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  • Created on: 13-10-15 19:05

Teams and Groups

What is a group? IPP (interact, psychologicaaly aware, perceive themselves) 

  • Any number of people who
  • Interact with one another (1)
  • Are psychologically aware of one another (2)
  • Perceive themselves to be a group (3) 

They aren't mutually accountable for outcomes, they may be a group yet have unique aims. 

They can also be described as a collection of people who share most of the following:

(MIIPUG) - Membership, Interaction, Interdependance, Shared Purpose, Unitary manner, Group Consciousness) 

  • Definable membership
  • Sense of shared purpose
  • Interdependance (mutual dependance between things) 
  • Interaction
  • Acting in a unitary manner
  • Group conciousness
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Groups are a characteristic of all social situations, and almost everyone in an organisation will be a member of one or more groups - friendship group 

Group members have to co-operate in order for work to be carried out (managers themselves work within these groups)

People in groups influence each other in many ways and groups may develop their own hierarchies and leaders - group pressures can have a major influence over the behaviour of individual members and their work performance (peer pressure)

Peterson: Major concerns of positive psychology are (positive experiences like happiness and engagement and positive relationships like friendship and love can boost morale. Morale is a cognitive, emotional and motivational stance toward the goals and tasks of a group - it is an indicator of group well-being. 

Morale is important for group well-being as Peterson stated and that positive psychology can be used to promote good life for individuals within a group. 

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A team is: A small cohesive group focussed on the same task, working as a single unit (Martin)

  • A group of individuals who work together
  • To produce products or deliver services for which they're mutually accountable 
  • Team members share goals and are mutually accountable for meeting them
  • They are interderpendant in their accomplishment

Because their interactions with each other affect the performance of  the group, intergrating with one another is a part of their responsibility (Mohrman)

Holpp: Teams should take ownership of work areas and and provide close-up knowledge which is unavailable elsewhere. They should not just be used to group people under one manager

Cane - Organisations are sometimes unsure as to whether they have teams or simply groups of people working together. 

Individuals who aren't aware of the fact that they're part of a team cannot be one. Individuals need to have a strong common purpose rather than an independent purpose if they are to be a team. They need to believe that they'll achieve more by working together that alone. 

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Difference between teams and groups - TEAMS

Belbin: Teamwork is becoming a fashionable term, it's beginning to replace reference to groups and every activity is now being described as 'teamwork'. If principles of good teamwork are to be maintained then the confusion between teams and groups should be addressed. 

Although ALL teams are groups, it doesn't follow that all groups are teams. 

  • Team:
  • Size: Limited (best differentiator) - Groups can comprise any number of people but teams are smaller with a membership ideally between 4-6. 
  • Leadership: Crucial - Small, well-balanced teams lead to leadership being rotated or shared, whereas large groups throw up solo leaders
  • Perception: Shared or rotating
  • Style: Role spread co-ordination
  • Spirit : Dynamic Interaction (WE)

Chartered Management Institute;

  • Group of people working towards common goals and objectives and sharing responsbility for the outcomes Teambuilding is the process of selecting + grouping team members approproately and developing good working relationships to enable team to reach goals. 
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  • Size: Medium/Large
  • Selection: Immaterial (doesn't exist)
  • Leadership: Solo - one person is usually the leader
  • Perception: Focus on leader
  • Style: Convergence conformism ?
  • Spirit: Togetherness, destroy opponents. 

Smith + Katzenbach '93 (top is more group, bottom is more team)

  • Working group (collective working limited) Performance = individual effort
  • Pseudo-teams (individuals who could achieve increased performance by working together
  • Potential team (same as pseudo, individuals know that their could be benefits obtained from integrated working and they're making efforts to do so.)
  • Real teams - Commited to a common purpose, they've developed appropriate ways of working
  • High performance teams - Real teams, they encourage personal growth and go beyond performance expectations. 
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Formal and informal groups

Individuals will form into groups/teams both informal/formal for a number of reasons.

Formal groups: Created to achieve organisational objectives - concerned with the co-ordination of work activities. People are brought together on the basis of defined roles within the structure of an organisation (people understand the tasks that they have to carry out). Groups are permanenent but members may change.

Informal groups: Based on personal relationships and agreement of group members rather than defined role relationships. They can include people from different parts of the organisation (higher in hierarchy) and are used to satisfy psychological and social needs. 

