This document will define teams and team
work, look at the history of team work development and the
implications of current theory and practice for the work of
human resource developers (HRD).
The definitions of teams that are
found in the literature tackle the term both conceptually and
concretely. Conceptually, a team can be viewed as a socially
constructed phenomenon or linking mechanism that integrates
individuals and organisations (Horvath, Callahan, Croswell
& Mukri, 1996). A team's concrete characteristics focus on
attributes internal to the team. For example, Dyer (1984)
defined a team as having two or more people with a common
goal, specific role assignments, and interdependence. Guzzo
and Dickson (1996) recognise that work teams function within a
larger organisational context and define a work group as:
made up of individuals who see
themselves and who are seen by others as a social entity,
who are interdependent because of the tasks they perform
as members of a group, who are embedded in one or more
larger social systems (e.g., community, organisation), and
who perform tasks that affect others (such as customers or
of Team Building
The emergence of the team
idea can be traced back to the late 1920s and early 1930s with
the now classic Hawthorne Studies. These involved a series of
research activities designed to examine in-depth what happened
to a group of workers under various conditions. After much
analysis, the researchers agreed that the most significant
factor was the building of a sense of group identity, a
feeling of social support and cohesion that came with
increased worker interaction. Elton Mayo(1933), one of the
original researchers, pointed out certain critical conditions
which were identified for developing an effective work
- The boss (chief observer) had a personal interest in
each person's achievements.
- He took pride in the record of the group.
- He helped the group work together to set its own
conditions of work.
- He faithfully posted the feedback on performance.
- The group took pride in its own achievement and had the
satisfaction of outsiders showing interest in what
- The group did not feel they were being pressured to
- Before changes were made, the group was consulted.
- The group developed a sense of confidence and
These research findings spurred companies to
seriously consider the idea of grouping their employees into
effective work teams and to this day they are still important
considerations for human resource developers (Dyer, 1990).
Psychology and Team Buiding
grew out of the group dynamics area of social psychology,
incorporating much of the theory and research in small groups
as well as the applied focus used in training groups
(T-groups), which were very strong in the 1950s and 1960s.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, management theory
centred on the works of McGregor(1960), Likert (1961), and
Blake and Mouton (1964). All of these writers began to
emphasise the apparent advantages of participative management
over more traditional authoritarian approaches. The
methodology that was available at the time to help in that
transformation was the training group, also called the
T-group, sensitivity group, encounter group or basic group.
These groups helped participants examine group processes,
experience group processes, experience group problem solving,
openly share information, establish a highly cohesive group
climate and build norms of shared and collaborative action
(Dyer,1984). The models of team development resulting from
this research suggest that teams exhibit fairly consistent
phases of interaction over time, progress in a mostly linear
fashion through a sequence of developmental phases, and must
complete one phase before entering the next one.
Unfortunately whereas the T-group method was
successful in groups of strangers, who usually disbanded and
never met again, they had mixed results when used with groups
composed of persons who had worked together for years in the
same department and had to continue to be responsible for
issues raised in the group. Slowly the methodology shifted
from the unstructured T-group to a more focused, defined
process of training a group of interdependent people in
collaborative work and problem-solving procedures. A more
recent view of team development has focused on
naturally-occurring, task-driven, organisational work groups.
Morgan, Salas, and Glickman (1992) stated that in contrast to
the traditional view, these later findings indicate that team
development does not necessarily progress gradually, in
linear, lock-step fashion, through clearly demarcated
Concepts in Team Building
HRD prescription for developing work-team effectiveness has
been labelled team development or team building.
Perhaps the most significant change in the entire
team-building concept has been the increased emphasis on
helping teams achieve results: get work done. There was so
much attention paid in the early days to the relationships
between people that work matters were often neglected. Now in
a team-building exercise, most team facilitators realise the
importance of both how people are working together and how
work is getting done. Both social processes and task processes
are now accepted as important to team success (Dyer, 1984).
