Archive for June, 2016
If you are introducing a group to a new topic, whether in a training session or in an OD workshop where you what to open them up to new ideas and also get them to realise that they probably have some of the knowledge they need already – try this focused conversation.
Well Today we’re going to launch into a new topic – [NAME TOPIC] Let’s talk about this a bit. We all have some experience of this area.
- When was your first experience of this topic?
- As you think about this, what images jump into your mind?
- What are some of the things we already know about this?
- What feelings do you associate with this topic?
- What are some of your past experiences related to the topic?
- What colour do you associate with this?
- What animal does it remind you of?
- What aspects of it do you enjoy?
- What don’t you like about it?
- What is the most challenging things about it?
- Why is this topic important?
- How will if affect you? Your work? Other aspects of your life?
- What are your major questions in this area?
- How can we help each other learn about this topic?
As we share our insights like this, we have already taken the first steps in grasping this topic.
Answers the Question
How do organizations successfully utilize virtual teams?
How it began
Research into virtual teams continues with the growth of global organizations and remote working. The improvements in communication technology has enabled virtual teams to become normalized in most organizational settings but the setting is recognized as being messy.
They share many challenges as those experienced by face-to-face teams but these challenges are exacerbated by their virtuality: poor line management;
Underperformance from individual members leads to greater levels of dysfunction.
Other theoretical issues are also raised including: Where does team boundaries begin and end? How can technology be used to improve performance? What is the balance between local responsiveness and global integration?
Virtual Teams – groups of interdependent coworkers who are geographically dispersed, dependent on technology, structurally dynamic and culturally diverse
Emergent states – important mediational influences with explanatory power accounting for variability in team performance.
Input-process-output (IPO) Framework (Hackman & Morris 1975; McGrrath, 1984)
Inputs are factors that are controllable by organisations for example; leadership behaviours, team composition; HR policies; job design
Team processes are the interdependency of team activities required for teamwork leading to the achievement of team goals. Categories include action, transition or interpersonal. The lack of understanding of group values; regulative information and social cues negatively affect individual’s ability to reduce ambiguity, establish social identity to establish collaborative partnerships
Outputs include performance; attitudes and behaviours.
Four themes are highlighted at individual level; 1) Communication effects caused by technology; Computer mediated communication is highlighted where individual or social identity will determine conformity to either personal or social norms. 2) relational demography where diversity affects individual expectations about teamwork 3) individual differences; where individual differences including personality characteristics and cognitive styles and the resulting commitment to virtual teams and 4) task type and characteristics; where relation to positive individual outcomes including trust, task attraction, social attraction and self rated task success impact adherence to a set of team work rules.
What does this mean for OD
- Reviewing technology to ensure leaner media (video-conferencing; e-mail) is used to facilitate communication clarity when team members have less task-relevant knowledge
- Check team composition; heterogeneous virtual teams are more superior that Face to Face teams, but Homogeneous teams are more satisfied, cohesive and experience less conflict.
- Keep virtual teams small – smaller teams participate more actively, are more committed to the team, have high goal and team member awareness and higher levels of rapport.
- Pay attention to the four critical success factors for virtual teams – communication; culture; technology and project management.
- The most successful virtual teams have more concentrated leadership behaviour focused on performance and keeping track of group work.
- Length of leader’s tenure increases levels of trust and technology support.
- Social communication is linked to building trust early in global virtual teams.
- Substantive and timely response and leadership are involved in maintaining trust at later stages.
Hackman, J. R. and Morris, C. G. (1975) Group tasks, group interaction process and group performance effectiveness: A review and proposed integration. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.) Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 8 pp. 47 – 101). New York. Academic Press
Kirkman, B. L, Gibson, C. B. and Kim, K. (2012) Across Borders and Technologies: Advancements in Virtual Team Research. In Kozlowski, S. W. J. (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology (Vol. 2. pp. 789 – 858). Oxford. Oxford University Press
McGrath, J. E. (1984). Groups, interaction and performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Garden, A. (2015) The Roles of Organisation Development. Gower Publishing
I have been practicing OD for over ten years, and in that time have never found an adequate way of describing exactly what it is that I do… until now.
