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Human Relations in the Organization: Managing Groups and Teams Study Guide

4.1 Managing Groups and Teams

  • What was the goal of General Electric’s new factory that was presented in this case study?

The goal of General Electric’s new factory was to manufacture the largest commercial jet engine in the world.

  • To accomplish GE’s goal for the factory, what aspects of the organization did Robert Henderson focus on?

Henderson focused on teamwork and employee autonomy to accomplish his goal. This led to an increase in employee investment in the quality of the final product.

  • What specific choices did Robert Henderson make to achieve GE’s goal?

In order to meet GE’s goal, Henderson hired mechanics with specialized training, developed a nontraditional factory workspace, and contracted jobs not core to the manufacturing process.

4.2 Group Dynamics

  • What is a group?

A group is a collection of individuals who interact with each other such that one person’s actions have an impact on the others.

  • Which of the following is an example of an informal work group?

Informal work groups consist of individuals who are associated with each other in ways that are not officially established by the organization.

  • Which stage of Tuckman’s group development model is characterized by conflict among members and pushback against leadership?

During the storming stage, as group members become more comfortable, they also become more argumentative and contentious and may even resist direction from leadership.

  • Which of these characteristics describes a group that is in the “forming” phase of Tuckman’s model of group evolution?

During the forming phase of this model, individuals avoid conflict and are excited, polite, and optimistic. They are glad to be chosen and are not yet testing the boundaries of the group or the leader.

  • At which phase should the leadership of a group shift from more directive to more facilitating?

During the norming phase, the leadership shifts from directive to facilitating. As group cohesion and dedication begin to show, the leader can step back and become a facilitator and coach, allowing the group to assume more responsibility for the end goal.

  • Jim’s group has decided to give an accurate presentation on last year’s earnings at the shareholder meeting, and each group member has been assigned a specific quarter to work on. Jim has been in close communication with the team leader, Dwight, and has been asking him for his help and opinion on various pieces of his quarter. The members of the group sit together every day and often go out for coffee after hours. What phase of group development is represented by Jim’s group?

Jim’s group is in the performing stage. They have already decided what goals to pursue, have set group norms and expectations, and are interacting closely (as represented by the level of communication and the coffee outings).

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4.3 Self-Assessment 8: Team Dynamics

What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?

This self-assessment taught me that I am a solid team member and that I am a part of an effective team. I was surprised to score a 56 on this assessment; prior to taking this assessment I expected to score in the 31-45 range because while my team works well together at work there are still some areas we need to improve upon.

4.4 The Punctuated-Equilibrium Model

  • What is the central premise of the punctuated-equilibrium model?

The concept of punctuated equilibrium was first proposed by paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, who argued that evolution occurred in rapid, radical spurts rather than gradually over time.

  • In Gersick’s model, groups cycle repeatedly through which two stages?

Groups cycle repeatedly through the storming and performing phases as a crisis or problem leads to big changes during a short period of time.

4.5 Cohesion

  • Which of the following is a defining characteristic of groups with high cohesion?

Members of highly cohesive groups tend to share a collective identity and a strong sense of purpose in working together to accomplish a meaningful goal. They also typically establish a structured pattern of communication and feel a desire to remain part of the group due to moral bonds that unite them.

  • Which of the following is a positive step that will increase cohesion within a group?

Giving everyone a clear role is one of many ways to increase cohesion within a group. Other techniques include giving frequent praise, celebrating differences, treating all members with respect, establishing common rituals, and aligning the group with the greater organization.

  • What is groupthink?

Groupthink occurs when there is internal pressure within the group to go along with flow; this increases the risk of the group making flawed decisions by allowing reductions in mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.

  • Michelle’s group is very committed to its task and remains cohesive. What is the group’s performance level?

The group has high performance because it values performance. According to the chart, groups that have high group cohesion and high task commitment are likely to have high performance (if performance is valued).

  • Which of the following is a tip you would give a colleague on how to prevent social loafing?

Assigning tasks that are highly engaging and inherently rewarding will prevent social loafing on the part of group members.

  • Which of the following methods might a team leader employ to improve a group’s collective efficacy?

When task interdependence (the degree an individual’s task is linked to someone else’s work) is high rather than low, a group’s performance tends to improve, and along with it, the group’s collective efficacy.

4.6 Understanding Team Design Characteristics

  • What is the key difference between groups and teams?

A team is formed to achieve complex goals, while a group is a loose collection of individuals working on individual goals. Teams are cohesive, share a goal, and tend to be smaller than groups.