To effectively help teams make work
contributions, HRD professionals need to understand what is
meant by performance. For both work teams and organisations,
performance can be measured by at least seven causally related
criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, quality, productivity,
quality of work life, innovation, and profitability/budget
ability (Sink, Tuttle, & Devries, 1984). Guzzo and Dickson
(1996) state that there is no single, uniform measure of
performance effectiveness for groups and instead opt for
indicators (a) group-produced outputs (quantity or quality,
speed, customer satisfaction, etc.), (b) the consequences a
group has for its members, and (c) the enhancement of a team's
capability to perform effectively in the future.
identifies four general approaches to team-building
interventions: goal setting, interpersonal relations, role
clarification, and problem solving (Druckman & Bjork,
1994; Sundstrom, DeMeuse & Futrell, 1990). Druckman and
Bjork state that there is much enthusiasm for these approaches
among practitioners and consultants, but it is not matched by
strong empirical support for their effect on team
performance(p.125). Related theory and research has been
limited. Dyer (1984) noted that models of team performance
tend to focus only on limited factors that might influence
performance and to exclude some potentially important factors.
Further, most studies examined group dynamics that were
unrelated to performance or were conducted in a laboratory
(Shea & Guzzo, 1987). As a result, team studies have not
greatly contributed to our understanding of how naturally
forming teams in the workplace interact over time to produce
outputs that contribute to an organisation. Buller (1986)
noted that the results of team-building research have been
ambiguous for two primary reasons: Team building as a concept
has not been well defined, and the research has generally been
methodologically poor. Specifically, much of the team-building
research has failed to adequately specify relationships
between independent variable and performance criteria
(Russ-Eft, D. Preskill, H. & Sleezer, C.,1997).
Despite this lack of hard evidence, there are
plenty of statistics to show how companies have benefited
greatly from using teams. Procter & Gamble reduced
manufacturing costs by 30 to 50 percent by implementing teams,
Aid Association for Lutherans experienced a 20 percent
increase in productivity whilst slashing case processing time
by 75 percent, and insurance company Shanandoa Life reduced
case processing time from 27 to 5 days (Antonioni, 1996).
Although there seems to be insufficient research and data to
create a coherent model for HRD professionals to follow, there
are plenty of variables that have both supported and impeded
the formation of successful teams.
Affecting Team Effectiveness
This paper will
now look at the positive variables that have contributed to
the formation of strong working teams. Chaudron (1995)
maintains that the changes needed to improve team
effectiveness across the organisation do not involve
individual teams, but rather the systems that support them.
These systems include (1) organisational structure, (2)
hiring, promotion and performance appraisal criteria, and (3)
compensation. In his paper entitled How to improve
cross-functional teams, he maintains that thought needs
also to be given to the fact that as companies employ more
teams, an individual may serve on more than one team. A study
conducted with 240 managers who attended continuing education
seminars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of
Business (Antonioni, 1996), indicated that individuals served
on an average of three teams; in some cases, they may have
served on as many as 12 teams at any given time. Chaudron
(1995) states that a big mistake in team-building is when HRD
workers fail to train all members of a cross-functional team
at the same time. Many companies mix and match their training
attendance with people from different teams. This approach may
make it easier to schedule the training, but it does not
promote the spirit of a particular team. And isn't that the
point of team-building? (p.2).
Antonioni (1996) supports the idea that how a
team performs depends on the management of two major factors:
performance and process. The performance factor focuses on
what results are expected of the team. It also deals with the
structure of the team's tasks. The process factor focuses on
how the team interacts in meetings and focuses on maintenance
of the team. Team leadership revolves around team performance,
while team synergy arises from team processes.
Affecting Team Failure
If good teamwork
promotes productivity and quality improvement, it begs the
question of why this works for some companies and not for
others. This paper will now look at the variables some
companies have failed to acknowledge which have contributed to
failure of their teams. It has been noted that these variables
can go amiss within the same company with performance between
teams varying as much as 100 percent (Scott & Townsend,
1994). Nahavandi and Aranda (1994) discovered that many
employees believe working in a team environment is a waste of
productive time because too much time is routinely spent on
building trust and agreement. While this is commendable, it
often does not translate into higher productivity or increased
creativity (Allender, 1993). For example, Florida Power &
Light Company reduced worker participation after employees
complained that too many team meetings were hurting their
performance (Zemke, 1993 in Trumble, Diaz, Johanna, 1996).
Both managers and workers have expressed
dissatisfaction, anger and exasperation over a team's
frequent inability to generate good decisions. One reason for
these frustrations is that people in a team commonly feel that
other team members decrease their chances for personal
success. This is especially true with high performers who may
frown on teams because their individual work ethic is often
less noticed in a group. As a result, many team members hold
back their effort and instead concentrate their energy on
individual goals (Bartol & Hagmann, 1992).
