Chapter Thirteen: Groups and Teams

There is a continuum between individuals, groups and teams with degrees of independence and collaboration. A group is defined here as a small set of people, from three to twenty, who have some degree of mutual interaction and shared objectives. A team is type of group which is highly interdependent, coordinated and with a strong sense of menbers' personal responsibility for achieving group outcomes. The basic types of groups include a set of formal groups (command/supervisory groups, project/task forces and committees) and informal groups. A command group is one whose members consist of a supervisor or manager and all those that report to that person. A project/task force is a temporary group put together by an organisation for a particular purpose.A committee is a group that is either permanent or temporary (ad hoc) whose members meet only occasionally and otherwise report to different permanent supervisors. An informal group is one whose members interact voluntarily.

Structural charactersics of a group include size with a phenomenon in larger groups of social loafing; the reduced effort per person in large groups. Group performance may also decrease with size due to process costs, the expense of coordinating larger numbers. In addition to size there is also the characteristic of composition, which includes observable attributes ("race", gender, age etc), underlying attributes (values, skills, knowledge), potential consequences (affective, cognitive and communicative). Further there is differentiated role with groups of any size with role ambiguity, arising where expected behaviours are not clearly defined, and role conflict where a member has two or more sets of expectations, being major issues.

Groups have behavioural characteristics such as norms; a group's shared standards that guide their behaviour of individual members that begins with initial meetings, and the the close adherence becoming conformity. Cohesion is another behaviour characteristic, the degree to which members are motivated to remain in the group, developed through interpersonal attraction and a record of high performance and past success. It increases the effectiveness, and augments individual satisfaction, but may emphasise counterproductive norms, increases the probability of groupthink and may decrease intergroup cooperation.

Factors that influence the formation of groups and teams include organisational goals and opportunities for interaction and sharing mutual knowledge. The stages of group development include formation, early development, becoming a group, and performing as a team.

Examples of groups and teams in today's organisations include self-managing (autonomous) workgroups that have no formally appointed supervisors. They encourage team-like behaviour, are creative, and have increased speed of communication. They sometimes lead to increased group conflict and can be difficult to manage. Cross functional new products/services groups exist to speed products and services to the market whilst ta the same time minimising costs. They require a high degree of ownership by the group. transparency, mindfulness and mutual cooperation. A global team is a highly dense multinational team representing several functional groups from various cultural backgrounds and a virtual team is a group composed of individuals who do not work together in close proximity.

Team competencies can be developed by considering KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes). Transportable conpetencies are those that can be used in any situation. Team-contingent competencies are those that specific to the particular team but nay vary to tasks. Conext-driven competencies are those specific to both the unique nature of particular tasks and the composition of the team. Task-contingent competencies are needed in terms that perform specific and recurring set of tasks but have varying numbers. A matrix can be drawn with relationship to team and relationship to task. Generic:Specific is task contingent, Specific:Specific is context-driven, Generic:Specific is team contingent and Generic:Generic is transportable.

Group conflict can arise through task (substantive) conflict between ideas and courses of action or relationship (affective) conflict which arise through interpersonal differences between members. Group conflict can managers through recognising whether the focus is intragroup conflict (within) or intergroup conflict (between).

Group and team effectiveness can be improved by assessing whether the groups outputs are valued by those who receive them, whether the capacity for further cooperation between its members is maintained or increased, and whether members gain satisfaction and a sense of growth and well-being from being part of the group. The ingredients for group effectiveness include exerting enouhg effort to accomplish tasks in quality and quantity, obtain sufficient knowledge to carry out its work, and use appropriate strategies to apply effort, knowledge and skills. Appropriate group structures must be developed with appropriate support form the organisation and appropriate coaching and consultation assistance.