Team dynamics

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(Redirected from Group dynamics)

Team dynamics or group dynamics is the complex of socio-psychological processes, phenomena, events, effects that explains the psychological content and actions in small group or team, the characteristics of its functioning, the main stages of its life and functioning from the moment of its appearance to "dying" and the final disintegration as one cohesive community. Describing its properties following assumptions is necessary:

  • The whole dominates the parts. This means that a group can not be treated as a sum of units, because it often changes their individual behavior. The influence of external factors concerns the group as a whole, as a single system, not individual units. In such conditions, each person acknowledges his dependence on others belonging to a given group of people;
  • The individual elements are combined. Thus, the most important in the concept of the group is the interdependence of individuals who are more likely to join groups they identify with, not to those they depend on, remaining among the people to whom they feel their affiliation, even when their behavior is unfriendly. These considerations and conclusions were later confirmed empirically, which gave the opportunity to determine the correct functioning and development of groups with different orientations.

Model Tuckman’s Stages

The most known and popular theory describing the team dynamic is a model called "Tuckman’s Stages", created in 1965, by a psychology professor, Bruce Wayne Tuckman. According to Tuckman, team develops and goes through four main stages. The fifth stage, called "Adjouring", has been added in 1977, jointly by Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen.

  1. First stage is called "forming", here, team members meet for the first time and try to familiarize themselves with each other. They are not certain about the roles, try to define or learn the job to be done, look for guidance outside. At this stage the role of Team Leader is crucial. Team Leader needs to set the rules within the team, indicate the common team goal, ensure that every team member is involved and finally show how to cooperate.
  2. "Storming" is a second stage, where the first conflicts can be observed. Team members compete with each other, are concerned about the team hierarchy, but also disagree with each other. Peoples have different point of view and stick to their opinion, that leads to conflicts and sometimes to sub-grouping. This stage can be difficult for individuals who don't like to enter into the conflicts. Team Lead's job is to ensure that each team member respect other's opinions, listen to other and let them speak. Team Leader need to be involved and pursue to hold the conflicts back. Here is also the room to delegate some tasks or decisions to the team.
  3. Next stage, that can be observed is called "Norming". Here, team tries to end the conflict and stabilize the situation by establishing the common rules. Team members already know the "team rules" and stick to them. They know how to cooperate, know the processes, tasks, procedures. They try to support each other and the cooperation is more effective. They also understand and respect other team member's opinions or attitudes. They are able to overcome, by themselves, the problems that arise. Though Team Leader support may be required in case they get stuck. Here Team Leader's role is to coach rather than indicate every single step.
  4. Then, group gets to the "Performing" stage, where all issues are solved, processes are on place, group works cooperatively to get to the joint goal. Team works as a well-oiled machine. Team members are motivated, independent, effective and make the decisions or introduces the changes by themselves. Team Leader doesn't need the oversee the details of the processes but only monitor the progress or make the decision that needs further consultation on the higher level.
  5. The last additional stage is called "Adjourning". This stage can be observed in the project teams, in their concluding stage, when the team is going to end their cooperation and team member are moving to the another projects. Celebrating the success or gathering the lessons learned is highly desirable here.

Examples of Team dynamics

  • Social Loafing: Social loafing is the tendency for individuals to expend less effort when working in a group than when working alone. This often occurs when individual contributions to a group project are not monitored and people feel that their work is not noticed.
  • Groupthink: Groupthink is a phenomenon occurring when a group of people makes a decision without critically evaluating alternative viewpoints. Group members prioritize harmony and conformity, and actively avoid dissent, leading to suboptimal decisions.
  • Group Polarization: Group polarization occurs when members of a group discuss an issue, and subsequently become more extreme in their views on the issue. This is often seen in political groups, where members become more polarized in their beliefs after discussing the issue.
  • Group Cohesion: Group cohesion is the degree to which the members of a group are attracted to each other and share common goals. High group cohesion can lead to increased trust and collaboration between group members, which often leads to better group performance.
  • Group Conflict: Group conflict is the tension or disagreement between members of a group due to differences in opinion, values, or goals. Group conflict can lead to a breakdown in communication, and can ultimately lead to a decrease in group performance.

Advantages of Team dynamics

Team dynamics can bring a variety of advantages to a group or team. These include:

  • Increased creativity and productivity - Team dynamics help to foster a more creative and productive environment, as each team member can bring their unique ideas and perspectives to the table. This can help to drive innovation and generate solutions that may not have been possible working alone.
  • Improved communication - Team dynamics help to improve communication between team members, as everyone will be encouraged to express their opinions and ideas. This can help to create a stronger sense of unity, understanding, and collaboration.
  • Increased motivation - When team members feel like their contributions are valued, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged. Team dynamics can help to create a positive working environment where everyone feels appreciated and respected.
  • Improved problem-solving - Working as a team can help to identify solutions to problems that may not have been discovered working alone. This can help to create a more efficient and effective working environment.

Limitations of Team dynamics

Team dynamics can be limited in the following ways:

  • Groupthink - this is the tendency of a group to make decisions without considering all possible options due to the desire to maintain harmony within the group.
  • Social loafing - this is when individuals in a team slack off because they feel their individual contribution is insignificant compared to the collective effort.
  • Conflict - this is when different opinions and personalities clash within a team, which can lead to tension and reduced productivity.
  • Lack of motivation - this is when team members become disinterested in the task or project, leading to a lack of commitment and enthusiasm.
  • Poor communication - this is when team members are not adequately communicating with each other, leading to misunderstandings and miscommunication.
  • Poor leadership - this is when the team leader is unable to effectively motivate and manage the team, leading to a lack of direction and focus.

Other approaches related to Team dynamics

To understand team dynamics, it is important to consider other approaches such as systems theory, social identity theory, the concept of "groupthink," the theory of transactional leadership, and the theory of distributed leadership.

  • Systems theory is an approach that looks at the complex interaction between groups, individuals and the environment in which they work. It looks at how groups interact with each other and with their environment and how these interactions can be managed to create a successful outcome.
  • Social identity theory suggests that individuals form an identity based on their group membership. It posits that group members will strive for acceptance and loyalty to the group, which will influence the group's performance and functioning.
  • Groupthink is a phenomenon in which group members become too focused on agreement and harmony, and as a result, they become unable to think critically and objectively. This can lead to poor decision-making and a lack of creativity.
  • The theory of transactional leadership suggests that a leader should provide direction and feedback to their team, as well as motivating them to work together towards common goals.
  • The theory of distributed leadership suggests that power should be shared amongst members of the team, and that each member should be empowered to take initiative and be responsible for their own tasks.

In conclusion, understanding team dynamics requires an examination of various approaches, such as systems theory, social identity theory, the concept of "groupthink," the theory of transactional leadership, and the theory of distributed leadership. These approaches help to explain the complex interactions and processes that take place in small groups and teams.

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Author: Magdalena Rewers