Staff and Executive-Level Teams Are Fundamentally Different
A motivational poster frequently found in managers’ offices displays a team of rowers to illustrate the concept of people working t
ogether; a popular offering from the Art of Rowingcompany is titled Teamwork: Together We Achieve More. When most people on
a team are doing similar jobs, the rowing metaphor is very apt. However, executive-level teams aredifferent:
Executive teams are more like baseball teams. Sure, they are all wearing one uniform and following one game plan, but sometimes
they work alone (as in the case of a batter),sometimes they work in pairs (pitcher throws to catcher, or shortstop and first basem
an collaborate in a double play) and only seldom do they all get in on the action.. . . Don’texpect a team at that level to feel the sam
e way your department level team does. You’re not all in the same boat. So figure out the game plan, play your position, and keepy
our head up to spot your chances to support your teammates. (Davey, 2012, p. 1)
An executive team is similar to a company softball team.
When one thinks of the ideal executive-level team, a better metaphor might be a company softball team—
which can include both men and women of varying ages and ethnicities. However, company softball teamsare seldom good at play
ing softball; many are formed to encourage camaraderie among the players andsupporters, thereby strengthening working relati
onships and organizational commitment. Organizationsneed and value talented individuals who can work collaboratively with ot
hers; being a “team player” is animportant attribute for success in almost every type of job. Since much of the clinical and administ
rativework in health organizations is done in groups or teams, it is important for health care professionals tounderstand the work
ings of, participate in, and lead teams.
Critical Thinking and Discussion Questions
1. What have you learned from participating in a department or management team?
2. How important is team camaraderie among executives in health care organizations?
4.1 Introduction to Organizational Behavior—Macro
Chapter 3 focused on the individual behavior in organizations. This chapter focuses on group behavior and discusses how orga
nizations achieve their goals by coalescing the skillsand efforts of individuals into groups and networks. Organizational behavi
or researchers and practitioners study behaviors within and between groups, both formal and informal.Formal groups are off
icially designated to fulfill certain functions and accomplish specific tasks. Within the category of formal groups are command
groups and task groups. Command groups are the building blocks of the organization’s structure. They are specified in the or
ganization chart and include the executives, managers, supervisors, and thepeople who report to them. Task forces, also calle
d task groups, are temporary groups charged with solving a problem or responding to an opportunity. Stakeholders are grou
psand organizations that have a vested interest in the organization. Informal groups are naturally formed groups of people w
ho work together or who are drawn together on thebasis of friendship or shared interests. Although they are not officially sanc
tioned or recognized by the organization, they strongly influence its workings (Ivancevich & Matteson,2002). Successful health
care management requires skill in managing individuals, groups, and stakeholders.
4.2 Group Dynamics
Cartwright and Zander (1968) define group dynamics as “a field of inquiry dedicated to achieving knowledge about the nature
of groups, the laws of their development, and theirinterrelations with individuals, other groups, and larger institutions” (p. 12
0). They note that this subunit of organizational behavior became an identifiable field in the UnitedStates in the late 1930s and
has four distinguishing characteristics:
1. An emphasis on theoretically significant empirical research, based on effective experimental design, careful observation, reliab
le measurement techniques, and statisticalanalysis of data performed according to accepted social science research methods.
2. Interest in the dynamics of group life and observed relationships, in order to discover general principles concerning what cond
itions produce what effects and howcertain properties and processes depend on others.
3. Interdisciplinary relevance, incorporating and contributing ideas from and to sociology, psychology, anthropology, political sci
ence, and other social sciences.
4. Potential applicability of findings to professional and business practice, in order to provide a sounder scientific basis for practi
tioners in a variety of group settings andorganizations.
While groups and teams are terms often used interchangeably in the literature, there are some important distinctions between
them. Groups consist of two or more individualswho interact with each other and share a common purpose or affiliation. A tea
m is a type of group; all teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. In business a team is a groupwhose members work tog
ether on a specific project or are responsible for a specific organizational function. While there may be a designated team leade
r, teams collectivelyassume responsibility, set goals, develop plans, and divide the work. “In order to be a team: (1) individuals’
actions must be interdependent and coordinated, (2) each membermust have a specified role, and (3) members must share co
mmon task goals or objectives” (Ivanitskaya, Glazer, & Erofeev, 2009, p. 109).
Group dynamics, as the name implies, deals with changes that occur when people interact. The following section highlights thr
ee important theoretical contributions to the studyof group dynamics in the workplace. The first, roles, places the individual in
context among peers, superiors, and subordinates and also defines his or her function in theorganization. The sections on gro
up process and intergroup behavior deal with group development and group behavior toward other organizational groups.
