Group Decision Making And Team Work Management Essay
The assignment should be structured in an essay style, with an introduction, the main arguments and a conclusion. Check and follow the referencing guidelines in the Study Skills handbook. Higher marks will be given for essays that show how groups may be established formally (using theoretical arguments) and then question their effectiveness for many tasks. Reflective analysis of your own group situations will enable you to challenge (be critical of) theory by asking questions such as, Ê½if I had known this theory before I had to join a group how useful would it have been to get people to do things? and what group processes do the theories not explain very well? in your head while drafting the essay arguments.
Working teams/groups have become the new fashion to business efficiency (Belbin 981:42). They form the backbone for the effective performance of various organizations, according to Drucker (1994). The truth is that people rarely work in isolation from others and that almost everyone in an organization is a member of one or more groups. Western culture has promoted the independence, self-esteem and competition to the detriment of common goals and cooperation.
Various socio-technical systems focus on the idea of the collective participation of people in groups. It is known that if someone shares a complex problem then this is easily solved without simplifying the problem. According to Senge (1992:236) groups become “the main unit of learning (the microcosm) of the organizations’, and he cites concepts such as collective learning, i.e. learning in a group.
In the present essay the theory of creating groups and the problems that arise in groups are analyzed. There is also a correlation of theory and the students’ group to which I was a member of.
Theory of group creation
Among the theories that explain the formation of groups, the dominant and most prevalent is the one of George Homans (Albanese and Van Fleet and 1985:250). According to this theory, the creation of a team is the result of three interrelated forces that constitute the environment in which every social system exists. These forces are technology and know-how (technological environment) of the organization, the elements of the natural environment (place, facilities) of the organization, education / culture of the environment or the organization (norms, values, beliefs). These forces affect more people and require certain actions and interactions among them. These imposed actions and interactions in turn create emotional situations (emotions) and attitudes among individuals. The actions, interactions and emotions are interdependent with each other. For example, the more contacts (interactions) exist among individuals the more positive the emotions become and vice versa. This combination of these three parameters, Homans calls it “external system” because it is caused by the environment of individuals. This combination leads to the initial creation of the group.
After the initial creation of the group, its operation leads to an internal dynamic, which is consisted in developing new attitudes, norms, common benchmarks that are certainly not caused by the environment. These parameters of the internal dynamics of the group are according to Homan (Albanese and Van Fleet 1985:252) the “internal system”. ” Of course, between the internal environment of the group and its “external environment” there is a dynamic interactive relationship.
Determinants of the effectiveness of the group
The leader to be able to contribute essentially to the development of mature, responsible and effective groups must first understand the factors that determine their effective operation (Adair 1979:48). The most important of these factors are the size and cohesion of the group, the characteristics, roles and functions of its members, the rules and working procedures, leadership and the climate that characterizes it.
The authors argue that in general the best size is five to seven people are, but this is not the rule. Our student group was consisted of four members – a little bit less than the ideal size (Durphy and Bryant 1996:685).
People to form an effective team need to have knowledge and skills in relation to this project as well as knowledge, skills and personality traits that allow them to function effectively as team members (Forsyth 1999: 84). Everyone of use had the same knowledge since we all were fist year students.
The dimensions of the personality of an ideal team member are logic, emotion, dynamism and energy (Hogg 1996:75).
Regarding the composition of team members as to the characteristics of their personalities, there have been surveys showing that homogeneity leads easily to compromise and cohesion is more effective for routine tasks whereas for complex tasks heterogeneity is more important. Other authors argue that the team is more effective when its members are characterized by heterogeneity regarding their professional experience and consistency in their mental abilities. Our group was heterogeneous since it was consisted of students of different nationalities – a factor not explicitly analyzed in the organizational behaviour theory.
The key factors determining the consistency of the group are:
The agreement of the members on the objectives of the team
The frequency of relations – contacts among members
The interpersonal attraction among members
The high performance of the group
The competition of the group with other groups (Leavitt and Lipman-Blumen 1995:111)
There were frequent contacts among the members of our group since we all were students. There was also interpersonal attraction since the lecturers did not intervene in the formation of the teams. There was also a slight competition with the other groups since the team that performed best got the best mark.
Rules and procedures
The rules can be formal or informal, they are related to the operation of the group (decision-making, discussions etc.), the desired performance, the ways and procedures for carrying out the tasks, the performance evaluation, the relations among members, behaviours etc.
Each mature team, in any case, should identify and implement those rules and procedures that, given the nature of each case (size of the team, project, members characteristics, etc.) will lead to better results (Shaw 1981:210).
Our rules were informal and concerned on time delivery of each member’s project.
Vision – Objectives – Tasks
The existence of a common vision is the cohesive strength of the team and the driving force for action and results. The commonly accepted goals of the group should be specific, quantified and timely defined, optimistic and accepted by its members. It is important for the effectiveness of the group to allocate the tasks arising from the goals of the team (Brown 2000:93).
The allocation of tasks should be done in such a way as to maximize the utilization of the skills, knowledge, experiences, attitudes and time of all team members.
There was a common vision i.e. getting a good mark which was accepted by all since the goal was common. Each member got a specific part of each project. Task allocation was based on each member’s knowledge and skills.
Leadership in a team may be formal or informal, or both and can be performed by one or more members (Bass 1985:84). In recent years special emphasis is given on the concept of self-managed group. These groups are certainly ideal, since they allow the reduction of hierarchical levels and administrative positions while they increase the participation and satisfaction of all. However, they presuppose that individuals and team are matured enough to be self-governed.
We did not have a leader in our group but a coordinator for each project. However, it could be said that we were self-governed but in certain cases some problems appeared since all members were not mature enough to understand e.g. that the timely delivery of projects is important otherwise our mark would be lower.
