MOS 2181 chapter 7.pdf

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Western University
Management and Organizational Studies
Management and Organizational Studies 2181A/B
Victoria Digby

MOS 2181  Chapter 7: Groups and Teamwork I. What Is a Group? A group consists of two or more people interacting interdependently to achieve a common goal. Interaction is the most basic aspect of a group as it suggests who is in the group and who is not. Groups exert tremendous influence on us. They are social mechanisms by which we acquire many beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviours. Formal work groups are established by organizations to facilitate the achievement of organizational goals. The most common formal group consists of a manager and those employees who report to that manager. Informal groups are groups that emerge naturally in response to the common interests of organizational members. Informal groups can either help or hurt an organization, depending on their norms for behaviour. II. Group Development While employees often know each other before new groups are formed, simple familiarity does not replace the necessity for team development. A. Typical Stages of Group Development Leaders and trainers have observed that many groups develop through a series of stages over time. Each stage presents the members with a series of challenges they must master in order to achieve the next stage. These stages are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Forming. Group members try to orient themselves by “testing the waters”. Storming. Confrontation and criticism occur as members determine whether they will go along with the way the group is developing. Norming. Members resolve the issues that provoked the storming, and they develop social consensus. Performing. The group devotes its energies toward task accomplishment. Adjourning. Rites and rituals that affirm the group’s previous successful development are common. Members often exhibit emotional support for each other. B. Punctuated Equilibrium When groups have a specific deadline by which to complete some problem-solving task, we often observe a very different development sequence from that described above. The punctuated equilibrium model is a model of group development that describes how groups with deadlines are affected by their first meetings and crucial midpoint transitions. Phase 1. Phase 1 begins with the first meeting and continues until the midpoint in the group’s existence. Although it gathers information and holds meetings, the group makes little visible progress toward the goal. Midpoint Transition. The midpoint transition occurs at almost exactly the halfway point in time toward the group’s deadline. The transition marks a change in the group’s approach, and how the group manages it is critical for the group to show progress. Phase 2. Decisions and approaches adopted at the midpoint get played out in Phase 2. It concludes with a final meeting that reveals a burst of activity and a concern for how outsiders will evaluate the product. III. Group Structure and Its Consequences Group structure refers to the characteristics of the stable social organization of a group, the way a group is “put together.” The most basic structural characteristics along which groups vary are size and member diversity. A. Group Size Although the smallest possible group would consist of two people, most work groups, including task forces and committees usually have between three and twenty members. Size and Satisfaction. In general, members of larger groups report less satisfaction with group membership than those who find themselves in smaller groups. Increased potential for conflict, reduced opportunity for participation, inhibition, and inability to identify contributions to the group are among the reasons for this phenomenon. Size and Performance. Different types of tasks are performed by groups where performance could depend upon the type of task and the number of individuals involved. For some tasks, like moving a heavy rock, the potential performance of the group increases with group size. These are additive tasks in which group performance is dependent on the sum of the performance of individual group members. Other tasks, like searching for a single error in a complicated computer program, also may show performance gains as group size increases, but that is because the chance of including a crucial problem solver is greater. Disjunctive tasks are tasks in which performance is dependent on the performance of the best group member. However, as groups get larger, performance may also decrease as a function of process losses. Process losses are group performance difficulties stemming from the problems of motivating and coordinating larger groups. Thus, actual performance = potential performance – process losses. Finally, group performance on conjunctive tasks, like assembly line work, decreases as group size increases. Conjunctive tasks are tasks in which group performance is limited by the performance of the poorest group member. B. Diversity of Group Membership Research suggests that heterogeneous or diverse groups have a more difficult time communicating and becoming cohesive, so group development takes longer. Once developed, diversity has little impact on performance and sometimes performance is better on tasks that require creativity and problem solving. C. Group Norms Social norms are collective expectations that members of social units have regarding the behaviour of each other. They are codes of conduct that specify what individuals should do and not do and standards against which we evaluate the appropriateness of behaviour. All of us are influenced by norms which regulate many of our daily activities. Norm Development. Norms develop to provide regularity and predictability to behaviour. They develop to regulate behaviours that are considered at least marginally important. Individuals comply with these norms because the norms often correspond to privately held attitudes. Some Typical Norms. There are different types of norms in organizations which affect the behaviour of members. Norms that seem to crop up in most organizations and affect the behaviour of members include the following:  Dress norms. Social norms frequently dictate the kind of clothing people wear to work.  