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Organizational Behaviour: Teams and Groups

This research topic focuses on ‘teams and groups’ as related to organisational behaviour. The choice of the topic is preferred due to the fact that although it may seem like a brief topic in organization behaviour, it is surrounded by several issues which need analysis. Some of these issues, to mention a few, include conditions when team is effective over individual, responsibility of management on effective team work, and factors which lead to the success or failure of a team.

According to Roger (2006), a group refers to two or more people who interact in doing certain activities and are interdependent in achieving a particular objective (Roger 2006).  Roger (2006) also says that groups are not always formed formally; there are groups which are formed informally in an organization (Roger 2006). This means that there are various reasons or objectives which may lead to the formation of groups. These may be for reasons such as security, affiliation, status, power, or goal achievement.

Formation of a group, either a formal or an informal, is driven by the fact that a group may have greater influence than an individual. Parker (2008) refers a team as two or more people with different expertise who come together to influence each other in achieving certain objective, and each of them has a particular responsibility in the task.

Fundamentals of Organizational Behaviour: Key Concepts, Skills, and Best Practices by Angelo Kinicki, Robert Kreitner and Nina Cole

This book edition by Angelo Kinicki, Robert kreitner and Nina Cole explores various issues related to groups and teamwork in organization behaviour. Before explaining how groups and teamwork operate in the organization, they discuss situations that lead to generation of the idea to form groups and teams and also the stages involved in their formation. Advice on how to run groups and teams and how to solve challenges which may be faced while managing them is also provided by the book.

Definition of a group by this book is drawn from different concepts including sociology and psychology.  A group is made up of two or more individuals who interact freely, and they have a common identity as well as norms and objectives (Angelo, Robert, & Nina 2003). To draw a line of difference between a group and other forms of associations such as a crowd or an organization, the definition of a group is characterised by mutual interaction. As the authors of the book put it, a mere gathering of people should not be referred to as a group but to as a crowd; on the same note people belonging to the same organization cannot be referred to as a group unless they are interacting and they have mutual awareness of each other. This means that for people from the same organization to be referred to as a group, they must be from a certain committee, a work team or belong to a subpart in a department.

The book further looks at types or forms of groups which may exist in an organization. They are classified into two; formal groups and informal groups. A formal group has been defined as a group which helps the organization is achieving organization’s goal (Angelo, Robert, & Nina 2003). This could be a task force, committee, work group or a team usually formed with knowledge of the manager. A formal group serves both organizational and individual functions simultaneously when it is in operation. For instance, while it helps an organization to generate creative ideas, it also helps an individual to develop high self esteem as well as a sense of belonging in the organization (Angelo, Robert, & Nina 2003).

An informal group is also formed by people with a common interest but usually the interest is that of friendship; this kind of group may also be found in an organization and at times it may overlaps with a formal group (Angelo, Robert, & Nina 2003). For instance, a formal group such as a group of auditors may meet after work to play tennis for leisure. The authors make a very important observation concerning formal and informal groups- that aspect of formal and informal groups overlapping is taken differently by managers; some view it as important in fostering productivity while others view it as a threat to productivity (Angelo, Robert, & Nina 2003).

Managing Organizational Behaviour by Ronald R Sims (2002)

The author of this book, Sims (2002), begins by pointing out that groups and teams have major roles in the success of an organization. The stages of group development are highlighted and discussed, and they include; the forming stage, the storming, the norming, the performing, and adjourning stages (Sims 2002). Sims (2002) suggests that in any group whether formal or informal, there are factors which affect performance which include the role of  individual, status hierarchy, presence, cohesiveness, size of the group, and composition (Sims 2002).

While a group is either formal or informal, a team is categorised based on the function on which it is formed to do. A team, for example, can be a virtual, problem solving team, or cross-functional (Sims 2002). Teams are formed due to the common knowledge that two are better than an individual in any task particularly due to complementary of skills. The aspect of team motivation has been mentioned by the author whereby he notes that motivation facilitates active participation of the members of a team. It has also been pointed out that apart from using teams to increase productivity; teams are a means of democratizing the organization. The use of a team is also important when coordination of a certain task in an organization is required.

Sims says that teams are powerful tools and if managed properly, success is almost guaranteed (Sims 2002). If teams are not properly managed total failure in an organization is bound to occur because of the power of the team in any outcome. The common reasons for failure of a team are lack of cooperation by members and lack of support from the management. The author further suggests that it is possible to analyse a team while in operation and to figure out whether it is a high performing or a low performing team.

A low performing team is usually characterised by poor communication skills, criticism among members, ineffective meetings, unclear goals, persistent conflicts, and low commitment of members. A high performing team is featured by clear goals, commitment, a reasonable size and composition, mutual accountability and use of a common approach. He further suggests that the success of a team is usually determined by factors such as mutual accountability, commitment, size, setting of objectives, and agreement on the approach to use (Sims 2002).

Organizational Behaviour by Stephen P. Robbins (2005)

Robbins (2005) in his book notes that the use of teams in the workplace is becoming a common trend today.  This shift from work-alone to teamwork is due to the need for organizations to fully engage every employee in ensuring maximum productivity.  The author suggests that typically teamwork outperforms individual work since it exploits the talents of members and it also stimulates full involvement of employees (Robbins 2005). An effective team has members cooperation, sharing of information is a key component and any differences are confronted immediately they are detected.

According to Robbins (2005), the environment in which a team operates should be such that every member has equal opportunity and right to contribute or suggest ideas. Equally, every member has a duty to participate fully by utilizing his/her skills and talent which are required for the success of the team (Robbins 2005). In addition, the author notes that a team requires high score on participation, flexibility, conscientiousness, and extraversion from the members.

The size of a team is an important factor in the success of work done; it should not be too large or too small but ideally made of about 5-12 members in order to ensure that every role is taken and to ease management (Robbins 2005). Other important factors in the success of a team as suggested by Robbins in his work include availability of resources, leadership, motivation, and constant evaluation of performance.  Environments with individualistic cultures present difficulties in introducing teamwork because individual achievement is highly valued.

However, it is possible for the management to convert the situation particularly through training the employees on skills of teamwork, selecting individuals with different skills in order to have workforce diversity in a team, and using a reward system which encourages cooperation in the team as well as individual participation in the team (Robbins 2005). Robbins concludes by advising that the formation of a high performance team should not mark the end of the management role in team work. This is because a team is subject to complacency and may end up becoming stagnant. The management thus should offer continued support in the form of training programs, rewarding system, and advice on how to go about various tasks.