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Managing Distributed Work Group. In this paper I will discuss the issue involved in managing employees who work at a location that is not the same as their supervisor and therefore are not under direct supervisory control. My observations come from my e

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Managing Distant Workers of a Distributed Work Group In this paper I will discuss the issue involved in managing employees who work at a location that is not the same as their supervisor and therefore are not under direct supervisory control. My observations come from my experiences at Sysco Foodservices of Central Florida, where I have worked as a Marketing Associate for the past five years, and an interview I conducted with my direct supervisor John Doe, Regional Manager. I will discuss how dispersed employees at Sysco are managed, and based on the literature on distributed working groups, describe methods that this research would indicate are best for managing employees under these circumstances. Finally, I will compare that approach with what actually happens at Sysco. Observation Sysco Foodservices of Central Florida goes to market with a sales force of approximately 120 Marketing Associates (MAs) dispersed through the Central Florida area. I spoke with John Doe, my former District Manager and current Regional Manager, about managing what he referred to as "his team". The Marketing Associate MAs are telecommuters who service customers inside their geographical territory. John Doe stated the role of the Marketing Associate "is to profitably increase sales in their individual territories, and move cases from Sysco's warehouse to our customers." To accomplish this goal there are three basic things that an MA must do: increase current customer sales and profit dollars, collect money, and open new business. ...read more.


Communication should be less important for effective functioning of a working group. Groups with lower interdependence have higher performance when communication and cohesion levels are lower (Barrick et al., 2007). Working group effectiveness is defined in terms of both productivity and employee satisfaction (Campion, Medsker & Higgs, 1993). Effective working groups engage more in external knowledge sharing. Structural geographic diversity has the potential to expose group members who are in different environments to different sources of task information, knowhow and feedback, which can lead to new opportunities for knowledge sharing (Cummings, 2004). Working groups can be strategically designed and distributed to take advantage of changing resources and opportunities (Kiesler &Cummings, 2002) associated with structural diversity. The best working groups come together to share information, perspectives and insights that help each person do their job better (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993). Self management at the individual job level is essential in effective teams. Self management gives team members autonomy and increases their sense of responsibility and ownership of the collective work products (Campion et al., 1993). Successful teams develop direction and shape their purpose as a response to a demand or opportunity given to them by higher management (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993). Communication is an essential team process because it clarifies how a team interpersonally orchestrates work to get things done (Kurland & Egan, 1999). In distributed work groups, communication through technology is more likely to be effective when groups are cohesive (Kiesler & Cummings, 2002). ...read more.


market trends, and insight into prices of customers similar to theirs as part of Project 212 through the Sysco Resource Center, Sysco Test Kitchen and Market Mover. The Resource Center enables MAs and DMs to access everything at Sysco's offices without having to go there physically. MAs can print off new customer credit applications, market reports, contact lists and special sheets, track promotions, and compare their performance to other MAs. The Sysco Test Kitchen website provides product knowledge and sales training in a virtual environment. Market Mover gathers information from across the country to help Marketing Associates make more informed pricing decisions. Sysco's use of technology should improve the effectiveness of their working groups by providing a new source of external knowledge. Conclusions This paper has described the processes by which Sysco's DMs manage their sales force of MAs. There are a number of areas where Sysco's supervision methods are in line with theory and best practice from the literature. These areas are: Sysco's use of technology to manage their employees, the encouragement of knowledge sharing among districts, and effectively using written records to evaluate MAs. There are other areas where Sysco practices need improvement based on the literature and theory of managing distributed work groups. These areas are: Sysco's lack of written job descriptions and requirement, and the use of more formalized communication. In my view, making changes in these areas should help Sysco correct these problems and the result should be improved sales and a more motivated and productive sales force. ...read more.

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