Module 2 – SLP
MANAGING GROUPS AND TEAMS
Communication is the grease which makes relationships in organizations run smoothly, and by extension, directly affects the effectiveness of the organization itself. Communication climate refers to the mood or tone of interpersonal communications and determines in great part how people feel about each other and how they carry out their work activities. Thus, communication climate has a great deal of influence over the organizational climate or general atmosphere of the work environment. Read the following blog about what it is like to work in a defensive climate:
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Dukes, A.J. (2012). Defensive v Supportive Climates in the Workplace. Retrieved from http://scom320class.blogspot.com/2012/07/defensive-v-supportive-climates-in.html
As you can see from this blog entry, defensive climates create a situation where employees do not raise work concerns or communicate their needs. They are careful about what they say and guard their opinions. Frequently they exhibit low motivation.
Supportive climates, on the other hand, encourage employee participation and engagement, an open exchange of information, and constructive conflict. Employees who work in supportive environments often exhibit greater organizational commitment, an attitude cited as highly desirable in Module 1.
The Communication Climate Inventory was developed as a means of measuring the degree of supportiveness and defensiveness in an organization. For this SLP, take the inventory and score your organization’s communication climate using the scale below. Take the Communication Climate Inventory.
Compose a 2- to 3-page blog like the one you read for this SLP, describing the climate in your organization, department, or team. Do not use the actual name of the organization – you can make up a pseudonym. Include the following in your description:
Is the climate supportive or defensive? Does this align with the results of your Communication Climate Inventory? Attach your Inventory results as an appendix. (Note: This appendix requirement will likely increase your paper’s Turnitin similarity score; your professor is aware of this.)
How does the communication climate affect motivation and organizational/team commitment?
How could you improve the communication climate in your organization, department, or team?
What communication skills would you like to learn or improve on in order to create a supportive communication climate?
Be sure to support your analysis with concepts and principles introduced in the background readings on communication as well as conflict and teams (if appropriate). You may also incorporate outside research to supplement the background material. Cite all sources properly.
SLP Assignment Expectations
Your paper will be evaluated using the criteria on the SLP rubric (see the rubric for more detail): Assignment-Driven, Critical Thinking, Business Writing, Effective Use of Information, Citing Sources, and Timeliness.
Module 2 – Background
MANAGING GROUPS AND TEAMS
Force Field Analysis
The Force Field Analysis model is one that has been widely used to address challenges in communicating with others, leading teams and managing conflicts. Its goal is to move opposing groups or individuals toward more effective cooperation. As its name suggests, this model analyzes the factors (or forces) that influence situations in which people are having trouble working together. By increasing the driving forces for more effective communication and cooperation and weakening the restraining forces against open communications and cooperation, one can create a working situation that is more collaborative and productive.
For a brief summary of the Force Field Analysis model, see:
Tutor2u. (2016, April 22). Lewin’s force field analysis model [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9ujAtYAfqU
We begin this module by building a foundation of knowledge about interpersonal communication. After all, communication is needed for effective group activities. In gaining this foundation, we will refer to Wikipedia for a “quick and dirty” overview of the topic. (Caution: Wikipedia is an unacceptable source for academic papers because it is a publicly edited site with information that can be incomplete, biased, or incorrect. However, to get a quick introduction to a topic, it can be a good place to start.)
Models of communication. (2016) Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Models_of_communication
Never discount the value of trust in strengthening communication and improving work relationships. One way to build trust is to maximize what we know about ourselves and wish to share with others. Conversely, we want to minimize aspects of ourselves we are not aware of but are readily apparent to others (our “blind spots”). This is accomplished through a combination of self-disclosure and feedback.
