Occupational Psychology About Team and Teamwork

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Nowadays, teams are a fashionable topic in the workplace and many observers think that more and more people are working in teams rather than as individuals. However, whether teams are necessarily a good way of organising work, whether work by teams could be more effective than individuals have been a controversy issue. A high cohesion team is always considered to be beneficial and efficient in performance by using the strengths of individual members and achieving the goal through a right way. However, it could also bring some negative phenomena such as social loafing, groupthink and group polarisation. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to review and discuss both advantages and disadvantages of cohesive teams. The following content can be divided to five parts for better understanding: Definition differences between groups and teams, team development stages, positive and negative outcomes of cohesion team, and key factors of successful teamwork.

Definition differences between Groups and Teams

Many people used the words ‘team’ and ‘group’ interchangeably, actually there are slight differences between a team and a group in real world applications. As Deborah Mackin(2007) have put it, a group is ‘a small number of people who are committed to a leader's goal and approach and are willing to be held accountable by the leader’. Teams can be argued as a special case of groups. The best definition of a team is from the book Wisdom of Teams. A team is a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals and working approach for which they hold each other mutually accountable. Perhaps teams differ from groups in the extent to which there is an incremental performance need or opportunity and members are truly interdependent and really share accountability. Hence, it is clear that teamwork refers to work that involves a group of colleagues who co-operative closely and are interdependent in achieving work goals.

Stages of team development

It is important to build a social connection with team members in order to communicate, solve problems and work together effectively. Research by Bruce Tuckman has shown that teams typically tend to go through a series of stages from inception to disbandment. Forming is the initial stage of team development which means gathering of people and bringing them together as a team. People might be impersonal, superficial and guarded in communication, task might be not clear in that stage. Moving to Storming stage, members begin to test each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It could be a difficult stage when members jockey for power positions and feel frustrated about lacking progress. The third is Norming stage where they start conforming to ideas, rules and values of the team and patterns of communication are established. The level of relaxation begins to change colleagues to friends and develop social bonds. Leader should encourage group member to discuss about the constructive aspects of work and future. Getting to the Performing stage, team is now motivated, focused and inspired and really functions as a unit. With the basis of previous development process, group should be tight and supportive, open and trustful, resourceful and effective. The final phase is the Adjourning stage which is the team finally meets their goal and be disbanded. It would be important for team member to analyse the important elements which helped the team to success such as cohesiveness, trust, cooperation and the willingness to participate socially.

Positive Outcomes of Cohesion Team

According to Carron, Brawley and Widmeyer (1998), group cohesion could be defined as “a dynamic process that is indicated in the orientation of a group to stick together and persist in being united in its pursuit of instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of member’ affective needs”. The task and social cohesion concepts are included in...
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