Discussion Board 1

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You will be required to write a thread of at least 500 words on the topic, containing 4 distinct sections: Key Term/Concept Definition, Summary, Discussion, and Reference. The post will contain the following information in the following format, using the headers so that you ensure that all aspects of the assignment are completed as required. Threads must include at least 3 scholarly references.

    1. Definition: Give a brief definition of the key term/concept followed by the APA reference for the term; this does not count in the 500-word requirement.
    2. Summary: Give a brief summary of the selected article. Be sure to identify the article title as well as the author of the article and their credentials.
    3. Discussion: Give a brief discussion of how the article relates to the selected chapter key term/concept. This gives you the opportunity to add value to the discussion by sharing your experiences, thoughts, and opinions. Draw your peers into discussion of topics by asking questions. This is the most important part of the post.
    ******The key term/concept you will write about is Team Success. I have attached the textbook section about team success and I also attached the selected article you will be writing about. ******

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2.1 Nature of Team Success One of the prerequisites to studying and understanding teamwork is defining the nature of team success. Existing research on groups and teams uses a variety of measures to study the functioning of teams. Often, research examines these internal measures of team functioning and tries to relate them to external measures of team success. Measuring the success of teamwork can be difficult. The characteristics that team members and leaders believe are important for success might not be the same characteristics that managers believe are important (Levi & Slem, 1996). Team members focus on the internal operations of the team; they look at the contributions that each member brings to the team and how well members work together. Managers focus on the team’s impact on the organization; they are concerned with results, not with how the team operates. There is a danger in using too simplistic a view of success because it may focus on the wrong factors when trying to evaluate and improve a team. According to Hackman (1987), there are three primary definitions of team success, relating to the task, social relations, and the individual. A successful team completes its task or reaches its goals. While completing the task, team members develop social relations that help them work together and maintain the team. Participation in teamwork is personally rewarding for the individual because of the social support, the learning of new skills, or the rewards given by the organization for participation. This multiple definition of team success can be seen in action teams, such as fire crews. Obviously, completing the task or putting out the fire is an important criterion of success. However, it is also important that the crews maintain a good working relationship and the crew members do not get injured in the process. Extinguishing the fire is important, but so is preserving the ability of the team to fight future fires. Completing the Task From a management perspective, the obvious definition of team success is successful performance on a task. A successful team performs the task better when compared to other ways of organizing people to perform the same task. Although this definition may seem simple, measuring the performance of teams can be difficult. For certain complex tasks, there may be no alternatives to teamwork, making it impossible to compare team and individual outcomes. For professional tasks requiring creativity or value judgments, there may be no clear ways to determine which solutions are best (Orsburn, Moran, Musselwhite, Zenger, & Perrin, 1990). One approach to such measurement problems is to determine whether the products or outputs of the team are acceptable to the owners, customers, and team members. However, these three perspectives may not agree with each other (Spreitzer, Cohen, & Ledford, 1999). Completing a task successfully as a team is a measure of success, but project success is not a demonstration of team success. Could the task have been completed without a team? What was the benefit of using a team for performing the task? For a particular task, there is often little advantage to using a team. In fact, there are disadvantages because time is “wasted” in developing the team rather than focusing on the task. The advantages of using a team to perform a task occur when unforeseen problems arise and when the team works together on future tasks. If a project runs smoothly, people working individually under supervision often can perform the necessary task. If a project encounters difficulties, however, the value of a team is demonstrated by the ability of team members to use multiple perspectives to solve problems and motivate one another during the difficult period. Although a team takes time to develop, as people learn to work together they are better able to handle future projects. Many of the benefits of creating a team occur over the long run rather than during the first project the team performs. Developing Social Relations Measuring the results of a team’s task performance does not completely capture the definition of team success. A successful team performs its task and then is better able to perform the next assigned task. This is the social relations, group maintenance, or viability aspect of teamwork (Sundstrom, DeMeuse, & Futrell, 1990). An important value of teamwork is building the skills and capabilities of the team and organization. For this to happen, the team must have good internal social relations. Performing in the team should encourage participants to want to continue working as a team in the future. A team must develop social relations among its members. The social interactions necessary for teamwork require group cohesion and good communication. Cohesion comes from the emotional ties that team members have with one another. Good communication depends on understanding and trust. When team members fail to develop good social relations, they do not communicate well, have interpersonal problems that interfere with task performance, and are unable to reward and motivate one another. This limits the ability of the team to continue to operate. A good example of the problem created when there is too much focus on task performance and too little on social relations is in the computer development team described by Kidder (1981). The team successfully developed a new computer system. However, in the stress of competition and time pressure, the team members burned themselves out. At the end of the project, everyone was happy about the success, but the team members no longer wanted to work together. Was the team a success? Yes, it completed its task, but it failed to develop social relations that encouraged successful teamwork