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Reasons for formation of groups:

Individuals form into groups, both formal and informal for a  number of reasons:

  • Certain tasks can only be completed through the combined efforts of a number of individuals working together - Variety of experience, knowledge + expertise among members can be applied.
  • Collusion between members: To modify formal working arrangements more to their liking - share or rotate unpopular tasks. Being a member of this team provides individuals with opportunities for creativity and innovation.
  • Companionship + sense of mutual understanding + support from colleagues: Help in solving work problems + lessen the impact of stressful working conditions. 
  • Membership provides individual with a sense of belonging: Provides feeling of identity and a chance to acquire role recognition and status within a group/team
  • Guidelines on generally acceptable behaviour: Helps clarify ambiguous situations (which rules and regs are expected to be adhered to) These rules ensure that everyone's individual behaviour is controlled and those who contravene the norms are disciplined.
  • Protection for its membership:Group/team member collaborate to protect interests from outside pressures/threats. 
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Factors which affect a group

Comparing Group + Individual performance: 

There are certain factors which contribute to group cohesiveness + performance:

  • Membership
  •  Size of the group (bigger group = more problems with communication and co-ordination, absenteeism is also higher and the group is harder to control. Groups which are too large may also break off into smaller sub-groups (there may be friction between the smaller sub-groups) Cane : 4-15 people is seen to be a good range (below 4 decreases creativity, above 15 means you have to raise your voice in order to speak) 
  • Compatibility of members: If a group is more homogenous in terms of features such as shared backgrounds, interest and attitudes and values of its members - they may be more cohesive. Differences may cause conflict + disruption. However conflict can still arise in a homogenous groups, whereby individual incentive payments may be used. 
  • Permanence of group members: Cohesiveness is more likely when members of a group are together for a reasonable length of time and changes occur slowly. Freq turnover may effect morale
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Factors which affect a group

Work environment:

  •  Nature of task: Sharing similar work may assist cohesiveness -where they share a common task as they communicate more even if they work in different locations, they may still have to communicate often and this may make them feel closer to each other. (e.g members of a research team). But where you talk less, there is less cohesiveness (machine-paced assembly line) 
  • Physical setting: Same location or generally in close proximity to each other generally helps cohesiveness, this isn't however always the case; in large open-plan offices people tend to segregate themselves using cabinets, pot plants and bookcases. Isolation from other groups of workers will also help build cohesiveness (night shifts) 
  • Communications: The more easily members can communicate, the greater the chance of cohesiveness. Physical conditions may limit cohesiveness - people may constantly be siting in one place and the high level of noise in assembly work can affect social interaction between colleagues. 
  • Technology: Where the task involves a 'craft' or skill based technology there is a greater chance of cohesiveness. Machine-paced assembly work makes this more difficult, however. 
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Factors which affect a group


  • Management + Leadership: Teams tend to be a mirror image of their leaders. Form of management and style of leadership adopted will influence the relationship between the group and the organisation. The manner in which the manager gives guidance and encouragment to groups, offeres help and support and provides opportunities for particpation. McKenna + Maister: The job of the group leader is to establish trust by encouraging members of the group, he then should translate how this leads to better overall performance. Farrell; managers are ultimately responsible for creating a balance in the workplace and should take the lead in setting standards of behaviour in teams. 
  • HR policies and procedures: All members should be treated fairly with an equitable HR policy (fair). Attention should be given to the effects that appraisal systems, promotions and disciple have on membersof the group.
  • Success: The more successful the group, the more cohesive it's likely to be (the apprentice). Success is used as a strong motivational factor on work performance. High pay can be an actual incentive and an extrinsic reward, whereas some people feel good because they benefit from the psychological reward of feeling proud.
  • External threat: Appointment of new manager or changes to their method of work can cause cohesivenes. Conflict between groups can cause groups to become closer knit. 
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Brainstorming - Alex Osborne

'It's easier to tone down a wild idea than think of a new one' 

The idea came about when Osborne noticed that in conventional business meeting, ideas were being prohibited and that there wasn't enough creativity. He came up with 'think up' which would give people the freedom to speak their mind. The term then became brainstorming

Brainstorming: Conference technique whereby a group attempt to find a solution to a problem by amassing all ideas spontaneoulsy by its members. 


  • No criticism of ideas (say YES and, not NO)
  • Go for large quantity of data -more ideas are better
  • Build on each others' ideas
  • Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas

He found that through using these rules, a lot more ideas were generated, and the larger number of original ideas allowed for a greater number of useful ideas. Quantity produced Quality. 

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Maier and Solem - Horse trading problem

67 groups discussed the following problem: A man bought a horse for £60 and sold it back for £70. He bought it back for £80 and sold it again for £90, how much money did he make in the horse-making business?

