Why are groups and teams seen as central to contemporary organizations and what are some of the problems

associated with a team-based approach to work?

Importance of Groups and Team has become a major focus in the business world. Organizations have well realized that the evolution from individual to team management approach is a priority in current time. The reality is that much of the organizations work is accomplished directly or indirectly through teams. Teams are used as means of growing effectiveness and efficiency in many organizations. Group procedure and conflicts directly impact the choice of team member selection and required results. Creating an effective team is an art and a science. Any organization is constantly changing and evolving. "Change is good and the ability of an organization to adapt and be flexible helps stimulate the organizations growth" (Mukherjee and Mukherjee, 2001). The use of teams to administer various undertakings and projects are utilized increasingly by organizations with hopes that the performance and creativity of these teams will take them to the next ladder to success in the business world. This explains the words of H.E. Luccock “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” ‘A work group is a number of persons, usually reporting to a common superior and having some face-to-face interactions, who have some degree of interdependence in carrying out tasks for the purpose of achieving organizational goals.’ (Wendell L. French, Cecil H. Bell Jr., p. 155). A team on the other hand has some distinctiveness higher to that of an ordinary group, including higher degree of symbiosis and interaction and higher commitments to achieve organization goals. Therefore, according to Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, ‘a team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.’

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IMPORTANCE OF GROUPS AND TEAMWORK IN ORGANIZATION In today’s competitive world where every organization is striving to gain the best position in the market the concept of Group Development and Teamwork are steadily gaining importance. Individual decision making has taken a back stage and paved the way for team management approach for problem solving and decision making which has been productive for the organizations. This strategy not only benefits the organization but also the individual employee, hence it’s been rapidly adopted by businesses. Management Professor Tracy McDonald also endorses the above facts that groups and teams take an organization to the next level of high performance and output through motivation, creativity and responsiveness and states that "The teamwork push probably started in business in the late 1970s or early '80s with the advent of quality circles [employee problem-solving teams]," she says innovation, creativity and change have been some of the main drivers of team success and since the past 10 years, organizations have embraced this concept with welcoming hands. Yuki Funo the Chairman and CEO of Toyota motor, states that the “Toyota way is the way to number 1”. One of the principles of the Toyota way is to ‘add value to the organization by developing your people’ and people can be developed by molding them into exceptional individuals and teams to work within the corporate philosophy. Nippard B. creator a Facebook group (teamwork ladder) on teamwork states that “more than 80% of fortune 500 companies subscribe to teamwork. Teamwork brings success no matter how you define victory.” Groups and Teams facilitate the organization to achieve a competitive advantage because groups increase responsiveness to the organizations customers, employee motivation, increase creativity and they have also been capable of helping the members of organization to enhance task performance and experience more satisfaction with their work.

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Team Responsiveness to Customers It has been a priority for organizations to be elastic and readily responsible for the continuously changing needs, behavior and desires of customers. Being reactive to customers often requires different levels of the hierarchy departments to combine their skills and knowledge. For example, at the lower hierarchy the employees such as sales representatives of a car company, they are the people who are closest to the customers and are aware of the customer needs. But their job in the organization is to just make sales of the cars and they cannot instill the desired changes into the car, which is in the field of the research and development department. For making the change a higher level of hierarchy is required such as research and development experts and other members who can come together and create a group or a cross- functional team who with its diverse skills and capability will enhance the responsiveness to customer needs. It is important for managers to understand the need and set up the appropriate cross-functional team who will carefully determine what type of expertise and capabilities are required to be responsive to the customers. This information is very vital for forming teams. A cross-functional team is the best solution that’s aligned to any business needs can help you improve your efficiency and respond to customers more quickly. The needs of a customer are focused forming such cross-functional teams and a satisfied customer is always an asset for any organization.

