Group Dynamics and Teams
We will continue our experiential approach to the study of Organizational Behavior by engaging in a personal applied case on the topic of group dynamics and teams. As in Module 1, use the following outline to structure your 4- to 6-page paper. You may use the subtitles as headings for your paper.
Introduction: Discuss the topic of the paper and how you will approach it. It is best to write this section after you have written the rest of the paper.
Concrete Experience: Begin with a specific situation/event. Describe an experience with a group or team that was meaningful to you. It may have been an extraordinarily good experience – or it may have been an experience that did not work out very well at all! The important point is that it should be an experience which you would like to understand better. Be objective and focus on just the facts: who, what, where, when, and how – as if you were composing a newspaper article.
Reflective Observation: Reflect upon that experience from multiple perspectives of persons involved or affected in the experience. Step back from the situation, look at the experience from your own viewpoint, and from the perspective of all other parties involved or affected. You want to look at the circumstances surrounding the experience from every relevant point of view. Why did you behave the way that you did? Why did others behave the way that they did? Did others have the same positive (or negative) experience? Explain. (Note: your discussion of theories and models from your module materials belongs in the following section.)
Abstract Conceptualization: (This Abstract Conceptualization section is the “heart” of your paper.) Use critical thinking skills to understand and interpret the experience at a deeper, more generalizable level. Interpret and understand the events you have described by drawing on the concepts, theories, and models in the background material from this module. Explain how they apply to your experience. For example, what behavior patterns can you identify in yourself and others that are similar to the ones described in the material on communication, teams, and conflict management? Does the model of Force Field Analysis (home page) help you better understand why people behaved the way they did? Be sure to apply at least three concepts, theories, and/or models and cite all references to concepts, ideas, and/or quotes that you use from any outside source.
Active Experimentation: Identify ways to respond to the next occurrence of a similar experience. What have you learned about the way groups work from this analysis? What have you learned from your mistakes? How are you going to put what you have learned to use? What actions will you take to build more effective work teams in your job?
Conclusion: Sum up the main points of your analysis and the key learning you are taking from it.
Reference List: List all references that you have cited in the paper using APA formatting. References include materials from the required background readings as well as any outside internet or library sources you used in researching and writing your paper. If you have APA questions, refer to the optional listings on the background page.
Your Case paper will be evaluated using the criteria on the assignment rubric (see the rubric for more detail): Assignment-Driven, Critical Thinking, Business Writing, Effective Use of Information, Citing Sources, and Timeliness.
Force Field Analysis
The Force Field Analysis model is one that has been widely used to address 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:
Tutor2u. (2016, April 22). Lewin’s force field analysis model [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9ujAtYAfqU
We begin this module by building a foundation of knowledge about interpersonal communication. After all, communication is needed for effective group activities. 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. 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. Watch the following videos:
Leader Logic. (2018, February 5). Johari Window example in 5 minutes [Video file]. Retrieved from
Leader Logic. (2018, February 8). Johari Window for project scope development [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCw1wcSJ5V8
Apricot Training Management Limited: Self Awareness. (2013) Understanding the Johari Window. Retrieved from http://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/understanding-the-johari-window-model
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 what constitutes a team, how to handle conflict, and how to build a high-performing team. 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
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
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 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
The following site includes library links, and various perspectives on conflict (e.g., 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”: