Teamwork and Performance Literature Reviews

Article One Review

There are several ways that teams can improve their performance.  For instance, teamwork is a growing phenomenon and it is important for individuals of a work group to learn how to work together as a team. According to Fearon, McLaughlin, and Eng (2012) teamwork involves a process to solve problems while addressing one’s strengths by recognizing areas of personal development, growth and improvement.  Teamwork is also about appreciating attributes that other team members bring to the group.

Theoretical Implications

Teamwork requires team cohesion particularly with members of culturally diverse teams were they are most likely to socialize and interact with each other more than teams that are less culturally diverse (Horwitz, 2015).  These types of team interaction are of a social identity theory which holds that individuals are more likely to identify and socialize with others more similar to themselves. The cultural differences and actual cultural differences may have different influences on team processes.   Due to the increase of cultural diversity teams, team member interactions are becoming more complex because of the multicultural nature of the team. There is no doubt that some individuals behave more effectively in culturally diverse situations than others (Ang, Van Dyne, Koh, Ng, Templer, Tay, & Chandrasekar, 2007 Earley, & Ang, 2003; Thomas, Elron, Stahl, Ekelund, Ravlin, Cerdin,  Poelmans, 2008). It is important for members of a team regardless of their expertise to work together in achieving the common goals and objectives.

Article One Main Ideas and Evidence

There is a common characteristic that teams share with groups as they pass through the group development process of accomplishing its goals and objectives.  As the team go through these phases the members of a group brings a special skill or knowledge that is vital to the functionality of the team (Chou & Garcia, 2011).  This article, explains how the linear relationship between expert diversity and team performance can be mediated by learning.

Van Der Vegt and Bunderson (2005) discuss how teams with low classifications tend to display a negative relationship between diversity and performance of teams. On the other hand, teams with high collective identification demonstrate a positive relationship between team diversity and performance. As explained in the article by Van Der Vegt and Bunderson (2005) who confer that multi-disciplinary and multifunctional team are key ways of approaching organizational work.  They specifically believe it is important with organizing work when members of the teams possess different knowledge and skills needed in addressing problems within the organization.

This article draws its main idea from John Stuart Mill who argues that diversity in knowledge and expertise enhances learning and progress within the organizational teams, and meaningful learning and interaction between dissimilar individuals is quite challenging and can be frustrating.  The research recommends that these theories by John Stuart Mill are valid (Baker, 2010).  Originations have dynamic work forces – therefore, it is the responsibility of team leaders to effectively apply various methods, processes, and tools to leverage critical success factors in order to maintain positive team performance and productivity.

This research provided data with numbers that tested the hypotheses and theories.  The underlying assumption of value in diversity is that teams consisting of heterogeneous members promote creativity, innovation, and problem solving, hence generating more informed decisions.  The study indicates that collective team identification helps teams to resolve the challenges associated with expertise diversity and dissimilarities. The research provides its evidence from a primary study of multidisciplinary teams within a “Global 1000” organization of the oil and gas industry in the Netherlands. These teams came from various disciplines such as science, engineering, and technicians.  They performed research and development activities such as identifying petroleum and natural gas.  The leaders of the organization granted authorization of supervisors to provide feedback on a voluntary basis to ensure that working time was not altered.

There were approximately 225 team members who volunteered to participate in the study.  Each participant had a wide range of related career experiences and multiple levels of skills.  The participants were asked to interact regularly throughout the process, coordinate activities, and to share information and resources in order to accomplish joint goals. The research consists of 62 supervisors from within the team members who responded to a supervisor portion of the study which measured team performance.  Approximately, 98% of the supervisors participated. In addition, the study required four members of each team to complete and return a team survey that provided data pertaining to the measuring of collective team identification and team process variables.  Not all supervisors participated in this portion of the study however, 91% did participate by responding to the questionnaire that used a rating scale as “completely disagree” represent a rating of one, and “completely agree” represent a rating of seven (Van Der Vegt & Bunderson, 2005).   The results univariate analysis was carried out and it indicates that expertise diversity of teams did not relate linearly with collective team identification, team learning and team performance.  The study refers to expertise diversity as the “differences in the knowledge and skill domains in which members of a group are specialized as a result of their work experience and education” (p. 533).  There were discoveries learned within the teams which related positively with team performance.  Such as, it allows for open communication, feedback, joint and ongoing team interactions.  According to Aiken & West, (1991); Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken (2003) a regression analysis was also carried out to test the hypotheses of the study, and the result indicate that teams with low collective team identification, showed a negative relationship between expertise diversity and team performance

Argument

According to Van Der Vegt and Bunderson (2005), disagree with the study underscore results because of the need to move from the model of diversity-performance relationship to a more complex approach which explained the impact of expertise diversity on group effectiveness.  They also argue the implications of expertise diversity on performance of teams accommodating monotonic effects. These effects are mediated by team learning behaviors. Affective diversity-performance includes multiple interactions from each individual of the team.

