There is a clear cur difference between a group and a team. The two terms are often implied to mean the same although they are quite distinct from each other. Whereas a group refers to a pool of individuals who join hands to perform a particular task, a team is a more cohesive group of people who do not only pursue a common goal but also share some unique ideas which are specific to the team. Usually, a team’s activities are more coherent and clearly defined with each team member giving a hearty contribution towards achieving the mission, vision, goals, and objectives of the group. Further, team members are often focused and highly spirited because each one of them expects a particular beneficial outcome after achieving the mission.
For a team to achieve its stated goals and objectives, it has to draft a working plan in form of strategies. This then translates into a phenomenon called team-building necessary for attaining difficult and enormous goals. It is imperative to note that team building is not instantaneous but a process that must be cultivated and nurtured with time. Moreover, it is only through team building that long protracted projects can be accomplished. Besides, team building should not be taken as a quick fix solution to groups that are not cohesive in operation although there are vices that may exist in teams like social loafing and which are sometimes inevitable. This paper attempts to address issues surrounding team building. Ways on how to build effective teams are discussed in addition to some of the unhealthy team practices which may impede the achievement of the goals and objectives of an organized group.
Key features of Team Building
The main purpose of forming organized groups in form of teams is to accomplish a particular task within the shortest time possible. In other words, a team’s key role is to boost productivity. Ideally,
a single individual cannot achieve as much as a team. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for some team members to perform less in a team. They do not put as much effort as they would when working individually. They mostly rely on the initiative and effort of other team players. This phenomenon is referred to as social loafing (Greenberg 372). This vice is counterproductive as far as teamwork is concerned. It is also one of the main reasons why teams produce less than expected.
It is, however, necessary to explore what causes social loafing in teamwork chores. One likely explanation of this negative team practice is that there is a tendency of people to contribute less in a group because of a lack of being motivated as an individual and not a team. It is quite rare for the effort of an entire team to be applauded. However, an individual’s performance is easily noticed by all and sundry and can be appreciated through rewards without much ado. Further, evaluating the performance of one person can be done promptly and a relevant token of appreciation is given compared to a group.
The outcomes obtained from meta-analysis research reveal that social loafing is a real setback practice in working teams. Nevertheless, teams that have cohesively built and each player intrinsically and extrinsically motivated can forego this pervasive attitude (Harris & Hartman, 275). As noted earlier, team members ought to have gone through the much-needed team-building process which will make each one of them have interest and passion for advancing the goals of the team.
Team members who practice social loafing and relax due to the availability of others do so intentionally because there is often a lack of checks and balances which will make individual team members accountable. The impact of failure or success of a team is felt equally by all members.
Tasks which are not very demanding are more likely to be performed poorly due to social loafing. Tasks which have higher returns and also require more input are less likely to suffer from acts of social loafing because responsibilities of team members are diffused within the group with minimal output, the entire task might fail and the whole team held accountably. This will especially be possible if team members are motivated through such appreciations as monetary rewards or fringe benefits.
Team members can also put more effort into realizing that their inputs into the group task are very important in achieving the goals of the team.
Although social loafing is a vice that any other company would like to do away with at the workplace, it is a very significant phenomenon owing to the fact it assists in comprehending the intrigues of group work. A situation whereby team members act as citizens to the organization and play as patriots is also very important in evaluating social loafing and the impacts on the organization. It is necessary to understand both practices to improve the productivity of an organization.
Groupthink refers to a situation whereby group members end up making wrong decisions that have not been thought out and analyzed well (Greenberg 287). They often do so in a bid to minimize dispute but the ideas adopted in making up the decision are usually not assessed and critically evaluated leading to faulty outcomes. Groupthink is common when team members fail to seek alternative solutions to the existing challenge. Since the group attempts to remain cohesive and perhaps act as a unit, individuals making up the group cannot make independent decisions. Better still, they cannot be creative in thought because the group’s interests override that of individual members.
In a groupthink scenario, group members do not move outside the team’s box and they also refrain from coming up with ideas and thinking which will not auger well with the interests of the group. Hence, there is intense consensus building which tends to take care of the group’s comfort sphere.
There are obvious reasons why groupthink will flourish within a given team. To begin with, some group members may find it a foolish idea to try and go against the wishes of the majority members (Greenberg 305). It may appear as an act of embarrassment attempting to elevate one’s ideas and opinions which counteracts the objectives of the group. As a result, members will opt to be conservatives to the eminent group policies.
