The Junior Apprentice is a spin-off show of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. All candidates are young British entrepreneurs under the age of 18. Each episode the members of the show are divided into teams consisting of four or five members, and are faced with a business task. The team aim to win the business task by gaining the most orders through retailers and thus are rewarded in the end of the entire show with £25,000. No matter the outcome, teams have to face Lord Sugar in the boardroom, where one candidate gets fired depending on their involvement in the failure of a task.
The second episode of season one Junior Apprentice, was chosen to watch and analyze. Within this episode two groups are created one with four, three females and one male project manager, and another with five, one female project manager and four males, competing against each other. The task was for each team to design a product, create a prototype, and pitch an innovative camping accessory to retailers. The team, who attained the most orders from retailers, won the task.
Diversity is integrated between the members as each candidate in the show have been brought up different and have different fields of interest and experience. This enables the show to create a lively dynamic group that most likely lead to positive task conflict. They share a passion for business and are highly motivated to reach a goal that is common to all members. This enables the members the potential to be very effective.
The group analyzed consisted of four females and one male project manager. Adam, Zoe, Hibah, Emma and Kirsty. The initial impressions of the members was that Adam, the project manager, talked to the other members as a supordinate yet still came across nervous and slightly insecure thus lacked dominance to be respected. Most of the group members believed Adam was a good listener but did not stand his ground with the other members. With the fear of dissapointing members he created a product with the contents of most members contribution when analysis would of probably lead to a better creation. The oposing viewed Adam as weak, and needed to be more decisive as his role as a leader.
The female members picked up on Adam’s supoordinate manner and responded through little acts of rebellion. Zoe and Hibah teamed up and only pursued their individual intiatives. When conducting marketting research, the girls only mentioned their idea of a gamebox whilst giving no other idea mention. The two appeared driven by other motives than team success. Emma and Kirsty, the remaining members did not speak out as much in discussions about the task. At first their contribution seemed minimal, but in the end their lack of contribution safeguarded their chance of being fired.
Whilst watching the episode the characters had a lot of communication issues and no member appeared content with what was being produced. There were very diverse opinions and methods of work between the members. Task conflict arose but instead of it being used to an advantage, too much interpersonal tension arose and thus the effectiveness of the group decreased. Within the episode the members were constantly disrespecting each other verbally and with their body language through rolling of the eyes and aggressive speech and mostly criticising each other’s work. Although different in opinions and views, members were similar in their behaviour. Each member fought for their own position in staying in the sereis but did not truly pursue the team goal. Each member tended to be dishonest as all would agree upon a move but immediately refute the decision amongst each other. Each stood their own front and when convicted with failure in the boardroom, each dissociated themselves, and even blamed others with the holder of the idea that manifested the product. Each member focussed on their individual accomplishment and missed out on collaborative opportunities. As a result, the team failed the task and did not manage to attain a single retailer order for their product.
The teams biggest weakness was their lack of cooperation with each other. No member attempted to adapt their personalities or perspectives to the others and disagreement took place of productive discussion. The team had no time to work on an idea as they had not communicated effectively and built on what there was not much to build on. The members constantly disagreed with each other and thus conflict decreased the effectiveness of the team to create a good product.
The team observed displayed four of the five same-culture team challenges outlined by Kristin Behfar, Mary Kern and Jeanne Brett. There was high interpersonal tension between the members as well as “ego clashes, emotionally charged discussions, and anger or feelings of irritation between members.” (National Culture and Groups, 237: 2006) The conflict was both expressed verbally and through non-verbal communication such as body language; for example folding of the arms and rolling of the eyes. In order to refocus the team, either the members learn to work within their differences or managerial intervention can refocus the group on a superordinate level by smoothing interpersonal tensions and sometimes be the final decision maker to what can not be decided. The team also struggled with task conflict. Members who have differing viewpoints about either facts or priorities in their work, if emotionally charged and movements taken personally, conflict can arise that is disruptive to a team. If a team can blame a cultural influence over an individual ego the team is more likely to accept a co-existence of different approaches but if they are unable to agree, managerial intervention can impose a structure to work at. Timing and scheduling was another issue present as none of the members could decide on how much time to spend on various different tasks and rushed their planning stage to come up with a poor product. This is an administrative conflict that can be dealt with simply with the team’s effort to want to adapt their own schedules to make things work. If the team is unable to adapt their schedules either the product is poor a managerial intervention decides how long work should take. Finally, there were issues with the contribution and workload distribution as some members had to overcompensate due to late timing, or poor quality work. The team did not chose to revisit their tasks as they felt they did not have the time, but this administrative conflict may in turn create interpersonal tensions between those who worked more than the others, and as the show ended, the result was Hibah unable to take the credit for the poor product designed.
Possible solutions for team cooperation are managerial intervention, adapatation, structural intervention and exit. Had this team been under an organizational body, managerial intervention would have probably been necessary as “when the outcome is out of people’s hands, they adapt to the manager’s solution” (National Culture and Groups, 25:2006). Managerial intervention is necessary only when employees cannot unengage with the interpersonal tensions and disagreements at hand. It is a good strategy as the manager is not just a fellow employee or a peer, he is a manager thus his response to a situation is respected by both parties and they feel inclined to try and resolve their differences. He can “restore feelings of justice” (National Culture and Groups, 256: 2006)
However in this case, our team proposes structural intervention. Structural intervention works through assignment of employees in different hierarchal positions, for example, changing job allocation. The reason for picking this strategy is due to the fact that “teams can become unbalanced if all team members have similar team roles.” (Organizational Behaviour, 270: 2010) Thus sectioning them into different team roles through structuring can refocus the members and their objective of a team goal.