In addition, the research findings disagreed with the idea that communication enhances team performance in a situation of expertise diversity, and argued that cross-fertilization of ideas is the main reason for the benefits of expert diversity.  The cross-fertilization of ideas is enhanced through team learning.   However, external communication is important when information and advice are gathered from outside to support team learning.   Furthermore, the research argues that social diversity in teams can provide greater results in team effectiveness, when team members can identify with their teams objective goals.

Question for a Study

A recommendation for multidisciplinary teams would be the awareness of the organizational culture.  Being aware of the organizational culture and organizational practices are distinctive, and fair, it can enhance clarity, facilitate individuals and teamwork with a common understanding, and therefore lead to a consensus perception or an environment that has a consensus behavior (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004). As it relates to diversity “individuals are motivated to interact mostly with members of their own social categories” (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, & Cook, 2001 p.425).  Thus, additional theory and research is needed in order to address further team effectiveness relating to the diversity and culture dynamics surrounding expertise diversity.

Article Two Review

This article identifies motivation as an important way of enhancing employee’s performance in organizations; comprising a set of ideas, wishes and needs that enable employees to attain their goals. This is supported by McCelland model of needs-based motivation which identified three types of motivation: need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power.

Theoretical Implications

The equity theory suggests that the motivation of individuals depends on the comparison between an individual’s input-output ratios with the ratio of others. In the equity theory, the terms inputs and outputs to mean the things individuals put into work and the things individuals take out of work respectively.  Inputs include hard work, efforts, loyalty and skill while inputs include financial rewards and compensation such as salary, bonuses, pensions, etc. outputs also include non-financial incentives such as praise, promotion, recognition and security.   Equity is achieved through a fair balance between inputs and outputs. Armache (2012) argues that people feel more motivated and happier when their inputs are fairly rewarded by outputs. The recognition of non-financial motivations for employees was also highlighted by the four-drive theory.

Article Two Main Ideas and Evidence

Armache (2012) uses this model to support his idea, and argues that if a manager uses a mixture of the three types of motivation they will develop unique motivational skills and abilities to motivate teams.  For example, an individual with strong needs for affiliation may be affected in terms of objectivity in decision making. On the other hand, an individual with high power affiliation may have effective work ethics and commitment to the organization.   Armache (2012) suggests that the need for achievement attracted McClelland the most.   People with high needs for achievement are good leaders who take risks, set goals and develop mechanisms and efforts of achieving duh goals. This view by McClelland is an individual view which was improved by John Stacey Adams who develops an equity theory based on a comparative view and awareness of equity.

Argument

The four-drive theory argues that employees are driven by the need to belong, learn, acquire, and defend.  The drive to acquire goes beyond the drive for basic needs and includes the need to achieve social recognition and status.   The drive to bond is the desire to interact with others and develop a shared affection with others. The drive for defense entails developing fright and flight in times of danger.   Lastly, the drive to learn is the drive for one to satisfy his or her creativity.   All these drives are universally found in all human beings and lead to goal-directed efforts which improve the performance of employees at the workplace. Armache (2012) draws his ideas about compensation and employee performance.

This article argues that motivation improves job performance, and compensation is one of the motivation techniques used to motivate employees in order to improve their performance. According to the article, job performance is affected by employee’s ability and motivation. The article further suggests that compensation involves rewarding people with monetary compensations.  Armache (2012) argues that employees who are paid high salary and wages perform highly because they feel that they are valued by the organization. This article suggests that organizations currently have developed team rewards which increase team performance.   In this case, gain-sharing plans are used.  They involve provision of bonuses based on the cost savings and productivity improvement of each team. In this case, team members work hard towards the achievement of group objectives in order to improve their performance and get higher bonuses.  In this case, team rewards motivate teams to improve their performance and productivity of the organization.

Question for a Study

A future question for a study pertaining to employee performance and motivation would be what are the unforeseen gaps or factors that would hinder teams from working cohesively within an organization. Also, another would be what other benefit rewards could organizations provide employees to enhance team performance when compensation of monetary amounts is not available.