Many of the groups included an individual who knew the correct answer, however many of the groups still adopted the wrong solution, truth lost because these members found it difficult persuading other members of the group that they knew the correct answer. Some people actually changed their answer so that it matched the incorrect one advocated by the groups. 

Groups can only perform well if the knowledgable member can persuade the group to adopt their solution. 


  • Lower status people have less impact, even when they're correct 
  • Even if one person in a group has the correct answer, the group answer may not be correct, it takes 2 people to have the correct answer in order for it to convince the entire group.(we look for supporting evidence. 
  • Discussion makes members feel that the answer is correct even though it may not be. 
  • A group is a good as its second best member - people may not necessarily listen to the brightest individual, so they are brought down the rankings
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Team work problems - poor decision making

Poor decision making - Maier and Solem + Patrick Laughlin (you may just 

Laughlin: Difference between intellective (eureka task - maths problems) and judgmental tasks (is that joke funny and the way in which teams work together. One task has a clear answer, whereas the other judgmental task is more upf or discussion. The superiority of groups over an individual changes as the continuum from intellective moves to judgmental - more room for discussion and so superiority of groups increases. 

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Team work problems - Social loafing

Social Loafing 

Individuals expend less effort when working as part of a group 

Ringlemann was a German psychologist, he compared the results of individual and group performance on a rope-pulling task. 

Workers were asked to pull as hard as they could on a rope, they first did this alone and then with groups of varying size. Although the total force increased in a group, the force expended per individual decreased (they relied on others to do the work) The group effort was less than expected when taking into account the effort expended individually. 

Hall: 'Often a well-briefed and well-managed group of individuals will do fine, a further point is that some very skilled individuals are NOT team players' 

Guirdham: 'Compared with individuals, groups can make objectively better decisions to which people feel more commitment, while teams can carry out projects and perform functions effectively. However there is a danger of people making decisions based on the highest common view (people don't speak up and just go along with it, there is also a danger of risky-shift. 

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Team work problems - Risky Shift

Instead of the group taking fewer risks and making safer/conservative decisions, the reverse is often the case. 

Pressures for conformity mean that groups often take riskier decisions than would individual members of the group if they were to work alone. This is because individuals don't feel the same sense of responsibility for groups as they would if they were working alone. 

'A decision which is everyone's is the responsibility of no one'

Explantions for the risky shift phenomenon

  • People inclined to take risks are more influential than conservative people in a group
  • Risk-taking is considered to be a desirable cultural characteristic - more likely to be expressed in a social situation (group working) 

Shaw: Evidence supports the view that groups produce more solutions and better solutions to problems than individuals, this may be because they have a wider pool of knowledge and can combat problems with a collectively more creative approach. 

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What is group think?

Janis: It's the psychological drive for censensus at any cost, which suppresses dissent and appraisal of alternatives in cohesive decision-making groups.

When does it happen?

'Occurs when members concern for achieving unanimity and agreement outweighs finding, evaluating and using the best available evidence to produce the best solution. This happens in very cohesive groups. 

 Dyer: Powerful members of the group coerce less powerful members of the group to go along with a decision in public even though they may disagree in private. 

Conformity: Asch (which of the lines is the same as the reference line)

Even though individuals knew the correct answer, they went long with what the other members of the group said although they knew it was wrong in order to fit-in and conform. However when they did the same exercise individually, they wrote the correct answer on the sheet of paper.

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Groupthink - Janus

It is responsible for the propensity (behavior) to just drift along, Janis identified certain symptoms:

  • Illusion of invulnerability with risk-taking (people think it's okay to take big risks)
  • They discrediting of negative information which contradicts group concensus results in trying to explain away any negative and disagreeable information. 
  • Members of the group are convinced of logical correctness of ideas and ignore consequences.
  • Members feel a pressure to conform so minority ideas may be suppressed
  • Each member of the group may impose self-censorship to suppress their own objectives or personal disagreements with what it happening in the group.
  • Due to self-censorship, there is an illusion that everyone is unified and decisions unanimous. 
  • In the event of dissent (holding an opinion which is different from others, there will be the emergence of mind guards, who acts as filters and guard group leaders and apply pressure on those who deviate from the norm 
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Behaviour associated with Groupthink

See also, Groupthink

  • Discussion limited to only a few alternatives
  • Group doesn't re-examine its initially preferred course of action
  • There is little attempt to get information from experts
  • No contingency plans are made to cope with setbacks
  • Facts and opinions which support initially preferred courses of action are discussed, whereas others are ignored. 

