BOH4M – Grade 12 Business Leadership – Teams and Teamwork

Chapter 16: Teams and Teamwork


Teams in Organizations


  • Managerial achievement will be realized through success in mobilizing, leading and supporting people as they work together in groups
  • Team: Collection of people who regularly interact to pursue common goals
  • Teamwork: The process of people actively working together to accomplish common goals


Teamwork Pros and Cons

  • Important roles that managers must perform in team and teamwork roles:
  • Supervisor – Appointed head of a work unit
  • Network facilitator – Peer leader and central networking role for a special task force
  • Participant – Helpful contributing member of the team
  • Coach – External sponsor for team members
  • Problems that may be encountered with teams:
    • Social loafing: Tendency of some people to avoid responsibility by “free-riding” in groups
    • Common problems:
  • Personality conflicts and individual differences in work styles
  • Task ambiguity
  • Low enthusiasm due to lack of motivation, lack of team organization and/or progress
  • Unproductive meetings that lack purpose


Synergy and usefulness of teams

  • Synergy: The creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Team uses its membership resources to the fullest and thereby achieves through collective action far more than could otherwise be achieved
  • Usefulness of teams is extensive
  • They offer more resources for problem solving, improved creativity and innovation, improved quality of decision making, greater commitments to tasks, higher motivation through collective action, better control and work discipline, and more individual need satisfaction


Formal and informal groups

  • Formal Groups: Teams officially recognized and supported by organization. Appear on organization charts; part of the formal structure
  • Informal groups: Unofficial and emerge from relationships and shared interest among members. Not recognized on organization charts; part of the informal structure


Trends in the Use of Teams


  • Brings people together outside of their daily job assignments to work on a small team for a specific purpose
  • Designated to work on a special task on a continuing basis


Project team and task forces

  • Brings together people from various parts of the organization to work on common problems on a temporary basis
  • Convened for a specific purpose and disbanded when task is completed


Cross-functional teams

  • Members come from different functional units of an organization
  • Created to knock down “walls” separating departments
  • Team works on a specific problem or task with the needs of the whole organization in mind


Employee involvement teams

  • Meet on a regular basis outside of their formal assignments to help achieve  continuous improvement
  • A quality circle is a team of employees who meet periodically to discuss ways of improving work quality


Virtual teams 

  • Work together and solve problems through computer-based rather than face-to-face interactions
  • Potential advantages of virtual teams include: Savings in time and travel expenses. minimization of interpersonal difficulties, ease of expansion
  • Potential problems of virtual teams include: Difficulty in establishing good working relationships, depersonalization

Self-managing work teams

  • Teams of workers whose jobs have been redesigned to create a high degree of task interdependence, and who have been given authority to make decisions about how they share and complete their work
  • Self-managing work team members:
  • Are held collectively accountable for performance results
  • Have discretion in distributing tasks and scheduling work within the team
  • Train one another to develop multiple job skills
  • Evaluate one another’s performance
  • Are responsible for the total quality of team products


How Teams Work


  • A effective team is one that achieves and maintains high levels of task performance, membership  satisfaction, and future viability
  • Group input factors that influence the pursuit of team effectiveness include:
  • Nature of the task (task clarity and complexity)
  • Organizational setting (information, resources, technology, structures, rewards, spatial arrangements)
  • Team size (number of members, even-odd number)
  • Membership characteristics (abilities, skill-mix, values, personalities)


  • Also important is group process: The way team members work together to accomplish tasks (group dynamics)
  • When process breaks down and internal dynamics fall in the way, team effectiveness can suffer
  • Team effectiveness equation:


Team Effectiveness = Quality of Inputs + (Process Gains – Process Losses)



  • Team diversity: Different values, personalities, experiences, demographics and cultures among team members can present significant group process challenges
  • The more similar members are to one another (homogeneous), the easier it is to manage relationships. The more diversity among members (heterogeneous), the greater the complexity of interpersonal relationships among members


Stages of team development

  1. Forming – Initial orientation and interpersonal testing
  2. Storming – Conflict over tasks and ways of operating as a team
  3. Norming – Consolidation around task and operating agendas
  4. Performing – Teamwork and focused task performance
  5. Adjourning – Task accomplishment and eventual disengagement


Norms and cohesiveness

  • Norms: Behaviour expected of team members. Rules or standards that guide behaviour, and that may result in team sanctions when violated
  • Performance norms: The level of work effort and performance that team members are expected to contribute to the team task
  • Managerial guidelines for building positive group norms:
  • Act as a positive role model
  • Reinforce desired behaviours with rewards
  • Control results by performance reviews and regular feedback
  • Train and orient new members to adopt desired behaviours
  • Recruit and select new members who exhibit desired behaviours
  • Hold regular meetings to discuss progress and ways of improving
  • Use team decision-making methods to reach agreement


  • Cohesiveness: Degree to which members are attracted to and motivated to remain part of a team. The more cohesive a team, the greater the acceptance and adherence to group norms
  • Managerial guidelines for increasing team cohesion:
  • Encourage agreement on team goals
  • Increase membership compatibility
  • Increase interaction among members
  • Decrease team size
  • Introduce competition with other teams
  • Reward team rather than individual results
  • Provide physical isolation from other teams






