Understanding Individuals: Motivation, Creativity and Innovation
This section covers:
We look here in some detail at the people who actually work in or for organisations, the individuals who together comprise organisations - be those organisations clubs, charities, companies, local councils or government departments. We will look in particular at the development and motivation of people, also at their creativity and their capacity for innovation, all of these primarily in the context of the organisations that people work for or in.
All the organisations mentioned above depend on people, on their many and varied individual blends of skills, energies, experience, attitudes and motivation - by this we mean their inclination or motivation to 'do their jobs', earn wages or salaries and, importantly, to 'add value' to whatever it is that the organisation does. Motivation is, as we shall see later, a key factor in the employment and the management of people.
So too is development - development of individuals in the sense of learning, growing, progressing, acquiring knowledge and skills, using these perhaps to take on more responsibility within an organisation, probably to use their skills and experience to help the organisation itself develop. When Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline, 1990) wrote in the early '90s about 'learning organisations' he was identifying the benefits of organisations encouraging, motivating, supporting their employees to learn, to grow to develop - and in doing so help the organisation they worked for to learn, grow and develop also.
In considering the attitude and activities of people in the work environments, we use in this section the work of Maslow, McGregor Schein, Herzberg, Adair and Handy and consider particularly some key aspects of 'motivation' - what has come to be known in management circles as 'motivational theory'. We also take an initial look at the work of F.W.Taylor, the father of what is known worldwide as Taylorism.
The word motivate, says guru Charles Handy in 'Understanding Organisations', is somewhat ambiguous, typically defined in dictionaries as 'to give incentive to' - but who or what provides the incentive? And to whom or what is that incentive given? Can people motivate themselves? Most of us would say, yes they can - and often do.
Let's start with a look at the work of Maslow and his well-known 'hierarchy of needs'.
From his studies, Abraham Maslow, the psychologist, proposed that there exists a 'hierarchy' of human needs, rising from the most basic needs (e.g. food, water, shelter) to what he calls 'self-actualisation', a 'fulfilment of personal potential through processes of growth'. These needs are typically presented, as below, in the form of a pyramid, building from basic needs (naturally at the base) to higher, more sophisticated needs at the top.
Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow made assumptions that people need to satisfy each level of need, before elevating their needs to the next higher level e.g. a hungry person's need is dominated by a need to eat (i.e survival), but not necessarily to be loved.
'A satisfied need ceases to motivate' writes management guru John Adair, 'Once you have enough food and drink and somewhere to sleep,' he writes, 'other needs rise up in the human heart.'
When basic needs are met you become interested, says Charles Handy, in a job, a salary, a pension - and of course fundamentals such as safety at work. Beyond these it becomes about self-respect and self-esteem, e.g. the quality of work related relationships, job satisfaction, perhaps more responsibility, larger salary and benefits as the individual grows and develops via processes of personal physical and intellectual growth. So bonus pay may matter less to health professionals than rewards of peer esteem, honours such as knighthoods and so on.
Comment : Maslow's theory still finds quite a lot of favour even 60 years after he first presented it - many of us can relate personally to the hierarchy that he proposed.
McGregor (Theory X and Theory Y)
In his 1960 management book, The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor proposed two motivational theories by which managers perceive employees and their motivation. He referred to his two opposing motivational theories as Theory X and Theory Y. Each theory assumes that management's role is to organize resources, including people, to 'best benefit the organisation'. However, beyond this commonality, the X and Y types are highly dissimilar as we can see :
Therefore need control/ coercion
Need space to develop imagination/ ingenuity
Comment : Although many people find it useful to consider the two extremes or types that McGregor identified, many these days accept that they are merely parts of a continuum and that there are 'many places and types in-between'. Within health organisations some staff are required to keep accurate time diaries (Theory X); others are freer to get the work done and manage their own time (Theory Y). The recent drive to make consultants agree job plans with specified activities for each half day is a Theory X response to the belief that consultants spend their time on the golf course or at their private practice.
