Chapter 7 – Groups and Teamwork
Ralston Foods – Has been able to use self- directed work groups to its advantage in its
Sparks, Nevada, cereal plant.
Daniel Kibbe was brought in to retrofit the facility. He viewed this as a major change, as
a way to create a new culture at the Sparks plant: a culture focuses on groups and
Group members were involved in all aspects – hiring, equipment checkout, developing
work rules, skill-based pay, schedules and training.
Sparks culture is based on the recognitions that traditional systems have failed to tap
the true potential of group members.
The system is based on an environment of credibility, trust and openness.
The work group orientation drives the organization.
There are operating work groups, support work groups, and a leadership work group
composed of the entire management staff. Including operating and staff managers,
group leaders, and the plant manager.
In most cases, work groups, which range in size from 8 – 50 members, are broken down
into smaller teams ranging from 3-10 members.
In addition to work groups, there are cross-functional committees that meet regularly.
Most committee members are volunteers, and group members represent their work
The self directed groups consistently have a better, more dependable performance than
those with group leaders.
Through a mix of trust, performance measurement and rewards, training and
development, and leadership, Kibbe has succeeded in transforming the culture at
Ralston’s Sparks plant and has demonstrated the power of teamwork.
Group – Consists of two of more people interacting interdependently to achieve a
Interaction is the most basic aspect of a group – it suggests who is in the group and who
is not. Interdependence simply means that group members rely to some degree on
each other to accomplish goals. ALL groups have one or more goals they are seeking to
Group memberships are very important: The exert a tremendous influence on us, they
are the social mechanisms by which we acquire many beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviours. It is also important because groups provide a context in which we are able
to exert influence on others.
Formal work groups – are groups that orgs. establish to facilitate the achievement of
organizational goals. They are intentionally designed to channel individual effort and
appropriate direction. The most common formal group consists of a manager and the
employees who report to that manager.
Task forces – are temporary groups that meet to achieve particular goals or to solve
particular problems such as suggesting productivity improvements.
Committees- are usually permanent groups that handle recurrent assignments outside
the usual work group structures.
Informal work groups - Groups that emerge naturally in response to the common
interests or organizational members. Seldom sanctioned by the organization, and their
membership often cuts across formal groups. Informal groups can either help or hurt an
organization, depending on their norms for behaviour.
Stages of group Dev. Over time:
Forming ->Storming -> Norming -> Performing -> Adjourning
*Not all groups go through these stages
Forming – Early stage, members try to orient themselves by testing the waters. What
are we doing here? What are the others like? What is our purpose? The situation is
often ambiguous, and members are aware of their dependency on each other
Storming –At this second stage, conflict often emerges. Confrontation and criticism
occur as members determine whether they will go along with the way the group is
developing. Sorting out roles and responsibilities is often at issue here. Problems are
more likely to happen earlier, rather than later, in group dev.
Norming- At this stage, members resolve the issues that provoked the storming, and
they develop social consencus. Compromise is often necessary. Interdependence is
recognized, norms are agreed to, and the group becomes more cohesive. Information
and opinions flow freely.
Performing – With its social structure sorted out, the group devotes its energies toward
task accomplishment. Achievement, creativity, and mutual assistance are prominent
themes in this stage. Adjourning – Some groups, such as task forces and design project teams, have a definite
life span and disperse after achieving their goals. Also, some groups disperse when
corporate layoffs and downsizing occur. At this adjourning stage, rites, and rituals that
affirm the groups previous successful development are coming, Members often exhibit
emotional support for each other.
Punctuated Equilibrium – A model of group development that describes how groups
with deadlines are affected by their first meetings and crucial midpoint transitions.
Equilibrium means stability.
Phase 1: begins with the first meeting and contiunues until the midpoint in the groups
existence. Assumptions, approaches and precedents that members develop in the first
meeting end up dominating the first half of the groups life. The group makes little
visible progress toward the goal.
Midpoint transition: Occurs at almost exactly the halfway point. The transition marks a
change in the groups approach, and how the group manages the change is critical for
the group to show progress.
Phase 2: It concludes with a final meeting that reveals a burst of activity and a concern
for how outsiders will evaluate the product.
o Prepare carefully for the first meeting. What is decided here will strongly determine
what happens in the rest of phase one. If you are the coach or advisor of the group,
stress motivation and excitement about the project.
o As long as people are working, do not look for radical progress during phase 1.
o Manage the midpoint transition carefully. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the
ideas that people generate in Phase 1. Clarify any questions with whoever is
commissioning your work. Recognize that a fundamental change in approach must occur
here for progress to occur. Essential issues are not likely to “work themselves out”
during phase 2. At this point, a group coach should focus on the strategy to be used in
o Be sure adequate resources are available to actually execute the phase 2 plan.
o Resist deadline changes. These could damage the midpoint transition.
Group structure – refers to the characteristics of the stable social organization of a
group – the way a group is “put together”. Most work groups, including task forces and committees, usually have between 3 – 20
Larger groups consistently report less satisfaction.
Additive tasks – tasks in which group performance is dependent on the sum of the
performance of individual group members. We can predict potential performance by
adding the performances of individual group members together.
Disjunctive tasks – Tasks in which group performance is dependent on the performance
of the best group member.
Process losses – group performance difficulties stemming from the problems of
motivating and coordinating larger groups. Actual performance = potential performance
– process losses.
Conjunctive tasks – Tasks in which group performance is limited by the performance of
the poorest group member.