Alongside the statistics
to support the use of teams there is concrete literature to
support both social and task processes in groups, as evidenced
in Hackman's (1990) framework of group effectiveness. This has
been used to descriptively analyse various kinds of teams in
different types of organisational settings. It lays out
specific types of outcomes that should be included in
measuring team effectiveness (Hackman, 1987,1990) such as (a)
the group's production of a high-quality product, be it a
physical product, a decision, a plan, or other output, that is
acceptable to those who receive or review it; (b) the
continuing capability of members to work together in the
future, that is not burning themselves out in producing their
product; and (c) the team's contribution to the well-being and
growth of its members, allowing members to learn new things
and to help their personal needs be satisfied. For groups to
attain such effectiveness, teams benefit from being set up
right in the first place...or having the initial conditions of
group structure that promotes competent work on the
task(Hackman, 1990, p.10).
These structural features include (a) a task
structure that is clear and consistent with a group's purpose
and high on what Hackman calls motivating potential...the team
has a meaningful piece of work to do, for which members share
responsibility, and accountability and that provides
opportunities for the team to learn how well it is doing
(p.10); (b) group composition that provides an appropriate
size and mix of talents and interpersonal skills needed for
communication and co-ordination with one another; and (c) core
norms that regulate member behaviour and promote co-ordination
and continuous scanning of the performance situation and
pro-active planning of group performance strategies (p.11).
These initial conditions also include an organisational
context that supports and reinforces excellence through its
system of rewards, education, and information, and makes
available expert coaching and consultation assistance
regarding effort, knowledge and skills, and performance
New Paradigm Research
In evaluating the
possible advantages to the case study method, Adelman (1980)
considers them to be a step to action:
'They begin in a world of action and
contribute to it. Their insights may be directly
interpreted and put to use; for staff or individual
self-development, for within-institutional feedback; for
formative evaluation; and in educational policy making'
He goes on to say that by carefully attending
to social situations, case studies can represent something of
the discrepancies or conflicts between the viewpoints held by
He also states that case studies present
research or evaluation data in a more publicly accessible form
than other kinds of research reports and that the form of the
presentation is usually less dependent on specialised
interpretation than in the case of conventional research
When weighing up the issue of qualitative and
quantitative research, this research project is primarily
concerned with qualitative research, whilst recognising that
quantitative research plays a part in relating the extent to
which the actual numbers of participants correlate to several
issues. Contrasting quantitative with qualitative research,
quantitative is described as:
concerned with the collection and
analysis of data in numeric form. It tends to emphasize
relatively large-scale and representative sets of data,
and is often falsely in our view, presented or perceived
as being about the gathering of facts. Qualitative
research, on the other hand, is concerned with collecting
and analysing information in as many forms, chiefly
non-numeric, as possible (Blaxter et al., 1996).
"Qualitative" implies a direct concern with
experience as it is "lived" or "felt" or "undergone". (In
contrast, "quantitative" research, often taken to be the
opposite idea, is indirect and abstract and treats experiences
as similar, adding or multiplying them together, or
"quantifying" them). Qualitative research then, has the aim of
understanding experience as nearly as possible as its
participants feel it or live it (Sherman & Webb, 1988,
We employed new paradigm research and
utilised the model of co-operative enquiry. Researchers
interacted with the participants so that they could contribute
to hypothesis-making, to what went on during the three day
training and to formulating the final conclusions. So as
researchers, we asked the participants certain questions as
laid out by Heron (in Rowan & Reason, 1981) such as:
'Did you in fact construe what was going
on from the way that I have interpreted your reaction to
the process as expressed in my research conclusions?' And
'When you produced that piece of
behaviour during the research, was your intention in doing
it consonant with my interpretation in these conclusions?'
The primary strength of new paradigm research
and its fundamental claim to being a valid process according
to Rowan & Reason (1981) 'lies in its emphasis on personal
encounter with experience and encounter with persons' (
They go on to say that the two main ways in
which the validity of inquiry may be threatened are through
unaware projection and through consensus collusion. They offer
8 processes which if used skilfully may be used to increase
the validity of an inquiry.
1) Valid research rests above all on high
quality awareness on the part of the co-researchers. As qualified therapists we have made high
quality awareness an integral and important part of our
2) Such high quality awareness can only be
maintained if the co-researchers engage in some systematic
method of personal and interpersonal development. All Paradox UK facilitators have at least 5
years of personal development through therapeutic training and
personal therapy and have had ongoing training for
professional development, including working with groups.
3) Valid research cannot be conducted alone.