Ed Schein looked further into these motivational aspects and identified two different motivational types :
'rational economic man' - people primarily driven by economic needs but essentially 'passive' and typically controllable by organisations
'self-actualising man' - those of us who are primarily self-motivated and self-controlled and who, even inside organisations, seek to 'find their own way' towards realisation of their personal goals and objectives.
According however to guru Charles Handy, who writes in his well known and very well read book 'Understanding Organisations' ..
'We do not necessarily have to find fulfilment of all our needs in any one situation,' pointing out that Schein comes down in favour of what he calls 'complex man'
Schein's complex man is based on the fact that people are variable, change in the ways they seek fulfilment, respond in a variety of ways to a 'variety of managerial strategies' writes Handy.
Handy also links Schein's work with that of Levinson and what is referred to as the psychological assumption which states that a person is a complex unfolding, maturing organism who passes through physiological and psychological stages of development. 'We evolve an ego ideal towards which we strive,' writes Handy. The most powerful motivating force in us, he says, over and above such basic drives as hunger, sexuality, aggression is the 'need to bring ourselves closer to our ideal.'
'Work is part of our identity, our ego ideal,' writes Handy and opportunities must be provided, he adds, for us to work towards our ego ideal in work if we are to be 'motivated'.
Comment : Schein undertook useful classification of a number of assumptions which motivational theorists had been making and it is interesting to note that his categories follow each other in some sort of historical progression that starts from the time of the industrial revolution.
Herzberg's motivation hygiene theory
Herzberg's (1968 Harvard Business Review) research was based on 200 engineers and accountants who were asked to recall the times/occasions when they experienced satisfactory and unsatisfactory feeling about their jobs. Later this also involved manual and clerical staff with similar results claimed:
Herzberg showed two categories of findings:
'Motivators' - factors giving rise to satisfaction
'Hygiene factors' - factors giving rise to dissatisfaction
Company policy and recognition
Supervision - the technical aspects
Interpersonal relations - supervision
Other features include:
Related to content of work
related to context/environment of work
only prevent dissatisfaction
only neo-human school attempts to address these
Taylor (salary) + Mayo (interpersonal relations) look at these
Herzberg's work led to a practical way to improve motivation which had up to that point been dominated by Taylorism...
F.W. Taylor, 1856-1915, believed to be the father of 'Scientific Management' whose views and recommended management methods had dominated early 20th century industrial production systems where organisations tended to be viewed as machines - Handy states that Taylor and his supporters thought of organisations as 'machines with human parts.'
Taylor's doctrine is that there is one best way to accomplish any task - the manager's task is to identify that one best way and make everyone conform to it. Initiatives to improve efficiency within operating theatres and A&E departments, including the current NHS 'Action on' programmes are founded in this belief - e.g. in A&E should the doctor walk to the patients or should the patients walk to the doctor? The former achieves quicker patient throughput.
Key points about Taylor include:
- he was in the scientific management school
- his emphases were on efficiency and productivity
- but he ignored many of the human aspects of employment
For the workers, scientific management required them to:
- stop worrying about the divisions of the fruits of production between wages and profits.
- share in the prosperity of the firm by working in the correct way and receiving wage increases.
- give up their idea of time wasting and co-operate with the management in developing the science
- accept that management would be responsible for determining what was done and how
- agree to be trained in new methods where applicable
From the work of Herzberg and others in the 1960s and early 70s, greater attention began to be paid to the needs of the individuals and groups of individuals in workforces. 'Job enrichment' programmes began to emerge, the aim of these being to design work and work structures to contain an optimum number of motivators. This approach countered the years of Taylorism which had consistently sought to break down work into its simplest components and to remove responsibility from individuals for planning and control.
Comment : there remain to this day doubts about the applicability of Herzberg's factors to non-professional groups, this despite the fact that some of his later studies involved both clerical and manual groups. The numbers in these categories were small and many researchers still argue about the results in these groups. Social scientists meantime continue to argue about the validity of Herzberg's definition of 'job satisfaction'.