(Group may just drift along - Janis 'deterioriation of mental efficiency' 

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Social loafing

Latane et al:

The researchers recruited subjects and put them in a semi-circle individually and in groups of varying numbers. Researchers asked subjects to shout or clap as loud as they could, in the larger groups the noise levels of individuals was quieter when put into groups - they feel they have less responsibility for the outcome - Conducted on Chinese children in Taiwan (between years 5-9 and they achieved similar results to the children in the US - not much difference between collectivist and indivdualistic cultures) Although collectivist = more group oriented. 

Links to bystander effect: Murder of Kitty Genovese: Kitty was murdered and although she screamed for help, and 30 people saw her nobody helped. This may be because although they all noticed her, they noticed nobody was helping and so they also felt no reason to help. This is another example of how we want to conform

Social loafing is more likely when:

  • Group has no specific goals
  • Group has no feeling of shared responsibility
  • Members from individualistic rather than collectivist - Latane contradicts. 
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When is social loafing reduced?

When individuals can identify their contribution and see its significance:

Brickner, Harkner + Ostrom: Personal Involvement 

Found that although individuals did engage in social loafing on a thought-generation task under conditions of low involvement, the effect was eliminated under conditions of high personal involvement. Therefore individuals worked harder when the task was more personally involving

Individual differences: Hart et al

Those low in achievement motivation engaged in social loafing on an idea generation task when a coworker was expected to work. P's high in achievement motivation, however didn't engage in social loafing regardless of expected coworker effort. Performing well may have had intrinsic value for individuals high in achievement motivation, even if such performance was not instrumental in achieving group goals.

Sorrentino + Shephard: 

Approval-oriented swimmers swam better in a group than alone, whereas those individuals with a fear of rejection were observed to swim faster in individual competition rather than in groups. This may be because they don't try as hard when in a group due to fear of rejection. 

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  • Informational: When you conform to the what is seen as the 'norm' because you think you know less than others (Asch)
  • Normative (compliance): You conform with what everyone else is doing because you don't want to be seen as different (Milgram et al) 

Milgram et al investigated the influence of the number of people looking up at a building on the behaviour of pedestrians on a sidewalk. 

They found that more pedestrians stopped as the size of the crowd looking up increased

They also found that morepedestrians looked up as the size of the crowd looking up increased

HOWEVER: the effect for the percentage of pedestrians looking up wasn't linear. E.g. The percentage of people looking up for 5 people versus 15 people in the crowd was smaller than the difference for 1 versus 5 people in the crowd looking up. 

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Central criteria to Groupthink


Put forward a framework for determining when to make a decision on your own and when to involve a group: 3 Central Criteria

  • 1. Competence of people making decision: Knowledge, experience and skills as well as access to information and their practical experience to make it work in practice.
  • 2. Context in which they're working: Includes the relationships among those involved as well as the physical conditions and culture of the organisation
  • 3. Commitment to the decision: Through the way in which it affects those involved, and the rewards/punishments that they'll experince. 

What does this framework provide the manager with?

  • Set of criteria to help leader to make systematic and rational choices
  • It also draws attention to low ratings where the leader may need to take precautions when deciding whether to involve an entire group or just leave it to an appropriate individual. 
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Polarisation: Caution or risk

Making more risky decisions than you normally would individually. 

If the group is cautious in decision making, the total group decision could be conservative, however if the group has members who lean towards riskier behaviours then the final group consensus could be a risky choice. 

Why does Polarisation happen in groups?

Social comparison: Peopl approach a situation thinking that their ideas are better than the others in the group. Once the group starts to discuss iddues, they learn that ther ideas are close to average and not completely unique. The individual then tends to move toward an extreme position - extremely conservative or very risky (polar opposites). Those who adopt the risky decision want to be seen as the leaders in thought, therefore they may push risky decisions. 

Walker: Analysed decisions of Fed District Court judges sitting either alone or in groups if 3 to see if discussions with others were a factor. 

In the 1,500 cases where the judges were sat alone, they took an extreme course of action only 30% of the time, but this more than doubled to 65% when in a group of three. Even trained professesionals are subject to the forces of group polarisation. 


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Why does polarisation happen?

  1. Persuasion: People are persuaded by rational arguments presented by others
  2. Comparison: People chind their minds to conform to group norms
  3. Differentiation: People change their mind to fit in with their view of the types of decisions a group should make (whether they be slightly risky) 

Polarisation leads to fewer compromises as people want to take risks, and they want to be seen as the leader of the group so are less likely to compromise on decisions. 

Polarisation is reduced when all individual viewpoints and ideas are shared and weighed against the final decision - you're less likely to make a stupid, risky decision. 

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Now referred to as 'thought showers' involves the group adopting a 'freewheeling' attitude and generating as many ideas as possible, the more wild and far-fetched, the better.

