www.downloadslide.com Chapter Eight Team Dynamics 215 EXHIBIT 8.1 Team Permanence, Skill Diversity, and Authority Dispersion for Selected Team Types TEAM TYPE DESCRIPTION TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS Departmental teams Self-directed teams Task force (project) teams Teams that consist of employees who have similar or complementary skills and are located in the same unit of a functional structure; usually minimal task interdependence because each person works with clients or with employees in other departments. Teams whose members are organized around work processes that complete an entire piece of work requiring several interdependent tasks and have substantial autonomy over the execution of those tasks (i.e., they usually control inputs, flow, and outputs with little or no supervision). Cross-functional teams whose members are usually drawn from several disciplines to solve a specific problem, realize an opportunity, or design a product or service. Team permanence: High—departments continue indefinitely. Skill diversity: Low to medium—departments are often organized around common skills (e.g., accounting staff located in the accounting department). Authority dispersion: Low—departmental power is usually concentrated in the departmental manager. Team permanence: High—teams are usually assigned indefinitely to a specific cluster of production or service activities. Skill diversity: Medium to high—members typically perform different tasks requiring diverse skill sets, but cross-training can somewhat reduce skill diversity. Authority dispersion: High—team members share power, usually with limited hierarchical authority. Team permanence: Low—teams typically disband on completion of a specific project. Skill diversity: Medium to high—members are typically drawn from several functional specializations associated with the complexity of the problem or opportunity. Authority dispersion: Medium—teams often have someone with formal authority (project leader), but members also have moderate power due to their expertise and functional representation. INFORMAL GROUPS This chapter mainly focuses on formal teams, but employees also belong to informal groups. All teams are groups; however, many groups do not satisfy our definition of teams. Groups include people assembled together, whether or not they have any interdependence or organizationally focused objective. The friends you meet for lunch are an informal group, but they wouldn’t be called a team because they have little or no interdependence (each person could just as easily eat lunch alone) and no organizationally mandated purpose. Instead, they exist primarily for the benefit of their members. Although the terms are used interchangeably, teams has largely replaced groups in the language of business when referring to employees who work together to complete organizational tasks. 7 Why do informal groups exist? One reason is that human beings are social animals. Our drive to bond is hardwired through evolutionary development, creating a need to belong to informal groups. 8 This is evident by the fact that people invest considerable time and effort forming and maintaining social relationships without any special circumstances or ulterior motives. A second reason why people join informal groups is provided by social identity theory, which states that individuals define themselves by their group affiliations (see Chapter 3). Thus, we join groups—particularly those that are viewed favorably by others and that have values similar to our own—because they shape and reinforce our self-concept. 9 A third reason why informal groups exist is that they accomplish personal objectives that cannot be achieved by individuals working alone. For example, employees will sometimes congregate to oppose organizational changes because this collective effort has more power than individuals who try to bring about change alone. These informal groups, called coalitions, are discussed in Chapter 10. A fourth explanation for informal groups is that we are comforted by the mere presence of other people and are therefore
www.downloadslide.com 216 Part Three Team Processes motivated to be near them in stressful situations. When in danger, people congregate near each other even though doing so serves no protective purpose. Similarly, employees tend to mingle more often after hearing rumors that the company might be acquired by a competitor. As Chapter 4 explained, this social support minimizes stress by providing emotional and/or informational resources to buffer the stress experience. 10 Informal Groups and Organizational Outcomes Informal groups are not created to serve corporate objectives, yet they have a profound influence on the organization and its employees. Informal groups potentially minimize employee stress because, as mentioned, group members provide emotional and informational social support. This stress-reducing capability of informal groups improves employee well-being, which potentially increases organizational effectiveness. Informal groups are also the backbone of social networks, which are important sources of trust building, information sharing, power, influence, and employee well-being in the workplace. 11 Chapter 9 describes the increasing popularity of enterprise social networking sites similar to Facebook and LinkedIn that encourage employees to form informal groups. Chapter 10 explains how social networks are a source of influence in organizational settings. Employees with strong informal networks tend to have more power and influence because they receive better information and preferential treatment from others and their talent is more visible to key decision makers. Advantages and Disadvantages of Teams Menlo Innovations is an extreme team-based organization. Most of the 50 employees at the Ann Arbor, Michigan, software company work in pairs throughout the week. In “pair programming,” two employees share one computer. One person (called the driver) writes code while the other (called the navigator) offers guidance and proofs the work. The two switch roles throughout the week and have ongoing discussions about where to take the work next. Each Monday, Menlo reassigns employees to different partners and often moves them to a different part of the project or to another project altogether. 12 Why are teams so important at Menlo Innovations and so many other companies around the world? The answer to this question has a long history. 13 Early research on British coal mining in the 1940s, the Japanese economic miracle of the 1970s, and a huge number of investigations since then have revealed that under the right conditions, teams make better decisions, develop better products and services, and create a more engaged workforce than do employees working alone. 14 Similarly, team members can quickly share information and coordinate tasks, whereas these processes are slower and prone to more errors in traditional departments led by supervisors. Teams typically provide superior customer service because they offer clients more knowledge and expertise than individuals working alone can offer. In many situations, people are potentially more motivated when working in teams than when working alone. 15 One reason for this motivation is that, as we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, employees have a drive to bond and are motivated to fulfill the goals of groups to which they belong. This motivation is stronger when the team is part of the employee’s social identity. A second reason why people are more motivated in teams is their accountability to fellow team members, who monitor performance more closely than a traditional supervisor. This is particularly true where the team’s performance depends on the worst performer, such as on an assembly line where the team’s performance is determined by the slowest employee. A third reason why employees tend to work harder when near others is because coworkers become benchmarks of comparison. Employees are also motivated to work harder because of apprehension that their performance will be compared to others’ performance.