Let us close this discussion on motivation with some telling statements by Charles Handy :
'Organisations are to me, first and foremost, fascinating collections of people. The challenge is to make them productive and useful communities. That requires the use of power in all its guises as well as an understanding of the context of the organisation, of its history and its purpose - the politics of the practical you might say, or the organisation as it really is. I call these practicalities because what is the use of all our understanding if we cannot turn it into something practical and useful?'
Man's progress and development on our planet over millennia has been highly dependent upon our species' ability to adapt, to create and to innovate. It has allowed us in many Western societies to move from meeting Maslow's basic needs of food, water, shelter and safety towards the attainment of what he calls 'self-actualising' man. Through the agricultural revolution that got underway in the Middle East from around 10,000B.C to the invention of the printing press and the dawn in the late 18th century of the industrial revolution, the invention of the railways, electricity, the motor car, the telephone, right through radio and television to the internet and today's multi-purpose '3G' mobile phones we can trace the development of an ever-accelerating pace of human innovation.
Creativity and innovation remain today vital ingredients to the success of any organisation and it has become an increasing challenge for many large organisations to encourage and stimulate the generation of new ideas, new innovations that can benefit not only the organisation but also the creative and innovative individuals themselves. In today's competitive, consumer driven markets innovation is often described as 'the power of taking new ideas through to customers to satisfy increasingly sophisticated needs'. But the need to create, come up with new ideas, innovate is certainly not confined to overtly commercial organisations; innovation and creativity also have an important place in so-called 'not-for-profits' and increasingly in the public and government sectors where the drives for greater efficiency and effectiveness, for enhanced productivity are driving organisations - and the people in them - to find new and better ways of working, to find innovative new solutions to both old and new problems, to look to technology and modern business processes to find ways of 'doing more for less' to 'keep the customers and consumers happy'.
Henry Minzberg in 'The Nature of Managerial Work' (1992) discussed the creation of frameworks in organisations that would help and encourage creativity:
- 'brainstorming' - a word now discouraged in NHS because of connotations with mental health but still heavily used elsewhere, NHS suggestion = 'cloudbursting'
- team meetings
- suggestion boxes
- communication strategies
The difference between Invention and Innovation
It is important to make the distinction between innovation and invention.:
Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process, while innovation represents putting something into practice, a new application of an old concept, a new value or a new way of doing things.
To be able to turn invention into innovation organisations normally need to combine several different types of knowledge, capabilities, skills and resources. For instance, the introduction of a new technology for cervical cytology will require new equipment, new knowledge and skills through training and development as well as a 'whole system' approach to ensure a 'joined-up' service.
A `key characteristic of innovation is that it is a continuous process - innovation is often an effect of the small incremental/ marginal changes in products and/or processes.
Following the understanding that innovation is crucial for economic change, 'radical' innovations shape big changes in the world, whereas 'incremental' innovations contribute to the process of continuous change
In his work on economic development Joseph Schumpeter distinguished between five different types of innovation (we have added some public health examples of our own):
- new products e.g. statins
- new methods of 'production' e.g. PTCA versus CABG to produce patent coronary arteries
- new sources of supply
- the exploration of new market e.g. 'female sexual dysfunction'
- new ways to organize business e.g. telephone helplines
Most of the definitions focus on the first two of these: new products and methods of production (processes) as the most distinctive ones for the purpose of economic impact analysis of the innovation.
The argument for focusing particularly on the distinction between product and process innovation often rests on the assumption that there economic and social impacts may differ. While the introduction of new product is commonly assumed to have a clea effect on growth of income and employment, it has been argued that process innovation, due to its cost-cutting nature, may have more ambiguous effect
In his book 'Effective Innovation' John Adair looks at two key aspects: generating new ideas and taking them to market. His "seven habits of successful creative thinkers" provides a compelling framework for developing productive skills.
