Wikipedysta:CzarnyZajaczek/Managing Groups And Teams/Spójność

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Dlaczego manager czy właściciel małego biznesu powinien zadbać o istnienie grup i ich spójność w jego organizacji?

Definicja spójności grupy[edytuj]

Spójność grupy jest definiowana jako “total field of forces causing members to remain in the group” (Festinger, Schachter, & Back, 1950, p. 164), “the resistance of the group to disruptive forces” (Gross &Martin, 1952, p. 553), and “a dynamic process which is reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its goals and objectives” (Carron, 1982, p. 124). Although team cohesion has been defined in many ways, the underlying idea is the same: cohesion is the degree to which the team sticks together as they pursue the team’s purpose.

Conditions for Getting Team Buy-In – A Starting Point[edytuj]

The first opportunity for building a cohesive team is to start with a clear goal. “Clarity implies that there is a specific performance objective, phrased in such concrete language that it is possible to tell, unequivocally, whether or not that performance objective has been attained” (Larson & LaFasto 1989: 28). Simply stated, the team needs to understand what the goal is and be confident that their success will be measurable. Though it seems obvious, it is extremely important to state the goal in terms of the team as opposed to the individual team members. Ensuring the individual team members understand the goal and acknowledge that the goal would not be achievable without the other members is a powerful way to establish early buy-in.

The level of difficulty of the goal is another important element. Larson & LaFasto describe ways in which a goal can be elevating such as personal challenges and the importance of the result (1989). When individuals and groups are challenged they often give more effort, thus challenges can be viewed as a form of motivation. How the team views the importance of the task at hand is also an important factor. For example, if the individuals believe that the success of the team will have a significant impact on the department, organization, community, etc., there is likely to be an increased sense of urgency and focus. “The focus is squarely on the result the team is pursuing and the progress that is being made, because whether or not the team succeeds clearly makes a difference” (Larson & LaFasto 1989: 33).

In order to achieve team cohesion, managers must establish a cohesive environment. Getting the team involved in early decision making and giving the team autonomy can help foster this type of atmosphere. “Trust and collaboration come from being involved in planning the attack, working out the strategy for accomplishing the goal, and knowing what the team’s approach is going to be and how it all fits together” (Larson & LaFasto 1989: 93). Trust is one of the most important elements of cohesion and will be discussed in more detail later in the chapter.

Another important element is communication. Managers must create an environment that promotes effective communication within the group. Despite the technological improvements that enable teams to correspond through various channels, it is important not to lose the “human moment” in our communication. E.M. Hallowell describes this “human moment” as “the powerful impact of face-to-face, immediate interaction in real time and space” (1999: 58-66). When possible, managers should encourage these face-to-face communications either by physically placing the teams in a centralized location or at least by providing the means for the team members to meet in person. Friedley and Manchester agree that this “human moment” of communication has a powerful influence on creating team synergy and team cohesion (2005).

In addition to establishing appropriate goals and effective communication lines, other unique approaches can also be explored. For example, Paul McGhee makes a strong case for the value that humor can have in building more cohesive groups. According to McGhee, “Shared laughter and the spirit of fun generates a bonding process in which people feel closer together – especially when laughing in the midst of adversity” (…..). McGhee argues that humor can improve open communication, trust and morale while also reducing stress and increasing creativity. It can also help remove the barriers that separate management from employees. Other scholars agree including W.J. Duncan who states “Managers in a variety of work settings who initiate humor have been shown to be more likely to become an integral part of a socially cohesive group” (1984: 895). Obviously, it is important to avoid negative forms of humor as the negativity can have the opposite effect on any of these elements. Nevertheless, humor is another tool at the disposal of today’s innovative managers.

Team Composition and Organizational Context[edytuj]

Team structure is a key differentiating factor between high- and low-success teams. “Working well together” in an interdependent team structure is a fundamental ingredient in effectively functioning teams (LaFasto, 1989). Cohesion is the binding material of the teams. It makes people feel better and is a crucial ingredient for team viability. What does a cohesive team look like? Members of cohesive teams sit closer together, focus more attention on one another, show signs of mutual affection, and display coordinated patterns of behavior. Members of cohesive teams who have a close relationship are more likely to give due credit to their partners. In contrast, those who do not have a close relationship are more likely to take credit for successes and blame others for failure. Cohesion increases conformity to team norms. Physical proximity and real or perceived similarity strengthen team cohesion (Thompson, 2002).