Brainstorming is based on encouraging members to suspend judgement, the assumption that creative thinking is achieved best by encouraging the natural inclinations of group members.It's seen to be good for rapid production of ideas. It assumes that the quantity of ideas will lead to quality of ideas.

Basic procedures for brainstroming:

  • Based on max freedom of expression with a relaxed, informal approach.
  • Initial emphasis on the quantity of ideas, not quality.
  • No ideas are critisized or rejected at this stage
  • Group size between 6-10 members is recommended
  • Members are encouraged to elaborate or build on ideas expressed by others + bounce suggestions off one another
  • No comment on or evaluation of any ideas until all ideas have been generated 
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Effectiveness of brainstorming groups:

Availability of time is an important factor, as over time you may be able to come up with more ideas than individuals alone could. There are however some doubts about the effectiveness of brainstorming groups over an individual working under the same conditions. 

Kohn and Smith:

Fixation on the ideas of others can lead to less creativity.

In an experiment, both groups of students and individuals were asked to generate as many ideas as possible regarding how to improve a university (Texas A&M) 

Students who worked individually came up with a wider range of topics and between 16-44% more ideas than those who worked together in a group. Rather than generating new ideas, they seemed to be fixated on each others' ideas and therefore weren't able to create new ones and conformed. 

Brainstorming is, however a method for creating a great quantity of ideas and aids the process of creativity. 

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Groupthink Diagram

Group causes                                                                                                                   Situational Causes

  • Group members have close relationships                                             Threat to group members(time pressure)
  • Homogenous group (similar ability)                                                  Good solution seems impossible to achieve
  • Isolated from external influences
  • Low self confidence 

Need for agreement and certainty

  • Group believes that it's morally superior to others
  • Illusion that everyone in the group agrees
  • Anyone who disagree with discussed decisions is pressured to change their mind
  • Group protects leader from unpleasant information
  • Those outside the group are judged and stereotyped
  • There is a belief that things will be okay. 


  • Full range of options aren't considered
  • Existing preferences are maintained without sufficient questioning
  • Info gathered is insufficient and isn't evaluated well, no planning for setbacks. 
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How to minimize Groupthink

Groupthink: Tendency of a group to drift along towards decisions which may be inappropriate or unquestioned due to in-group pressures. 

Janis (1972)

  • Have an impartial leader, who is inclusive of everyone in the group and listens to their viewpoints and opinions
  • Have people who are critical evaluators - they don't just go along with stupid ideas, they evaluate their appropriateness and then make a decision based on this.
  • Devil's advocate: Assume that although 9/10 people may agree on a decision, you (the tenth man) must disagree and talk about forseeable setbacks.
  • Survey outgroups - ask people who haven't said much, what do they think?
  • Second chance meeting - allow people to re-discuss ideas either to change them or to stick with what has been said.
  • Group norm- disagreement doesn't mean disrespect (individualistic vs. collectivist cultures) Contradicted by  a study where people had to shout or clap loudest. 
  • Get someone to support a minority viewpoint. 
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Criticisms of Groupthink

  • The framework isn't suitable for empirical testing, the evidence comes from qualititative, historical or archival methods (Sunstein) Some critics say that it relies on anecdotal evidence rather than something that can be tested and measured (Esser)
  • It has been criticised for putting groupthink down, it can actually be useful whereby group-concurrence may promote group performance (Sniezek).
  • It has also been framed as a detrimental group process, and is avoided by corporate training programmes (Quinn et al)
  • Is Groupthink not just the same as Conformity? This was already discovered by Asch - old wine in a new bottle.
  • Moorhead et al - Found that the link  between Groupthink and group performance was absent. They found that groups who used groupthink weren't actually affected by the symptoms of it at all. He overestimates the link between the two variables. there are actually many more decision-making process involved before there is success in a decision, this is due to many environmental factors-luck. (Tetlock et al)
  • It is difficult to operationalise into testable variables. 
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Team Development + maturity

Bass + Ryterband: Degree of cohesiveness is also affected by the manner in which groups progress through various stages of development and maturity  before getting down to real tasks at hand. This process takes time + can be traumatic for some members

  • 1. Mutual acceptance and membership
  • 2. Communication + decision-making
  • 3. Motivation + productivity 
  • 4. Control + organisation. 
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Team Development + maturity

Tuckman: 5 main successive stages of group development and relationships

Forming: Initial formation of group, these individuals come together to identify the purpose of the group. They also look at the hierarchical structure of the group, and pattern of leadership as well as individual roles + responsibilities. There is likely to be anxiety as people try to make a good impression and establish their personal identity within the group. 