We employed an additional researcher
as mentioned above to run the training days, both for the
purpose of support and for challenging and confronting
4) The validity of research is much enhanced
by the systematic use of feedback loops, and by repeating the
research cycle several times.
The training days were designed to offer feedback to
participants throughout the three days and material which was
fed back from participants did influence the direction of
training. Due to the psychological nature of this training,
evaluation was limited to before and after the training to
allow participants to fully enter into the experience.
5) Valid research involves a subtle interplay
between different forms of knowing. The training days employed an experiential base
combined with practical knowledge, whilst encouraging more
subtle processes such as intuition, reflection and creative
thinking. Emotional intelligence as well as analytical
thinking was supported.
6)Contradiction can be used systematically.
We actively and consciously used each
other as sounding boards to challenge, contradict and disprove
the data in order to see what held up as a result.
7) Convergent and contextual validity can be
used to enhance the validity of any particular piece of data.
As mentioned earlier, multiple
methods and viewpoints were used in the training, and the
feedback process was tailored to obtain information on each
individual method rather than generalised comments. The extent
to which the received feedback from the different methods
converged served as a measure of data validation.
8) The research can be replicated in some
form. The three day training is a
stand-alone module which can be run and re-run and has formed
part of a number of modules offered on varied subject
Looking overall at the case study methodology
and the use of participant observation, Bailey (1978)
identifies some advantages in the participant observation
approach. He mentions that observation studies are superior to
experiments and surveys when data are being collected on
non-verbal behaviour. He also states that in observation
studies, investigators are able to discern ongoing behaviour
when it occurs and are able to make appropriate notes about
its salient features.
Cohen and Manion (1998) mention that the
accounts that typically emerge from participant observations
are often described as subjective, biased, impressionistic,
idiosyncratic and lacking the precise quantifiable measures
that are the hallmark of survey research and experimentation.
They go on to say that comments about the subjective and
idiosyncratic nature of the participant observation study are
to do with its external validity and ask the question 'How do
we know that the results of this one piece of research
represent the real thing, the genuine product?'
We have used new paradigm research to argue
that the real thing or the genuine product is neither subject
nor object, but rather emerges from the relationship between
the subject and object within its surrounding context.
'This means that any notion of validity must
concern itself both with the knower and with what is to be
known: valid knowledge is a matter of relationship'
(Reason & Rowan, 1981,p.241).
Heron (in Rowan & Reason, 1981) uses
the model of cooperative enquiry to put forth the idea that
'for an authentic science of persons, true statements about
persons rest on a value system explicitly shared by
researchers and subjects, and on procedural research norms
explicitly agreed by researchers and subjects on the basis of
that value system' (p.33).
New paradigm research demands a distinctive
training environment with as much dialogue, affirmation of
experience, and sharing of responsibility as possible. In the
positivist paradigm, people are basically reduced and
alienated because they are studied in contrived situations; if
studied in their natural settings, then their particularity is
eliminated. The trivialisation of people and their subsequent
manipulation for the purpose of research designs leads to
findings which are themselves trivial and suitable for objects
rather than people (Freire, 1994).
In keeping with new paradigm research methods
we have employed new paradigm interview techniques. It was
found that traditional scientific models of interviewing were
inadequate, particularly with respect to the shifting dynamics
of power in interview relationships. Fred Massarik (in Rowan
& Reason, 1981) proposes a typology of interviews for new
paradigm research. Of these, we utilised a mixture of the
'rapport interview' which goes beyond the 'cut-and-dried'
approach and tries to create a genuinely human relationship;
the 'depth interview' which is characterised by a more
intensive process of thorough exploration; and the 'phenomenal
interview' which is characterised by mutuality of trust, a
commitment to joint search for shared understanding and a
readiness to 'actively examine and disclose both remote and
accessible aspects of their lives, including experiences,
present responses, and imageries' (p.203).
This is in direct contrast to the traditional
conceptualisation of the research interview which is grounded
in a masculine, positivist paradigm. This paradigm encompasses
several assumptions, including a unidirectional flow of
information from interviewee to interviewer, the sovereignty
of objectivity, and the value of decontextualising and
depersonalising the interview relationship. These assumptions
deny the agency of interviewees and disempower the research
'subject' (Limerick, Burgess-Limerick, Grace, 1996, p.449).
There are three issues Robson (1997)
discusses when sampling in a single case study that I
considered: choice of person; linking people, settings, events
and processes with research questions; and time.
