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Groups and Teams Paper

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Groups and Teams Britny McCoubrey MGT/311 January 16, 2013 Marcia Smart, Ph. D. Groups and Teams Cooperation has been an essential tool for humanity throughout its history; people have used teamwork for hunting, gathering, farming, and protection as well as for community and social fulfillment. As industry and technology have reshaped and extended the dynamics and demographics of trade, traditional proprietorships have readily given way to partnerships, in turn gave way to corporations.

Within these businesses, cooperation serves again as a driving force toward a common goal—often on a huge scale that operates on the work of smaller groups and teams. This paper will examine different kinds of working groups (supplemented where possible by examples from an organization for which the author has worked), and the importance of the fundamental differences between working groups and teams. It will also address the five stages of team-building, how conflict (a much-maligned term), actually assists this process, and personal experiences of the author with this process.

Different Groups Within an organization, different kinds of groups cooperate on different levels for different reasons. Robbins and Judge (2011) identify six types of groups: formal, informal, command, task, interest and friendship. Organizational structure determines formal groups, which work together to achieve organizational goals (p. 276). All of the associates working in a single Walmart store comprise a formal group. An informal group does not rely on the organization for structure, assembly or goals and gathers instead to satisfy social needs of the people comprising it (p. 76). The Walmart associates chatting at the break-room table constitute such a group—they may not be friends outside of work or even know each other, but they assemble to eat together and banter about their professional or personal exploits. Four subgroups exist within these groups: formal subgroups include command and task, while informal subgroups include interest and friendship (p. 276). Formally classified command groups report to one manager; at Walmart, a single Customer Service Manager supervises and assists up to 16 cashiers in a command group.

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In a task group, members don’t necessarily report to one manager, but rather transcend different managers, groups, and departments to accomplish a specific task within the organization. When a man ran out of Walmart with a stolen backpack full of other stolen sporting goods equipment, several managers from several departments chased him out the door and tackled him on the concrete in the parking lot. Those managers then had to cooperate with the Loss Prevention associate, the Sporting Goods bullpen associate, and even the police in order to handle the situation and move forward with prosecution.

In many cases of crime or other special circumstances, associates of different areas have to come together to complete tasks that affect all of them (and often the store). While all command groups are task groups in some way, task groups are more transcendental and therefore not always command groups (p. 277). Informal interest groups include people gathering for common interests, whether that common interest is quilting caps and blankets for the March of Dimes effort or lobbying for or against organizational or managerial actions or policies (p. 77). Friendship groups, on the other hand, gather for a sense of community; this often transcends the professional sphere and carries into the personal sphere, with people meeting outside of work and building personal relationships with coworkers. Groups vs. Teams While the terms ‘group’ and ‘team’ seem to be used interchangeably, fundamental divergences separate them. According to Robbins and Judge (2011), work groups take on the responsibilities of formal groups as defined earlier.

They mainly work together to make decisions that help them fulfill their responsibilities and meet broad organizational goals, which thye do on an individual basis and without need or practical ability to utilize teamwork or collective effort. Work teams, on the other hand, functions on collaboration and synergy, powered by the efforts of several people working together to accomplish shared goals. While a group of cashiers will process transactions as fast as they can to control front-end congestion, the accounting team that handles the cash works together as a real team to andle their tasks, which include getting change for cashiers, taking in cash drops when tills close, and auditing those till drops. They work together in one little room, working out certain decisions and coordination on their own for their own specific goals. While groups work together individually, teams work together collectively, even though all work in the company of one another. Teams are often more valuable than mere groups because management can harness that synergy and collectivity, and use it to increase performance. The Five Stages of Team-Building

Robbins and Judge (2011) identify the five stages of team-building as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning (p. 279). Forming sees the team take shape amid structural, leadership, and purpose-oriented ambiguity. Much like a pack of creatures establishing dominance, the team members will push limits and test boundaries until they find what works and begin feeling like a team. This can happen when an associate is newly hired and must establish his place among his peers. Specifically, when Walmart remodeled Garden Center, people from different departments and ranks were pulled together to work on it.

This was an awkward time at first, because no one really knew who of the many evenly-ranked employees was ‘in charge’. Storming actually needs conflict to iron out these details and determine who will lead the team, and to allow team members to come to terms with team-related constraints. The associates argued for a few days on whose breaks and lunches took priority, as the remodel occurred on a single shift each day and lunches were difficult to coordinate without some having to wait longer than others to go.