in the future. The capabilities of the team were lost at the end of the project because of its exclusive focus on the task. The organization benefited by getting a new computer system, but it did not improve its ability to use teams to successfully design computer systems in the future. This type of project burnout is all too common in contemporary technology companies. Benefiting the Individual The third aspect of team success concerns the individual. Participating in a team should be good for the individual. Teamwork should help improve an individual’s social or interpersonal skills (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993). In the workplace, being in a team with members with different expertise or skills should broaden an employee’s knowledge and make him or her more aware of other perspectives. In addition to personal development, participating in a team should further an employee’s career. Successful contributions to a work team should be reflected in the employee’s performance evaluations (O’Dell, 1989). Working in teams helps satisfy people’s social and growth needs. People enjoy working in teams because it increases the social and emotional support they receive. Teams can be great learning experiences. Team members share their knowledge and expertise. As they learn how to be good team members, they also develop communication and organizational skills. Obviously, these personal benefits are more important to some people than to others. People vary in their social needs; those low in social needs will be less rewarded by teamwork. Some people already have good team work skills, whereas others are not interested in learning these skills. Also, the social and learning benefits from teamwork primarily come from successful teams. Working in dysfunctional teams may teach members only how to avoid working in teams in the future. In addition to personal benefits, participating in a team should help an employee’s career in the organization. Unfortunately, this often is not the case. Most organizations focus on managing individuals rather than on managing teams. Even when most of an employee’s time is spent collaborating in a team, the typical performance evaluation system focuses on what an individual produces rather than on the success of the team. Being a good team player may go unrecognized, while people who distinguish themselves and stand out are rewarded. This conflict between individual and team success is a major unresolved problem for teamwork in many organizations. (Approaches for dealing with this conflict are discussed in Chapter 16.) 2.2 Conditions for Team Success The success of a team depends on four conditions (Figure 2.1). First, the team must have the right people to perform the task. Second, the task must be suitable for teamwork. Third, the team must combine its resources effectively to complete the task. Fourth, the organization must provide a supportive context for the team. Figure 2.1 Model of Team Interaction Team Composition A team’s performance depends on the qualities of the individuals performing the task. First, the team must contain people with knowledge, skills, and abilities that match the task requirements. However, the team’s members must also have the necessary group process skills to operate effectively. This relates to the social skills and personalities of the team members. Although there are many factors to consider, team leaders are often constrained in their personnel selection options. Some teams fail because their members do not have the needed knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform their tasks. Good teams have good team members. In their study of highly successful groups, Bennis and Biederman (1997) determined that much of the success of these groups was due to the leaders’ ability to recruit highly competent team members. High-performing leaders are not afraid to hire people who are more skilled than they are themselves. Part of creating an effective team is making sure it has the necessary diversity of knowledge and skills. Interdisciplinary research teams are more productive than teams whose members have similar backgrounds. Teams whose members have differences of opinion are more creative than like-minded teams. Management teams whose members have different backgrounds are more innovative than are homogeneous teams (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996). However, diversity alone is not always a benefit to teams. The advantages of diversity are seen when members are both highly skilled and committed to their team’s goals. There is no guarantee that having many highly talented team members will lead to a high performing team (Swaab, Schaerer, Anicich, Ronay & Galinsky, 2014). For example, in studies of basketball and other sports teams, having many high performers can lead to conflict and coordination problems that reduce performance compared to teams with fewer high performers. In interdependent sports, such as soccer and basketball, performance can decrease when there are too many high performing athletes, while in more independent sports like baseball, performance increases with more high performing athletes. This is why team member selection should consider both task related and teamwork related skills. Teams require that team members have the skills to work together as a team. Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, and teamwork skills may be used as selection criteria for team members, may be taught to team members, or may be inducted through the use of facilitators (Carnevale, Gainer, & Meltzer, 1990). Interpersonal skills are communication techniques, such as interviewing, active listening, providing feedback, and negotiating. Problem-solving skills improve the effectiveness of teams by providing approaches to analyzing problems and making decisions. Teamwork skills promote an understanding of group processes and provide skills to manage the group processes effectively. Team members’ personalities relate to both their task and social skills (Morgeson, Reider & Campion, 2005). Conscientious people are task and goal focused; they avoid social loafing and are more likely to engage in cooperative team behavior. Extraversion is a benefit in a team member because he or she likes to work with others and has better social and communication skills. Agreeable individuals are more likely to work cooperatively with others (rather than competitively), and they are better at resolving conflicts. Emotional stability in a person relates to his or her ability to handle stress, maintain a positive perspective, and be cooperative and helpful. Sometimes, the competency and personality of the weakest or strongest member is most important (Mathieu, Tannenbaum, Donsbach & Alliger, 2014). For instance, certain technical or leadership skills may be very important to the team’s success, and having a team member with these skills is crucial. On the other side, having a very negative team member can lead to dysfunctional group processes, hurt team morale and cohesion, and create conflict within the team. A team member who