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It is often believed that having groups in making decisions is an essential idea as different ideas can lead to outcomes that a single person cannot accomplish. Once a decision has been made, the group finds it easier to get along in the implementation process as it is often believed that group decisions are fairer. However, Benjamin (2016) denotes that there are many complications that face the effectiveness of group performance and preventing them from achieving the full potential. It is hence essential to understand the steps that we can take in making groups that we are involved in effective. This paper focuses on a detailed discussion of communication as an aspect of the group success. It presents how the lack of proper communication can lead to dysfunctional behaviors in a group, recommendations for improving group performance, as well as steps that can be adopted to remove the dysfunctional behaviors in a team to ensure effective performance.
Communication is an essential aspect when considering the possibility of effective performance between individual or group relationships. Camacho (2016) denotes that in making decisions, it is vital that effective communication is adopted by members of a team as well as the chosen leaders. It is a major determinant of clear decision-making in balancing the authority and input of the members and the leaders in finding solutions to possible challenges affecting the team according to Riordan (2016). Effective communication hence enables a team to evaluate possible challenges and differences, finding agreements, and breaking impasses when occasions demand (Rogers & Creasy, 2016). Through effective communication, conflicts and issues are handled and delivered an effective and straightforward manner rather than underground where they are likely to destroy or taint the trust and dynamics of group performance.
In a team, a functional behavior is defined as a group aspect that promotes the effective performance and efficient interaction of the team members in working towards achieving its goals and set objective. Such a group has all the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of the group intact and united towards achieving a healthy fulfillment of tasks. According to Derue and Paul, (2015), such a group is often coupled with healthy communication and good relationship between the members and the leaders. In such a group, the members value each other, view their performance as a learning experience, are flexible to positive adjustments, and value each other as unique and essential to the success of the team (Sarkissian, 2016). On the other hand, a dysfunctional behavior is an abnormal behavior that is contrary to the expected or a vivid sense of the group performance diverting from the normal. Dysfunctional behavior is substantially harmful to the successful performance of a team and leads to the diminishment of the success of the team. According to Jackson and Joshi (2011), dysfunctional behaviors always create negative emotions among the members that hence diminish the performance. However, these consequences can disappear when the team members refrain from negative feelings. Effective communication is hence a key to preventing the detriments in team performance (Fortin, 2016). Dysfunctional behavior is a common experience leading to social undermining, antisocial behavioral changes, blame games, eventually the fall of a team, and is often tied to poor communication in solving the challenges that a team faces.
For instance, as a team player and lover of economic development, I joined a group consisting of fifteen members, most of which are my colleagues from school and at work. As the foundation of the team, we had an objective of economic balance and stability. Members decided that each of us will be contributing a certain amount of money, with a minimum of $50 which will be channeled to a particular group account for savings as most of the members had an interest in venturing on small businesses. From the savings, we would be able to acquire loans for our small businesses. It was a great idea that picked off well at the beginning. Barely two years later, issues of mistrust started to arise with others having a fear that we had not thought well and the whole idea was not focused towards achieving something. We started getting unconfirmed rumors that the signatories were planning to disappear with the savings after secret withdrawals after realizing some few weaknesses in our constitutions that in the real sense only required some adjustments. Currently, we are still battling with finding the best solution to the issue. On the other hand, I also belong to a football team that is very effective and is performing very well. With football as my hobby, our team is very stable and functional where every team member values the contribution of the other players. With good leadership and effective communication, we are often able to sort our differences and work towards the goals, being the winners in every match.
The two teams differ in the manner that they deal with the challenges and the negative emotions expressed by the members. In the first team, the members are implicitly or explicitly encouraged to express their negative feelings blowing off the steam and morale of performance of the members. The team is hence imprisoned by frustration and anxiety resulting to dysfunctional behavior. Even though the team members are exhausting their resources in trying to cope up with the negative feelings and challenges they are facing, lack of effective communication between the leaders and among the members themselves is leading to the decline of the overall performance. On the other hand, the football team operates differently with every member knowing that the success of the team is the success of everyone. In contrast to the first team, the group members tend to withhold their expression of negative thoughts and battle up their game as the feelings can only make things worse during a match. Instead, players remain focused towards the tasks at hand enabling the team to retain the level of its performance. At the end of every task, the team meets to discuss everything that transpires during their matches and training so as to find solutions to possible challenges, an aspect that ensured the team is intact. It is hence evident that effective communication leads to dysfunctional team behavior as it determines the way they express their feelings (Liden, 2015).