Employee Motivation Kreitner R. (1995) has defined motivation as ‘the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction.’ Groups and teams are formed to increase the productivity and efficiency of an organization. To do so Managers have learnt that increasing employee motivation and satisfying team members is the best way to achieve an organizations strategic objectives. It is also about the motivation of members of the group to stick with each other and oppose leaving it. Cohesive groups will gain higher levels of cooperation and support amongst the members. ‘Out of all the tasks performed by the Manager, motivating employees is arguably the most complex and this is due, in part, to the fact that what motivates employees changes constantly’ (Bowen & Radhakrishna, 1991).
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Being motivating to the team members and giving them the experience of working with other creative members in the organization is very inspiring and leads the team members to be more creative in their work and helps them to be more productive and increases their work effort. All the ideas generated are directly contributed in the final result and in the success of the organizational goals, and hence the members of the team feel personally responsible for the outcomes or results of their work. This satisfies the statement by Dwight D. Eisenhower that "Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it." Enhanced Task Performance and Synergy ‘Synergy is the effect that the combined return “whole” is greater than the sum of the individual parts’. (Sebastian Knoll, Cross-Business Synergies, page 14) The phenomenon of Synergy within a Group or Team has become one of the most vital parts for an organization. People who work in groups are able to produce more efficiently and they confer greater quality of output than that produced by an individual and their productivity combined. Joint problem solving, variety in idea’s and knowledge, different views towards an issue and accomplishing difficult tasks are some of the factors added by synergy in groups. To make utilize of synergy in groups managers need to make sure that, the group they put together comprise a variety of skills and talents which are diverse and corresponding but still relevant to the task, and being certain that these skills are coordinated efficiently. Managers should make sure that the groups achieve goals for the organization in their own way and enough independence is provided to solve problems.

Innovation Organizations constantly strive to develop new products, services, new technologies and deliver them to the market. Innovation provides organizations with competitive advantage. An individual working alone might possess an innovative idea, but it takes a team with skills and expertise to execute it. For this reason, Managers create teams with different individuals, with diverse skills, knowledge, and a variety of talents so they can turn an individual’s innovative idea to a successful one.
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Managers give maximum freedom to their teams to perform their tasks without interfering much and full responsibility is given to execute the innovation. Required guidance, training, and resources are provided by the Managers but the rest is in the hands of the team. It’s therefore important to have skillful team mates and everyone should be specialized in their own work, to be more creative and quick which all lies as additional advantage to the team and organization. By being innovative, individuals and teams tend to be world leaders and in the words of Harold R. McAlindon, “the world leaders in innovation and creativity will also be world leaders in everything else.”

PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH TEAM-BASED APPROACH TO WORK According to Casey Stengel, “Gettin' good players is easy. Gettin' 'em to play together is the hard part”. Groups and Teams are the pillars of an organization, while they have enormous power to transform an organization into a successful one, the problems associated with them can also not be ignored. Here are some problems discussed below: Groupthink Groupsthink a concept by Irvin Janis where he refers to faulty decision making in a group. According to Irvin Janis “Groups experiencing groupthink do not consider all alternatives and they desire unanimity at the expense of quality decisions”. Groups are highly venerable to groupthink when the members of the group is already cohesive, when is group ignores outside opinions and there are no clear rules for decision making. Task- oriented and problem solving groups are predominantly susceptible to groupthink. Groupthink is one of the main reasons for faulty decisions by expertise of organization. The decisions made are often based on incomplete information without considering the risks behind it. There are many negative outcomes of groupthink such as the group is not open to more alternatives as it sticks to the alternative which does not harm
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the extreme cohesion of the group, the decision is accepted by all members and is not restudied and ignored even if it important and in the favor of the whole. Expert opinion is not sought which leads to immature decision making and disastrous future circumstances. There always lies a problem of direct pressure in groupthink which always keeps the members under pressure and they are unable to express argument over any of the group views. Team and Group Conflicts Teams do not work in isolation and are often highly dependent on other groups or teams within the organization to complete their goals. Conflicts can arise due to several reasons but it’s often due to lack of agreement on the goals of different groups. Sometimes it also arises due to direct competition. According to Carl Collins Oshodi a “conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests.”

The consequences of conflict can take two forms, positive and negative. Positive also known as Constructive conflict helps teams work towards goals through healthy debate on the decision in question. Conflicts helps the team reduce conformity and unhealthy agreement, solve problems better and overcome obstacles to group progress. It also helps teams achieve goals outside the box through continuous feedback from both internal and external sources. Negative which is also known as destructive conflict on the other hand can result in lack of cooperation within teams and this may prove disastrous to the final goal if not managed well at its early stages. There are many conflicts in groups which are causes of destructive conflicts. Relationship Conflict Relationship conflict is due to interpersonal incompatibilities which affect components such as feeling, frictions and tensions. It can arise in family, groups in society or organization. Personal issues like dislike among other group members, irritation, frustration, etc can be included in relationship conflicts. Task Conflict task conflict is the conflict which occurs due to differences in viewpoints and
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opinion with other members in the group. It’s the conflict about the differences and ideas of opinion with the related tasks. Its related with relationship conflict and also associated with poor decision making. Value Conflict It’s a conflict that is caused by people imposing their personal beliefs or ideas on others in the group. For example if a team mate repeatedly asks for help in a certain situation, that would be a value conflict. It is therefore very important for managers to take control of all the problems right from their roots. Teams that face problems such as conflicts, risky shifts, groupthink and social loafing are a treat to the organization and should be resolved at the earliest. Conflict resolution is the task of the manager as much as it is the task of each of the members of the team. Since change is very rapidly buzzing around organizations, leaders have taken up roles of “mediators, dispute resolution officers, or negotiators, depending on the nature of the conflict” (Leading Groups and Teams by James S. O’Rourke, Bonnie T. Yarbrough, p. 65). Ground rules and standards can be set by a manager with the other team conflict manager.