Although team members may decide to reserve their creativity and wealth of ideas to themselves to avoid disappointing the group, very faulty decisions which are not workable may be passed by a group leading to severe consequences. Individual group members must have a stand and air their views even if such opinions may destabilize the equilibrium of the group. It is detrimental if hasty decisions are made by a group because the suitability of such decisions cannot be evaluated from the consequences in most cases but it is possible to determine how shrewd the process of decision making is.
Groupthink has several causes. First of all, it is imperative to observe that groupthink is highly likely in greatly united teams. This is due to the fact their working spirit is mostly contributed by high cohesion level which does not permit members to contravene the interests of the group (Harris & Hartman, 134). In other words, members of the group tend to pledge their loyalty to the group to an extent that opposing views are perceived as acts of betrayal to the group. This level of cohesion can easily breed the groupthink phenomenon. When team members are too close, they will often work out modalities of defending the interests of the team and not breaking them at all.
It is not, however, definite that a cohesive group will often end up in groupthink. Some factors must prevail before high unity level can translate into an irrational decision-making process. For instance, groupthink can only prevail within an organization if there are no clearly defined systems and structures. Organizations that lack particular age-long ethical practices may find it cumbersome to evade groupthink scenarios. An organization needs to have profound platforms and procedures from which it operates and without which the influence of a cohesive group can easily penetrate. Secondly, groupthink can prevail whenever an organization is facing desperate times which may call for the need to adopt desperate solutions. Such challenges may include internal weaknesses and external threats facing the organization or demanding tasks which require tough decisions to be made. Additionally, groupthink may also prevail when the organization is being led using directives from management that group members cannot go against. When members have a uniform or similar way of thinking and none is above the others, it is also possible for groupthink to take place. Moreover, if the group is so much alienated that it cannot access information from external points necessary for pertinent decision making, then they may end up making decisions that are not useful but rather detrimental to the organization. Proper decision-making requires thorough consultation from other sources without which the end product may equally be dysfunctional.
Both social loafing and groupthink are team vices that may adversely affect the productivity of an organization. Therefore, there is a need to explore some workable solutions in form of recommendations to these pervasive attitudes at the workplace. First of all, collaboration is highly recommended to alleviate any chances of social loafing. As much as a group or teamwork is highly valued, it can still be achieved when each member is assigned a particular responsibility to accomplish within a given team (Maddux & Wingfield, 11). By so doing, each member within the team will end up being productive since each one of them can be separately held accountable on a particular task. Besides, when each member is assigned a specific task, they will feel personally responsible as well as important to the group. This will be one way of intrinsically motivating members to work hard (Maddux & Wingfield, 47). Social loafing can also be avoided by promoting the ability of each member towards the accomplishment of a particular task. For instance, there are team members who may be excellent at brainstorming while others at executing. When each group member is given the desired content, they will deliver their best due to the passion held for the work.
Finally, loafing can be avoided by allowing group members to choose what they can do best so that they do not just pass time during group activities but put much effort due to the interest they have in their group roles.
In the case of groupthink, each group member should be given the responsibility of critically evaluating any decisions passed by the wider group. There should be no boundaries that can hinder the contribution of personal opinions. A member should not be restricted to critique the decision of the team. In addition, leaders in an organization should remain objective when assigning responsibility to a team to avoid directive headships. In cases where a group is likely to mess in making a decision, numerous autonomous groups should be given the same task to work on and then results compared. This will avoid skewed decision-making by one group only. Exploring the ability of different groups working on a specific task will also be one way of seeking alternatives (Quick 40). This can be extended by allowing group members to deliberate on the ideology of the group with authenticated external sources. Last but not least, a team should quite often seek an expert opinion on all matters raised, discussed, and endorsed by the group. It is highly recommended that these experts be derived from outside sources to avoid any likelihood of duplicating the team’s ideas.
In summing up this paper, it is necessary to recap a few important issues discussed in team building. As earlier mentioned, a team is a more organized and focussed group of people who have come up not only because they have a common goal, but also share the same goal with deep aspirations to achieve a particular task within a given period. Hence, a team is more coherent in its activities as it has a well-set out mission and vision for the group. Each team member has positive expectations of the outcome of the group’s activities. Nevertheless, the team-building spirit of a team that is aimed at improving the productivity of an organization can be hampered by teamwork vices such as social loafing and groupthink. These vices can be avoided in the process of team building.
Greenberg Jerald. Organizational behaviour: the state of the science. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., 2003.
Harris O. Jeff and Hartman J. Sandra. Organizational Behaviour. New York: Haworth Press Inc., 2002.
Maddux, B. Robert and Wingfield Barb. Team Building: An Exercise in Leadership (4th ed). New York: Crisp Publications, Inc., 2003.
Quick, L. Thomas. Successful team building. New York: Amacom, 1992.