  • Summary of how of cohesiveness and norms influence team performance:
  • Positive norms + high cohesiveness ⇒ High performance; strong commitments to supportive norms. Best case for managers
  • Positive norms + low cohesiveness ⇒ Moderate performance; weak commitments to supportive norms
  • Negative norms + low cohesiveness ⇒ Low to moderate performance; weak commitments to harmful norms
  • Negative norms + high cohesiveness ⇒ Low performance; strong commitments to harmful norms. Worst case for managers


Task and maintenance needs

  • Two types of essential activities if team members are to work well together:
  1. Task activities: Action taken by a team member that contributes directly to team’s performance purpose. Activities focussing on solving problems and accomplishing tasks
  2. Maintenance activities: Action taken by a team member that supports the emotional life of the team. Activities that help strengthen and perpetuate the team as a social entity
  • These activities are often handled by a person with formal authority, but they should be shared and distributed among team members. Distributed leadership makes every member responsible for recognizing when task and/or maintenance activities are needed and stepping in to provide them
  • In contrast, disruptive or dysfunctional activities can detract from team effectiveness (such as being aggressive, blocking, competing, withdrawal, horsing around, seeking recognition)


Communication networks

  • Three interaction patterns and communication networks common in teams:
  1. Decentralized: Members communicate directly with one another. Works best when members interact extensively, work closely together on complex tasks, and a coordination of activities is needed
  2. Centralized: Communication flows only between individual members and a hub or centre point. Works best when members work independently on divided up simple tasks, and activities are pooled at a central control point
  3. Restricted: Polarized subgroups contest one another and may engage in antagonistic relations. Task accomplishment is slow because teams are composed of different subgroups experiencing issue-specific disagreements

Decision making in teams

  • Decision making: Process of making choices among alternative possible courses of action. One of the most important group processes
  • Several methods by which teams make decisions:
  • Lack of response – Several ideas suggested without discussion; team accepts one idea by discarding the others rather than by critical evaluation
  • Authority rule – Authority figure makes decision for the team, with or without discussion
  • Minority rule – Two or three members dominate team into making decision
  • Majority rule – Formal voting takes place to find majority viewpoint
  • Consensus – Discussion leads to one alternative being favoured by most members; other members agree to support it
  • Unanimity – All team members agree on course of action


Assets and liabilities of group decisions

  • Potential advantages of team decision making:
  • Greater amounts of information, knowledge, and expertise to solve problems
  • Expands number of action alternatives considered
  • Increases understanding and acceptance of outcomes
  • Increases member commitment to follow through once decision is made
  • Potential disadvantages of team decision making:
  • Social pressure to conform
  • Individual or minority group domination
  • Time requirements


Groupthink (Janis)

  • Tendency for highly cohesive teams to lose their evaluation capacity
  • Symptoms of groupthink include: illusions of group invulnerability (team is too good for criticism), rationalizing unpleasant and disconfirming data (refusing to accept contradictory information and consider alternatives, belief in inherent group morality( group is naturally right; above reproach), negative stereotypes of competitors (refusing to listen to “weak” or “stupid” other groups), pressure to conform to team wishes (refusing to tolerate anyone suggesting team may be wrong), self-censorship (refusing to communicate personal concerns to the team), illusions of unanimity ( accepting consensus prematurely) and mind guarding (protecting team from hearing disturbing outside viewpoints)


  • Methods for avoiding groupthink:
  • Have each group member be a critical evaluator
  • As leader, don’t appear to favour one course of action
  • Create subteams to work on the same problems
  • Have team members discuss issues with outsiders
  • Have outside experts observe and provide feedback on team activities
  • Assign a member to the “devil’s advocate” role
  • Hold a “second-chance” meeting after decision is made


Creativity in team decision making

  • Brainstorming involves an approach where several teams members meet to generate ideas and operate within certain guidelines:
  • All criticism is ruled out
  • Wilder and more radical ideas (“freewheeling”) welcomed
  • Quantity of ideas is important
  • Building on one another’s ideas is encouraged
  • The nominal group technique uses a highly-structured meeting agenda to allow everyone to contribute ideas without interference of evaluative comments by others. Steps for running a nominal group session:

Step 1 – Participants work alone identifying possible problem solutions

Step 2 – Ideas shared in round-robin fashion, without criticism or discussion

Step 3 – Ideas discussed and clarified in a round-robin sequence, with no evaluative comments allowed

Step 4 – Members individually and silently follow a written voting procedure that ranks alternatives

Step 5 – Last two steps are repeated as needed












Leading High-Performance Teams


  • Team building is a sequence of planned activities used to gather and analyze data on the functioning of a team and to implement constructive changes to increase its operating effectiveness
  • Steps in the team-building cycle:

Step 1 – Problem awareness

Step 2 – Data gathering

Step 3 – Data analysis and diagnosis

Step 4 – Action planning

Step 5 – Action implementation

Step 6 – Evaluation


Success factors in teams

  • Team success is only achieved through the special efforts of leaders and members alike
  • High-performing teams generally share common characteristics:
  • A clear and elevating goal
  • A task-driven, results-oriented structure
  • Competent and committed members who work hard
  • A collaborative climate
  • High standards of excellence
  • External support and recognition
  • Strong and principled leadership; may be key to them all


Team leadership challenges

  • Effective leaders of high-performance teams share many of the characteristics of transformational leaders:
  • Establish a clear vision of the future; inspire hard work; create sense of shared purpose
  • Help to create change; dissatisfied with status quo; infuse team with motivation to improve
  • Unleash talent; staff team with skill and ability needed to achieve group’s performance objectives