Reward allocation norms. There are at least four norms that might dictate how rewards, such as pay, promotions, and informal favours, could be allocated in organizations: equity, equality, reciprocity, and social responsibility.  Performance norms. The performance of organizational members might be as much a function of social expectations as it is of inherent ability, personal motivation, or technology. D. Roles Roles are positions in a group that have a set of expected behaviours attached to them. Roles represent “packages” of norms that apply to particular group members. In organizations, there are two basic kinds of roles. First, there are designated or assigned roles that are formally prescribed by an organization to facilitate task achievement. Assigned roles indicate "who does what." and "who can tell others what to do." In addition, there are also emergent roles which are roles that develop naturally to meet the social-emotional needs of group members or to assist in formal job accomplishment. Role Ambiguity. Role ambiguity exists when the goals of one's job or the methods of performing it are unclear. Ambiguity might be characterized by confusion about how performance is evaluated, how good performance can be achieved, or what the limits of one’s authority and responsibility are. A variety of elements can lead to ambiguity.  Organizational factors. Some roles seem inherently ambiguous because of their function in the organization.  The role sender. Role senders might have unclear expectations of a focal person.  The focal person. Even role expectations that are clearly developed and sent might not be fully digested by the focal person. The practical consequences of role ambiguity include job stress, dissatisfaction, reduced organizational commitment, and intentions to quit. Managers can reduce role ambiguity by providing clear performance expectations and performance feedback. Role Conflict. Role conflict exists when an individual is faced with incompatible role expectations. There are several different types of role conflict.  Intrasender role conflict occurs when a single role sender provides incompatible role expectations to a role occupant.  Intersender role conflict occurs when two or more role senders provide a role occupant with incompatible expectations.  Interrole conflict occurs when several roles held by a role occupant involve incompatible expectations.  Person-role conflict occurs when role demands call for behaviour that is incompatible with the personality or skills of the role occupant. The most consistent consequences of role conflict are job dissatisfaction, stress reactions, lowered organizational commitment, and turnover intentions. Managers can help prevent role conflict by avoiding self-contradictory messages, conferring with other role senders, being sensitive to multiple role demands, and fitting the right person to the right role. E. Status Status is the rank, social position, or prestige accorded to group members. It represents the group’s evaluation of a member. Organizations have both formal and informal status systems. Formal Status Systems. The formal status system represents management’s attempt to publicly identify those people who have higher status than others. This is accomplished by the application of status symbols. Status symbols are tangible indicators of status. Status symbols might include titles, particular working relationships, the pay package, the work schedule, and the physical working environment. The criteria for achieving formal organizational status includes seniority in one’s work group and one’s assigned role in the organization. Informal Status Systems. Informal status symbols also exist in organizations and can operate just as effectively. Sometimes, job performance is a basis for the acquisition of informal status. So a good hitter or a good performer will be accorded status, although status symbols might be lacking. Consequences of Status Differences. Status affects the ways in which people communicate with each other. Most people like to communicate with others at their own status or higher, rather than with people who are below them. As a result, communication is likely to move up the status hierarchy in organizations. As well, higher status people do more talking and have more influence. Reducing Status Barriers. Although status differences can be powerful motivators, status differences also tend to inhibit the free flow of communication in organizations and can make it more difficult to foster a culture of teamwork and cooperation. As a result, many organizations are doing away with status symbols such as executive dining rooms, and reserved parking in an attempt to foster a culture of teamwork and cooperation across the ranks. The use of e-mail has also been found to level status barriers, thus facilitating communication between people at all levels of the organization. IV. Group Cohesiveness Group cohesiveness is a critical property of groups. Cohesive groups are those that are especially attractive to their members. Members are especially desirous of staying in the group and tend to describe the group in favourable terms. A. Factors Influencing Cohesiveness There are several important factors which might make one group more cohesive than others. Threat and Competition. External threat and competition can force members to work together when group goals are in danger. External threats to survive have ofte
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