Storming: As members get to know the group better, they will put forward their responses more openly and forcefully. There may be disagreements and challenges of opinions on the nature of the task and arrangements made earlier on in development. This can lead to conflict + hostility, it can be helpful, however to discuss reforming arrangements for the working and operation of the group - bettwe structures + procedures

Norming: Conflict + hostility become controlled + memberso of group establish guidelines + standards + develop norms of acceptable behavior. This stage establishes the need for members to co-operate in order to plan, agree standards of performance + fulfill purpose of group 

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Team Development + maturity

Tuckman continued: 

Performing: Group has created structure + cohesiveness to work effectively as a team. The group can concentrate on attaining its purpose, performance of task is likely to be most effective.

Adjourning:Disbanding of the group - project is finished or members leave organisation or move onto another task. Some members may feel a compelling sense of loss at the end of a lengthy group project and they may feel anxious when they return to working independantly.

Another idea:

  • Polite stage
  • Why we are, what we are doing stage
  • Power stage, which dominant person will emerge
  • Constructive stage - sharing begins
  • Unity stage - takes weeks, eating + talking together.  
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Tuckman model: Getting stuck

  • Productivoity is likely to increase in relation to time pressure + deadlines - when you have less time to finish the work
  • Doesn't look at teams in between stages, it's quite a static look at the way in which teams function, how do teams progress through stages? Is there a factor which affects the speed of progression?
  • Many external factors may influence the effectiveness of teams 
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Rickards + Moger - two-barrier model

They suggest an alternative model to Tuckman, a 2 barrier-model which was initially produced from case studies of high performance professional teams and business school project groups.

2,000 work teams from 40 countries had been studied by 1998 

They suggested that:

Teams are differentiated between two barriers in performance

1.Weak barrier is behavioural and defeated a minority of teams

2. Strong barrier is a block to innovation and creativity and defeated most teams who passed through the weak barrier.

7 factors through which a leader may influence effective team development. 

  • Building a platform of understanding +resilience to setbacks
  • Creating shared vision + commitment to idea ownership
  • Creative climate + learning from experience as well as developing networking skills
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Characteristics of good teams


  • Clear purpose
  • Informality
  • Participation
  • Listening
  • Civilised disagreement
  • Consensus decisions
  • Open communication
  • Clear roles + work assignments
  • Shared leadership
  • External relations
  • Style diversity
  • Self-assessment
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Quality circles

  • Group of people within an organisation who meet on a regular basis to identify, analyse + solve problems relating to quality, productivity or other day-to-day runnings of an organsation. 
  • Quality circles originated in America, however were exported to Japan + are associated with their wide applications (since 1962)
  • Quality group features: Membership is voluntary, 5-10 members, members undertaking the same work often work together, group selects problems to be tackled + method of opeartion. Leader can be chosen from group, but is normally the immediate supervisor, they recieve training in communication + problem-solving. Group suggests solutions to management and can sometimes implement them. 

Limitations: Benefits = Provide problem-solving at local levels and this involves them 

  • They can rely too heavily on intrinsic motivation + the assumption that involvement + recognition are sufficient rewards in themselves. This reflects a major difference between the operation of quality circles in the West + Japan - in Japan they are willing to accept that financial gains will go to the organisation
  • The greater involvement in problem-solving + decision-making may be resented by some groups (quality control departments) as they may be suspicious of challenges to authority.  
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Informal + formal groups

Informal: Personal relationships + agreement of group members plays a larger role than defined role relationships. 

  • Informal relationships serve to satisfy psychological + social needs not necessarily relating to the tasks to be undertaken.
  • Informal groups may devise ways of attempting to satisfy members' affiliation + other social motivations lacking in the work situation.
  • Membership may cut across the formal structure - comprising individuals from different parts of the organisation or different levels in the hierarchy

Group functions

  • Perpetuation of informal group 'culture': Set of values, norms + beliefs which form to guide to group acceptance + group behaviour
  • Maintenance of communication system: Groups want all info that affects their welfare, negatively or positvely. They need to be informed of motives + policies behind actions that group takes
  • Implementation of social control: Conformity to group culture is enforced by ridicule and violence
  • Provision of interest + fun in work: Interpersonal relations, by talking, joking + drinking  
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Informal social relations

F.W. Taylor

Observed 14 men working in bank-wiring room, men formed own sub-groups with natural leaders emerging with the consent of the members. There was a financial incentive, whereby you were paid more if you did more work. But workers decided on 6,000 units a day being a fair amount - lower than what they were actually capable of producing 

The group developed its own patten of informal social relations + codes and practices

  • Not to be a 'rate' buster: Not to produce at too high a rate of output compared to others
  • Not to be a 'chiseller': Not to shirk production or produce at too low  a rate.
  • Not to be a 'squealer': Not to say anything to the supervisor/manager which may affect other members
  • Not to be 'officious;: People with authority over the group (inspectors) shouldn't take advantage of their seniority or maintain a social distance from the group. 