  • Why are organizations moving toward more team-friendly structures?

More complex systems have been developed due to advances in technology that necessitate input from a cross-section of individuals. Teams are best when a variety of knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed from different groups within the organization.

  • Which of the following is a defining characteristic of a team?

The key properties of a true team include collaborative action in which, along with a common goal, teams have collaborative tasks.

4.7 Team Tasks

  • Adam is in charge of a team with the task of renaming a product that is not selling well. What type of task is this?

Renaming a product falls under idea generation. Idea-generation tasks tend to be creative and may involve brainstorming.

  • Henri’s design team has finished the plans for a new type of computer and is handing off the designs to another team. What type of tasks will this next team be performing?

Henri’s team has completed the idea-generation tasks and is handing off to the production team, whose tasks involve actually creating the product.

  • What is task interdependence?

Task interdependence is when team members rely on one another for information gathering, support, and materials. Self-managing teams are most effective when tasks are highly interdependent.

  • Manuel has been assigned to a team to write a final paper. His team decided to break the paper into sections, with each team member responsible for a single section. Manuel has the job of combining all the sections into one cohesive paper. The team organized the task of writing the paper by using which type of task interdependence?

The team used pooled interdependence. Pooled interdependence differs from sequential interdependence in that sequential interdependence happens in order (first A, then B, then C) while pooled interdependence happens contemporaneously.

  • Which of the following examples BEST illustrates outcome interdependence?

Outcome interdependence occurs when a team is given a raise based on the overall performance of the entire team. This ensures that each team member contributes equally to the tasks, as each member will be rewarded for the performance of the entire team rather than for their individual output.

  • Eve is always challenging opinions and positions of other team members on various issues during meetings. Her challenges are welcome because they help the team understand every facet and angle of an issue. What task role does Eve play?

Eve is serving in the critic role. The critic attempts to identify assumptions within the team by operating as the “devil’s advocate.” With a critical voice, the team is better able to present and represent their goals and performance.

  • What is the key difference between the contractor and the creator task roles?

The contractor serves as the scheduler of the team and organizes when things will happen, while the creator is focused on process structure and on how things will happen.

  • David carefully considers the conversation between team members during meetings, and uses humor or storytelling to lighten the mood during a conflict. What social role does David play in the team?

The communicator role is a social role within a team that aids collaboration by making team meetings a safe place to share new ideas and ensure cooperation between team members.

  • Boundary-spanning roles serve what purpose in the team?

Boundary-spanning roles ensure that the larger organization is aware of the team and its progress. These roles consist of the consul and the coordinator, both of whom interface with the rest of the organization so that people are aware of the goals and progress of the team and the team maintains alignment with the organization’s larger goals and ideals.

4.8 Types of Teams

  • A team has been formed at a company’s main order-processing facility to address the problem of late shipments. What type of team is this?

A task force team has the goal of solving one specific problem and is disbanded after the problem is resolved.

  • Which of the following is often a challenge for leaders of virtual teams?

Since they deal with team members working in different locations and rarely coming into contact with each other personally, leaders of virtual teams face a special challenge in building trust between team members.

  • Members of a team work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Dallas, and they attend daily videoconference meetings to discuss project progress. What type of team is this?

A virtual team is one whose members are not in the same physical location and must telecommute and employ different communication channels other than face-to-face.

  • Who typically appoints the members of an organization’s top management team?

The chief executive officer (CEO) usually appoints the top management team, which can include such roles as the chief operating officer (COO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief technology officer (CTO), and chief marketing officer (CMO).

  • Top management teams usually have what overall goal?

A top management team’s main goal is to discern and communicate the company’s overall mission and strategy.

4.9 Team Leadership and Autonomy

  • In which type of team is one person usually responsible for the team’s success or failure?

In traditional manager-led teams, the manager has the ability to hire and fire team members and is fully accountable for the team's results.

  • Nathan, Tamara, Lucas, and Sofia are members of a team. They do not report directly to a supervisor, so they rotate leadership among themselves on a bi-monthly basis. The four are considering whether they should add another member as they begin designing the new office annex. Nathan, Tamara, Lucas, and Sofia are part of what type of team?

A self-managed team manages itself and does not report directly to a supervisor. In this type of team, the members select their own leader, and may even take turns in the leadership role.

  • Which of the following statements about self-managed teams is true?

