to the team for reaching the total sales goal, rather than reaching an individual goal and feeling satisfied.
Team decision-making boundaries. Another area that required thoughtful discussion was that of team boundaries.
What decision-making power would the team be given? Historically, most decisions for the sales staff were made by
Derrick, then passed down the ranks to the different sales representatives. This was done to maintain order, equality,
and consistency among the group. However, the new SMT structure required more autonomy to let the team reach
their potential.
Derrick felt that a gradual increase in autonomy would be natural and necessary as the SMT became used to the
new structure and began to perform at a higher level. At first, they had control over the day-to-day decision making.
This included things like setting up the break time policies, ensuring that the phones were being staffed, and when and
how to call technical support if the computer system was not functioning. Derrick envisioned, though, that in the months
and years to come, the team would also be setting sales goals, participating in strategy sessions for the department as
a whole, and even taking part in the hiring and firing process within the department.
Role of coordinator. One of the most complex parts of the SMT was outlining the duties and responsibilities of the
newly created coordinator positions. The coordinator was expected to take part in the sales process, support and facilitate
the team process, and make decisions about sales or customer service with little formal direction from Derrick or Sarah.
To help with training those taking over the new coordinator position, Derrick and Sarah would work with the new
coordinators on effective situational leadership (Blanchard, Zigarmi, & Zigarmi, 1985; Druskat & Wheeler, 2004;
Northouse, 2013). The new coordinators met with Derrick and Sarah for a 3-day seminar to start the new sales year,
then met periodically throughout the year to discuss successes and challenges. Derrick and Sarah chose situational
leadership as a training framework for leadership because of its flexible nature and because of the way scholars in the
management literature discussed it in connection with SMTs (Druskat & Wheeler, 2004). At first, the coordinators were
somewhat confused. Why should a team that is self-managed need a leader in the first place? Derrick agreed that the
team would indeed be self-managed and the goal of the new organizational structure was to give autonomy and share
power. Derrick went on to explain, however, that SMTs function better when they have a strong leader. He explained
that leaders of SMTs provide guidance, have access to resources, and can champion the structure to the rest of the organization. Furthermore, the team’s leader is held accountable for team’s success or failure (Druskat & Wheeler, 2004).
With this clarification in mind, the coordinators were eager to hear more about the situational leadership framework.
In general, situational leadership suggests that two types of leadership behaviors can be used, supportive behaviors
and directive behaviors (Northouse, 2013). Supportive behaviors include things such as helping group members feel
included, increasing two-way communication, giving praise and encouragement, and showing social and emotional
support. Directive behavior is more task related and includes things such as utilizing one-way communication, setting
timelines, clarifying goals or methods, defining roles, or even showing how something should be done.

