individual and group differences within their teams

Assignment 1: Discussion
In this module, you saw how important it is for leaders to be aware of the individual and group differences within their teams. There are individual and group dynamics which impact team effectiveness and overall progress toward team goals.
Based on your readings, research, and experience, in a minimum of 400 words, respond to the following points:
Tasks:

Provide some examples of individual and group dynamics within work teams.
Describe the steps a leader might take to assess individual and group dynamics within a team.
What specific steps could the leader take to conduct this analysis?
What benefit would this analysis have for leaders?
Offer specific suggestions, and support these suggestions with a rationale, research sources, and/or examples from your experience in teams/groups.

Submission Details:
By the due date assigned, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through the end of the module review and comment on at least two peers’ responses.
Write your initial response in 300–500 words. Your response should be thorough and address all components of the discussion question in detail, include citations of all sources, where needed, according to the APA Style, and demonstrate accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Do the following when responding to your peers:

Read your peers’ answers.
Provide substantive comments by

contributing new, relevant information from course readings, Web sites, or other sources;
building on the remarks or questions of others; or
sharing practical examples of key concepts from your professional or personal experiences

Respond to feedback on your posting and provide feedback to other students on their ideas.
Make sure your writing

is clear, concise, and organized;
demonstrates ethical scholarship in accurate representation and attribution of sources; and
displays accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Module 7 Overview

Identify processes and strategies used in positioning, planning, motivating, and implementing project teams across organizational boundaries.
Analyze the power and social influences within group dynamics and identify the best practices and conditions to engage teams to counter group think.
Evaluate team decision-making processes and problem-solving strategies to apply in daily team operations, motivation, and resolution of conflicts.
Assess the role that diversity and cultures contribute to motivation, creativity, and innovation in team productivity and recommend initiatives to help teams embrace the complexity of diversity in team building.
Determine the importance of continuous leadership and team development in managing virtual teams.
Formulate a team building strategy that will maximize team effectiveness and functionality.

Until now, you learned about teaming and team development strategies. Team members have to work in unison to ensure organizational success and profitability. When teamwork is such an essential concept in today’s organization, what are the best practices for effective team building? In this module, you will examine recommended best practices for motivating and maintaining teams. In particular, you will recognize the importance of providing significant and relevant challenges to teams as a mechanism for keeping them individually and collectively focused and moving in the right direction. You will also address the issue of ongoing consideration of team challenges and the importance of empowerment in helping a team rise to own their challenges and to begin to make an impact on them. Finally, you will discuss steps team leaders and teams themselves can take to maintain their efforts as a team. Discussion points will include issues related to establishing ongoing patterns of persistence, evaluation, and important essential process evaluation in order to keep the team relevant and focused.

Team Leadership
Team leadership provides the guidance, direction, instruction, subject matter expertise, facilitation, problem solving, and team building of the team. Team leaders are looked upon more as facilitators and coaches. Team leaders are the caretakers of the team that provide instructions, resources, and conflict management to ensure team success.

Leader as coach: As a coach, the team leader has to help team members understand how to work effectively with each other and concentrate on the overall objectives and goals. The way team members interact and communicate with one another can have a major effect on team performance. The leader must teach problem solving, facilitate group processes, and ensure resources are available for mission accomplishment.
Path/Goal Theory: This theory specifies leader behavior that enhances team member empowerment and satisfaction as well as team unit and subordinate effectiveness. Hence, team leaders need to help strengthen linkages among efforts, performance, and outcome through their own behavior.
Empowering: This can be an outstanding means of motivating team members. The team leader can share power and decision making with team members. By sharing power with those who need it to perform some of their duties can enable team members with control and a sense of accomplishment.

Motivating the Team
The most important function of team leaders is the ability to motivate the team. Leaders may make mistakes in communication strategy and other areas, but a highly motivated team is likely to overlook these shortcomings. Over the years, leadership scholars and other experts in team organizational dynamics have provided several theories on motivation.In the Dyer text, the authors underline the importance of emphasizing specific performance challenges to teams. Teams are much more motivated when leaders clearly communicate to the team the challenges as well as the consequences of success or failure. This is true for several reasons. First, when a team has clarity they feel empowered and are much more likely to work together toward taking steps in the right direction. Teams unclear about their purpose or goals struggle to find themselves and to find their way. Second, the synergy of the team itself can also serve to empower it. When the people on a team have a shared goal or focus, they are much more likely to help each other in moments when individuals might be down or distracted. This connectedness helps lead to a more focused and determined team.What is also motivating for a team is the issue of empowerment. When teams recognize their efforts truly make a difference and their time is not wasted, they are much more likely to be energized in their efforts. Allowing teams to own the problems and the solutions motivates them more than if they are not responsible or empowered.Finally, charismatic leaders often motivate a team by the sheer enthusiasm they bring to the job. Leaders who are motivated and enthusiastic help to create an exciting and clear vision for where the team is likely to go if they are motivated, focused, and enthusiastic. Team leaders must be prepared to empower team members, to develop engagement among team members and provide for innovation and growth of these members.

Engagement: Motivational engagement involves team members being more actively involved. When the team has buy-in into the team’s mission and goals, they can become more engaged in team activities and in supporting members for team success. Engagement can be very important in assisting team leaders in reducing resistance to change. The team leader can assist in creating situations to enhance the engagement of team members in and through team activities.
Innovation & Growth: During this process, team leaders can develop strategies to enable members to develop new methods for accomplishing objectives. The utilization of cross-functional teams and collaboration can be used to enhance innovation and growth among team members.
Empowerment: The team leader needs to empower team members to be able to succeed and do what they do well. Members must be given an opportunity to make decisions and leaders need to encourage and support them in their efforts. Members must be allowed to take some risks in the performance of their duties.

