Royal Roads University
Dissertations & Theses, Unpublished Paper
The action research focused on AI and its effect on worker engagement, which was loosely defined as the quality of participation at work. The impact of AI was determined by examining pre-AI and post-AI measurements among thirteen characteristics selected for their relationship to team development. The survey measurements of these characteristics were corroborated by researcher observations and participant interviews. The research sponsor also sought to exploit this research to the extent possible for team development and the pursuit of high performance. The research had a dual purpose; to examine the impact of AI on engagement and to foster real team development in the pursuit of high performance. In effect, the sponsor hoped that AI would transform a loosely aligned workgroup of intra-competitive district team leaders motivated by self-interest into a real team as defined by Katzenback and Smith.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development was the sponsoring organization. The Regional Team Leaders Group was selected by the Regional Director as the target for the action research. This cross-functional workgroup was comprised of ten senior social work professionals formally employed as district office team leaders and one administrative staff member.
The challenges were many. However, the political machinations accompanying the May election of the Campbell government added an unexpected dimension which served to enrich the research. The participant research was conducted from September to November following the May 2002 election. To say that this period was characterized by uncertainty, anger, chaos and fear in the workplace would be a mild understatement. The fact that these individuals agreed to participate in this research during those troubled times was a testament to their capacity to learn.
The outcomes from the AI intervention were surprising if not amazing. Participant values and attitudes were reshaped and expressed as new behaviours supportive of real team development. Leadership, individual leadership emerged and what was once a loose coalition of self-absorbed competing individuals grew into the early stages of a “real” team. Individual self interest was set aside for the collective and common good of the team. Team development evolved along a continuum described by Bushe as moving from pre to post-identity team development.
The scope of the transformations effected by AI was of such a scale that the researcher, project sponsor and project advisor were unable in their collective 100 plus years of experience to offer any examples of other forms of intervention, training or development that could compare in any measure to the positive personal, team and organizational development witnessed during this research.