In their study, Goodwin and Halpin (2013), Yetton and Bottger (2015), and Bufanio (2014) recommend the following procedure as effective in improving the functionality of the group. Once there is a realization in the dysfunctional nature of the team and possible toxic behaviors that might affect performance, it is recommended that the team adopt a simple four-step process that will help re-directing the team into the right direction. However, the claim of the procedure is not saddling mindless formulaic steps to be adopted but to help the team think about their course of action in a more detailed manner. It is hence a strategy that will ensure the team interventions targets the real toxicity while not just dealing with the symptoms. Glen and Maria (2016) claim that following these steps with initiating full understanding of the issues that will help the team in underpinning the team toxicity issues and increase its chances of being functional. These steps include;
First, it is essential to identify the dysfunctional nature of the team while evaluating every toxic behavior as well as the impacts it has caused in a group. With the help and contribution of every team member, the team leader should begin by listing the most troubling behaviors. The list does not need to be very exhaustive nor should the team start analyzing them yet. According to Glen and Maria (2016), generating a good list will require the team member to find answers to the questions such as what areas do most of the team members complain about, what bothers the leader most, or what are the possible excuses that people often use. The whole of the team should be held in a brainstorming conversation together to find possible answers to these issues and concerns. Riordan (2016) denotes that the team then needs to analyze the meaning of the behaviors regarding how they impact operations, emotional response of the team, and the assumptions that often arise when they occur.
The second step often involves claiming and assigning responsibilities by rethinking blames and conflicts while adopting effective future-oriented approaches. In this case, the ability of the team leader to create a challenge or allow it to fester and accurately see his responsibility will help in choosing the right intervention and be the example for the team of what it means to take responsibility. Glen and Maria (2016) denote that a dysfunctional team is like a broken system where an individual cannot be responsible for the descent of the team into toxicity. In a healthy group, inconsistent behavior of one person towards the group’s expectation should either be corrected or rejected Jackson and Joshi (2011). Healthy teams do have social norms acting like the immune system to reject irresponsible behavior instead of allowing it to multiply since unhealthy team often protect any toxic status quo.
The third step requires the team to choose a direction and intervention that will help in solving the issues identified. However, care needs to be taking in the evaluation of the principles of intervention adopted. For instance, the intervention adopted need to address the behavior, not assumptions or emotions. The intervention should also make a visible, forceful, symbolic break from the past as pointed out by Derue and Paul, (2015). Through the interventions adopted, the team members need to see the better future instead of the dark past. Depending on the behaviors identified, the options of the interventions adopted can be individual, collective, or structural.
Individual interventions might be having a private conversation with responsible team members about their behavior and the expectations of the team for future behavior. A specialist can as well be hired to work with the individual on sorting their behavioral issues. However, the threat can as well be issued or demotions in extreme cases Goodwin and Halpin (2013). The collective interventions will affect the entire group since they are collectively visible and will help in establishing a shared sense of what behavior is expected. These can include communicating to everyone about the acceptable behavior, holding offsite meetings aimed at addressing team values, adopting training sessions and team-building arrangements, as well as the establishment of written formal ground rules for acceptable behaviors. A structural intervention can be restructuring the roles of the team and reassigning to fill the roles.
Fourth, the success of the team is dependent on the implementation and monitoring the communication intervention of choice. Increasing the chances of survival and success hence require the team to enlist key players who can be entrusted with different roles and responsibilities of the discussed issues (Derue and Paul, 2015). These should have a future focus, acknowledgment of emotions to diffuse them, being clear on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, focusing on the selected principles, and a relentless follow-up.