One measure of the team composition is the heterogeneity or diversity of the team members. In one study, researchers (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1996) have studied two types of diversity in teams and their impact on team cohesion: surface-level (demographic) and deep-level (attitudinal). Surface-level diversity includes heterogeneity in age, sex, race, and to a lesser extent, organizational tenure. Heterogeneity at a deep level includes differences among members’ attitudes, values, and beliefs. Information about deep-level factors is communicated through verbal and nonverbal behavior patterns and is only learned through extended, individualized interaction and information gathering (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1996). Attitudinal similarity may facilitate communication and may also reduce role conflict, because people have similar conceptualizations of their organizations and jobs and because communication on the job increases (Tsui & O’Reilly, 1989). It can be inferred that as people uncover differences in attitudes, it becomes less pleasant and more difficult for them to work together and consequently the degree of team cohesion declines. A number of social psychological studies have reported that the attitude similarity (i.e. deep-level similarity) is one of the most important predictors of team cohesion (Bryne, 1971; McGrath, 1984). A research study (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1996) indicates that diversity at a deep level has steadily stronger consequences for groups than demographic diversity as group members spend more time together. This research also found out that the length of time group members worked together weakened the effects of surface-level diversity and strengthened the effects of deep-level diversity as group members had the opportunity to engage in meaningful interactions.

The organizational context includes the basic structure of the organization (e.g. lateral, hierarchical), the information system, the education system, and the reward system (Thompson, 1990). Teams operate in an organizational context that impacts team cohesion and team performance. Cohesion amplifies norms favoring both high and low production (Stogdill, 1972). Teams operating in the “control strategy” organizations exhibit different team cohesion and performance than teams in the “commitment strategy” organizations (Walton & Hackman, 1986). Groups in the control strategy organizations are usually informal, self-enacted, and show high cohesion. These self-enacted groups are formed to blunt the control measures, to lower the production, and are misaligned with the organizations goals. Commitment strategy organizations encourage work teams and minimize hierarchical differences in ways that encourage teams to attain their objectives. In their study, Walton and Hackman (Walton & Hackman, 1986) hypothesize that status and influence within task teams in commitment organizations are based more on task skills and expressed commitment than on personal qualities and demographic attributes. Teams in commitment strategy organizations rely upon individuals to internalize the values and peers to influence one another. With greater focus on performance, teams in commitment organizations exercise greater peer pressure. Such “self-selection” team behavior leads to assimilation of competent members with unified commitment, which fosters higher team cohesion. An organization’s reward system rewarding team performance also increases team cohesion (Shea & Guzzo, 1987).

Relationship between team cohesion and performance is primarily correlational rather than causal. Cohesive teams are more productive than are less cohesive teams and this could be because 1) more productive teams become more cohesive or 2) more cohesive teams become more productive. Teams preserve their cohesion when they succeed rather than fail. Therefore, it is important to promote three essential conditions for team performance: ability (knowledge and skills), motivation, and coordination strategy. Team members need to have sufficient level of interpersonal and technical skills to perform their jobs and to attain team objectives. Team members must also be motivated to use their knowledge and skills to achieve shared goals. Team context (organizational context, team design, and team culture) must create conditions to avoid problems such as social loafing, free riding, diffusion of responsibility, reduced sense of self-efficacy, and sucker effects. These problems undermine team performance and have detrimental effects on team cohesion (Thompson, 2002).

Building Trust in Teams[edytuj]

Trust is immensely important in any relationship. Larson and LaFasto put it best when they said, “Trust is one of those mainstay virtues in the commerce of mankind. It is the bond that allows any kind of significant relationship to exist between people” (1989: 85). But trust does not create itself. Additionally, “trust is all about vulnerabilities,” and revealing those vulnerabilities (Lencioni, 2005: 14). It’s a state of being grounded in Darwin’s theory of Survival of the Fittest that prevents people from being comfortable with voluntarily divulging their weak spots. Yet, this is the most important step towards building the trust in a team that is necessary for success.

There are a myriad of books on the market that profess to give readers the secrets to successful team building. Additionally, dozens of seminars are offered that tout the same desired results. One can assume that each of these sources list building trust, or maintaining trust, in the team as the single most important factor in their recipes. The problem is there is no sure-fire way to ensure team members begin to trust each other. If it were that easy, team leaders could just mandate that every member trust the others. There is no one true way to foster trust; that is why each book, seminar and expert give many suggestions for “team-building exercises” that should actually be called “trust-building exercises.” Social activities outside of the work place are highly regarded as successful trust builders. But there are other methods.

