PART 1: CHAPTER SUMMARY. The first chapter concept is high-performance teams. These teams are characterized by members who believe in team goals and are motivated to accomplish them, who feel collectively accountable for moving in a compelling direction, set standards for taking actions, determining results, and gathering feedback. Besides, they turn the general sense of purpose into specific goals, have the correct mix of skills, strong core values, and collective intelligence.
Team building is a sequence of planned activities mainly to improve teamwork and enhance members’ effectiveness. There are five steps in the team-building process; the first step is the identification of a problem or opportunity in team effectiveness. The second step involves data gathering and analysis to find answers to related questions. Once the answers have been gathered and analyzed, the members then plan for improvements. The fourth step involves determining actions to improve team functionality and finally evaluating the results.
There are three team-building alternatives. The first is the outdoor experience approach which places members in multiple physically challenging situations. It improves self-confidence, respect for each other capabilities, commitment, and capacity. The formal retreat approach involves a team-building process taking place during an off-site retreat. It’s mainly designed to involve members in multiple planning and assessment tasks. The continuous improvement process involves members, managers, and team leaders regularly involving in the team-building process.
Improving the team process involves analyzing the team dynamics. The first aspect in team process improvement is considering the new entry of members. Problems arise as new members try to figure out what is expected of them as they deal with the new setting anxiety and discomfort. The team can overcome entry problems by considering three behavior profiles; the tough battler, friendly helper, and objective thinkers. The second way to improve the team process is by addressing role and role dynamics. Aspects like role ambiguity, role under load, role conflict, and role overload can cause stress, reduced satisfaction, and low performance. The best way to manage the role dynamics is through role negotiation which involves discussing and agreeing on what members expect from one another. The third way to improve the team process is through task and maintenance leadership. Task and maintenance needs can be attained through distributed leadership, task activities, and maintenance activities. Besides, members also take responsibility to avoid and eliminate any disruptive behaviors that may cause harm.
The fourth concept in improving the team process is team norms. There are various kinds of norms; performance, ethical, improvement and change, support and helpfulness, organizational, and personal pride norm. Leaders and members can adopt strategies like; being role models, creating time to discuss team norms, selecting members who will live up to the positive norm, and appreciate the power of team building to influence positive norms. The other concept in improving the team process is team cohesiveness. It improves members’ satisfaction, security, loyalty, and esteem. The various ways to decrease or increase cohesiveness is by changing goals, interactions, rewards, size, membership composition, location, and competition. Finally addressing inter-team dynamics also helps in improving the team process.
The other chapter concept is on improving team communication. The first aspect to consider is interaction patterns and communication networks. The three interactive patterns that are essential when members work with one another. The interacting team pattern that is linked to the decentralization network, the co-acting pattern which is linked to the centralization network, and the counteracting team pattern which is linked to the restricted network. The other ways to improve team communication is through virtual communication networks and premixes and the use of space. Office or workplace architecture is an essential influence on the communication behavior of members.
The other chapter concept is team decisions. There are six methods used by teams to make decisions. The decision by lack of response where ideas are suggested one after the other without further discussion, the authority rule where the leader makes decisions for the team, the minority rule where two or three can dominate the group into decision making. Besides, the majority rule involves a formal vote to find the majority viewpoint, the consensus which involves the expressed support of the most members and unanimity where all members agree.
Team members do not often use the same method always. Each method is used in the circumstances for which it fits best, therefore, team leaders need to use the right method for situations at hand. One of the problems that arise during decision making is groupthink and its symptoms include; self-censorship, the illusion of invulnerability and unanimity, rationalizing unpleasant, belief in inherent group morality, and mind guarding. Groupthink can be managed by leaders by being alert to the symptoms and acting upon them immediately. Various techniques can be used to improve decision making in teams with problems. They include brainstorming, nominal group, and the Delphi technique.
PART 2. MANAGEMENT APPLICATION. Managers and leaders can apply information and concepts in this chapter in many ways. First, leaders or managers can follow the team-building steps to deal with actual and potential teamwork problems. This would help increase team effectiveness and teamwork effective for team performance. Leaders can also adopt various alternatives for team building. For example, they can involve in a continuous improvement approach by regularly engaging in the team-building process. This would increase the capability and commitment of members to continuously perform assessments and improve teamwork. Managers and leaders can also involve their members in role negotiation to help overcome and manage challenges that may occur as a result of role dynamics. They can meet with the members to discuss and clarify the role expectation members hold for one another.
Besides, they can also set clear positive norms for the members and encourage them to adhere to them. This would help promote an ethical and motivated organization culture. They can encourage hard work and attainment of objectives by setting clear performance norms for the teams to help outline the degree of hard work they should adopt and the achievements. Besides, they can encourage and promote a positive norm culture by acting as role models and holding regular discussions on norms. Managers can apply the information on decision making by often selecting the best decision-making method based on the situation at hand. Managers can also deal with groupthink problems by being keen to notice the symptoms at an early stage and acting upon them faster enough to avoid excessive harm.
PART 3: CHAPTER LEARNING FEATURES. Bring OB to Life, page 173. The feature discusses the action that was taken by Paul English in his firm to help members deal with their problems without holding back. He noticed that his team was having problems among themselves and mostly went unsolved. The open office design was so public that members found it difficult to discuss their disagreements. He decided to come up with an Annabelle and placed it in a room; elephant room. He believed it helped solve problems among the team as members would discuss their disagreement with transparency and without holding back. Maintaining teamwork is not an easy task and coming up with a strategic and creative way to solve conflicts is essential.
I can apply the information learned from the feature by often being keen on the actions and relationship that exists between team members. This would help in identifying the possibility or existence of disagreement between members. I have learned that maintaining teamwork is essential but challenging, therefore, as a leader, I can apply the feature information by being creative and strategic enough in coming up with the best solution to help solve disagreements and conflicts that may arise among the team members.
Finding the Leader in you, page 176. The feature discusses how Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos implements teamwork in the company to drive innovation. Bezos’s initial aim for Amazon was to create a global most customer-oriented company where customers could find anything. He has made innovation part and parcel of the management philosophy in Amazon by introducing a concept called the two-pizza team. These teams consist of five to eight members who thrive to turn new ideas into business potential. The majority of its innovation originates from these teams. He also encourages decentralization structure to boost creativity and innovation.
I have learned the importance of delegation as a means to improve team creativity. Therefore, I can apply the concept of decentralization by delegating some powers to the team to encourage creativity and innovation. I can also apply the feature’s concepts by encouraging team members or seniors to always be open at sharing and involving in facts-based arguments with seniors. This would encourage innovation and the generation of perfect ideas for a firm. I can also apply the concept of teamwork by encouraging the team to form groups for brainstorming and to help come up with potential business ideas.
Research Insight, page 170. Based on the research done by Dora Lau and Keith, strong fault lines exist in teams when demographic diversity leads to the formation of subgroups where members are similar and strongly identified with one another. This affects teams through performance, conflicts, and politics. Members in strong faultline groups identify more with subgroups than the team which results in more conflict, less sense of safety, and low team satisfaction. Whereas, members in weak faultline groups identify more with the team that subgroups which results in less conflict, more team satisfaction, and a high sense of safety.
I have learned the implications of demographic faultline to the team and the general organization. I can apply the concepts in this feature, by discouraging strong faultline among the members in the group as it results in conflict, low safety, and low team satisfaction. I can also apply the feature’ information by discouraging sub-groups among the team specifically those based on demographic features that are likely to have negative impacts on the organization and the team.