Many studies and reviews on effective team performance denote that serious strife within teams is often a common challenge according to Yetton and Bottger (2015). The same study denotes that among individuals, strive can arise as a result of poor productivity, low job satisfaction, despair, physical ailments, anger, and team discord that causes stress. For a team, these factors can impair learning, collaboration, productivity, and survival of the group. Discord can lead to an increment of the organizational operation costs when an organization needs to invest in performance management, medication, conflict resolution, and coaching. Goodwin and Halpin (2013) also point out that the toxicity of a group can greatly affect the group members as well as the organizational performance. However, the following can be adopted to help a toxic group recover from any dysfunctional behavior;
In his study, Fortin (2016) denotes that the ability of a leader to address team conflicts is an essential aspect of the effective performance of a team in resolving any existing toxicity. Ideally, the team leader should be able to address every issue that comes and is likely to result in a conflict. However, in case the leader is also part of the problem, it will call for the need of an external person to initiate the conversation. Sarkissian (2016) denotes that a true mettle of a group or team goes into a test through observation of how it deals with violated expectations and bad behaviors, while the success will depend on how the leader handles the issues. Therefore, leaders that often avoid crucial conversations in fear of damaging their relationships ultimately pay the price of a damaged team performance and morale.
Once a leader has initiated a conversation, Benjamin (2016) denotes that it is essential for the team members to join and take responsibility for their actions and roles in causing the toxic aspects affecting the team. It is often far easier to join and blame others than to take responsibility for ones’ offense as other members can bully others to get their way. At times, it can take the form of yelling, glaring, humiliating, spreading rumors, interrupting, making unfounded accusations, undervaluing, glaring, or sabotaging other group members. In his study, Fortin (2016) denotes that such actions only result in creating miserable working environments. Instead, members need to focus on engaging in behaviors that can help the team to move forward and achieve results. For instance, sports team often call players only in meetings that will help them to turn around losing situations, rebuild teamwork, and raise morale, strategies that will often see the team through winning sides even without the help of a coach.
Just as a person can need assistance with personal relationships, a team can also need help in sorting and developing positive and beneficial relationships. Intense cases, people often make rash decisions and judgments and assign blames. However, Jackson and Joshi (2011) point out that professionally facilitated occasion can help in the airing of basic issues so as to help to make better team relationships and effective performance.
Having clear goals along with a shared vision with the larger purpose behind the goals gives the team a structure and direction as well as a context within which decisions can be made by members. The goals setting process should as well involve the team to increase the buy-in ability of each member, their commitment, and proper planning aimed at achieving the individual goals. In the dysfunctional and toxic satiations of a team, Riordan (2016) denotes that everyone needs to focus and move beyond the past by forgetting but learning from the past mistakes and pressing on together for greater future achievements.
With the help of the team leader, every team needs to set the ground rules that will govern the behavior of the team, information sharing, decision making, and support towards the ideas and shared objectives of each group member as pointed out by (Fortin, 2016). The same study denotes that social contracts can also set the norms for the interaction of the team. Members hence need to prescribe positive behaviors such as honesty, candid, transparency, and be careful of from being influenced by negative thoughts such as negative communication blasts to other team members.
Having differences in opinions, cognitive conflicts, and respectful debates can make contribute to a healthy team as pointed out by Yetton and Bottger (2015). Also, debating and discussing on serious issues regularly affecting the team can at the result into better team decisions. However, such issues can be very detrimental to the group when they get personal. It is this recommended that the team members need to know when to stop complaining or fighting and start more listening and gathering for more evidence. The leader should encourage the team members to remain open to new ideas, explore opinions, accept inputs from other people, and work towards achieving the win to win solutions. In doing so, every team member needs to accept the issues discussed and the chosen outcome and not harbor grudges against other members depending on the decisions made as well as their opinions.
The above literature analysis on the dynamics and effects of a group dysfunction points out that it can lead to devastation. It hence required that team members should recognize the fact so as to avoid missing opportunities for having great achievements that cannot be achieved by an individual but with a team as a whole. It is the reason for the common say that no one, not software billionaires, not professional athletes, not rock stars, and not even the geniuses and the sharp minds can make it alone. Getting the team working together in every stage of making decisions, it is possible to dominate any industry in the dynamic market against any competition.
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Camacho, L. M. (2016). Perception of performance in group brainstorming: The illusion of group productivity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 19(1), 78–89.
Derue, D. S., & Paul, J. B. (2014). The riddle of hierarchy: Power transitions in cross-functional teams. Academy Of Management Journal, 57(2), 327-352. doi:10.5465/amj.2011.0756
Fortin, C. (2016). Processes in healthcare teams that include nurse practitioners: what do patients and families perceive to be effective?. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 25(5/6), 619-630. doi:10.1111/jocn.13085
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Riordan, C (2016). Why teams turn toxic and how to health them, Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2011/09/20/why-teams-turn-toxic-and-how-to-heal-them/#21fc76945988
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