socially loafs can create inequity problems that lower the motivation of the entire team. Although team composition is important, team leaders rarely have the information, time, or ability to select an optimal team (Mathieu et al., 2014). Trade-offs need to be made in personnel selection. When replacing a few team members, selection is often based on needed task skills, rather than on teamwork skills. An alternative to focusing on team member selection is the use of other team-building approaches, such as teamwork training, coaching and mentoring, after-action reviews, or teamwork facilitation to develop a team’s ability to work effectively together. Characteristics of the Task Teams can be used to perform a variety of types of tasks, and tasks vary in how well suited they are for teamwork. A good team task motivates team members and requires coordinated activity. Teams require both appropriate tasks and organizational support for those tasks. McGrath (1984) developed a system to describe the different types of tasks that teams perform, based on four team goals—generate, choose, negotiate, and execute. Generation includes tasks that focus on the creative generation of new ideas and tasks that develop plans for behavioral action. Choosing deals with intellective tasks, such as problem solving, when there are correct answers and decision-making tasks when there are no correct answers. Negotiation includes tasks aimed at resolving conflicting viewpoints and mixed-motive tasks aimed at resolving conflicts of interest. Execution refers to competitive tasks that help resolve conflicts of power and performance tasks designed to make things or provide services. McGrath’s system explains the different types of tasks a team actually performs. A team may perform only one or two types of tasks. An example is a factory team that primarily performs a physical task and might do some problem solving. Other types of teams may perform many different types of tasks: An example is a project team that both designs and produces a product. Understanding the range of tasks performed by a team is important in selecting and training team members. Steiner (1972) created a system that explains the different ways that team members’ efforts can be combined. The team’s work can be added together, limited by the last member, averaged, selected, or combined in any way the team desires. Additive tasks combine team member contributions together, such as when a team paints a house. The productivity of a team will exceed that of the individual team member, but production is often less than the sum of individuals working alone. Conjunctive tasks are not completed until all team members have completed their parts. An example of this is assembly-line work. Although the worst-performing member limits team performance, the team can compensate by providing support to the poor performer. A compensatory task averages the input of team members to create a single solution, while in a disjunctive task the team must generate a single solution that represents the team’s product. The decisions of juries and problem solving by technical teams are examples of disjunctive tasks. A team usually performs better than individuals in these types of tasks, but not necessarily better than the best individual in the team. When the team is able to decide how it wants to perform a task, the task is discretionary. Steiner’s system shows that a team performs a variety of tasks that can be combined in different ways, and is useful to explain the benefits of and problems with different ways of combining tasks. For some types of tasks, organizing work into teams can create synergies that improve performance over that of individuals. However, using teams may also reduce performance because of coordination and motivation problems. (These performance losses are discussed in more detail in Chapters 4 and 9.) A team’s task should be aligned with the team’s goals and be motivating to the team members (Hackman, 2002). The task should be an identifiable and meaningful piece of work that allows team members to understand their contributions. Team members need to have the authority and responsibility to exercise judgment about their work practices. The team needs regular and trustworthy feedback about its performance so it can learn how to improve its operation. Finally, the task requires the collective and coordinated efforts of the team members in order to be completed. The benefits of teamwork are realized only when teams are working on tasks that are suited for teamwork and organizations are willing to support them. Table 2.1 presents a set of task and organizational characteristics that are necessary conditions for the use of teams. Group Process Having the right people and the right type of task does not guarantee success for a team. Team members must be able to combine efforts successfully. Teams may not reach their potential if their internal processes interfere with their success. Effective teams organize themselves to perform tasks, develop social relations to support their operations, and assign leaders who can provide direction and facilitate team operations. Teams communicate in order to make decisions and perform tasks. For both these activities, internal group processes may limit success. Teams may encounter problems with decision making. Teams are imperfect decision makers and do not always fully use their collected knowledge and skills. Team decisions may be disrupted by personal bias, distorted by the desire to maintain good relationships, or impaired by the desire to make decisions quickly. Teams often become prematurely committed to the first acceptable solution instead of taking a structured approach to problem solving. Table 2.1 When Are Teams Appropriate? 1. The work contains at least some skilled activities. 2. The team can form a meaningful unit with the organization, with clearly defined input and output and stable boundaries. 3. Turnover in the team is minimal. 4. Valid performance evaluation systems exist for both the team and its members. 5. Timely feedback is possible. 6. The team is capable of measuring and controlling the important variances in the workflow. 7. The tasks are highly interdependent so members must work together. 8. Cross-training is supported by management. 9. Jobs can be designed to balance team and individual tasks. SOURCE: Adapted from Davis, L., & Wacker, G. (1987). Job design. In G. Salvendy (Ed.), Handbook of human factors (pp. 431–452). New York, NY: John Wiley. Even when teams are organized for the sole purpose of performing certain tasks, group process issues may have both positive and negative impacts on performance. Highly effective teams have task-oriented goals and norms, and these teams outperform collections of individuals. But, things can go wrong. A team can have unclear goals or norms that do not encourage performance of its task. Working in a team can lead to reduced effort by individual members rather than encouraging performance. (This problem, called social loafing, i ...
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