Article Three Review

According to Wheelan (2005) who suggest that teams go through stages such as (a) “the first phase of the team, it differentiates the results of belonging and security, (b) the second phase reveals opposition, conflict, and questioning of the leadership, (c) the third phase involves trust and structure, and (d) the fourth stage, includes working within the team while establishing productivity and results” (p.100).   Teams serve many purposes.  Organizations utilize team development techniques that could ultimately develop high-performing work environments.  Through the use of increasing communications, cooperation, and cohesiveness teams attempt to accomplish the goals and objectives and goals.

Theoretical Implications

There are several theorists that suggest “trust evolves over time and determined from a series of observations and interactions” (Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, (1995, p. 730). Theoretically, Gulati  and Sytch (2008) believe “trust can be utilized and hence demonstrated and reinforced only in situations of risk and uncertainty” thus “long-lasting histories of interaction provide unparalleled opportunities for  building mutually trusting relationships” (p. 168).  Team based trust is an ongoing process, through adequate guidance team members will learn to be better partners that can work together better and simultaneously improve their performance skills.

This article used tax consulting teams to determine the effects of trust on ongoing team performance. De Jong and Elfring (2010) suggest that trust leads to positive effects on team performance. This is evidenced from the results of the mediation analysis of the study which involved the regression of each team process and trust control variables.  The results from the regression analysis indicated that trust is significantly and positively related to team performance.

Article Three Main Ideas, Evidence and Argument

The argument in these results is that trust-team performance relationship can be understood well through the study of specific team processes rather than looking at the overall constructs such as teamwork and collaboration. The mediation hypotheses of the article also suggested that trust is related to the three team processes: reflexivity, monitoring and effort.

The results of the study indicate that trust indeed has a significant positive relationship with reflexivity, monitoring and effort. This supports the main effects of trust as hypothesized by the paper. In the mediation analysis of the study, team performance was regressed on all the three team processes.   This analysis confirmed two of the three relationships hypothesized.  It was found that team monitoring has a significant positive relationship with team performance and team effort is also positively related to team performance (De Jong & Elfring, 2010).  However, there is non-significant relationship between reflexivity and team performance.   This is shown by the regression analysis, although the correlation analysis shows otherwise.   It is clear here that the three team processes have some relationship with team performance although reflexivity shows insignificant relationship when regression analysis is used.

In this case, trust is considered to affect team performance through monitoring and team effort. The results of the study show that there is a positive effect of trust on monitoring in ongoing teams.   The ongoing teams develop trust that encourages monitoring, which in turn encourages the team members to help and support each other. From the results of the study, it was clear that team effort and team monitoring mediated the trust-team performance relationship.

The study trusts in ongoing teams indicate an impact that is directly associated with effort.  The argument suggested by the study is in support of this point because affective interpersonal bonds and cooperative norms are developed better through ongoing teams.  For example, such teams are likely to experience salient normative and affective considerations.  Hence they can motivate effort and be affected by trust more than in short term teams.

The study relates these findings with the findings of past literature in order to support its findings even more strongly. It corroborates past researches which show positive main effect of trust on team performance of ongoing teams, and contrasts with studies which report conditional effect of trust on team performance of short term teams.

Article Four Review

Success Factors of Teams

An important division of an organization is the usage of teams to assist with planning of business objectives which are utilized in the form of project development, task forces, and committees to accomplish organizational goals and objectives.  Teams are organized into six types: informal, traditional, problem solving, leadership, self-directed, and virtual (Newell & Kirkwood, 2006, p. 887). Gratton and Erickson (2007) theorize that large size, diversity, participation, and highly educated specialists are important to team success however, they can also negatively affect the collaboration of teams. When teams have clear directions team members are able to comprehend the objective, goal, or mission and are empowered to collaboratively achieve success (Newell & Kirkwood, 2006).  This study seeks to determine whether people are really the most important assets of a company. Collaboration is common practices require great participation from all team members in order to achieve successful outcomes.  It is important because team performance is a crucial and effective characteristic of high performing teams.

Theoretical Implications

The motivation theory called expectancy theory according to Georgopoulos, Mahoney, & Jones, (1957); Vroom, (1964) support the level of satisfaction and effort that team members contribute.  For example, teams are more productive when team members know that the organization holds everyone to the same standard (LaFasto & Larson, 2001).  This can be accomplished by organizations providing motivation that support employees, professional development initiatives that expand practice opportunities, broadening perspectives with exposure to people and other units in the organizations, and by encouraging collaboration between management and workers.

Article Four Review-Main Ideas, Evidence and Argument

The purpose of the article was to find out the effect of value diversity on team performance and effectiveness. In order to achieve this, the study used a comprehensive framework to examine all aspects of human values.  A total of 306 participants were involved in the study and they were grouped into 60 teams which performed complex tasks and displayed various measurements of value and team processes. The end result of the study showed that value diversity in teams did not have a significant effect on task performance, but value dimensions on diversity had some impact on team process criteria. Less diversity was found to be positively related to process outcomes.