Finally, two leaders took charge and managed the schedules moreeffectively. More about team conflict management will arise later. Norming sees the team cohering and ‘settling’ into their roles and codes of conduct. Certain Walmart associates involved with the remodel had different skills and backgrounds, so as Goodwill (2011) suggests, leaders assigned associates to different duties, and once these and systems of evaluating success were established, teamwork became easier and tasks more defined.

Performing is like fourth gear for the team; it is rolling and fully functional, firing on all cylinders and turning out real achievement. In the remodel, Walmart associates dug in and did what they knew they had to. This is the final stage in permanent groups, but in temporary groups assigned for a specific task within a timeframe, adjourning sees the team tie up loose ends, add finishing touches, and finally disband. The remodel team was likewise disbanded after shelves were replaced and reassembled so that actual Garden Associates could arrange and stock them.

Those associates went back to their normal duties. Regarding these stages, Weinclaw (2010) makes an excellent point when she advises that these stages are not necessarily linear, and can repeat or occur at different stages or even in cycles. Just because a team has moved past one conflict, for example, or established leadership, this does not mean new conflict or leadership will not arise, and the team may have to go back through certain stages if this occurs.

Conflict Management in Teams As mentioned previously, conflict actually helps to shape teams. However, this does not mean that all conflict at any level is conducive to efficient performance by a team. According to Robbins and Judge (2011), a certain amount of conflict can allow teams to strengthen rapport, engage creativity and remain dynamic, whereas the total absence of conflict can stagnate a team and render it static, which can cost the team drive.

Conflict management sounds like a strategy for removing conflict, but Robbins and Judge (2011) define this phrase as using both resolution and stimulation techniques to achieve as optimal level of conflict, which implies that conflict may need to be stimulated occasionally as well as resolved. Sykes (2010) addresses ways that conflict can arise, including cultural differences (as a result of globalization, for example) and clashing communication styles.

She emphasizes the importance of identifying the cause and creating a solution. In her opinion, a major element in managing conflict is to prevent it as much as possible (although she asserts that conflict management is not about absolute elimination, which would be impossible). Of course, a major aid in managing conflict on individual and group levels is to incorporate conflict management training into the workplace, so that employees are prepared to respond appropriately and effectively to conflict should it arise.

At Walmart associates are trained, for example, on how to use the chain of command to report conflicts, and how to use the open door policy to get around additional or command chain-related conflict as well. Understanding conflict as a potentially positive influence on a team and knowing beforehand how to respond effectively to it so that it can have that positive influence can decrease drain on teamwork from conflicts not only by preventing them when possible, but by reducing the time and stress that they siphon from real tasks. Conclusion

Teamwork, according to Goodwill (2011) remains a major theme in modern business, and understanding the complex processes of developing teams and managing conflict to keep a team dynamic and performing satisfactorily allows for an appreciation of all that really goes into keeping those teams running smoothly. In a business world that increasingly thrives on teamwork and the output of its synergy, would-be employees and leaders alike need to embrace this form of collaboration. Teamwork has, after all, gotten humanity this far—surely it will carry it much further as time goes on.

References: Goodwill, M. (2011, February 10). How to succeed at team-building. People Management, 30. Robbins, S. P. , & Judge, T. A. (2011). Organizational behavior (14th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ:Pearson/Prentice Hall. Sikes, B. , Gulbro, R. , & Shoesy, L. (2010). Conflict in work teams: Problems and solutions. Allied Academies International Conference: Proceedings of the Academy of Organizational Culture, Communications & Conflict (AOCCC), 15(1), 15-19. Wienclaw, R. A. (2010). Teams & team building. Teams & Team Building - Research Starters Business, 1-6.

CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY I certify that the attached paper is my original work. I am familiar with, and acknowledge my responsibilities which are part of, the University of Phoenix Student Code of Academic Integrity. I affirm that any section of the paper which has been submitted previously is attributed and cited as such, and that this paper has not been submitted by anyone else. I have identified the sources of all information whether quoted verbatim or paraphrased, all images, and all quotations with citations and reference listings.

Along with citations and reference listings, I have used quotation marks to identify quotations of fewer than 40 words and have used block indentation for quotations of 40 or more words. Nothing in this assignment violates copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property laws. I further agree that my name typed on the line below is intended to have, and shall have, the same validity as my handwritten signature. Student's signature (name typed here is equivalent to a signature): Britny McCoubrey

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