Many managers have found that even teams with highly motivated, skilled, and committed members can fail to achieve the expected results. Failing to establish the groundwork for effective team performance leads teams to be less effective than if the leader simply divided up tasks and had each individual work on their assigned part. The main factors has identified that lead to effective teams is teams should be kept small and have consistent membership to minimize the types of coordination tasks that take up valuable time. Too often, organizations set up project-based teams and then reconfigure them, without considering the stages of group development that might have to occur before the team can achieve full performance. Supports need to be in place, like group-based rewards and clearly defined group responsibilities.
Successful teams also have assertive, courageous leaders who can invoke authority even when the team resists direction. It is often necessary to bring together and coordinate individuals with a diverse set of skills and abilities to solve a problem. It would be impossible for all the management tasks of a complex organization. And often there is more work to be done in a compressed time period than any one individual can possibly accomplish. In these cases, it is wise to consider how to best heed the advice provided above and ensure the team isn’t less than the sum of its parts.
2. Given the profiles of candidates for the development team, provide suggestions for who would likely be a good group member and who might be less effective in this situation. Be sure you are using the research on groups and teams in the textbook to defend your choices.
Groups and teams need more time to process multiple piece of information and coordinate what they know. When committees and groups make recommendations, they’ve often “fallen in love” with a particular idea and are no longer thinking ration ally. These problems of heuristics and biases can be magnified when a group of people are making a decision collectively.
The problems of coordination and collaboration suggest that we should invoke group decision making only when it appears that pooling information will lead to better decisions than individual decision making. Decision makers receiving advice from teams should always ask whether the team’s recommendations contain any self interested biases. It’s also important to see whether the team has developed an emotional attachment to one course of action or has succumbed to groupthink.
3. Using principles from the chapters on groups and teams, describe how you will advise the team to manage conflict effectively.
Diversity appears to increase group conflict, especially in the early stages of a group’s tenure, which often lowers group morale and raises dropout rates. One study compared groups that were culturally diverse (composed of people from different countries) and homogeneous (composed of people from the same country). The groups performed equally well, but the diverse groups were less satisfied with their groups, were less cohesive, and had more conflict. When most people had roughly the same level of tenure, performance was high, but as tenure diversity increased, performance dropped off. There was an important qualifier: higher levels of tenure diversity were not related to lower performance for groups when there were effective team-oriented human resources practices. Teams in which members’ values or opinions differ tend to experience more conflict, but leaders who can get the group to focus on the task at hand and encourage group learning are able to reduce these conflicts and enhance discussion of group issues. 63 It seems diversity can be bad…