Thanks to Annamaria Garden, The Roles of the OD practitioner are articulated in a way that makes sense, that actually mean something and explains what we do. I also absolutely love the way the end of each chapter provides the opportunity for you to self assess using questions and exercises, so you can build your own practitioner personal development plan.
The roles are:
Seer – It is the skill of seeing things; of seeing through appearances and looking into the future. Knows what to begin to prioritise or pay attention to. They may know before other do, what needs to be focused on.
Translator – The hearing equivalent to seeing. It is the skill of listening in order to translate one person to another. Listens to the organisation’s speech, looking for the intentions and purpose behind the problems in the organisation.
Cultivator – A role of understanding the rhythm and pacing in the organisation. Recognizing when to go slow, or when to operate at great speed. Aims to heal people and the organisation, focusing on organisational wellness.
Catalyst – Hits the bullseye. Good at combining different things or people to create something quite new and exciting.
Navigator – Charts people and the organisation through psychological space. Knowing the direction, the current space as well as propelling people to get to the direction.
Teacher – Focuses on teaching well.
Guardian – Creates an ethical, not just effective organisation. Being aware of oneself and having disciplines to encourage that.
Each chapter is joyous to read. It’s like unveiling a mirror and understanding what an OD practitioner looks like for the first time. Its also clearly written, practical as well as theoretical and… well just makes sense.
This is a truly excellent book, but a word of warning, it is also one of the most irritating books I have read as well. I blame the burgeoning academic in me, which given that Garden has such as stella academic background perhaps is more a reflection on my failings than her. If you don’t mind her name dropping the OD greats every other sentence, this book will probably not be irritating in the slightest, but I found myself mentally thinking “lets just pick that up from the floor” for every name she dropped… which is often. To my British sensibilities its all a bit boastful. Furthermore there is something rather smug (and academically wrong) about the way she calls Shutz, “Will”, Schein, “Ed” and Beckhard “Dick” – yes we get it, you were mentored and taught by the greats, you don’t have to remind us every five seconds.
But despite my personal irritation this is still an excellent book and one I would highly recommend you get for your bookshelf. Get it here.
Answers the Question
How can organisations leverage their human resources to meet complex challenges?
How it Began
Interest in empowerment and participation can be traced back to Kurt Lewin’s classic research on leadership styles and the 1930’s Hawthorne studies. Individual agency needs (e.g. need for control and achievement) have long supported motivation provided by employee involvement and empowerment. At an organisational level the growing importance of self-managed and self empowered teams has led to a growing interest in participation and empowerment especially with the shift to a knowledge economy and delayering within organisations.
Much research into empowerment has been conducted at an individual level. However, Kirkman and Rosen (1997, 1999) explored empowerment at a team level, arguing that team members can share the belief that their team has autonomy, performs meaningful tasks, is competent and can make an impact. There is an assumption that these dimensions have the same conceptual meaning as those at individual level analysis. However, team empowerment is distinct from individual empowerment in that individual members may differ in their beliefs about personal empowerment but have a shared belief and experience among the team members.
A closely related concept is that of Team Participation which entails greater engagement of team members in the processes contributing to team success. There are three key processes; transition processes, how team task strategies, goals and plans are generated; action processes, how the team coordinate and regulate effort to achieve team goals; interpersonal processes, how teams manage conflict and morale in the team.
Both empowerment and participation assumes that involving team members in core team functions would lead to improved team effectiveness and improve team outcomes. This would prove satisfying for team members and would further motivate and engage the team further in their work. Thus capturing important aspects of engagement. However, team empowerment captures the psychological engagement among team members whereas team participation involves collective behavioural engagement of team members. The interconnectedness between empowerment and participation across both individual-level and team-level reflect both a bottom up and a top down process through which individual members influence their team, and the team influences individual members.
Empowerment – an employee’s actual (subjective) sense of being empowered determined by a set of believes or states; autonomy, meaning, competence and impact
Autonomy – An employee’s sense that they have latitude to choose how and where to get their job done
Team Participation – A process of information exchange and knowledge transfer. The extent to which team members collectively and actively engage in transition, action and interpersonal processes.
Job Characteristics Model (Hackman & Oldham, 1976) – The key to employee motivation is the task itself. Monotony stifles motivation to perform well, whereas challenge enhances motivation. Variety, autonomy and the ability to make decisions are three ways of adding challenge to a job. Job enrichment and job rotation are the two ways of adding variety and challenge.