The Johari Window is an excellent model for improving communication effectiveness and therefore trust. Created in the 1950s by two guys named Joe and Harry (no kidding!), this model is still widely used in organizations to improve communication between coworkers, bosses, subordinates, and teams. Watch the following videos:
Leader Logic. (2018, February 5). Johari Window example in 5 minutes [Video file]. Retrieved from
Leader Logic. (2018, February 8). Johari Window for project scope development [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCw1wcSJ5V8
Apricot Training Management Limited: Self Awareness. (2013) Understanding the Johari Window. Retrieved from http://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/understanding-the-johari-window-model
Groups and Teams
The structure of modern organizations is continually changing and work is being done in teams more than ever. But teams are more than just a collection of individuals working on a single project. Team workers need a set of skills that exceeds those of individual workers to allow them to collaborate effectively. Often, employers do not train employees in these skills so it is a rare thing when teams live up to their potential. This is particularly true of teams in the United States, where the culture highly values individual effort and accomplishment.
In this part of the module, we will increase our ability to manage teams by learning what constitutes a team, how to handle conflict, and how to build a high-performing team. To get an overview of this topic, view this PowerPoint presentation on Group Dynamics and Conflict.
The Tuckman model of group development is one of the most widely used tools to understand the dynamics of team formation and development.
The following reading offers a concise explanation of this model and as a bonus, relates group development processes to the Johari Window (above) and the Situational Leadership model to be presented in Module 3:
Chapman, A. (2016). Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing team-development model. Retrieved from http://www.businessballs.com/tuckmanformingstormingnormingperforming.htm
Most of us think about trust in teams as growing over time and with experience being with another team member. However, swift trust stems from an initial assumption of trust which is confirmed, or disconfirmed, over time. In this sense it is conditional and must be verified by the actions of team members. Read this blog about the factors that contribute to swift trust and how leaders can create it:
Swift trust—why some teams don’t storm (2011). In Management Pocketbooks. Retrieved from https://managementpocketbooks.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/swift-trustwhy-some-teams-dont-storm/
Here is an interesting example of organizational theory being used to solve practical business problems. This report is designed to help its analysts avoid group decision-making biases such as groupthink, polarization or “risky shift,” overconfidence, or composition bias. The practical application of theory demonstrated in this source may be helpful to you in preparing your case.
Mottola, G. & Utkus, S. (2009). Group decision-making: Implications for investment committees. Vanguard Investment Counseling and Research. Retrieved from http://agb.org/sites/agb.org/files/u16/Vanguard%206.pdf
When working with groups, conflict is inevitable. Although conflict is often viewed as negative, this is not always true. As we learned in the earlier PowerPoint presentation, well-managed conflict can increase team performance and result in better output. One trick is to learn the differences between healthy and destructive types of conflict. Read the following for more information:
Issues Teams Face: Managing Conflict (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/54195_Chapter_7.pdf
Now that you can recognize the difference between good and bad conflict, take a few minutes to read about some techniques that can help you manage conflict between people at work (or even at home!) and keep situations from spiraling out of control:
Segal, J & Smith, M. (n.d.). Conflict resolution skills: Building the skills that can turn conflicts into opportunities. Helpguide.org. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/conflict-resolution-skills.htm
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is the premier international knowledge network for professionals engaged in strategic business communication management. Examine their website which includes news, events, workshops, a book store, and a research foundation. Find out how you can become an Accredited Business Communicator:
International Association of Business Communicators. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.iabc.com/
Groups and Teams
This site provides library links to numerous topics in the field, a basic overview to group formation and stages of group development, and also information on team building.
Group dynamics: Basic nature of groups and how they develop. (n.d.) In Free Management Library. Retrieved from http://www.managementhelp.org/grp_skll/theory/theory.htm
The following site includes library links, and various perspectives on conflict (e.g., dealing with conflict, conflict in organizations, etc.):
How to manage group conflict (n.d.) In Free Management Library. Retrieved from http://managementhelp.org/groups/group-conflict.htm
Click the link below for an extensive collection of conflict-related material. There are many interesting links to articles both academic and practical. You should spend some time browsing this site. Pay special attention to links dealing with conflict styles, conflict resolution, negotiation, integrative and/or distributive bargaining.
Bacal, R. (2016). Articles on communication and conflict management. The World of Work. Retrieved from http://work911.com/articles/indexcomcomm.htm
Interestingly, some teams skip over the “storming” phase, particularly when they need to come together quickly and produce output without having the time it normally takes to build trust. See the following to continue your learning about the phenomenon known as “swift trust”: