The final category to team effectiveness is process variables. These include member commitment to a common purpose, establishment of specific team goals, team efficacy, managed level of conflict and minimizing social loafing.
Why are processes important to team effectiveness? One way to answer this question is to return to the topic of social loafing. We found that 1+1+1 doesn’t necessarily add up to three. In team tasks for which each member’s contribution is not clearly visible, there is tendency for individuals to decrease their effort Social loafing, in other words, illustrates a process loss as a result of using teams. But team processes should positive results. That is, teams should create outputs greater than the sum of their inputs. The development of creative alternatives by a diverse group can be one such instance. The points below illustrate how group processes can have an impact on a group’s actual effectiveness.
Potential group effectiveness + Process gains – Process losses = Actual group effectiveness
Social loafing for instance represents negative synergy. The whole is less that the sum of its parts. On the other hand, research teams are often used in research laboratories because they can draw on the diverse skills of various individuals to produce more meaningful research as a team than could be generated by all of the researchers working independently. That is, they produce positive synergy. Their process gains exceed their process losses.
Common Purpose: Effective teams have a common and meaningful purpose that provides direction, momentum and commitment for members. This purpose is a vision. It’s broader than specific goals.
Members of successful teams put a tremendous amount of time and effort into discussing, shaping and agreeing on a purpose that belongs to them both collectively and individually. This common purpose, when accepted by the team, becomes the equivalent of what celestial navigation is to a ship captain – it provides direction under any and all conditions.
Specific Goals: Successful teams have their common purpose into specific,, measurable, and realistic performance goals. Just as we demonstrated in how goals lead individuals to higher performance, goals also energize teams. These specific goals facilitate clear communication. They also help teams maintain their focus on getting results.
Also, consistent with the research on individual goals, team goals should be challenging. Difficult goals have seen found to raise team performance on those criteria for which they’re set. So, for instance, goals for quantity tend to raise quantity, goals for speeds tend to raise speeds, goals for accuracy raise accuracy, and so on.
Effective teams have confidence it themselves. They believe they can succeed. We call team efficacy. Success breeds success. Teams that have been successful raise their beliefs about future success, which, in turn motivates them to work harder. What, if anything, can management do to increase team efficacy? Two possible options are helping the team to achieve small successes and providing skill training. Small successes build team confidence. As a team develops an increasingly strongest record, it also increases the collective belief that future efforts will lead to success. In addition, managers should consider providing training to improve members’ technical and interpersonal skills. The greater are the abilities of team members, the greater the likelihood that the team will develop confidence and the capability to deliver on that confidence.
Conflict levels: Conflict on a team isn’t necessarily bad. Teams that are completely void of conflict are likely to become apathetic and stagnant. So conflict can actually improve team effectiveness. But not all types of conflict. Relationship conflicts – those based on interpersonal incompatibilities, tension, and animosity towards others are almost always dysfunctional.
Social Loafing: Individuals can hide a side group. They can engage in social loafing and cost on the group’s effort because their individuals contributions can’t be identified. Effective teams undermine this tendency by holding themselves accountable at both the individual and team level. Successful teams make members individually and jointly accountable for the team’s purpose, goals, and approach. Therefore members must be clear on what they are individually responsible for and what they are responsible for.