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Organizational Teams (Chapter 11)

Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason, COMS 404

Consider what you know about teams, team work, organizational teams, and the ways people interact on the job. Reflect on your personal experiences as a team member.

Before you read

Face it, teams are a part of organizational life. Teams are small groups (3-9 people) who are INTERDEPENDENT, committed to one another, and are mutually accountable We study teams because they are so essential in the functioning of organizations They impact individuals, too! Learning to effectively understand, and work within, teams will help your career

Why study teams?

Relational Communication

Decision Making







Characteristics of teams

Relationships can help!

Relationships are formed that help employees feel more connected to the team Individuals receive support from others to face difficult challenges The team provides opportunities for members to demonstrate leadership abilities Teams allow us to test ideas before making them public

Teams can be hurt by relationships!

Poor relationships exist. Primary provoker Secondary provoker Avoiding or accommodating those instigating the conflict Dysfunctional relationships have many implications (page 212)

Relational Communication

Think about it
Explore the information about dysfunction on page 212.

The process the team goes through to make decisions is critical to its success. The way in which team members talk about issues affects the way they think about these issues, which, in turn, determines the quality of the choices they make as a team. Negative actions have a greater ability to disrupt the teams performance than do positive actions to make the team successful.


Actual productivity = potential productivity Losses due to faulty processes

Decision Making


Norms are the informal rules that teams establish to govern their activities and behaviors. The norms that become a part of the teams culture are made up of shared values, beliefs, rituals, and stories about the team.


Cohesiveness is the degree to which members feel connected to the team. The more these linkages are identified and reinforced, the greater the team cohesiveness. Cohesiveness = positive outcomes
Think about it

Norms & Cohesiveness

Consider your organization this semester. What are some norms and how were they developed?


Surface diversity (demographics) Direct task related/informational diversity (differences in education, technical, functional, applied backgrounds) Homogenous teams have advantages and disadvantagesbe aware of these Cross-cultural teams have the potential to be the most successful, given the diversity of ideas and contributions they can generate.

Satisfaction means the team feels it has accomplished its task and members have been recognized individually for their contributions. Rewards Social needs Impact of teams on our behaviors and attitudes

Higher loyalty Higher productivity Team conflict and dysfunction


Think about it
Consider your last team. Identify satisfaction and potential impacts.


Working with others requires coordination and compromise resulting in conflict and consequently results in stress created by the desire to perform and the strain of negotiating with others.
Stress can be created by violating team norms Teams or individuals can experience stress Several types of team stressors exist: Team training load Team workload Team size Team cohesion Goal structure


Think about it This can be a tricky concept. Examine when stuckness has been harmful and when it has been helpful in your own experiences.

Stuckness occurs when the team is unable to break a pattern of behavior that keeps it from moving forward, it continues to make the same mistakes.

Sometimes the team tends to repeat old patterns of interaction and behavior instead of confronting the opposing forces or beliefs within the team and finding connections between them. This is a situation where changing old norms might be helpful rather than harmful.


Such organizations experience a culture shift:

From hierarchical to flat From fragmentation to cohesion From independence to interdependence From competition to cooperation From tried-and-true to risk taking

Team based organizations

There are 4 major types of organizational teams (Cohen & Bailey, 1997)
Management teams coordinate and provide direction to sub-units under their jurisdiction, laterally integrating interdependent sub-units across key business processes (p. 243).

Work teams are continuing work units responsible for producing goods or providing services (p. 242).

Parallel teams pull together people from different work units or jobs to perform functions that the regular organization is not equipped to perform well (p. 242).

Project teams produce onetime outputs and are timelimited.

Types of teams

One important element of the survival and effectiveness of teams is their connection with the relevant environment, according to Gladstein Acona (1990), who set forth three basic leadership strategies for connecting the team to the environment.

Informing strategy

Know these three basic leadership strategies for connecting the team to the larger environment

Teams & the environment

SMWTs are gaining popularity They are sometimes called self-directed Teams have responsibility for their own work Set own tasks Monitor own behavior Can increase employee commitment, competence, productivity, problem-solving, and satisfaction
Think about it

SMWTs are prime organizational contexts for double-loop (generative) learning (chapter 6)

Self-managed work teams (SMWT)

Envisioning involved the creation of new and compelling visions, which involves generating ideas and defining goals. Organizing includes the coordination of the many elements that are connected to the teams tasks, which involves attention to deadlines, efficiency, and structure. Spanning deals with the connection of the teams activities with the important constituents in the relevant environment, which includes networking, securing resources, and being politically aware. Social behaviors include concern for the social and psychological needs of the team members, which includes interpreting and paraphrasing, using humor, and mediating conflicts.

SMWT types of leadership roles

A virtual team is a group that works across space, time, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technologies (Lipnack & Stamps, 1997, p. 7).

Virtual teams

They have a clear and engaging direction. The basic work is designed to be done by a team Team rewards (not individual or mixed rewards) are strongly associated with team effort. Physical resources are readily available. The team, not the leader, has the authority to make decisions over basic work strategies. The team can articulate clear goals The team establishes norms that promote strategic thinking.

Superb teams

Ineffective teams

Fail to meet customer needs Deteriorate over time Alienated, dissatisfied members

Effective teams

Misunderstandings arise from

Team size

As size increases, so does diversity of thought, values, backgrounds, personality that can lead to misunderstandings Lack of commitment to interdependence can lead to lack of understanding about team benefits Some team members are more interested in individual, not group, goals Misunderstandings also come about when team members accept what they perceive to be common goals and processes in an effort to avoid conflict this is known as GROUPTHINK

Team interdependence

Common goals

Dysfunction & Misunderstandings

Consider the positive and negative elements of team conflict. How can you maximize the positive and minimize the negative?

Conflict: Positives and Negatives

Use the concepts in this chapter to examine the organization you are following. Can you locate information about teams and collaboration for that organization? What does this information tell you?

What do you like and dislike about teams?

Consider the benefits and limitations of teamwork within organizations.

Organizational Teams