Maintaining the Team

Leaders can take several steps to maintain the team over time. In addition, teams themselves can take steps to ensure their group is self-sustaining, empowered, and continually relevant.Persistence is the key factor in maintaining the team. When teams and team leadership establish persistence in the follow up and recognition of group goals, they are likely to stay focused and relevant. For example, a team may face the challenge of increasing profits by 10% in the market they control. A poorly maintained group would lose sight of this challenge for months on end. With persistence, however, team leaders and members of the team themselves will constantly remind each other of their goals and objectives. They may elect to place this goal on their agenda every time they meet as a reminder they are going to have to respond to this ongoing challenge.Periodic assessment of the feelings and the perceptions of team members is another mechanism for maintaining the team. For example, protocols developed within a team allow team members to examine how well they are being led, or how well they believe their interaction patterns are doing. They may elect to evaluate the degree to which they are being creative or thoughtful in their time spent together. Perhaps their systems of communication need to be considered in this ongoing analysis. This opportunity to reflect is extremely important in maintaining momentum for a team. Conversations can sometimes be uncomfortable. However, the long-term impact of an issue not addressed can be potentially devastating to the outcome of the team. Finally, what appears clear in managing and maintaining a team is the importance of ongoing evaluation and assessments. Teams assessed consistently and comprehensively are more likely to adjust their outputs to meet expectations. By carefully measuring aspects related to both process and outputs, the opportunity to remedy shortcomings is much greater.

Group dynamics: The tendency to belong to groups or teams is one of the basic motivational needs. Therefore, group dynamics is one of the most influential interpersonal process that takes place within teams. Understanding the importance of this system can help the team leader in understanding different types of social issues within the team in order to move to more cohesiveness.
Managing conflict: Even though conflict is natural within most organizations, a team leader must learn to manage conflict as the negative effects can cause low productivity and dissension. The leader’s response to managing conflict is very important as it can escalate or decrease the level of discord. Therefore, conflict resolution is a very important responsibility of team leaders.
Alignment of goals/expectations: The need to align and leverage the skills of team members is critical to accomplishing the expectations of the team objectives. Alignment of goals with the compatibility of team skills and expertise can assist in reaching expectations and accomplishing goals. Goal alignment can have a major effect on team productivity.

Effective Team BuildingFor a team to be effective, team building has to be looked upon as an ongoing process. An effective team shares expectations and has support and trust for each other in the accomplishment of their missions. Team leaders have to ensure that members understand their position within the team and why they are participating on the team. In order for an organization to be successful, teams must be able to fulfill their intended role.

Complementary skill sets: In small teams it is very important to try and provide complementary skill sets. Team leaders who attempt to bring together the acumen and experience of team members with similar and complementary skill sets can be instrumental in developing a team that can be successful in accomplishing the organization’s mission. Virtual teams play a major factor in providing individuals with complementary skill sets because of the vastness of the population of choice.
Shared vision/goals: It is important that teams have a clear knowledge of what the team is to accomplish in order for team members to share in a successful expected outcome. A successful team will start with a clear vision and a clear sense of purpose.
Problem Solving: Compatibility and problem solving begins with the team selection process. Trust can offset uncertainty by having a very cohesive team. Problem solving can often be attained by asking team members involved to recommend possible actions and then find a common course of action to satisfactorily resolve the problem. This type of collaborative method can retain team cohesion since members are involved in the problem-solving process.

Defining Team Success

Team success can occur when collaboration and a solid sense of interdependency exist between team members. This can assist teams to develop the maximum level of cohesiveness and synergy can then occur in delivering maximum productivity. Open communication is an essential component of a successful team relationship. Team success is evident when each team member agrees upon the goals that are clearly relevant and supports the mission and vision of the organization or team.

Team cohesion: Team cohesiveness can exist when team members work cooperatively through sharing goals, expertise, and other resources. Team members need to have a sense of belongingness. Cohesiveness is an important aspect of developing open communication between team members. The members will want to participate when they feel that the mission is important and their contribution is important.
Performance: Outstanding leadership and high expectations can generate high performance as team members will normally emulate outstanding leadership. Because the global market is becoming extremely competitive the need to develop high-performing teams is on the increase. Teams that can collaborate in maximizing the utilization of expertise will increasingly be developed to raise organizational productivity and performance. To accomplish this, teams need to be periodically assessed to ensure healthy, effective team functions.

Module 7 Summary
Through this module’s lectures and readings, you learned about motivating and maintaining teams. This module addressed the importance of each of these areas and pointed to the importance of both process and product as it relates to leading and being a participant on a team.Here are the key points you covered in this module:

Motivating and maintaining a team requires energy and enthusiasm on the part of the team leader and it takes attention to detail including focusing on essential process points and key team outcomes.
Persistence is the key factor in maintaining the team. When teams and team leadership establish persistence in the follow up and recognition of group goals, they are likely to stay focused and relevant.
Periodic assessment of the feelings and perceptions of team members is another mechanism used in maintaining the team. Teams that are assessed consistently and comprehensively are more likely to adjust their outputs to meet expectations. By carefully measuring aspects related to both process and outputs, the opportunity to remedy shortcomings is much greater.

 
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