Groups That Work (and Those That Dont): Creating Conditions for Effective Teamwork

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  1. Groups that work (and those that don't)
  2. See a Problem?
  3. Groups That Work (and Those That Don't): Creating Conditions for Effective Teamwork
  4. Working as a Part of a Team – Working in the Food Service Industry

First Online: 17 March Introduction Teams are increasingly being employed to discuss and manage complex problems. In framing learning at team-level, this research draws upon insights from the learning sciences and organizational sciences, as both research strands have complementary insights regarding the development of group cognitions.

Moreover, the central methodology for assessing shared cognition of the teams is heavily based upon the extended experience of measuring cognition at group-level in organizational sciences, since in the learning sciences only few studies have tried to measuring shared cognition directly Jeong and Chi The following paragraphs elaborate the contribution of the different research strands to the model underlying this study as presented in Fig.

Open image in new window. The development of shared mental models The growing acknowledgement of and insight in cognition at group-level, raises the question on how group cognitions develop. Unraveling team learning behaviors To determine the interactions, that is the patterns in discourse, that can be considered as team learning behavior, we make use of the concepts of construction, co-construction and constructive conflict, building on research in the learning sciences e.

Towards mutual understanding: construction and co-construction of meaning The process of building a shared conception of a problem or situation starts with the articulation of personal meaning in the social setting Beers et al. Towards mutual agreement: constructive conflict Shared mental models are developed when agreement is reached around the co- constructed understandings.

Measures Team learning behaviors The three aforementioned aspects of the team learning behaviour construction, co-construction, and constructive conflict were questioned by nine items Van den Bossche et al. Team effectiveness Perceived team effectiveness A broad approach to effectiveness was taken to include the multiplicity of outcomes that matter in organizational settings Hackman Actual team performance In addition to assessing the perception of the team effectiveness by the team members, we also collected data on the actual performance of the company they were managing in the game.

Aggregation on team level The constructs measured in the survey team learning behaviours and perceived team performance are conceptually meaningful at the team-level. Therefore, the data gathered from individual team members to assess these team-level variables were aggregated at the team level. The within-group agreement was assessed using the multiple-item estimator r wg James et al. This analysis resulted in a mean value of 0.

These results justify the creation of a group-level data-set. Construction 0. Co-construction 0. SMM-conc 0. SMM-stat 0. Perceived team performance 0. Actual team performance: equity 0. Team learning behaviors and shared mental models It was hypothesized that team learning behaviors would influence the development of shared mental models H1.

The results for both indicators of shared mental models, shared concepts and shared statements, are very similar. The team learning behaviors co-construction and constructive conflict contribute to the development of a shared mental model in the team. However, these results show that, contrary to the expectations, the co-construction behavior of the team does not contribute to the development of shared mental models. In fact, the unique effect of co-construction is negatively connected to the sharedness of mental models.

The regression learns that if we also take into consideration the construction and constructive conflict behavior, the singular effect of co-construction behaviors becomes negative. To test the relation between shared mental models in teams and team effectiveness H2 regression analysis of the two indicators of shared mental models onto the different criteria of team performance are conducted.

Team learning behaviors and shared mental model The findings of this study support the premise that team learning behaviors are related to the development of a shared mental model H1. Shared mental model and team-work We hypothesized that teams with greater levels of shared task mental models will be more effective H2. Limitations, future research and practical implications This article underscores the importance of developing shared cognition in teamwork. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author s and source are credited.

Akkerman, S. Reconsidering group cognition: From conceptual confusion to a boundary area between cognitive and socio-cultural perspectives? Educational Research Review, 2 1 , 39— CrossRef Google Scholar. Alpay, L. Accidentology: An example of problem solving by multiple agents with multiple representations. Reimann, H. Amsterdam: Pergamon. Google Scholar. Axelrod, R. The structure of decision. Baker, M.

A model for negotiation in teaching-learning dialogues. Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 5 2 , — Negotiation in collaborative problem-solving dialogues. Beun, M. Reiner Eds. Modeling interaction in intelligent tutoring systems pp. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. Argumentation and constructive interaction. Andriessen Eds. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press. Baron, R. The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51 , — Barron, B.

Achieving coordination in collaborative problem-solving groups. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 9 4 , — Beers, P. ICT-support for grounding in the classroom. Instructional Science, 35 , — Cannon-Bowers, J. Reflections on shared cognition. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22 , — Shared mental models in expert team decision making. Castellan Ed. Carley, K. Extracting team mental models through textual analysis.

Journal of Organizational Behavior, 18 , — Collins, L. An alternative framework for defining mediation. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 33 , — Cooke, N. Varieties of knowledge elicitation techniques. International Journal Human-Computer Studies, 41 , — Crook, C. Children as computer users: The case of collaborative learning. De Dreu, C. Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A meta-analysis.

Groups that work (and those that don't)

Journal of Applied Psychology, 88 4 , — Diesner, J. Automap 1. Dillenbourg, P. The evolution of research on collaborative learning. Reiman Eds. Oxford: Elsevier. Sharing solutions: Persistence and grounding in multimodal collaborative problem solving. Journal of the Learning Science, 15 1 , — Eden, C. Cognitive mapping.