- Thinking outside the apparent confines of the problem/situation
- Welcoming chance intrusions
- Listening to your depth mind (the unconscious mind)
- Suspending judgement
- Using the stepping stones of analogy
- Tolerating ambiguity
In order to be creative and innovative Adair states that individuals should:
- Think beyond the invisible frameworks that surround problems/situations
- Recognise when assumptions are being made and challenge them
- Spot blinkered thinking and widen the field of vision (to draw on the experiences of other individuals/businesses)
- Develop/adapt ideas from more than one source
- Practice serendipity (finding valuable and agreeable things when not particularly seeking them) -having a wide attention span and range of interests is important
- 'Transfer technology' from one field to another
- Be open/prepared to use chance or unpredictable things/events to advantage
- Explore thought processes and the key elements of the mind at work in analysing, valuing and synthesising
- Use his/her 'depth' mind (the unconscious mind) for example by sleeping on a problem to generate creative solutions to problems
- Note down thoughts/ideas that apparently drop into the mind unsolicited so that they are not forgotten
- Use analogy (to improve imaginative thinking) to find 'models' or solutions in 'nature', in existing products/services and/or in other organisations -not always reinventing the wheel
- Try, as appropriate, to sometimes make the strange familiar and the familiar strange to spark new ideas
- Make connections with points that are:
- apparently irrelevant
- disguised/buried or not easily accessible
- outside own sphere of expertise
- lacking authority
- Suspend judgement to encourage the creative process and avoid premature criticism -analysis and criticism repress creativity
- Know when to leave a problem (remaining aware but detached) for solutions to emerge -patience is important here as is the suspension of judgement
- Tolerate ambiguity and occasionally live with doubt and uncertainly
- Stimulate own curiosity (in everything including travel) and the skills of observation, listening, reading and recording.
Barriers to Creativity and Innovation
Adair also defines a number of obstacles which inhibit creativity. The seven main ones are:
- Fear of failure
- Lack of quality thinking time
- Over-conformance with rules and regulations
- Making assumptions
- Applying too much logic
- Thinking you are not creative
In the NHS other barriers to innovation would include:
- Real or perceived lack of resources (money and human)
- Political impacts
- Lack of enthusiasm for change
- Blame culture
- Lack of evidence to support change
"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn. It can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow."
This section covers:
- Team dynamics
- Barriers to and stimulation of creativity and innovation
- Learning from individuals from differing professional backgrounds
In the section on motivation, creativity and innovation we considered individuals in organisations and looked at aspects such as motivation, creativity and innovation. Now we turn our attention to how people work together in organisations - ingroups and in teams - in order to 'get the work done'.
This is a key module where we consider both the theory and the practices of people working together. Schein and Benis1 were strong proponents of using group methods to bring about personal and organisational change and achieving organisational outcomes.
- What is a Group?
A group or team is any number of people who:
- interact with one another
- are psychologically aware of one another
- perceive themselves to be in a group/team
- Why do groups exist?
- Organisational purposes
- distribution of work
- management and control of work
- problem solving and decision-taking
- information processing
- information and idea collection
- testing and ratifying decisions
- co-ordination and liaison
- increasing commitment and involvement
- negotiation and conflict resolution
- inquest/inquiry into the past
- The individual's purposes
- meeting social or affiliation needs
- establishing a role for self
- sharing in a common purpose
- gaining help and support to carry out objectives
- Organisational purposes
- Formal and informal groups
- Formal: created to perform a specific task
- Informal: formed by individuals on basis of common grounds, may have vertical, horizontal or random patterns
- how an individual wants to behave
- how other group members expects him/her to behave
- what needs to be done
This can be functional and social.
- Stages in group/team development (growth-cycle)
Bruce Tuckman's 1965
'Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing' team-development model
Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing model in 1965. He added a fifth stage, 'Adjourning' (this is also known as 'De-forming' or 'Mourning'), around 1975. The Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing theory is an elegant and helpful explanation of team development and behaviour. Similarities can be seen with other models, such as Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum and especially with Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership® model, developed about the same time.