Self-determination theory (Deci, Connell, & Ryan, 1989) is concerned with supporting our natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways. Thereby capturing the belief that employees possess the competence to perform effectively work tasks and roles and the belief they can make an impact on the workplace.
Participation in Decision Making (Locke and Schweiger, 1979, Locke et al., 1997) assumes that encouraging and allowing employees to be involved in decision making processes motivates employees and promotes decision quality and outcomes. Perceived fairness, nature of task and employee knowledge contribute to understanding how participation in decision making is related to performance and motivation outcomes.
Proactive and Citizenship Behaviours Personal Initiative (Frese & Fay, 2001), Voice (Van Dyne & LePine, 1998) and Citizenship Behaviours (Podsakoff, Mackenzie, Paine & Bachrach, 2000) directly consider employees’ active and proactive engagement in work. Employee choose, and are encouraged, to actively participate in and contribute to organizational work.
Self-Managed and Autonomous Work Teams (Cohen & Bailey, 1997) is where members of self-managed work teams are encouraged to be involved and participate in making decisions that previously were made by supervisors and managers. Self managed teams are reliant on team design and structural empowerment.
What does this mean for Organisation Development?
The OD practitioner must recognise that teams consist of a social system of interdependent individual members – that is, individual team members cannot accomplish their roles effectively, and the team as a whole cannot function effectively, unless members work together in a coordinated fashion. In this respect individual and team empowerment are positively related.
At an individual level developing individual employees in respect to positive self-views, including self-esteem and general self-efficacy are positively related to psychological empowerment.
Supporting individuals to interpret work experience more positively, as well as enabling individuals to be more proactive at work will enhance the likelihood of an individual being more empowered. Working with individual’s through coaching and self-awareness can help develop motivational attributes; increase awareness of cultural differences; develop an understanding of employee expertise and highlight the quality of leader-employee relationships.
Other areas to focus on through Management Development is for Managers to support the individuals need for achievement and openness and emotional stability. This can be achieved through review job characteristics to ensure that job tasks are less ambiguous; there is access to more information; greater skill variety; autonomy; team based rewards, role expectations; task significance and job feedback. The quality of relationship between employees and their supervisor and co-worker must also be developed through social support structures.
Social-orientated inputs also need tackling, specifically leadership behaviours and climate which exert social influences on teams, and play a major role in allowing, encouraging and enabling team empowerment. Developing empowering leadership behaviours will help team members to set their own goals, delegate responsibility, enhance the teams’ sense of control and autonomy and raise team members’ expectations regarding team outcomes.
An empowerment climate and participative leadership can be developed through making use of organisational structures, encouraging information sharing, team accountability, policies and practices which support employee empowerment.
- Cohen, S. G., & Bailey, D. E. (1997). What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of management, 23(3), 239-290.
- Deci, E. L., Connell, J. P., & Ryan, R. M. (1989). Self-determination in a work organization. Journal of applied psychology, 74(4), 580.
- Frese, M., & Fay, D. (2001). 4. Personal initiative: An active performance concept for work in the 21st century. Research in organizational behavior, 23, 133-187.
- Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. Organizational behavior and human performance, 16(2), 250-279.
- Kozlowski, S. W. J., (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psyhcology Volume 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Pg. 767 – Pg. 788
- Kirkman, B. L., & Rosen, B. (1999). Beyond self-management: Antecedents and consequences of team empowerment. Academy of Management journal, 42(1), 58-74.
- Kirkman, B. L., & Rosen, B. (1997) A model of work team empowerment. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 10, 131 – 167
- Locke, E. A.,Alavi, M., & Wagner, J. A. (1997) Participation in decision making: An information exchange perspective. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 15, 293-331
- Locke, E. A., & Schweiger, D. M. (1979). Participation in decision-making: One more look. Research in organizational behavior, 1(10), 265-339.
- Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Paine, J. B., & Bachrach, D. G. (2000). Organizational citizenship behaviors: A critical review of the theoretical and empirical literature and suggestions for future research. Journal of management, 26(3), 513-563.
- Van Dyne, L., & LePine, J. A. (1998). Helping and voice extra-role behaviors: Evidence of construct and predictive validity. Academy of Management Journal, 41(1), 108-119.