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Running head: TEAM EXPERIENCES 1

Essay One: Team Experiences


BIS 343
Writing Assignment #1
Lindsay Snowden
October 22, 2017
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Prompt #1: Discuss the three essential conditions for successful team
performance described by Thompson (6 points). Are there other essential
conditions that you think should be included in this list (2 points)?
Thompson further discusses social loafing, sucker aversion, and free riding
as threats to team performance. These three behaviors are often cited as
reasons why people do not like teamwork. What causes social loafing (2
points)? How do you think the best way to combat this problem is in a team
setting (2 points)? Discuss your thoughts here in light of your own
experiences (3 points).

In her book Making the Team, Leigh L. Thompson (2018) outlines three essential

conditions for successful team performance. These conditions are: “possess the relevant

expertise to perform the task, be engaged and motivated to perform the task,” and

“execute the task by coordinating with other team members” (Thompson, 2018, p. 114).

In order for a team to “possess the relevant expertise” (p. 114), Thompson suggests that

team member must possess the KSA’s, or “knowledge, skills, and ability” (p. 115). Team

members are more likely to grow in their expertise when they are under less pressure to

learn the skill, have time to practice on their own, and develop appropriate stress-coping

skills (Thompson, 2018, pp. 116-117). When a team member reaches their flow point, or

the “psychological state in which a person is highly engaged in a task” (Thompson, 2018,

p. 117), they become “more productive, more focused…and more satisfied with their

jobs” (p. 117). Thus, the team member fulfills the second essential condition for success:

being “engaged and motivated to perform the task” (Thompson, 2018, p. 114). Finally,

while a team may be experts at their tasks and motivated to do their work, the team still

has potential to be unsuccessful/ineffective without proper execution (Thompson,

2018). To avoid this common mistake, managers should practice proper execution

techniques which include clear-cut agendas and performance standard expectations,

direct communication, small team member numbers, and by training team member’s
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together (Thompson, 2018, pp. 126-128). While there are possibly many other

conditions that may contribute to team success, I believe Thompson has hit the nail on

the head with the three essential conditions she lists in her book. In my current

workplace, we achieve our goals when every team member is an expert in their role, is

motivated to perform, and works cohesively with other team members.

Though a team member may be motivated to help achieve team goals, Thompson

(2018) mentions there is still room for negative behaviors, especially when there is team

growth. Social loafing, or not putting in as much effort on a team as one would

independently, is one of the behaviors that can occur in teams (Thompson, 2018, p.

120). This can occur particularly with new additions to the team. In fact, “team

performance increases with team size, but the rate of increase is negatively

accelerated…such that [it] has diminishes returns on productivity” (Thompson, 2018, p.

120). Similarly, free riding and sucker aversion may also occur in teams. Free riding, or

putting in less effort under the observation that others will work harder, occurs from

“diffusion of responsibility, a reduced sense of self-efficacy, and sucker aversion”

(Thompson, 2018, pp. 121-122). Sucker aversion occurs in the form of a self-fulfilling

prophecy where everyone waits to see the amount of effort each person is going to

contribute, and in turn, nobody ends up contributing (Thompson, 2018, p. 123).

Fortunately, Thompson lists several measures that can be taken to counteract these

negative behaviors such as: coaching or providing feedback in the moment, offering

projects that are challenging, intrinsically motivating, or “sufficiently involving”,

offering rewards and recognition, holding the team members personally accountable,

and encouraging team cohesion (pp. 124-125).


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In my experience, team cohesion, or helping the team members to identify with

the team goals (Thompson, 2018, p. 125), has worked well to impair social loafing

behaviors. When the team members feel connected to the purpose of the goal, I have

seen people increase their efforts to succeed. Offering recognition and rewards has also

provided powerful incentive at my current workplace. We have a weekly newsletter in

which our manager will report three people that had the highest weekly ticket average.

Some team members have become quite competitive to help meet sales goals,

particularly for this reason. A third measure that we use at my workplace that helps

counteract social loafing is visibility (in conjunction with accountability). Our manager

makes our sales, sales goals, and customer satisfaction ratings visible for every team

member. This, I think, is one of the strongest motivators for our team to do well.

Because our store has a generally good reputation, our team feels responsible for

upholding that reputation. Having visibility holds our team accountable for our success.

Because of this, our team steps up to help move towards achieving our goals.

Prompt #3: In Chapter 12, Thompson (2018) discusses some of the


challenges of working in virtual teams in terms of productivity,
accountability, coordination, and conflict. In this class we will be working
in virtual teams to complete a series of team projects. As such, it is
important for us to consider and reflect upon the virtual challenges of
teamwork that may be different than challenges we experience in face-to-
face settings. Discuss three of these challenges (6 points). What other
challenges do you think virtual teams experience (5 points)? What do you
think are some of the best practices to get people to work together
compatibly and productively in a virtual environment (4 points)?

Thompson (2018) mentions that “face-to-face contact is crucial in the initiation

of relationships and collaboration” (p. 301). In fact, “nonverbal behaviors…are key to

building rapport” (Thompson, 2018, p. 303). For example, she mentions that not only

do “people primarily rely on nonverbal signals to help them conduct social interactions”
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(Thompson, 2018, p. 302), but “important behavioral, cognitive, and emotional

processes are set into motion when people meet face-to-face” (Thompson, 2018, p. 302).

“Without face-to-face communication,” she says, “relationships between…people are

often strained and contentious” (Thompson, 2018, p. 201). Though face-to-face

interaction may be crucial to social processes, it is not always feasible for team projects

or collaboration. Consequently, there are certain challenges that virtual teams may face

in the absence of face-to-face interaction. For example, Thompson mentions that teams

may feel a sense of virtual distance, or feelings of separation caused by the use of

technology to communicate (p. 304). They miss out on the “spontaneous exchanges that

occur outside of the formal meetings” (Thompson, 2018, p. 304). Additionally, there are

several communication challenges that may occur such as the tone of an email or text

message being misinterpreted, feedback may be disconnected, team members may feel

out of the loop, or people may be more likely to engage in the use of insults or profanity

due to the impersonal effect of virtual communication, a.k.a. the flaming effect

(Thompson, 2018, pp. 304-312).

In addition to the specific challenges that Thompson (2018) mentions, virtual

teamwork also leaves plenty of room for social loafing and free riding as well. In general

I tend to hear from others that working in a group for a class project can really be a pain

due to some members not contributing as much as others. Unfortunately, I think being

part of a virtual team leaves more room for this to occur as we do not have to see each

other face-to-face as we would in a traditional classroom setting. This makes it easier for

team members to ignore virtual communication and be less involved, less accountable,

and less personally responsible.

One way to get team members to work together in a virtual environment is to


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build rapport with each other so there is a stronger sense of accountability. Thompson

(2018) mentions that building rapport in face-to-face interactions is important (p. 303).

Therefore, though it would be more difficult and require more effort, building rapport in

a virtual team could also have a positive impact and help the virtual team members to

feel more responsibility towards the group. I personally feel that this is the best way to

engage team members across cyberspace. To an extent each team member must feel a

sense of personal responsibility. Beyond that, the other team members do not have

control over the other member’s actions…only their response to those actions.
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Reference:

Thompson, Leigh (2018). Making the Team: A Guide for Managers, 6th edition.

Pearson.