Sanctions: Sarcasm, damaging completed work, hiding tools + playing tricks on inspectors + ostracising members who didn't conform to group norms

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Formal groups

  • Created to achieve specific organisational objectives + are concerned with the co-ordination of work activities.
  • People are brought together on the basis of defined roles within the structure of the organisation
  • Nature of the tasks is a predominant factor in a formal group. 
  • Goal identified by management, certain rules, relationships and norms of behaviour are established.
  • Formal groups - relatively permanent, although there may be changes in actual memebership
  • Temporary groups may be created in a matrix organisation. 
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Effective teams

Hoegl + Gemuenden (2001)

  • Communication - people need to speak with one another effectively
  • Coordination - people need to work together 
  • Balanced contribution - people can't slack
  • Mutual support - ideas shouldn't be shot down
  • Effort
  • Cohesion

Senior + Swailes:

  • Team purpose
  • Team organisation
  • Leadership
  • Team climtae
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Team communication
  • Team composition
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Bulding an effective team

  • Individual: Intelligence, personality, knowledge skills + avility (KSAs)
  • Team: Team roles (Belbin) maturity
  • Task: Motivation, goal setting
  • Situation: Culture, resources + support 

It can be as simple as: Taking time to ask your team to talk about:

  • Barriers they face OR how effective their team is
  • Changes that could be made to make them more effective
  • Examples of what's being done at the moment to help team effectiveness. 
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KSAs for teamwork

  • Knowledge, skills + abilities
  • Goal setting + performance management
  • Establish SMART (specific, measured, achievable, realistic + time-specific) goals
  • Monitor, evaluate, support, and give feedback on group + individual performance
  • Planning + co-ordination
  • Co-ordinate activities, information + interdependant tasks (where people have to work together)
  • Clarify tasks + roles
  • Collaborate problem-solving
  • Identify problems which require participative problem solving + use participation strategies
  • Recognise + deal with particpation problems
  • Conflict resolution:
  • Discourage 'undesirable' conflict
  • Win-win rather than win-lose negotiation style. 
  • Identify types and sources of conflict + implement appropriate strategies. 
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Belbin's team roles

SOCIAL....THINKING...ACTION  Meredith Belbin (1981) 

Belbin - Teamwork has become a fashionable term,it has begun to replace the term 'groups'. Group is used in a more general way, whereas team is a more specific term. 

Overall: Groups composed entirely of clever people or those with simiar personalities display negative results + lack creativity. There should be a a range of roles undertaken by various members

Team role: Pattern of behaviour, characteristic of the way in which 1 team member interacts with another whose performance serves to facilitate the team as a whole. 

Strength of contribution in any one role can also be seen as a weakness. Dream teams have a balance of all 9 team roles. Other members may be added for 'sense of humour' but other than this, there would be no point adding to the team. 

Back up team roles: The role that a person undertakes in a team isn't fixed and may change according to circumstances. They may have a back-up role to which they have some affinity rather than their primary role. These team roles are based on experience, not aptitude. 

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Belbin's team roles

SOCIAL....THINKING...ACTION  Meredith Belbin (1981) 

Belbin - Teamwork has become a fashionable term,it has begun to replace the term 'groups'. Group is used in a more general way, whereas team is a more specific term. 

Overall: Groups composed entirely of clever people or those with simiar personalities display negative results + lack creativity. There should be a a range of roles undertaken by various members

Team role: Pattern of behaviour, characteristic of the way in which 1 team member interacts with another whose performance serves to facilitate the team as a whole. 

Strength of contribution in any one role can also be seen as a weakness. Dream teams have a balance of all 9 team roles. Other members may be added for 'sense of humour' but other than this, there would be no point adding to the team. 

Back up team roles: The role that a person undertakes in a team isn't fixed and may change according to circumstances. They may have a back-up role to which they have some affinity rather than their primary role. These team roles are based on experience, not aptitude. 

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Belbin's team roles

  • Roles are based on certain patterns of behaviour that people exhibit within teams which can potentially have an impact on the team's performance
  • Individuals become aware of their own strengths and abilities and understand the role that he/she is capable of playing within a team and they can then deal better with the demands of the team enviornment 
  • Team members need to fulfill their roles in order for the team to be successful.
  • Most individuals are capable of playing more than one role - some people can double up 

Rather than using personality to identify team roles which would characterise an individual's behavioural contribution to the workplace. 