This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
70  Graham and Trendafilova
Situational leadership also tries to take into account the follower’s level of skills and motivation and then suggests
a style of leadership that matches the follower’s needs based on supportive or directive behaviors. For example, if the
coordinator worked with a sales representative who lacked motivation and had a low level of competency, then the
coordinator would try to provide a lot of support and direction (a coaching leadership style). However, if a sales representative showed a high level of commitment and motivation but simply lacked skills in the position, the coordinator
would show a high level of directive behavior (a directing leadership style; Northouse, 2013).
In the end, the goal was to be at a point at which a delegating leadership style was adopted most often. This would
indicate that the employees were both highly motivated and highly competent, and the coordinator would simply be
called on to approve decisions and give small amounts of support or direction as needed. At this point, the SMT would,
it was hoped, be showing initiative and taking responsibility for its performance and the outcomes of its effort.
Ticket Operations Department: Evaluating the Change in 2016
The SMT system has been in place for two full ticket sales seasons (Fall 2014–Spring 2015, Fall 2015–Spring 2016),
and Derrick is anxious to compare the metrics and feedback from the coordinators and sales representative. To get
feedback, Derrick asked for anonymous reviews from each employee, as well as a comprehensive assessment of the
overall ticket sales production. When Derrick walked into his office that morning, Sarah was there with the materials,
ready to start analyzing.
Job definitions. Initially, workers were somewhat confused about their roles and responsibilities. Sales representatives who had previously only worked with customers interested in club seats were now selling season tickets or general
admission tickets. Some sales representatives initially felt uncomfortable with the transition and pushed back on the
open system. However, over the course of the first 3 months after the change, the coordinators held multiple team meetings and gathered input from the other sales representatives to ensure everyone felt comfortable and supported working
with the open environment. Now, the sales representatives report that selling tickets without the previous boundaries
gives them increased ability to meet all the needs of their customers. One sales representative said, “Being able to
make offers and problem solve on my own is really empowering, I feel like I can use my creativity and entrepreneurial
approach to satisfy customers.”
Some struggles still exist, however. Many of the sales representatives who previously only worked with suite sales
for basketball and football kept their contacts and have shied away from working with other types of customers. This
has created some status echelons among the sales team. They are one team and work together fairly well, but those
who primarily worked with suite sales in the past still seem to carry higher status than the sales representatives who
did not have that chance. These higher status sales representatives are less inclusive and resist some of the team’s ideas
for cooperation.
Hiring. In Derrick’s first 8 months in the new position, he replaced seven sales representatives. However, in the 2
years since the SMT organizational structure was implemented, he had only replaced four sales representatives. This
was because two of the employees refused to take part in the team process, did not speak up in team meetings, and
actively tried to isolate their work from the other team members. Others had grossly misunderstood the limits of the
decision-making boundaries and took advantage of the system by trying to justify shorter work weeks and taking
extended lunch breaks. Derrick, Sarah, and the coordinators reminded the team that being self-managed did not mean
they had total freedom to do whatever they chose. Rather, being self-managed was more about taking responsibility
and ownership of the entire sales process and the department. To find the replacement sales representatives, Derrick,
Sarah, the coordinators, and even some of the sales team collectively worked to hire individuals they felt would add
diversity and value to the team. So far the new hires were fitting in well.
Team definition, decision-making boundaries, and role of the coordinator. Sarah and the coordinators both agreed
that in 2014, virtually every major decision was made by the coordinators, Sarah, or Derrick himself. The team had
not yet learned to work together in such a way as to trust the group’s decisions. Two years later, however, only about
one in 10 decisions were made by coordinators, and rarely did something come to Derrick or Sarah for supervisor
approval. The team developed a process through discussion and careful planning that was working well to solve issues.
In addition, it seemed that the team was taking pride in their teamwork. The sales team had really become the experts
in the sales process, which was the goal.
A number of items still created challenges, however. For one, individual recognition was a difficult area. Sarah felt
that the team did a fairly good job with group recognition and praise. However, when they tried to praise individual
members for an excellent sales week or by closing a new deal with a corporate account, individuals seemed uncomfortable with the individual praise and deflected it back to the group. Moreover, even though individuals did not respond
well to group praise, they did request increases in pay for higher individual performance. Coordinators were hesitant
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
Self-Managed Teams at Western Field University   71
to reward individuals in this way, however. Instead, they preferred to incentivize team accomplishments. Derrick wondered whether there was a way to incentivize both the group and the individual without creating unhealthy competition.
Another challenge was that of evaluation. The coordinators were fully involved with the team process and felt
confident in their evaluations of the team members. However, there were only two coordinators and 20 sales representatives. Derrick and Sarah were able to use a number of sales metrics to score sales representatives on their performance,
but participation with the team was hard to evaluate. The coordinators felt that peer feedback might be the answer, but
when they floated the idea to the team, they received some resistance. No one seemed to want to give any sort of negative
feedback about their teammates, especially if the negative feedback was going to be included in a formal evaluation.
Decisions on things such as overtime, vacations, and some of the more general policies were also causing tension.
The team felt it had matured enough to take on an even greater amount of control than Derrick currently allowed. They
wanted to decide on when overtime would be allowed and how it would be distributed among the team. They also
wanted more control over vacation length and approvals. Furthermore, the team felt they should be given more say
over the sales goals and departmental strategy. Derrick felt that goals, individual pay, and other benefits were simply
his responsibility as the director, however, and was hesitant to allow the team to take on these new responsibilities.
One form got Derrick thinking, though. It read, “We are given the impression that we run the department and that
once we decide something it will happen, but that is just not true. We still do not have very much power to do anything
with lasting consequence.” Derrick knew that decision would be difficult. The boundary between management and
sales representative decisions was clear, but his team wanted more. Derrick wondered how much more power he should
allow them to have.
Derrick knew the SMT system was making progress. He was impressed with the sales metrics, as well as with most of
the comments on worker morale. The reduced absenteeism and overall ticket renewal, as indicated in the sales reports,
spoke to the fact that both workers and customers were happy with what was happening in the department (refer to
Exhibits 3 and 5 for more details). However, he knew he still had a lot of work to do to reach the full potential of the
department. How could he leverage the SMT model to reach even higher levels of performance? He also wondered
whether the SMT structure would work in the entire athletic department, not just his department. There was certainly
still a lot of work to be done, and Derrick was ready to continue forward.
Blanchard, K. H., Zigarmi, P., & Zigarmi, D. (1985). Leadership and the one minute manager. New York, NY: William Morrow.
Druskat, V. U., & Wheeler, J. V. (2004). How to lead a self-managing team. MIT Sloan Management Review, 45, 65–71.
Garvin, D. (1997). Understanding self-managing work systems. Technology and Operations Review, 1, 1–19.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC
This content is copyright © 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Unauthenticated | Downloaded 01/23/23 01:00 PM UTC

Purchase answer to see full

error: Content is protected !!