Patrick Lencioni, in his book Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, suggests each team member at the beginning of the first meeting share three details about themselves; “where they grew up, how many kids were in their family, and what was the most difficult or important challenge of their childhood” (2005:19). Lencioni states that no matter how long these team members have worked together, or how well they thought they knew each other, they always learn something new about one another. The sharing of these small bits of early life is a small step to allowing themselves to be vulnerable in small ways to each other. As he puts it, “when team members reveal aspects of their personal lives to their peers, they learn to get comfortable being open with them about other things…there is a far greater likelihood that empathy and understanding will trump judgment and accusation when it comes to interpreting questionable behavior” (2005: 20-21).

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Team Building, by Arthur R. Pell, delineates six ways to build and maintain trust (Pell, 1999: 217-218). First, as has already been stated in this chapter, clear and consistent goals must be set. Second, all team members must be treated fairly, using the same standards of conduct. This circumvents any second guessing about appropriate rewards or discipline for different members, or even leaders. Third, team leaders must demonstrate decisiveness, or if a decision is made collaboratively by the team, the procedures for coming to a decision must be clear. Fourth, loyalty is extremely important. Trust is easily undermined by blame-games or finger-pointing. Decisions are made by the team, and each member must uphold and defend that decision loyally, even if they opposed its adoption in the beginning. Fifth, recognition should be given to the proper team members; praise is positive reinforcement for successful behavior. Last, team leaders must defend the actions of their teams. This is the flip side of the fourth step; leaders must show loyalty to the team as much as the team must show loyalty to each other.

Trust is also fostered and enhanced between team members when team members make mutual commitments and meet or exceed those commitments. The importance of this task-based trust was evident in the Sabre virtual teams case; a team member noted how much her trust was based on the responsiveness of her team members to questions and issues she posed to them via email, and an account executive mentioned that accomplishing the task came first for establishing trust: “The trust has been built through the task-based relationship that has evolved.” Yet another team member said, “You gain the trust in people when they deliver what they promise, when all are contributing to the same idea and goal.” (Kirkman, Rosen, Gibson, Tesluk, McPherson, 2002: 69-70). Managers can influence this by setting group standards for email and message responsiveness and ensuring that team members either address personally or escalate missed commitments as soon as possible so the trust-building process isn’t damaged irreparably. The establishment of a team contract which explicitly defines the parameters of follow-up between team members (i.e. emails from other team members will be acknowledged by the recipient within 24 hours) can provide a mechanism for building trust as it defines the ‘rules of engagement’ between team members, and lessens the possibility of misunderstanding team member expectations regarding task management.

Whether teams socialize at family barbecues, participate in team-building seminars, or go by the book (any one of the hundreds available), a trusting relationship is bound to begin forming. If none of the recipes provided by any of the many sources appears to work, and the team members still have trust issues, then the team may be dealing with difficult personalities, or other problems that could require the intervention of human resources to resolve. The bottom line is that trust is key to a cohesive team, and cohesion is the key to team success.


For a team to identify and achieve company objectives without losing team cohesion, peer pressure to meet or exceed company objectives must be present within the group. In this way, the team self-manages towards the company objective, and achieving company goals strengthens team cohesion. Trust is a significant contributor to the success of this endeavor – both trust between team members to perform to achieve the team goal, and trust between management and the team that open and honest communication regarding objectives and performance will occur. High commitment organizations stand a better chance of achieving this synergy than high control organizations. By clearly communicating team objectives and employing a system of self-management, high commitment organizations trust that the teams will self-regulate performance problems that threaten success. When teams clearly understand the company objective, are included in the decision making process regarding how best to achieve that objective, are entrusted with enough autonomy to self-regulate, and are measured on the result, team cohesion will be enhanced as company objectives are met.

Strategies for building team cohesion can be summarized as: help the team build identity with a purpose and goal clarity, make it easy for the team to be close together (propinquity), focus on similarities among team members (members feel more cohesive when they focus on similarities), put a positive spin on the team performance (teams are more cohesive when they succeed), and challenge the team with external pressure and rewards for team performance (Thompson, 2002).


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