Managing Groups and Teams: Background Readings

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Module 2 – Background

Managing Groups and Teams

Note: All Background and Module Home materials are required unless designated as optional or general reference.

Required Reading

Introduction

The Force Field Analysis model is one that has been widely used to address a wide variety of challenges in communicating with others, leading teams and managing conflicts. Its goal is to move opposing groups or individuals toward more effective cooperation. As its name suggests, this model analyzes the factors (or forces) that influence situations in which people are having trouble working together. By increasing the driving forces for more effective communication and cooperation and weakening the restraining forces against open communications and cooperation, one can create a working situation that is more collaborative and productive.

 

 

For a brief summary of the Force Field Analysis model, see:

Force Field Analysis: Analyzing the Pressures For and Against Change. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_06.htm

Communication

We begin this module by building a foundation of knowledge about interpersonal communication. After all, communication is needed for effective group activities and group work. In gaining this foundation, we will refer to Wikipedia for a “quick and dirty” overview of the topic. (Caution: Wikipedia is an unacceptable source for academic papers because it is a publicly edited site with information that can be incomplete, biased, or incorrect. However, to get a quick introduction to a topic, it can be a good place to start.)

Models of communication. (2016) Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Models_of_communication

Never discount the value of trust in strengthening communication and improving work relationships with others. One way to build trust is to maximize what we know about ourselves and wish to share with others. Conversely, we want to minimize aspects of ourselves we are not aware of but are readily apparent to others (our “blind spots”). This is accomplished through a combination of self-disclosure and feedback.

The Johari Window is an excellent model for improving communication effectiveness and therefore trust. Created in the 1950s by two guys named Joe and Harry (no kidding!), this model is still widely used in organizations to improve communication between coworkers, bosses, subordinates, and teams. Read the following:

The Johari Window: Using Self-Discovery and Communication to Build Trust, (2016). Mindtools. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/JohariWindow.htm

Communication Skills You Can’t Do Without

Have you ever wondered why the Trident University teaching model has so much darn writing? Have you gotten frustrated with professors who admonish you for typos and syntax errors? Want to know why communication skills are critical to MBAs as well as other professionals? Read this article.

Poor Writing Skills Top M.B.A. Recruiter Gripes (2009) Vault.com Inc. http://www.vault.com/blog/job-search/poor-writing-skills-top-mba-recruiter-gripes

Groups and Teams

The structure of modern organizations is continually changing and work is being done in teams more than ever. But teams are more than just a collection of individuals working on a single project. Team workers need a set of skills that exceeds those of individual workers to allow them to collaborate effectively. Often, employers do not train employees in these skills so it is a rare thing when teams live up to their potential. This is particularly true of teams in the United States, where the culture highly values individual effort and accomplishment.

In this part of the module, we will increase our ability to manage teams by learning about what constitutes a team, how to handle conflict, and how to build a high-performing team. Of course, we can only scratch the surface, and if you would like to delve deeper into this topic, you would be well served to take MGT508, a course about managing teams.

To get an overview of this topic, view this PowerPoint presentation on Group Dynamics and Conflict.

The Tuckman model of group development is one of the most widely used tools to understand the dynamics of team formation and development.

 

 

The following reading offers a concise explanation of this model and as a bonus, relates group development processes to the Johari Window (above) and the Situational Leadership model to be presented in Module 3:

Chapman, A. (2016). Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing team-development model. Retrieved from http://www.businessballs.com/tuckmanformingstormingnormingperforming.htm

Most of us think about trust in teams as growing over time and with experience being with another team member. However, swift trust stems from an initial assumption of trust which is confirmed, or disconfirmed, over time. In this sense it is conditional and must be verified by the actions of team members. Read this blog about the factors that contribute to swift trust and how leaders can create it:

Swift trust—why some teams don’t storm (2011). In Management Pocketbooks. Retrieved from https://managementpocketbooks.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/swift-trustwhy-some-teams-dont-storm/

Here is an interesting example of organizational theory being used to solve practical business problems. This report is designed to help its analysts avoid group decision-making biases such as groupthink, polarization or “risky shift,” overconfidence, or composition bias. The practical application of theory demonstrated in this source may be helpful to you in preparing your case.

Mottola, G. & Utkus, S. (2009). Group decision-making: Implications for investment committees. Vanguard Investment Counseling and Research. Retrieved from http://agb.org/sites/agb.org/files/u16/Vanguard%206.pdf

Conflict Management

When working with groups, conflict is inevitable. Although conflict is often viewed as negative, this is not always true. As we learned in the earlier PowerPoint presentation, well-managed conflict can increase team performance and result in better output. One trick is to learn the differences between healthy and destructive types of conflict. Read the following for more information:

Issues Teams Face: Managing Conflict (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/54195_Chapter_7.pdf

Now that you can recognize the difference between good and bad conflict, take a few minutes to read about some techniques that can help you manage conflict between people at work (or even at home!) and keep situations from spiraling out of control:

Segal, J & Smith, M. (n.d.). Conflict resolution skills: Building the skills that can turn conflicts into opportunities. Helpguide.org. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/conflict-resolution-skills.htm

Optional Reading

Communication

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is the premier international knowledge network for professionals engaged in strategic business communication management. Examine their website which includes news, events, workshops, a book store, and a research foundation. Find out how you can become an Accredited Business Communicator:

International Association of Business Communicators. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.iabc.com/

Groups and Teams

This site, assembled by Dr. Carter McNamara, provides library links to numerous topics in the field, a basic overview to group formation and stages of group development, and also information on team building.

Group dynamics: Basic nature of groups and how they develop. (n.d.) In Free Management Library. Retrieved from http://www.managementhelp.org/grp_skll/theory/theory.htm

 Conflict Management

Also assembled by Dr. McNamara, the following site includes library links, and various perspectives on conflict (i.e. dealing with conflict, conflict in organizations, etc.):

How to manage group conflict (n.d.) In Free Management Library. Retrieved from http://managementhelp.org/groups/group-conflict.htm

Click the link below for an extensive collection of conflict-related material. There are many interesting links to articles both academic and practical. You should spend some time browsing this site. Pay special attention to links dealing with conflict styles, conflict resolution, negotiation, integrative and/or distributive bargaining.

Bacal, R. (2016). Articles on communication and conflict management. The World of Work. Retrieved from http://work911.com/articles/indexcomcomm.htm

Interestingly, some teams skip over the “storming” phase, particularly when they need to come together quickly and produce output without having the time it normally takes to build trust. See the following to continue your learning about the phenomenon known as “swift trust”:

Meyerson, D., Weick, K. E., & Kramer, R. M. (1996). Swift trust and temporary groups. In R. M. Kramer (Ed.), Trust in organizations: frontiers of theory and research (pp. 166–196). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=A_8LbcsgrNMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA166&dq=Debra+Meyerson+swift+trust&ots=VoC6zx3jC7&sig=vmlH0YJ_gr1CeOmwNm7dkycljw4#v=onepage&q=Debra%20Meyerson%20swift%20trust&f=fal

Formatting papers and Citing Sources

If you need additional guidance on the proper formatting of papers visit:

Purdue OWL website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20090212013008_560.pdf

APA Formatting: The Basics. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdAfIqRt60c&list=PL8F43A67F38DE3D5D

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