ERIC Identifier: ED292217
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Hadderman, Margaret L.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Educational Management Eugene OR.
Team Management. ERIC Digest Series, Number EA25.
Far from being a passing fad, the management team--a formal arrangement
enabling the superintendent to consult with other personnel on decisions--has
become a permanent feature of American education. The myth of the school leader
as a "solitary, benevolent autocrat" is misguided, says Patricia Wilhelm (1984),
as principals have always belonged to district management groups and school
communities. Similarly, superintendents have come to rely on other
administrators' expertise to resolve the increasingly complex problems facing
Bryce Grindle (1982) notes that the team approach seems "compatible with the
best concepts of management democracy, and open social systems." Moreover, the
concept has proved responsive to pressure from teachers and parents to
redistribute power, broaden participation in the decision-making process, and
improve administrative efficiency.
WHAT IS TEAM MANAGEMENT?
A management team might best be described as "a group whose role is
formalized and legitimized and whose purpose is problem solving and/or decision
making" (Duvall and Erickson 1981). The school management team usually includes
a cross-section of experienced central office and building-level administrators
committed to a "structured decision-making process endorsed by the school board
and the superintendent" (Lindelow and Bentley forthcoming). Team management
offers organizations an opportunity to improve the quality of decisions made and
fosters consensus where none was thought possible.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF TEAM MANAGEMENT?
To become more than a new lable for traditional hierarchy, team management
requires sound leadership from the superintendent, good working agreement
between the board and its administration, and an organizational model suitable
for the district. Above all, team management demands strong commitment to
building trust among all participants.
Changes in the district's power structure are largely informal. Succes
depends on such intangible factors as team members' willingness to be open,
trustworthy, and nonjudgmental and the board's and the superintendent's
eagerness to share power while retaining final responsibility for team decisions
WHAT ARE SOME PROBLEMS WITH PARTICIPATORY DECISION-MAKING?
For all its positive effects on decision quality and staff morale,
participative decision-making can lead to frustration if not enough
information-sharing occurs within the group (Wood 1984). Other factors hindering
group effectiveness are tendencies to avoid conflict-producing discussion,
differences between problem-solving actions and beliefs, and misconceptions
concerning levels of participation.
To avoid these problems, school districts must clearly communicate the
approaches and processes that will be followed, use participatory
decision-making at all hierarchical levels, and offer appropriate training for
group members used to more autocratic approaches. Team members must also learn
how to handle dissent, allow sufficient time to make group decision, and devleop
an effective self-evaluation process
WHAT ARE SOME GOOD EXAMPLES OF TEAM MANAGEMENT?
Several districts that John Lindelow and Scott Bentley describe have
developed successful management teams over the past decade. The Yakima
(Washington) School District's team "resembles a legislative body, with many
small groups doing most of the work." Once a group recommends an action, the
entire 72-member team decides the issue by consensus. The team also prepares
salary schedules and uses position papers to facilitate the policy-making
process. Yakima's management team is best characterized by its flexibility,
responsiveness, and clearly delineated communication channels.
The Rio Linda (California) Elementary School District's 40-member team, while
smaller, resembles Yakima's configuration, with small group doing most of the
work and making recommendations to the larger team. Unlike Yakima, the Rio Linda
team "works toward a solution" until reading a general agreement (rather than
consensus), say Lindelow and Bentley. The keys to Rio Linda's success are
well-established communication patterns and solid support from the school board.
Attleboro (Massachusetts) School Department also has an interlocking team
structure, but depends more on informal, open discussion that on formalized
communication processes. During its formative stage, the team relied heavily on
consultants, who held seminars on group dynamics and related team-building
strategies. Attleboro's team has worked together so harmoniously that no formal
administration-board agreement has been needed.
For additional profiles of successful school management teams, see Anderson
HOW MIGHT TEAM MANAGEMENT BE FURTHER EXPANDED IN SCHOOL SETTINGS?
School districts can broaden the management team by tapping the talents and
creative energies of two underrepresented sectors-women and minorities-and by
involving teachers in school-based teams. Despite women administrators' special
collaborative decision-making and community-building skills school management
teams are overwhelmingly dominated by (white) males.
Ethnic minorities are especially in need of encouragement. At a time when
schools are gearing up to serve increasing numbers of black, Hispanic, and poor
students, the number of minority teachers and administrators is actually
The team approach also can be extended to the faculty. Principals can adopt
instructional leadership teams that pool the expertise of administrators,
department heads, and teachers. Using the team approach, "critical functions are
assigned to those most capable of performing them rather than being centralized
in the principal's office" (Glatthorn and Newberg 1984).
Most recently the "second wave" of educational reform calls for structuring
the schools and reshaping teachers' roles to allow greater autonomy, status, and
decision-making responsibility (Lieberman 1988). In South Bend, Indiana, for
example, retiring district-level content specialists are being replaced by
teacher specialist. Teacher ccollaboration is helping to develop leadership
potential and may help stem the exodus of experienced teachers from the
Expanding the school leadership team involves more than creating ew new roles
or providing extra help for the principal. The idea is to reorganize school and
create a collaborative work mode to replace teacher isolation and break down
management/labor barriers (Lieberman 1988). At its best, the management team
approach reshapes the administrator's role so that power and authority may be
shared with other staff in a nonthreatening way that builds organizational
commitment and enhances the entire educational process.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Anderson, Mark E. THE MANAGEMENT TEAM: PATTERNS FOR SUCCESS. Eugene: Oregon
School Study Council, February 1988. OSSC bulletin series. 27 pages. ED number
not yet assigned.
Duvall, Lloyd A. and Kenneth Erickson. "School Management Teams: What Are
They and How Do They Work?" NAASP BULLETIN 65, 445 (1981): 62-67.
Garfinkel, Elliot Z. "The Administrative Team, Trust, and Gender." Paper
presented at the American Educational Research Association. April 20-24, 1987.
ED 281 284.
Glatthorn, Allan A., and Norman A. Newberg. "A Team Approach to Instructional
Leadership." EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 41, 5 (l984): 60-63.
Grindle, Bryce W. "Administrative Team Management: Four Essential
Components." CLEARING HOUSE 56, 1 (1982): 22-33.
Lieberman, Ann. "Expanding the Leadership Team." EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 45, 5
Lindelow, John, and Scott Bentley. "Team Management." In SCHOOL LEADERSHIP:
HANDBOOK FOR EXCELLENCE, 2nd edition, eds. Stuart C. Smith and Philip K. Piele.
Eugene, Oregon: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, University of
Wilhelm, Patricia M. "The Administrative Team, a Simple Concept to Facilitate
Problem Solving." NASSP BULLETIN 68, 468 (1984): 26-31.
Wood, Carolyn J. "Participatory Decision Making: Why Doesn't It Seem to
Work?" THE EDUCATONAL FORUM 49, 1 (1984): 55-64.