  • A question in a personality test would focus on the way an individual thinks and feels
  • By contrast, the Belbin Team Role Self-Perception Inventory (BTRSPI) focuses on practical contributions 
  • BTRSPI : Designed to measure behavioural characteristics, so NOT  apsychometric test.
  • Factors influencing behaviour - Experience, role learning, mental ability + current values
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Belbin's team roles


  • Implementer
  • Shaper
  • Completer finisher 


  • Co-ordinator
  • Team worker
  • Resource investigator 


  • Specialist
  • Plant
  • Monitor Evaluator 
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Action roles (SIC)

  • Shaper (Task leader)
  • Contribution: Challenging, dynamic, thrives under pressure. Has the drive to overcome obstacles
  • Allowable weakness (strength in one team role is commonly associated with weakness): Can provoke others and hurt feelings
  • Implementer (Practical organiser)
  • Contribution: Disciplines, reliable, efficient, conservative + turns ideas into actions
  • Allowable weakness: Inflexible, slow to respond to new possibilities
  • Completor finisher (Progress chaser)
  • Contribution: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out omissions + errors + delivers on time
  • Allowable weakness: Inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to delegate + nit-picks
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People-skills roles (Social - CRIT)

Co-ordinator: (Chairperson) 

  • Contribution: Mature, confident, a good chairperson. Clarifies goals + promotes decision making - good at delegating
  • Allowable weakness: Can be seen as manipulative = delegates personal work

Resource Investigator : (Mr/Mrs. Fix it)

Contribution: Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities and develops contacts

Allowable weakness: Over-optimistic, loses interest once the intital enthusiasm has passed

Team-worker: (Group mediator)

Contribution: Co-operative, mild, perceptive + diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts conflict + friction and calms waters

Allowable weakness: Indecisive in crunch situations and can be easily influenced

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Cerebral roles (MEPS)

Monitor/Evaluator: Analyst 

Contribution: Sober, strategic + discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately 

Allowable Weakness: Lacks drive + ability to inspire others. Overly critical 

Plant: Ideas person

Contribution: Creative, unorthodox, imaginative and solves difficult problems

Allowable Weakness: Ignores detail. Too preoccupied to communicate properly 

Specialist: Provides 'rare' knowledge 

Contribution: Single-minded, sel-starting, dedicated. Provides knowledge + skills in rare supply

Allowable Weakness: Contributes only on a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities + overlooks big picture. 

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Belbin - successful teams

  • Chair should be CO-ORDINATOR OR SHAPER (makes the most of the talent in the team)
  • Stong PLANT
  • High level of mental ability 
  • Wide team role coverage
  • Match between team role and task allocation (don't give a shaper the task of a plant)
  • Able teams can compensate for role imbalances

This is also affected by 1. Project Stage AND 2. Project Task 

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Team Composition - Diversity

                                         Homogenous                                                     Hetrogenous                

Positives                  Group members get along                Good decision making - diverse viewpoints

                                  Info sharing                                        Perform at high level - variety of resources

                                  Low levels of conflict

                                  Few co-ordination problems

Negatives               Potential for poor decision making                          Conflict 

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Critique of Belbin

Fisher et al:

  • Undertook a study of the distribution of team roles among managers
  • 1,442 male + 355 female managers all with management experience
  • All had completed a personality questionnaire and were candidates shortlisted for a range of management positions in both the private and public sectors. 
  • Study analysed data supplied by Publishing Company and results were then compared with the Belbin model. It supported the Belbin team model

Aritzeta, Swailes + Senior:

  • Lack of clear differentiation among 9 team roles - discriminant validity (overlap between roles)
  • Reductionist - we are more than just team roles
  • Interaction between situation + team task requirements need to be better understood
  • Influence of organisational factors - strategy, resources,structure, leadership +management style
  • Serves little practical value. Behaviour doesn't fit into neat categories and most don't acknowledge allowable weakness. The two most important attributes for effective teamwork (1. Strong + decisive leader + 2. Humourist to make peope laugh)
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Key points

  • Team work CAN bring benefits
  • BUT it doesn't bring improved decision making always
  • Teams need to be carefully managed and facilitated
  • Understanding team roles can help solve team problems, enable managers to choose team members effectively and enable individuals to understand their strengths and areas for development.
  • An understanding of the stages of team development and roles of team members can reduce stress levels and increase empathy 
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