- members get to know each other
- establish rules and tasks
- understand group/team roles
- acquire information/resources
- identify and rely on the leader or develop a decision making hierarchy
- check understanding of tasks across the group
- tackle the challenges the group/team have been set
- strengths and weaknesses of individuals start to emerge
- internal conflicts likely to surface
- members may resist task emotionally
- process of normalization settles in
- conflicts settled
- begin working to known strengths, overcoming weaknesses
- co-operation amongst team/group members develops
- views are exchanged
- norms (new standards) are developed
- 'team/group working 'achieved
- flexible roles developed centred around task achievement
- solutions found/ implemented
- team/group begin to 'perform' against agreed objectives, outputs, performance levels
Typically it is at the 'Norming' stage that the group/team starts to become effective, once the 'norms' have been developed, individuals understand their roles and there is general consensus about how the tasks are to be achieved, how the required outputs attained. Norms are influenced by organisational factors such as policies, management style of superiors, rules and procedures on the one hand and, on the other hand by individual employees influence on others in the group/team.
A 5th Stage :
Tuckman's fifth stage, 'Adjourning', is the break-up of the group, hopefully when the task is completed successfully, its purpose fulfilled; everyone can move on to new things, feeling good about what's been achieved. From an organizational perspective, recognition of and sensitivity to people's vulnerabilities in Tuckman's fifth stage is helpful, particularly if members of the group have been closely bonded and feel a sense of insecurity or threat from this change.
High-performing teams celebrate success, seek to understand why they have been successful as well as considering what they could have done better; all groups/teams though ought to consider how they have performed, using techniques such as 'after-action reviews' or 'lessons-learned'
Why do some teams not succeed?
It needs to be understood however that many groups/teams do not progress neatly, or harmoniously, through the above-defined phases. Many falter at the forming and storming phases, perhaps members are insufficiently motivated, irreparable conflicts emerge. Leadership is important and sometimes failure occurs because of the lack of a natural or suitable leader who is either appointed or emerges. There are many ways in which group/team development can be restricted and that is why normally it is better to have a group/team leader, be they acting with (i.e. 'appointed') or without (i.e. self-selected by team or group) formal authority.
Much has been written over recent decades about teams, about how and why they are formed, how and why they operate - and about how well - or otherwise - they perform. Here is a seminal example of how teamwork and collaboration can lead to improved performance:
It was in 1949 that Ken Bamforth of the London-based Tavistock Institute joined Eric Trist and the Australian, Fred Emery, in considering what was happening in the British mining industry2. Their interest lay in how miners in the newly-opened Haighmoor Seam in Durham had seemingly on their own created a new paradigm for work organisation that was generating 'significant improvements in productivity, overall costs, cycle times, absenteeism and worker morale'.
These impressive results they discovered were born out of greater flexibility of the workforce, less rigidity of the systems within which they worked - also the researchers noted that there was much greater co-operation and 'camaraderie' than was evident in the vast majority of other coal mines in Britain. A new pay system had been developed that was based on greater collaboration and co-worker support and was considered to be 'fairer to all'.
Overall the Haighmoor miners had collaboratively developed new more efficient, more effective ways of working, they had found ways of synthesizing social (worker related) aspects with technological aspects and approach that later became known as the 'socio-technical' approach. Trist explained what he termed the miners' 'composite' approach where each miner made a commitment to the whole group and overall group tasks and 'consequently found himself drawn into a variety of tasks in cooperation with different members of the group'; each miner could in fact be drawn into any task on the coal-face with any member of the total group and do his share on any shift'.
What Bamforth, Trist and Emery discovered at Haighmoor has been subsequently described as 'one of the most highly relevant, least understood and rarely applied perspectives' on management and organisational design in history3. It helped show the way that teams (self-organising teams) and worker/management collaboration could lead to higher levels of performance - still considered to be the 'Holy Grail' of organisational design and worker participation.
- Leading Teams
We look now to the work of John Adair, the world's first Professor of Leadership Studies who has also researched the role and potential impacts of teams and team-working alongside studies he has conducted into creativity and innovation in organisations (see Motivation, creativity and innovation). The following 'Three Circles: Adding Value through Team Working' model was devised by Adair4 at the UK's Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst during the 1970's; he observed what effective leaders did to gain the support and commitment of the followers.