The study examined various value types as suggested in the Schwartz’s ten-value types. The results indicated that task performance was not affected by incongruence among team members, either positively or negatively, in any of the studied value types. This study used a primary research and secondary literature to prove this proposition. The results of the study were supported by past literatures and the correlation analysis carried out on the various value types.  Zero-order correlations were carried out between diversity in all the chosen value types. The results of the correlation analysis proved that task performance is not related to diversity in any of the chosen team values. Diversity on values was also examined in terms of four team process variables: Task conflict, relationship conflict, efficacy and cohesion.

This article also proposes that value diversity has a significant impact on all the four team process variables. The results were consistent across all team process variables and outcomes. It was found out that greater team diversity led to negative impact on process outcomes. Specifically, team diversity led to more task and relationship conflict, lower efficacy of teams and lower team cohesion. Relationship conflict was found to be the team process variable with the strongest relationship with team value diversity. This idea was proved by the dominance analysis of the study which examined relative impact of team diversity in each of the team processes. The results provided a unique variance for each value dimension compared to other value dimensions. The results of the dominance analysis show that the importance of member diversity differed relatively with other team process variables. Diversity with respect to achievement and benevolence were also found to be important in the study.

All the process variables except cohesion were related to achievement and benevolence. Team member diversity in relation to these values was considered to be significantly related to the task and relationship conflict. The argument in this case is that individual versus collective orientation are displayed by team member interactions. Similarly, mastery versus harmony manifest in interactions among team members. These findings had significant implications for managing team diversity.

Question for a Study

The study has implications for ongoing research pertaining to team diversity management.  A future research question would be if or how should mangers on a continuous basis actively manage team development in all circumstances – even when team diversity is not clearly apparent. As a key implication of team diversity management, teambuilding efforts should be expanded to include sessions with team members to discuss value profiles of the team members. Team diversity managers also need to take action as teams form because team members will understand the significance of diversity quickly in team processes.

Article Five Review

The study bases its arguments on mainly theories from other scholars and researchers in the past. The main idea is that the above business axiom or question of people being valuable company assets should emphasize on the right people instead of just general people. This article suggests that most managers mistakably believe that filling all vacant positions is important to increase performance and productivity of the organisation. However, according to Sensenig (2009), this thought is outdated and may result in poor outcomes of recruitment, team performance, and productivity of employees. This is supported by the argument that the general perspective of filling positions with people is an indication of shortsightedness in terms of hiring, team-accountability processes, and team-based assignments.

Article Five Theoretical Implications

According to the two-factor theory of motivation proposed by Herzberg, employees’ performance is enhanced through two types of motivation factors: Dissatisfaction (Hygiene) factors and satisfaction factors (Herzberg, 2003). Dissatisfaction factors include salary, job security, working conditions, interpersonal relations, and level and quality of supervision. The satisfaction factors include sense of achievement, responsibility, recognition, nature of work and personal growth and development (Herzberg, 2003). In relation to the article, managers are required to provide high levels of hygiene and motivator factors in order to achieve higher performance, instead of just filling positions without considering the factors that motivates them to achieve higher results. These motivating factors should be considered while hiring and selecting the best candidates for given positions. They need to be motivated in teams in order to feel that they belong to the team and ensure that they perform well to achieve team objectives.

Article Five Main Ideas, Evidence, and Argument

The article suggests that hiring successful people should be based on the current needs of the organisation. This leads to effective team performance evaluation, long-term thinking, and successful employee development mechanisms. Therefore, people and performance are used to drive short term and long term profits. However, Sensenig (2009) suggests that there are common hiring problems that may affect the performance and productivity of people in an organisation.

Hiring people is the first step that organisation’s develops its teams, develops performance standards, and achieves productivity. At this stage, an organisation faces five drawbacks. First, managers may tend to hire people who mainly reflect their attitudes and beliefs. In this case, hiring managers believe that they can produce the best results if they hire people who are like them. This limits the company from utilizing diversity of thought and creativity, and also leads to stagnation of the organisation. The second drawback is the failure of hiring managers to follow a consistent hiring process. This drags the hiring process slowly and may lead to poor hiring decisions. Thirdly, emergency hiring may lead to poor hiring decision making. Creating a pressure of emergency hiring may lead human resources to avoid some important hiring steps in order to save time. The fourth drawback of hiring is focusing on narrow vision when hiring. This may lead to hiring qualified people who do not fit in the organisational structure or hiring talented people in the wrong positions. The last hiring drawback is to overestimate likability. Managers may hire people they like and overlook the aspect of fitting into their roles. These drawbacks may reduce the performance and productivity of people in organisations; but there are also other mistakes in team creation which may affect the performance of an organisation after the right people have been hired.