Self-managed teams are empowered teams, which means that they have the responsibility as well as the authority to achieve their goals.

  • What is the defining characteristic of a self-directed team?

A self-directed team makes all decisions about leadership and work processes internally. There is no external leader, and often the leadership will shift between team members, creating potential for high autonomy.

4.10 Self-Assessment 9: Leadership Skills

What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?

This self-assessment taught me that I am well on my way to becoming a good leader. I personally feel that this score is incorrect because I do not view myself as a leader nor have I ever held a leadership type position. I did my best to answer the questions on this assessment honestly, but I found that a lot of them did not easily apply to my current job.

4.11 Designing Effective Teams

  • When considering whom to choose for a team, what factors should you keep in mind?

The knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of each individual will help you select the most qualified and capable individuals to be part of your team.

  • Size is an important characteristic to consider when assembling a team. Which of the following reflects the relationship between team size and effectiveness?

The relationship between team size and performance seems to greatly depend on the level of task interdependence, with some studies finding larger teams outproducing smaller teams and other studies finding just the opposite.

  • Which criterion determines how large a team should be?

Team size should always be matched to the goals of the team. Team size varies depending on what tasks need to be accomplished and the overall size of the project.

  • Which of the following statements regarding team diversity is true?

Teams whose members have complementary skills are often more successful, since the strengths of one member can compensate for the weaknesses of another.

4.12 Management of Teams

  • Which of the following BEST describes team norms?

Norms are shared and explicit expectations about how the team will operate. These norms deal with the details of running a team, such as a tardiness policy, how strict deadlines will be, and how to prepare for a meeting.

  • What is the purpose of the Square Wheels exercise?

The Square Wheels exercise is intended to start the process of discussing the best practices for productivity and efficiency. This discussion allows the team to be designed effectively.

  • When is a team contract most likely to come in handy? Choose the BEST answer

A team contract is helpful when a team has difficulties working together or meeting goals. The contract can provide an external source of consistency and agreement despite internal conflict or task confusion.

  • What is the first thing a team leader should do when calling a team meeting?

Determining whether the meeting is needed is the first thing a team leader should do. If the meeting is simply informative, an email or memo might be more efficient.

  • Which of the following is a way to ensure the success of a meeting?

It is best to clarify the roles of team members going forward with clear notes from the meeting regarding who is responsible for each action item and the time frames associated with next steps.

4.13 Self-Assessment 10: Management Skills

What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?

This self-assessment taught me that I’m on my way to becoming a good manager, but that still have a lot of learning left to do. I felt that these results were mostly accurate; I did struggle to answer a few of the questions because they are not relevant to my current job and I’ve never been in a leadership role so I don’t know for sure what I would do in some of the situations the questions described.

4.14 Barriers to Effective Teams

  • Which of the following is a barrier to effective teams?

Uncertainty on the part of team members about what to do when a project begins or when a task is finished can present a barrier to team effectiveness. This can be remedied by clarifying the team’s goals or plan.

  • Kelly is a new team leader and José is giving her advice about some potential problems that may arise. Which of the following is a piece of advice that José would give Kelly to overcome barriers to a successful team?

“It is possible that disagreements and conflict among team members may be the result of personality differences.” This is a good piece of advice that will allow a team leader to better mediate conflict between team members and facilitate a solution.

  • Your team is struggling to move forward at the beginning of a new project. As team leader, which of the following would be the BEST thing to say to help them get started?

“What is holding us up?” is a good question to ask and can lead to problem identification and the establishment of clear and quantifiable goals.

4.15 The Role of Ethics and National Culture

  • Which of the following is an accurate statement about ethics and teams?

Research has shown that replacing a hierarchy with self-managing teams can actually increase control over individual workers and constrain members more powerfully than a hierarchical system.

  • Which of the following “I” statements BEST defines team member attitudes in collectivist societies?

“I value my team members very highly indeed” is an example of a collectivist statement. Someone in a collectivist society would care more about team members than achieving any personal goals or aspirations.

  • Which of the following is an accurate statement about power distance and teams across cultures?

Those in high power distance countries expect there to be unequal power distribution in all walks of life. Authority figures expect (and are granted) obedience, and decision making is hierarchical.

4.16 Green Teams at Work: The Case of New Seasons Market

  • Which of the following accurately describes New Seasons as an organization?

New Seasons is an organization that believes in self-managed teams, including the Green Team. Team leadership of the Green Team varies by store, tackles a variety of projects, and competes between stores for rewards.

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