From issues of team com position (e.g., personality, cognitive ability, motivation, cultural factors) and work structure (e.g., team norms, communication structure, work assignments) to task characteristics(e.g., workload task type, interdependency), a host of factors influencing team performance have been identified (Baranski et al., 2007; Urban, Weaver, Bowers, & Rhodenizer, 1996; Waag & Halcomb, 1972).
Although early team and group researchers focused mostly on describing group dynamics (e.g., McGrath, 1964; cf. Haythorn, 1953), more recent researchers have focused on how to actively design and manage teams to be more effective (e.g., Hackman, 1987). For example, researchers have focused on manipulating team tasks and the degree to which the team is self-managing (e.g., Langfred, 2004; Man & Lam, 2003) to improve team performance. Another mechanism through which researchers and practitioners have sought to increase team performance is team composition.
A primary advantage of using small groups and teams in these situations is toexpand the pool of available information, thereby enabling groups to reach higher quality solutions than could be reached by any one individual. Still, superior solutions to complex decision tasks require members to effectively integrate unique, relevant, and often diverse informational sets.
The performance of an organization in seeking to achieve organizational goals depends on many factors such as strategy, structure, technology, people employed and management style. Of importance amongst these is the 'people' factor, that is the behaviour of individual
employees and the contribution this makes to performance at individual, group and organization level.
When those teams work badly, as they often do, they can block even the most talented individuals from realizing their potential. When they work well, they can elevate the performance of ordinary mortals to extraordinary heights.
Although the corporate world relies more and more on teamwork, it often does so without a solid grasp of what makes a team work.
The prescriptions and theories that abound in the management literature often miss the deeper secrets of how effective teams or
groups reach the special state of peak performance.
A dominating definition of “team” is when at least two persons act adaptively, interdependently and in a dynamic way towards a common goal (Salas et al., 2008). By working interdependently, team members collaborate and adjust to each other effectively (Edmondson and Nembhard, 2009). To make this possible, they communicate, share and distribute common resources interactively with a minimum of transactional costs. The team members have a shared understanding of the core values related to the team and the teamwork, and they are motivated to work for a common goal (Sheard and Kakabadse, 2002; Atwal and Caldwell, 2006).
A team is considered to create additional value compared to the group (Mathieu et al., 2008). The added value is created through dynamic processes within the team resulting in synergies, a product of the social interaction regarded as more than the sum of each team member’s competence (Sandberg, 2004). Katzenbach and Smith (2003, p. 8) view the value of a team as:
[. . .] the most versatile unit organizations have for meeting both performance and change
challenges in today’s complex world.
The team’s organization has been associated with positive expectations (Poulton and West, 1993; Saltman et al., 2007). Teams have been judged to eliminate slow processes (Sheard and Kakabadse, 2002), to be an alternative to traditional leadership (Huusko, 2007), to increase collaboration both within organizations and between organizations (Øvretveit, 1997) and to counteract traditional collaborative obstacles (Belbin, 1981; Drucker, 1988; Brodbeck, 2002; Cole and Crichton, 2005). framework. Inputs describe antecedent factors that enable and constrain members’ interactions. These include individual team member characteristics (e.g., competencies, personalities), team-level factors (e.g., task structure, external leader influences), and organizational and contextual factors (e.g., organizational design features, environmental complexity). These various antecedents combine to drive team processes, which describe members’ interactions directed toward task accomplishment. Processes are important because they describe how team inputs are transformed into outcomes. Outcomes are results and by-products of team activity that are valued by one or more constituencies (Mathieu, Heffner, Goodwin, Salas, & Cannon-Bowers, 2000). Broadly speaking, these may include performance (e.g., quality and quantity) and members’ affective reactions (e.g., satisfaction, commitmen
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