Groups and Teams Groups or teams can evolve into high performing, extremely effective, useful tools in any organization if developed and managed correctly. Demographic characteristics and cultural diversity can impact the behavior of groups or teams in positive and some negative ways. Diversity may impede the initial progress of a group; however, the long range benefit to creating high performing teams is great. An effective group is one that achieves high levels of task performance, member satisfaction, and team viability (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 2). A team or group is two or more people working together to achieve common goals. Members of a group are usually dependent on each other and have regular interactions in order to reach a goal.
They actively work together as a unit in order to fulfill a purpose. Organizations rely on groups to accomplish specific tasks. An effective group is one that achieves high levels of task performance, member satisfactions and team viability (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 2). Synergy, the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, is also part of an effective group. If a group has synergy then they are able to accomplish far more than they would working as individuals. Synergy is crucial in group organizations if they want to be competitive and productive.
Groups within organizations improve creativity, implement better decision making processes, increase commitment to goals, offer control and help to offset the size of a large organization. There are many types of groups within organizations including formal, informal, task groups and virtual groups. Group size and dynamics can affect performance. The larger the group, the more help there is to accomplish tasks. Although, a larger group can bring problems with communication, coordination and management. Dynamics or how a group works together in order to deal with issues can also affect performance.
Groups and teams have several stages of development in order to be considered effective; forming, storming, nor ming, performing and adjourning. Forming is the first stage and is primarily the initial entry into a group and getting to know each other stage. The storming stage of group development is a period of high emotionality and tension among the group members (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 9). During the nor ming stage of group development issues, goals, tasks really come together as one cohesive unit.
The nor ming stage is about harmony and balance, especially after storming. The performing stage is when the group is finally able to handle complex tasks and achieve goals. Adjourning is the last stage of group development. It occurs after the group has achieved all of its tasks and goals and disbands. Not all groups or teams advance through all of the stages of the cycle to reach the performing stage or adjourning stage.
To reach these final stages they must have strong communication and development skills. Highly effective groups have strong management. To achieve and maintain high levels of group effectiveness, any manager or leader must understand the way groups operate as organizational resources (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 10). Effective groups have clearly defined goals and guidance from management. They are given the resources to complete their tasks and a successful group is rewarded. High performance groups excel at teamwork and attain special performance levels.
They have strong core values, a general sense of purpose, performance objectives, and a good mix of skills and creativity. An effective team manager will communicate standards, create a sense of urgency, gather the right skill set and establish clear rules for behavior. They can also share new information frequently, give positive feedback and reward any successes. Homogeneous groups will get along, work well together and can be somewhat effective. However they are limited in their thinking, decision making and skills. A heterogeneous group made up of various age, gender, race, and culture have a wide range of talent, view points and experience to offer in problem solving.
This group may find it difficult to get along and share information because of their diversity. Another difficulty for divers groups may is status congruence. Groups that include a high status individual are more likely to be less fluid and intimidated. To achieve success a group must have the right skills and competencies available for task performance and problem solving (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 12). Teamwork and harmony are critical to a team or group's success. Diversity is valuable to highly effective teams that work on complex and demanding goals.
Teams that are diverse in terms of members' demography, experiences and cultures, by contrast, have a rich pool of information, talent and varied perspectives that can help improve problem solving and increase creativity (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 6). Diversity may cause come conflict in the early stages of team development like forming, nor ming and storming because of interpersonal interactions. However, in the long run working through these difficulties will create a stronger more unified team. A diverse team has members that have access to a variety and wealth of information because of their differences. Sharing this information from various social networks can increase knowledge and creativity. A structurally diverse work group is one in which the members, by virtue of their different organizational affiliations, roles, or positions can expose the group to unique sources of knowledge (Cummings, 2001, p. 1) Teamwork rich in diversity is one of the great advantages of high performance teams (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborne, 2003, p. 7).
The characteristics of a high performing team are easily recognizable. They share one common purpose. Relationships in a successful team are built on trust and mutual respect. Diversity like age, gender and ethnicity within a high performing team is respected and embraced. Different opinions and ideas are welcomed and discussed. Team members are involved in clear problem solving procedures and they plans tasks completely before acting.
Synergy is critical to team success. Management should reward team successes. High performance teams are high-energy, collaborative process groups. They are the playground and work center for capable people with strong, respectful voices who understand and appreciate the power of aligning diverse perspectives (Schutz, 1999, p 1). In conclusion, groups or teams that are high performing, and critical to the success of any organization, are rich in diversity, synergy, team work.
More can be accomplished, greater achievements and productivity gained, when groups or teams are used in organizations.
Cummings, Jonathon. (2001).
Work groups, structural diversity, and knowledge sharing in a global organization. Management Science. (pigs. 1 - 13). Schutz, Susan. (1999).
Building high performing teams: putting the 'I' back in teamwork. Ezine. (pigs. 1-2) Schermerhorn, J.R., Hunt, J.G. & Osborne, R.N. (2003).