There is a need to think, in terms of
sampling, about why one chooses one kind of person to
interview or observe. Why this kind of person and what are
the implications for other choices of persons.
The choice was made to select
participants who have had previous experience of team
building for their ability to compare and contrast between
the two methods of training.
One is sampling people, setting, events
and processes. So it is important to link these with the
research questions to consider how one can sample to get
unbiased answers making efficient use of everyone's
All participants were asked the same
questions in the same format in one to one interviews
Because time is an issue, one strategy is
to start with a 'fall-back' sample; those things which you
simply must cover if one is to answer the basic
As well as pre
and post interviews there was also a questionnaire
evaluation at the end of the three day training session
which related both to the evaluation of the training days
and to answering the question proposed for the main
Having no alternative model to compare
current approaches, we devised a 9 stage multi-faceted model
which we tested out on 13 participants. By introducing an
approach that attempts to appreciate the person as a whole, as
opposed to treating individuals in isolation, we attempted to
demonstrate that by bringing awareness to the totality of a
person's life, a greater understanding of its
inter-relatedness could be gained.
The experiential nature of the training days
and the variety of approaches used (i.e. self-reflection, pair
work, group work, creative expression etc.) addressed the
notion that collaborative enquiry spans four different
'territories' of human reality : 1) the outside world 2) one's
own behaviour 3) one's own and other's thinking and feeling 4)
the dynamics of human attention as it gains, loses or changes
focus and as it narrows or widens the number of qualities of
which it is aware (Torbet in Rowan & Reason, 1981,
The three day training days are drawn from
the specifically devised model shown below:
Field Incubation - what is happening
in the group field or environment that the person is
operating in, i.e., conflicts and dynamics within the work
Personal - Examining disavowed
aspects of the individual's personality through creative
Challenges - what personal
challenges are present within the individual; i.e., level of
authenticity, ability to communicate, ask for help,
injunctions, expectations (real or imagined).
Developing new patterns through imagery
- how does the individual see themselves and the company
as a whole; how is the current situation challenging them to
go beyond the limitation as expressed by their belief system
Re-imagining belief system and dreaming
processes - examining fantasies about what being true to
themselves would mean and helping them to develop positive
Historical - what patterns are being
repeated; what challenges were not met, what choices were
made or not made; what motives are behind it all.
Maturation and individuation -
examining how the person is being challenged to grow as
opposed to regress so as to help the person meet the
challenges in the moment. Empowering the person to step into
a position they both want and fear. Examining projections
and helping them to occupy disavowed aspects of themselves.
Integration to work environment -
after discovering disavowed aspects of the individual,
helping them find ways of expressing the disavowed identity
in the work place. Creating feedback loop to support
secondary identities. Helping people introduce secondary
factors into their primary location.
This model drew upon the research of new
physics, in particular the ideas expressed in systems
thinking. The main characteristics of systems thinking emerged
simultaneously in several disciplines during the first half of
the century, especially during the 1920s. This new paradigm
was pioneered by organismic biologists, gestalt psychologists
and ecologists who emphasised the view of living organisms as
integrated wholes. According to Capra (1997), the systems
theory view is that the essential properties of an organism,
or living system, are properties of the whole, which none of
the parts possess. They arise from the interactions and
relationships between the parts. These properties are
destroyed when the system is dissected, either physically or
theoretically, into isolated elements (p.29).
In the systems approach, the properties of
the parts can be understood only from the organisation of the
whole, as opposed to analysis which takes a thing apart in
order to understand it. In the world of physics, this tendency
to dissect is also characterised as discrete entity thinking
and belongs to the Cartesian paradigm.
The newly devised model challenges the
limitations of current approaches by supporting the totality
of the individual, the field they occupy, and the emergence of
new patterns. In this way a person can gain an understanding
of the interrelationship and inherent connections that may be
contributing to dysfuntionality of the group.
Process-orientated psychology has embraced
systems thinking and has combined it with gestalt and Jungian
psychology (a research-based organisation that examines new
methods for treating symptoms) and argues that symptoms are
not dysfunctional, but highly functional. Joseph Goddbread
(1997) maintains that the system whose functions they promote
is simply not always in accord with the way their bearer wants
to be able to function. The deadlock that can arise from this
disagreement can result in everything coming to a standstill
This research has now been incorporated into
the Paradox UK Three Act Paradigm
and forms the basis of our new and exciting approach.
With our new multi-dimensional approach we are able to bring
new and profound transformations to group dynamics and create
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