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The internal processes become more efficient because barriers in personal communication are broken down once the group is working towards the common purpose. Increasing cohesiveness in the group requires leadership that orients the objectives of group members more strongly towards the common purpose. This can be done a number of ways, including through individual and group task structure, the fostering of a common culture, the establishment of smooth communication systems and through providing structural reinforcement of behavioral norms.
Social interaction impacts decision-making because it determines the degree to which the decisions orient the team members towards the common purpose. Strong social interaction should allow the group to have a greater degree of consensus in decisions. Attitudes about the team's objectives and the methods used to achieve those goals are reinforced by strong social interaction. Weak social interaction can leave some group members oriented towards their own individual goals, because they have less faith in the team's objectives. Further weak social interaction beyond the initial decision reinforces the schisms that have emerged between members as a part of the decision-making process. Promoting members' acceptance of proposals in the workplace can be improved in two ways -- the first is to educate the rationale for the proposal and communicate how the proposal helps the team achieve its objectives. The second is to develop a common culture in the work group. Having a common culture requires strong social interaction, as culture must be constantly reinforced. With a common culture, the members of the group are going to be more oriented towards accepting proposals that support group goals and rejecting those that do not.
Jung & Sosik (2002) highlighted the role of leadership in group dynamics. Leaders not only perform task roles such as organizational design, task design and the development of communication systems, but they also foster orientation towards the common purpose through the development of organizational culture, strong social interaction and the development of dispute resolution mechanisms. Leaders, therefore, are critical to the development of effective groups.
While each group should have a strong leader, other leaders can emerge from groups. There are many sources of power and influence within the group dynamic -- formal leadership status is just one. Members with knowledge, experience, charisma or other leadership traits can emerge to help support and supplement the leadership of the group. The group members' perceptions about leadership are important to consider, however. Teams that are accustomed to high levels of independence will rely on multiple leaders within the group dynamic making contributions, while teams with low levels of independence among members will prefer a single source of strong leadership to guide the team. This is also dependent on the task of the group. In order for group outcomes to reach their potential, the leadership structure of the team must be congruent with the leadership structure best-suited to the type of team, the type of outcome and the type of individuals that comprise the team.
Groups vs. Teams
Groups are comprised of individuals with their own agenda and no common purpose, while teams work together towards a common purpose. Groups are more loosely-organized than teams, which have a higher level of interdependence (Sonoma State University, no date). In most situations, a team will be more effective because the team members support each other in the common goal, improving each others' maximum capabilities. Teams are more effective when the contributions of each member come together to form a whole output, but with a high degree of interdependence (such as developing a video game). Teams can also be more effective at solving complex problems, depending on how they are composed. An example would be determining the best way to launch a new product, which requires input from a number of different production, marketing, finance and distribution elements of the organization. With problems that require complex, multidisciplinary solutions leading to a singular outcome objective, a team will be more effective than an ordinary work group.
Cohen, S. & Bailey, D. (1997). What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of Management. Vol. 23 (3) 239-290.
Groysberg, B.; Polzer, J. & Elfenbein, H. (2010). Too many cooks spoil the broth: How high-status individuals decrease group effectiveness. Organizational Science. Published online before print. DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0547.
Jung, D. & Sosik, J. (2002). Transformational leadership in work groups. Small Group Research. Vol. 33 (3) 313-336.
Sonoma State University. (no date).…[continue]
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