A key construct of psychology is the role an individual plays in a given situation, which serves a specific purpose and involves
a set of shared expectations. For example, nursesare the primary caregivers of patients in a hospital. In business others in the o
rganization and the profession establish expectations for a given role. For a nursing supervisor,these others would include dire
ct reports, the boss, fellow supervisors, patients and their families, and the nursing educational, professional, and licensing org
Benne and Sheats (1948) developed functional role theory based on behavioral patterns they observed among individuals in
many different smallgroup interactions. Someindividuals performed task roles, which involved completing a job and accomplishing an objective. O
thers performed maintenance roles, which were social in nature, focusingon process and relationships. Still others performe
d individual roles to help the group accomplish its goals. Whetten and Cameron (2011) noted that two types of roles, taskfacil
itating and relationship building, were both important contributors to group performance. Most people, whether group memb
ers or leaders, tend to emphasize one role overthe other. While at certain times one role may predominate, effective groups ne
ed to strike a balance between task-facilitating and relationshipbuilding roles. Tushman (1977)described individuals whose roles primarily involve interactions and communications with ext
ernal stakeholders as holding boundary-spanning roles, such as compliance orgovernmentrelations officers in a health organization. Another type of role common in large-scale or hightech health organizations is that of horizon scanning, which involvesidentifying new and evolving interventions or technologic
al advances, as well as analyzing their potential impact on the health care industry generally and the organizationspecifically (
Sun & Schoelles, 2013). Whetten and Cameron (2011) categorized a number of unproductive behaviors that inhibit group wor
k as blocking roles, and emphasizedthe importance of managerial proficiency in developing, participating in, and leading grou
Theory in Action: Management Behavior and Group Roles
Here are common behaviors of each role type, with examples of statements to illustrate group leader behaviors or, in the case
of blockers, to deal with them effectively(Whetten & Cameron, 2011).
Giving directions: “Let’s start by brainstorming ideas.”
Seeking information: “What do the licensing regulations specify?”
Giving information: “Here are the regulatory specifications.”
Elaborating: “To add to Joe’s comments. . .”
Urging: “We need to win this bid to make our revenue target next year.”
Monitoring: “Who will be lead staff with accountability for each task we’ve identified?”
Analyzing process: “Some members seem to have checked out on this project.”
Reality checking: “Can we really meet this deadline?”
Enforcing: “We’re getting off track; let’s focus on what we have to decide today.”
Summarizing: “Here is what I understand are our next steps, and who is lead staff for each.”
Supporting: “Your root-cause analysis was spot-on!”
Harmonizing: “Let’s just agree to disagree about this; we don’t need to agree on every point to move ahead.”
Relieving tension: “I haven’t had this much fun since my last root canal!”
Confronting: “Maria, this is your department’s domain, so you need to assign staff to complete this part of the job.”
Energizing: “I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished so far!”
Developing: “Jerry, I know this is a new area for your department but Ruben will help you; he’s done a lot of similar projects.”
Building consensus: “Let’s list the things we have agreed to so far.”
Empathizing: “I know it’s stressful to have such a lot to do in such a short time.”
Dominating: “Remember, this is a group project; we need everyone’s ideas.”
Overanalyzing: (a) General: “We need to avoid analysis paralysis”; (b) Specific: “Hilary, will you please summarize your concer
ns in no more than 1 page for thenext meeting?”
Stalling: “Folks, we need to make a decision on this today.”
Disengaging: “Charlie and Lisa, you haven’t said anything and I know you have opinions about this.”
Overgeneralizing: “Is the issue that Oscar raised as much of a problem for other people?”
Faultfinding: “Let’s keep an open mind as everyone presents their ideas.”
Premature decision making: “Are we jumping to a solution here?”
Presenting opinions as facts: “Do you have any data or facts to support that statement?”
Rejecting: Include instructions prior to the meeting: “Please type out on separate sheets of paper your idea(s) for resolving iss
ues 2 through 5 and bring them tothe meeting.”
Pulling rank: “We need to hear more from the people who will be doing the work.”
Resisting: “Let’s concentrate on how we can move forward on this project.”
Deflecting: “We’re getting off track here, let’s focus on the main points.”
Group Process and Phases
Educational and research psychologist Bruce Tuckman became well known following the publication of a short article in 1965
in which he proposed a fourstage linear process ofgroup development: Forming, storming, norming, and performing. Hare, Borgatta, and Bales (1965) arg
ued that since group members will seek a balance between accomplishingthe task and building relationships with fellow group
members, it becomes a repetitive cyclical process as the group moves from storming, norming, and performing, as illustratedi
n Figure 4.1 (Smith, 2005). Understanding dynamics of the group developmental process is particularly important for health p
rofessionals participating in or leading themultidisciplinary teams so common in health organizations.
Figure 4.1: Group development phases
Early group dynamics researchers developed a fourphase developmental model that included the phases offorming, storming, norming, and performing.
Source: Smith, M. K. (2005). Bruce W. Tuckman—
forming, storming, norming and performing in groups. The Encyclopaedia of InformalEducation. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from infed website: http://infed.or
1. In the forming stage, groups organize themselves and test each other to establish boundaries for both task and relationship be
haviors. It is also during this stage thatleadership and dependency roles are established.
2. The storming stage involves some conflict or polarization as members compete for leadership or to control the group’s directi
on, which disrupts task requirements.