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European Journal of Operational Research, 36 , 1— Edmondson, W. Spoken discourse: A model for analysis. London: Langman. Edmondson, A. Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44 , — Fischer, F. Knowledge convergence in computer-supported collaborative learning: The role of external representation tools. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14 3 , — Hackman, J.

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Homan, A. Bridging faultlines by valuing diversity: Diversity beliefs, information elaboration, and performance in diverse work groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92 5 , — James, L. Estimating within-group interrater reliability with and without response bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69 1 , 85— Jehn, K.

Enhancing effectiveness: An investigation of advantages and disadvantages of value-based intragroup conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management, 5 , — Group faultlines and team learning: How to benefit from different perspectives. London Eds. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Jeong, H. Knowledge convergence and collaborative learning. Johnson-Laird, P.

Mental models. Kaufer, D. Communication at a distance: The effect of print on socio-cultural organization and change. Klimoski, R. Team mental model: Construct or metaphor? Journal of Management, 20 2 , — Kozlowski, S. A multilevel approach to theory and research in organizations: Contextual, temporal, and emergent processes. Kozlowski Eds. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Langfield-Smith, K. Exploring the need for a shared cognitive map.

Journal of Management Studies, 29 , — Langfred, C. Too much of a good thing? Negative effects of high trust and individual autonomy in self-managing teams. Academy of Management Journal, 47 , — Mathieu, J. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26 , 37— The influence of shared mental models on team process and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85 2 , — Mohammed, S. Team mental models in a team knowledge framework: Expanding theory and measurement across disciplinary boundaries. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22 , 89— The measurement of team mental models: We have no shared schema.

Organizational Research Methods, 3 2 , — Preacher, K. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36 , — Rentsch, J. Climate and culture: Interaction and qualitative differences in organizational meanings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75 6 , — Antecedents of team member schema agreement. The key takeaway for leaders is this: Though teams face an increasingly complicated set of challenges, a relatively small number of factors have an outsized impact on their success. Managers can achieve big returns if they understand what those factors are and focus on getting them right.

The foundation of every great team is a direction that energizes, orients, and engages its members. They also must be consequential: People have to care about achieving a goal, whether because they stand to gain extrinsic rewards, like recognition, pay, and promotions; or intrinsic rewards, such as satisfaction and a sense of meaning.

Consider one global team we studied. All the members agreed that serving their client was their goal, but what that meant varied across locations. Members in Norway equated it with providing a product of the absolute highest quality—no matter what the cost. Solving this tension required a frank discussion to reach consensus on how the team as a whole defined its objectives.

Teams also need the right mix and number of members, optimally designed tasks and processes, and norms that discourage destructive behavior and promote positive dynamics. High-performing teams include members with a balance of skills. Diversity in knowledge, views, and perspectives, as well as in age, gender, and race, can help teams be more creative and avoid groupthink.

This is one area where 4-D teams often have an advantage. A local member pointed out that a microcredit scheme might be necessary to help residents pay for the new water and sanitation services planned by the team, while a cosmopolitan member shared valuable information about problems faced in trying to implement such programs in other countries.

good teamwork and bad teamwork

Taking both perspectives into account, the team came up with a more sustainable design for its project. Adding members is of course one way to ensure that a team has the requisite skills and diversity, but increased size comes with costs. Larger teams are more vulnerable to poor communication, fragmentation, and free riding due to a lack of accountability. In the executive sessions we lead, we frequently hear managers lament that teams become bloated as global experts are pulled in and more members are recruited to increase buy-in from different locations, divisions, or functions.

Team leaders must be vigilant about adding members only when necessary. The aim should be to include the minimum number—and no more. One manager told us that anytime she receives a request to add a team member, she asks what unique value that person will bring to the group and, in cases where the team is already at capacity, which current member will be released. Team assignments should be designed with equal care.

Not every task has to be highly creative or inspiring; many require a certain amount of drudgery. But leaders can make any task more motivating by ensuring that the team is responsible for a significant piece of work from beginning to end, that the team members have a lot of autonomy in managing that work, and that the team receives performance feedback on it.

With 4-D teams, people in different locations often handle different components of a task, which raises challenges. Consider a software design team based in Santa Clara, California, that sends chunks of code to its counterparts in Bangalore, India, to revise overnight. But in one such team we spoke with, that division of labor was demotivating, because it left the Indian team members with a poor sense of how the pieces of code fit together and with little control over what they did and how. Repartitioning the work to give them ownership over an entire module dramatically increased their motivation and engagement and improved the quality, quantity, and efficiency of their work.

Destructive dynamics can also undermine collaborative efforts. Teams can reduce the potential for dysfunction by establishing clear norms—rules that spell out a small number of things members must always do such as arrive at meetings on time and give everyone a turn to speak and a small number they must never do such as interrupt. Instilling such norms is especially important when team members operate across different national, regional, or organizational cultures and may not share the same view of, for example, the importance of punctuality.