Conclusion: Team oriented approach is the order of the day when it comes to successful organizations who have empowered their employees, motivated them and involved them in such a way that the existence of the organization wouldn’t have been possible without the existence of teams of such highly motivated individuals. Teamwork has bought the employee and the organization closer than ever. Problem solving, creativity, innovation and shared vision are as synonymous to teamwork as teamwork is to success. Although team building is a complex process and there are many challenges that hinder a team’s success, it can be concluded that “the team is the right organization for every task, the new orthodoxy and a reincarnation of the one-best-way”. (Drucker P. 1999)

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Book References:
1. Working more creatively with Groups 2nd edition (Jarlath F. Benson)
2. Motivating Employees (Anne Bruce, James S. Pepitone) 1999

3. http://books.google.com/books?id=D2pxh0MDxEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=synergy#v=onepage&q=&f=false 4. The Dynamic Nature of Conflict: A Longitudinal Study of Intragroup Conflict and Group Performance (Karen A Jehn, Elizabeth A. Mannix) 5. Leading Groups and Teams by James S. O’Rourke, Bonnie T. Yarbrough (chapt 3, p. 65) 6. Group dynamics for teams by Daniel Levi (Ph. D.)

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Web References: 1. Mukherjee and Mukherjee, 2001 http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/1641.html 2. H.E. Luccock http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/167071 3. Wendell L. French, Cecil H. Bell Jr., p. 155 -

Behavioural Science interventions for organizations improvement Wendell L. French- Cecil. H.Bell, Jr. Sixth edition.
4. Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith

http://www.sideroad.com/Team_Building/difference-between-teamand-group.html [Article written by Deborah Mackin, author of the 2nd edition of the Team Building Tool Kit (Fall, 2007).

5. Tracy McDonald http://www.csuchico.edu/pub/cs/fall_02/feature_05.html [Management Professor Tracy McDonald]

6. Yuki Funo http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/apr2007/bw20070425_861247.h tm

[ Chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA]
7. Nippard B http://www.facebook.com/group.php? gid=72522900947&ref=search&sid=513122974.3690354808..1&v=info [Nippard B - Creator of Facebook group Teamwork Ladder] 8. Kreitner R. 1995 http://www.joe.org/joe/1998june/rb3.php 9. Bowen & Radhakrishna, 1991 http://www.joe.org/joe/1998june/rb3.php

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10. Dwight D. Eisenhower http://humanresources.about.com/od/inspirationalquotations/a/quotes_motiva

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te.htm 11. Sebastian Knoll

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Cross-Business Synergies, page 14
12. Harold R. McAlindon http://www.saidwhat.co.uk/topicquote/creativity 13. Casey Stengel http://www.heartquotes.net/teamwork-quotes.html 14. Irvin Janis http://www.abacon.com/commstudies/groups/groupthink.html 15. Carl Collins Oshodi http://www.nigeriansinamerica.com/articles/3612/1/Understanding-YouthConflict-and-Sustainable-Initiative-Model/Page1.html [An article on Understanding Youth Conflict and Sustainable Initiative Model]

Further Reading From the Web
(The Five Teams Every Organization Needs, By Susan M. Heathfield, About.com)

http://humanresources.about.com/od/inspirationalquotations/a/quotes_motivate.htm http://www.getcited.org/?PUB=103220831&showStat=Ratings The Chartered Institute of Bankers 2006 (section 11) http://www.joe.org/joe/1998june/rb3.php http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/team_main.html http://www.boozallen.com/media/file/145808.pdf http://thinkexist.com/quotation/innovation_is_not_the_product_of_logical_thought/14 5948.html http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/methods_janis_groupthink.html http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/groupthink.htm http://www.abacon.com/commstudies/groups/groupthink.html http://www.heartquotes.net/teamwork-quotes.html 10

http://www.cios.org/encyclopedia/conflict/Asignificance1_dailylife.htm http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10740960 http://business.learnhub.com/lesson/5445-conflict-as-a-process http://books.google.com/books? id=LIktc3vbA38C&printsec=frontcover&dq=groups+and+teams#v=onepage&q=&f =false http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/risky_shift.htm http://www.jstor.org/pss/3069453

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