Gregory Shea and Richard Guzzo have proposed that a group’s effectiveness is a function of three variables: task interdependence, potency and outcome interdependence. Task interdependence is the extent to which a group’s work requires its members to interact with one another. A high level of task interdependence increases the group’s sense of potency, which is the shared belief of a group that it can be effective outcome interdependence is the degree to which the consequences of the group’s work are felt by all group’s members.
Shea and Guzzo further explain how astute managers can create successful teams. Managers must first give each group a charter a clear and achievable set of objectives. A strategic planning group, for example might be chartered to devise a five year company plan. Because groups should be given flexibility in arranging their own affairs, the manager should concentrate on getting the charter right and not on details of how a group organizes itself. The members of the group should decide how much task interdependence their work requires. However, the members must believe the organizations has given them sufficient resources – skills, money, flexibility to fulfill the charter.
In addition, managers must strive to create a sense of outcome interdependence. If the members of a group do not share some common fate, they will have little sense of belonging. Group bonuses or peer evaluation can help create this sense of common fate. Rewards do not have to take the form of money. In fact, recognition can be as strong or stronger than money. For example, a group of managers at Honeywell won a $100 million contract. Their reward? Their manager bought them all ice cream cones. Unusual perhaps but many engineers still have the photo taken that day.
It is important to remember that the effectiveness of teams is affected by the national culture. Not all countries look at teams in the same way. Japan and the Scandinavian countries are noted for their teamwork. In fact, companies such as Sweden’s Volvo, discussed later have built much of their culture around work teams. Japan is known as a collectivist nation where identity is based on “belonging” and there is strong belief in group decisions. In the United States on the other hand the culture has primarily been structured around individualism, where identity is based on the individual and there is a strong belief in individual decisions. Thus, although working in groups has proved effective in US organizations, it is not without some alteration in our values and views. Another perspective comes from China, where entrepreneurs have been part of a long, rich history, and historically teamwork is not as highly prized as in other Asian nations. While some factories try to use teams, they may come up against the viewpoint about the value of group efforts expressed by the following comment from a senior manger: One worker can carry two buckets of water (using a shoulder pole); two workers can carry one bucket; and three workers probably would end up not carrying any water at all.
Team Cohesiveness Gone away:
Group cohesiveness is not always good thing as research on torture shows. Both fact and research suggest strongly that torturers, rather than being hereditary or social deviants, are usually ordinary people who submit to what psychologists call the “authority of violence” under the right circumstances. These circumstances include the powerful norms and socialization processes that can be exercised by groups.
An experiment designed to last two weeks was terminated after just six days. Prisoners who were referred to only by ID numbers and dressed so as to be de-individuated had been stripped of most day-to-day rights. Although physical punishment had been prohibited they soon began to show signs of dramatic emotional change, including “acute anxiety” and a passivity verging on complete servility; they became extremely distressed and even physically ill. Some of the “guards” meanwhile seemed almost exhilarated by the experience. They reinforced their roles with creative cruelty and harassment substituting verbal aggression – threats and insults – for the prohibited physical violence.