And in teams whose membership is fluid, explicitly reiterating norms at regular intervals is key. Having the right support is the third condition that enables team effectiveness.

Groups That Work (and Those That Don't): Creating Conditions for Effective Teamwork

This includes maintaining a reward system that reinforces good performance, an information system that provides access to the data needed for the work, and an educational system that offers training, and last—but not least—securing the material resources required to do the job, such as funding and technological assistance.

While no team ever gets everything it wants, leaders can head off a lot of problems by taking the time to get the essential pieces in place from the start. Ensuring a supportive context is often difficult for teams that are geographically distributed and digitally dependent, because the resources available to members may vary a lot. Consider the experience of Jim, who led a new product-development team at General Mills that focused on consumer goods for the Mexican market.

While Jim was based in the United States, in Minnesota, some members of his team were part of a wholly owned subsidiary in Mexico. The team struggled to meet its deadlines, which caused friction. But when Jim had the opportunity to visit his Mexican team members, he realized how poor their IT was and how strapped they were for both capital and people—particularly in comparison with the headquarters staff. Establishing the first three enabling conditions will pave the way for team success, as Hackman and his colleagues showed.

The solution to both is developing a shared mindset among team members—something team leaders can do by fostering a common identity and common understanding. In the past teams typically consisted of a stable set of fairly homogeneous members who worked face-to-face and tended to have a similar mindset. This is a natural human response: Our brains use cognitive shortcuts to make sense of our increasingly complicated world, and one way to deal with the complexity of a 4-D team is to lump people into categories.

This was the challenge facing Alec, the manager of an engineering team at ITT tasked with providing software solutions for high-end radio communications. His team was split between Texas and New Jersey, and the two groups viewed each other with skepticism and apprehension. Differing time zones, regional cultures, and even accents all reinforced their dissimilarities, and Alec struggled to keep all members up to speed on strategies, priorities, and roles. The situation got so bad that during a team visit to a customer, members from the two offices even opted to stay in separate hotels.

In an effort to unite the team, Alec took everyone out to dinner, only to find the two groups sitting at opposite ends of the table. Incomplete information is likewise more prevalent in 4-D teams. The flaw with this thinking is that it pits one group against the other. It contributes to poor customer service. Petty jealousies and conflicts can lead to various schemes to get the better of the other group.

This is an immature way of looking at your workplace and unfortunately the customer will suffer. Being part of a team means being respectful to all other members for their particular role and duties. When the entire group sees itself as having a common set of goals to achieve, and each member of the team understands his or her contribution to the overall team effort, the best results are achieved.

Groups go through a set of predictable stages of development. In , Bruce Tuckman, who carried out research on group dynamics, identified the four stages as forming getting to know each other ; storming initial confrontation as group members identify their differences ; norming coming together to work for the benefit of the team ; and performing working well together with a process to deal with any differences of opinion and reassessing to look for opportunities for improvement. Tuckman, During reassessment, members examine their performance and working processes.

They begin to provide honest feedback which is not always positive and begin to share ideas that might create conflict. As a result of this examination, the group can continue to develop its effectiveness. Work groups are constantly being formed and reformed as new staff members join and others leave. New members of the team have the same needs as new groups. Because the team has a different membership, the whole group may revert to an earlier stage of development.

This is especially true if the new team member has a position of authority over other members. A good leader always watches for signs that the group needs more structure or a new challenge. This sense of teamwork is not something that just happens; it is created through good communication, leadership, caring for individuals as people, and an understanding of group process. Members of a work group fall into two categories. Initiators are the people who speak up first and generate ideas. They contribute their knowledge of relevant information and experience and give opinions.

Responders listen and respond to suggestions they have heard. They evaluate information, criticize proposals, and ask questions. They play an important role in developing the ideas put forward by initiators. As the group process continues, members switch back and forth between the roles. Both roles are important for group function. Groups need a balance between these roles. If there is only idea generation, the result will be a contentious, unruly group that is too divided to make up its mind.

If there is too much emphasis on criticism of contributions and evaluation of ideas, the group may not come up with any new and innovative ideas to try. Maintaining a balance is the role of the group leader.

In an effective group, the purpose of the group takes precedence over the needs of individuals. When individuals place their needs ahead of those of the group, they act as a barrier to performance. These people can be classified as:. Good communication always leads to better cooperation. Communication that is honest and assertive tells the listener what you need. It does not expect the listener to read between the lines.

Working as a Part of a Team – Working in the Food Service Industry

When appropriate, it also expresses feelings about the situation. When problems arise, honest communication allows them to be resolved in a mature way. When you deal with problems in an aggressive manner, the situation may appear to be resolved in your favour initially, but the other person will likely have hard feelings and resentments. If you deal with problems by giving in to others even though you feel your position has some validity, or when you complain to others but not to the persons involved, you may also begin to feel resentments.

Over time, hard feelings and resentments may continue to build over a series of small incidents. Leadership is important in a team.