Teams that fail to perform as expected may cause poor performance and productivity. One of the drawbacks that result from the formation of teams is the failure to place the right people in their right roles. This happens when the manager says the project should start immediately and the supervisor assigns roles randomly without choosing the most suited for each task. Secondly, lack of diversity in the team in terms of ideas may lead to poor or no innovation. The third mistake during the formation of a team is lack of discussion about the big picture. In this case, lack of communication causes the team members not to understand how to fit the project into the greater plans of the organisation. The fourth drawback is lack of consistency in team reviews. Reviewing teams enhances higher performance. Disengagement of team members is the last mistake that managers make when forming teams. This occurs due to lack of communication from the leadership. Despite these mistakes and drawbacks, there are various mechanisms that managers can use to minimize dysfunctions in teams.

There are five approaches to increase performance and reduce failure: building trust, encouraging open conversation, engaging team members, reinforcing accountability, and stating team vision and goals effectively. Criticizing, condemning or complaining frustrates team members and reduces trust. Building trust can be enhanced by helping team members to make corrections without blames. Open conversation can be encouraged by speaking openly to members and exposing all conflicts. Team members should then be engaged in order to allow members to develop sight of their roles in the organisation’s big picture. Reinforcing accountability involves encouraging fine reputation among members of the team and building trust on the managers. Lastly, stating the team vision and plans allows members to understand their benefits in fulfilling the vision and plans of the organisation.

Question for a Study

This article focuses on the use of people to achieve high productivity in organisations. It suggests that hiring and selection should come up with the best people to fill vacant position. However, it does not consider the contribution of other factors external to the business which may affect the performance of the business. For instance, it does mention anything about how the company should handle uncertainties that may cause job insecurity. While job security is considered as a motivating factor that encourages higher performance and productivity, tough economic conditions may cause redundancy and people may lose their jobs. It is necessary for future study to find out ways that economic difficulties such as recession can be handled in the company in order to assure employees of continued employment and motivate them to perform well at the workplace.

Article Six Review

This article highlights the effects of performance measures by leaders on the promotion of cooperation in teams. The main idea of this article is that performance measurement may promote cooperation in teams through rewarding of successful teams or individual success. It may also encourage competition among team members through relative evaluation of performance. Leadership is considered to be important in this case. Team success rewards and encouraging cooperation is important when a team leader and followers are involved.

Theoretical implications

This article links performance measurement with rewarding systems to enhance organisational performance. This is in line with expectancy theory by Vroom which suggests that effort at the workplace is directed towards behaviours which produce desired outcome (Latham & Ernst, 2006). One of the desired outcomes that employees want to achieve by using their efforts is rewards. In order to increase outcome valences among employees, they need to distribute rewards of value to them so that they can achieve higher performance. Vroom suggests that rewards also need to be individualized in order to increase outcome valences. This is achieved through performance measurement as suggested by the article.

Article Six Review-Main Ideas, Evidence, and Argument

This study also uses a multi-agent model which includes two risk-neutral agents and one risk-neutral principal. The principal uses performance measurement to determine the payments of agents. This model was used to determine the situations in which group incentives are considered to be better than individual incentives and promote competition between agents. For perfectly informed agents, group incentives are not preferred to individual incentives. On the other hand, if one agent is perfectly informed and the other one does not have any information, then group incentives are considered to be effective and optimal for both agents.

Question for a Study

Further study needs to consider how other motivation factors apart from rewards in their performance management. This study does not highlight how negative performance from the performance measurement can be handled. Future research should determine whether punishment of teams can be productive or counterproductive on performance. Future study should also focus on how performance can be improved through the help of other teammates.

Conclusion

The success factors of teams in today’s organizations are focusing on developing team-based work structures as a significant characteristic in the work place.  The diversity of team members and team performance has significant interactions. Some authors consider the two to be positively related while others consider it to be negatively related. Particularly, through the use of performance measures that are used to promote effective team performance and productivity, especially in situations of diversity – group incentives can result in high performance and productivity. Hiring the right people is also important in enhancing greater team performance and productivity. This may be faced by some drawbacks including inconsistent hiring process. Managers need to match the hiring needs with the skills of applicants of various positions.

In general, the right people in the right job will produce greater productivity and performance if diversity is managed effectively, performance measurements are enhanced, and trust is built within teams in the organisation.

 

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