Climate – culture – trust
Cohesion and the effective operation of the group require a suitable, favourable climate – culture which must be characterized by the collective feeling, faith in cooperation, mutual respect and trust, the willingness to contribute to the group, the high moral of the members and finally by open and honest communication (Donellon et al. 1986:51)
There was open communication in our team and the willingness to contribute was high since all of us wanted to get a high mark.
Roles of team members
For each team member there is a specific role which is directly related to the materialization of the project and the team goals. This role essentially involves duties and responsibilities, actions and attitudes of the member.
There is often confusion between the perceived role i.e. what the member perceives as his/her role and the expected one i.e. what role the group expects a member to play. It can also create a conflict of roles i.e. to have a difference between the perceived role and the performed one i.e. what the individual should do. The conflict and confusion of roles creates negative impact on satisfaction, motivation and organizational loyalty of employees (Zaccaro 1995:33).
As mentioned above, there was one coordinator for each project and task allocation defined the roles of each member.
Communication – Information Flow
With communication, coordination, good relations among members, development of trust and resolution of disputes are achieved. There are three basic types of communication: a) the type of “chain” b) the type of “wheel” and c) the type of “network”(Argyris and Schoen 1996:300). The type of “chain” means that information is transferred from member to member in a succession link as it is in the chain. Thus, each member communicates only with members located in its “side”. The type of “wheel” means that there is a member (supervisor – leader) and each member communicates with him/her separately. Finally, the type of “network” means that all members communicate with all the other members. The effectiveness of each type of communication or flow of information depends on the goal of the group. The velocity of the information flow is obtained by the “chain” and “network.” For members’ satisfaction the “network” is the best type and the ‘wheel’ the worst.
Our type of communication was the “network” since our team was small and there was not a supervisor.
Ability to consent
The ability to achieve consensus is a crucial factor to the effective operation of the group. Consensus does not mean compromise. It has two dimensions that are interdependent. The first dimension relates to the feeling of “ownership” – participation of all team members on decisions and results regardless if they agree 100% with them or not. Secondly, consent is a process of collective decision in which:
A) All members participate and express their views freely
B) Dialogue is performed meaning that the idea of a member is added to the thought
of the other
C) Persuasion is achieved through arguments
D) All members are willing to contribute, to persuade and convince (Barney and Griffin 1992:68).
Consensus is critical to the effectiveness of the group since it implies high commitment of members to implement the decisions, high cohesion and satisfaction.
Consensus was also achieved since there was open communication and we had common goals.
Group decision making
According to Janis (1972), when a very coherent, hierarchical and disconnected from the social environment group must decide, it is possible that a mechanism is activated to protect the group from internal dissension, in which everyone tries to ensure unity and consensus and avoid conflict, which significantly reduces the quality of decision. The opposite of “group thinking” is “brain-storming”. “Such an approach means that the team takes a” liberal “stance and generates as many ideas as possible’» (Mullins, 1989:409) because its members believe that quantity of ideas mean quality of ideas. One could expect that a group of ‘brainstorming “would generate more ideas to solve problems rather than if each member worked independently. Nevertheless, researches have shown that this is not true, and that such groups can inhibit creative thinking.
As a group we pursued brain storming since we were not experienced in other methods. I believe that brain storming was time consuming but in contrast to the above theory, it led us to creative thinking since a lot of creative ideas were generated.
Finally there is the “phenomenon of transfer risk» (shift-risk phenomenon) (Handy 1993, Mullins 1989) where there is a tendency for groups to make riskier decisions than individuals. “A decision that is a decision of all is no one’s responsibility» (Mullins, 1989:409).
Other problems of teams are the lack of responsibility (Mabey & Iles 1995:138), isolation of the group (Leavitt & Lipman-Blumen, 1995:93), internal conflicts in the group (Mullins, 1989:495), the “result of the team » (group effect ),consistency concerning the rules of conduct (Barney & Griffin, 1992:640), competition among groups and disparity groups.
It is indeed possible that the team decision is nothing more than the average of views and assessments of the members. This is a phenomenon traditionally known as normalization (Myers and Bach 1974:60), through which the opinion of the many and the maintenance of the status quo are secure. However, the group decision can also, upon presentation of different to each other, individual opinions and their confrontation, deviate from the average and the compromise and to be close to the view held by fewer members. It then appears again the phenomenon of polarization, which is favoured by conflict, and, which grows the more the personal involvement of the subjects and the importance of the decision for them grows.
A prerequisite of the phenomenon of polarization is, as above mentioned, the ability to express opinions and discussion on this i.e. conflict. Whatever promotes social interaction among all team members removes the chances of compromise and favours the appearance of opinions that no one dared to express in the group. The conflict is even more efficient (leading to more polarization) in groups where relationships are less formal, the hierarchy is less authoritarian and in groups having flexible rules of operating i.e. they focus more on the discussion rather than procedures (Isaacs 1993:99). These conditions are not far removed from those that play a positive role in creativity.
Our group had frequent social interactions and everybody was free to express his opinion. Intense discussions were arisen (not conflicts) but they led to creativity. However, if they were time consuming and the lack of a group leader who will put a limit to endless discussions was obvious.
In this paper, the concept of working groups/teams and group thinking was discussed as well as their advantages and disadvantages and the problems which an organization may face when it decides to form working groups and the benefits it can receive from them and the issues that it may pay attention to in order to avoid the problems of group thinking.
The groups are a key feature of life in organizations and organizations work best when their members work as members of highly effective teams rather than as autonomous individuals. For these reasons, the purpose of organizations is to provide a fertile environment that can help teams to blossom.
Our group worked effectively, it was self-managed, the there were no conflicts but I believe that a leader would have been necessary in order to hinder endless brainstorming discussions and improve team efficiency.