3. In the norming stage, members develop feelings of identification and cohesiveness with the group as they put aside their pers
onal agendas, adopt new roles, and committo new behaviors as group members.
4. In the performing stage, the interpersonal structure becomes the vehicle for accomplishing the task activities as members rec
ognize the importance of group goals,develop pride in identity, and direct their energies as a group to accomplishing the task.
Figure 4.2: Tuckman, Jensen, and Coppola’s groupdevelopment phases
Groups develop over time in a series of stages that include preparing towork together and bringing their work to a close.
In 1977 Tuckman and Jensen added a fifth stage, adjourning, since not all groups are ongoing. Thisstage can be a stressful pro
cess because it involves loss and the termination of roles (Smith, 2005).Coppola (2008) argues that an additional preparation s
tage is important, especially in hospitals andother large, complex organizations. The informing stage begins with an initial (wr
itten or verbal)notification of or invitation to membership when a new team is officially designated or when new teammember
s join an existing structural (command) team where members rotate in and out. During thisstage the member(s) form opinions
about both the mission of the team and its other members. Figure4.2 displays the team development phases as a sixstage process that includes informing and adjourning.
Often, one of a new manager’s first assignments is to lead a newly formed or existing group.Understanding the developmental
group processes will assist managers in maximizing output; it willalso prepare them to lead more complex interdisciplinary gr
oups as their careers progress, such as ahospital committee required by the Joint Commission or staffing a board of directors c
ommittee. Ledlowand Coppola (2014) suggest strategies for health managers to employ at each of the six stages of groupdevel
opment, as summarized in Table 4.1.
Table 4.1: Group developmental stages and management strategies
Officially notify each member of appointment to the•
Formally present group goals, measurable objectiv•
es in abounded time frame
Communicate in person with group members
Allow a reasonable time period (15 to 30 days) between noti
fication and firstrequired meeting
Known desire of members to be or not be in the group
Skill set, track record in prior groups
Personality dynamics between group members
Hold a “kick-off meeting to:
Outline group roles
Clarify goals and objectives
Establish time line with milestones and deliverable
Challenge of allowing time for group development process w
ithin timeconstraints for task completion
Encourage constructive professional discourse
Resist temptation to intervene prematurely
Push to develop a new collective idea that reflects input from
Recognize that group has developed a unique persp•
ective of thetask to be accomplished
Work with nonnorming members to encourage the
m to supportgroup norms
Better to remove or replace obstinately noncooperative me
Thank group members
Recognize individual contributions
Know contributions of each member and use this knowledge
for staffdevelopment to build on strengths
Document the process and save the output
Recap lessons learned
Opportunities for improvement
Disseminate knowledge gained to other segments o
Acknowledge that people will miss some aspects of the grou
p’s work andtime with each other
Use learnings to build knowledgemanagement and organizational-learningsystems
Source: Ledlow, G. R., & Coppola, M. N. (2014). Leadership for health care professionals: Theory, skills, and applications (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
Industrial psychologists Blake, Shepard, and Mouton (1964) found in their studies of group dynamics that members of a group
who strongly identify with the group will feelobligated to conform to its norms and positions and to uphold their group’s positi
ons against other groups. Acting in ways contrary to their own group position would beregarded as disloyal to the group, wher
eas holding fast to it would be considered highly effective behavior as a member or leader. Each group within an organization
has its owngoals, yet these groups are interdependent with each other. When organizations encourage groups to compete with
each other and reward them on a relative basis with groupincentive plans, the groups perceive defeat of the other groups as n
ecessary to achieve their objectives, and a power struggle ensues. The researchers proposed three sets ofassumptions about in
tergroup disagreement and identified mechanisms of intergroup conflict resolution for each.
1. If intergroup disagreement is considered inevitable and permanent, the operating assumption is that it must be resolved in fav
or of one or the other group, either by apower struggle or by a third party arbiter—or left to resolve itself.
2. If intergroup disagreement is not considered inevitable but agreement is not possible, conflict can be resolved by reducing the
interdependence between groups andallowing or encouraging the groups to act more independently from each other.
3. If achieving agreement and maintaining interdependence are both considered possible and necessary to organizational functio
ning, conflict may be resolved by groupactions to (a) maintain surface harmony, (b) bargain or compromise, or (c) make a gen
uine effort to address fundamental points of difference between groups (Blake etal., 1964).
Alderfer (1987) notes the importance of intergroup relationships to explain group behaviors in larger organizations. He distin
guished between identity groups and organizationalgroups, which are comparable to informal and formal groups. Identity gr
oup members share some common characteristic (e.g., age, ethnicity, gender) and have sharedexperiences (e.g., alumni, profes
sional degree), and as a result they have similar perspectives on life and work. Members are assigned to organizational group
s based on theorganization’s division of labor and authority structure. Identity group and organizational group membership is
frequently related. For example, a majority of executives in healthorganizations are older white males who often share prior w
ork or educational experiences and similar hobbies such as golf; clinicians who trained in the same institution oftenwork toget
her in other organizations during their careers. Intergroup theory proposes that both organization and identity groups affect
members’ intergroup rela ...
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