The issues that confront work groups on any level are best determined by asking the participants themselves. While there are numerous ways to collect information directly from subjects, this research paper will collect responses to a survey, which uses a combination of Likert scale statements, open-ended response questions, and a rating and ranking series of questions. The survey will be given over the web, which is the best way to collect data from multiple locations effectively. The survey option is also the most efficient way to gather responses to a large number of questions in the least amount of time. The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, whereas an interview, whether by phone or in person would require balancing schedules, at the least a half-hour of discussion, and interpretation of responses within the frame of the data needed.
The survey questions have been developed through an in-depth analysis of available literature on work groups; in addition some components of the problem have been developed into questions. The survey is designed to encourage a thoughtful comparison by the subject of experiences as a participant in both single-site and multi-site work groups. The survey consists of 72 questions that will be distributed to approximately 100 subjects.
Variables and Measurements
The intention of this research is to evaluate the subject’s opinions on their experiences against a set of specifically selected questions. Issues are presented in the form of statements, and the subject selects which of several opinions about the statement most closely aligns with their own. There are nine potential groups that will respond to this survey: Engineers in one of three locations; lead engineers in one of three locations; engineering managers in one of three locations. In addition, there is the potential for a group of respondents that will submit incomplete surveys, because the subjects do not meet the criteria for the study.
Survey responses will be compared in several ways: position of respondents (one of three groups- Engineer, Lead Engineer, Engineering Manager) and location of respondents (USA, Denmark, Germany). The research will review how respondents differ in their responses based on their position, and based on their location. In addition, the research will compare how responses differ across all groups according to whether or not a single-site work group or a multi-site work group is being discussed. Finally, the research will compare the attitudes and perceptions of the respondent according to the size of their work groups.
Research Instrument The research instrument is a survey. The reason this particular instrument was selected is relatively simple: it was the most effective way to reach the widest variety of subjects. In addition, the availability of the Motorola intranet to all participants made the survey the most reasonable choice. The survey [Appendix A] is in seven sections. The first section is the identification section, where the subjects identify themselves as engineers, lead engineers, managers, or other. In addition, the region the subject is located in is identified here, as well as what type of groups the subject is involved with.
The second section of the survey is designed to get a feel for some general group information from the subject. The subject indicates group size, group interaction, and the subject’s overall attitude toward his group. The information collected in the first two sections will be used to categorize the data collected. For example, subjects in Berlin versus subjects in the United States, or subjects who are very positive about their local site experience, versus those who are very negative about their local site experience. These categories were chosen because there did not appear to be much research in the area. It will be interesting to see if general attitude colors the overall issues identified.
The research is designed to compare and contrast the issues identified for multi-site and single-site work groups. The next four sections, therefore, are two sets of questions repeated with the respondent answering one set of questions using their single-site experience, and answering one set using their multi-site experience. The statements are designed to focus the responses into six distinct areas: Communication, Leadership, Participation, Purpose, Maturity, and Roles/Responsibilities.
There are millions of possible statements, but to maintain a fifteen to twenty minute effort, it was necessary to winnow these to a few general statements that seem to encompass the greatest area. In general, the questions are posed in a true/false format, with the respondent indicating their strength of feeling with the truth of the statement. For example: “The group is able to identify and resolve conflicts/issues.” This question is then answered with Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. This particular question falls under the Maturity category. The categories are not identified on the survey. The participants will see distinctions made only between the Local Work Group and Multi-Site Work Group statements.
The next two sections of the survey, which again are divided by Local and Multi-Site Work Group experiences, provide an opportunity for the respondent to evaluate how important various aspects of the six areas are to the successful operation of the work group. The respondent selects from One to Five his perception of the importance of the effectiveness criteria listed. For this area it will be interesting to compare how important a criteria is versus how successfully it is implemented in a participants work group as recorded in responses to the issue statements from the previous section.
The final sections of the survey give the participant an opportunity to review some improvement suggestions and to provide some free form comments. These sections will form some foundation for the conclusions of this research. Some of the suggestions are representative of some initiatives already in place in Motorola, others are thoughts on the day-to-day operation of the groups, some are given to help gauge the subjects overall attitude on work groups in general. As a part of this, the subject will rate whether or not they think the suggestion would be effective or not, and whether or not the suggestion would be more effective for Single-Site or Multi-Site work groups or both.
Subjects and Sampling Procedures
The subjects of this research are employees of Motorola, in several locations. The subjects are located in three regions: the United States, Germany, and Denmark. Access to the general population of Motorola is limited to employees in certain divisions. Due to this limitation, the intention is to survey the entire population. The survey will be accessed via the intranet, because all intended participants have access to the web through their work machines.
The population will receive an email with a link to the survey. [Appendix B] This may inject some level of bias, since there may be some participants who never take on-line surveys. To address this, the email requesting participation will also be distributed to managers, who will have an opportunity to emphasize the positive impact of the survey with their teams in an effort to solicit participation. The survey will limit participants who do choose to take it, to one opportunity to access it. The respondents IP address will be recorded and will never be usable again. The responses will be time and date stamped and stored in a database, with restricted access.
The subjects will not be categorized by age, gender, or other limiting factors that might identify them. This anonymity will hopefully persuade participants to respond candidly to the survey. The researcher will provide an email address for the respondents to request a summary of the results, if they choose. In addition, a full copy of this research will be available in a general repository accessible by all participants through Motorola’s intranet.
Analysis of Variables
The analysis of this data will be done in several ways. The responses will be divided by type of position, location, and group participation. This will allow for some data analysis that compares whether or not location of the subject impacts their overall attitude about groups. The Issue identification sections will be scored with a 1 – 5 numerical value relating to the strength of responses (one being the most negative and five being the most positive). This summary score will then be used to identify large variances based on location, position, and group participation. In addition, the individual statements will be compared with each other to see which issue is most positively viewed across all groups, and which is least positively viewed across all groups. In addition the values will be compared, statement by statement, for drastic changes depending on local work group experiences and multi-site work group experiences.
The effectiveness criteria will be evaluated for highest score overall, lowest score overall, and largest disparity between local and multi-site work groups. This will help determine the framework for understanding the responses in the context of what is important to the respondents, which will aid in developing improvement strategies. For example, if a high number of respondents indicate that communication overall in multi-site work groups is “terrible”, yet rank it very high in the effectiveness criteria, then communication would be the first priority in recommended improvements. Of course, if the opposite were true, that is, communication is ranked as excellent, and also very high in the effectiveness criteria, that would indicate that the subject believes that the group is taking care of this particular issue effectively.
Finally, the suggested improvements will be evaluated by their effectiveness ranking and then by which area they are believed to benefit most. This will form the basis for developing recommendations for improvements across the groups. For example, if a majority of respondents feel that both local and multi-site groups could benefit from group luncheons, that would be part of the final recommendations from this research. In addition, any free form responses will be evaluated for how they fit in the six main criteria: leadership, communication, maturity, purpose, roles/responsibilities, and participation. The content will be reviewed for appropriateness to the study, and for whether or not it is value added information for the purposes of the survey.