Three Circles: Adding-value through Team-Working
Adair's model is first-of-all simple, and so is easy to understand and apply: Adair was also one of the first to look at effective leadership from the point of view of those being led. John Adair, up-dated in 'Not Bosses but Leaders', with Peter Reed, 1987,1990,2003.
Adair found that effective leaders pay attention to three key areas of need for members of the team: those relating to the task, those to the team itself, and those to individual members of the team.
At any time, the emphasis on each circle may vary, but all are interdependent and hence the leader must keep an eye on all three.
Task needs include :
- setting clear goal and objectives
- effective organisation and management of the process.
Team needs include :
- effective interaction
- shared work
- communication within the team and with other teams.
These will of course vary from person to person but the effective leader will need to pay attention to, and deal with, how each person is behaving and feeling.
Comment : Adair's 'three circles' model is today viewed as being rather basic, but still offers a good approach to learn about both teams/team-working and also gain insights into leadership aspects.
- Characteristics of an ideal team
- A common task or purpose:
- clearly defined task
- clear team objective
- Members with specific expertise
- Members know their roles
- Members support each other
- Members complement each other in skills and personalities
- Members commitment to accomplishing task
- Leader who co-ordinates and takes responsibility
- A common task or purpose:
- Team roles
Meredith Belbin5 was driven by the increasing importance of team-working in organisations at the time, Belbin set out to identify what made a good team, based on research in the UK and Australia. He identified from his research eight team roles necessary for effective team working:
- Implementer (the company worker)
- Co-ordinator (chairman)
- Evaluator - monitor
- Finisher - completer
- Innovator (plant)
- Resource investigator
- Team worker
Mnemonic: ICE FIRST
Belbin found that in successful teams all eight roles (see detail below) could be seen in operation, and concluded that when selecting people for a team, filling the eight roles was as important as choosing technical skills or experiences. However, the team may consist of less than 8 people as most people fulfil more than one role.
Belbin's ideas continue to be used by thousands of organisations world-wide because they make sense and are known to work. The concept works best when used openly within a team or across an organisation. Individual preferences are only useful if they're known to others, so teams can assess who can best fulfill each role. You can use role identification as a form of team-building: it reinforces the fact that everyone is bringing something to the team, so you all need each other if you are to be successful.
The abbreviations after each title are the common shorthand used when describing and charting the roles.
Outward looking people whose main orientation is to the world outside the group, and beyond the task(s) in hand.
The Innovator. Unorthodox, knowledgeable and imaginative, turning out loads of radical ideas. The creative engine-room that needs careful handling to be effective. Individualistic, disregarding practical details or protocol - can become an unguided missile.
The extrovert, enthusiastic communicator, with good connections outside the team. Enjoys exploring new ideas, responds well to challenges, and creates this attitude amongst others. Noisy and energetic, quickly loses interest, and can be lazy unless under pressure.
Calm, self-confident and decisive when necessary. The social leader of the group, ensuring individuals contribute fully, and guiding the team to success. Unlikely to bring great intellect or creativity.
Energetic, highly-strung, with a drive to get things done. They challenge inertia, ineffectiveness and complacency in the team, but can be abrasive, impatient and easily provoked. Good leaders of start-up or rapid-response teams.
Inward-looking people principally concerned with relations and tasks within the group.
Unemotional, hardheaded and prudent. Good at assessing proposals, monitoring progress and preventing mistakes. Dispassionate, clever and discrete. Unlikely to motivate others, takes time to consider, may appear cold and uncommitted. Rarely wrong.
Socially-oriented and sensitive to others. Provides an informal network of communication and support that spreads beyond the formal activities of the team. Often the unofficial or deputy leader, preventing feuding and fragmentation. Concern for team spirit may divert from getting the job done.
The Organiser who turns plans into tasks. Conservative, hard-working, full of common sense, conscientious and methodical. Orthodox thinks who keeps the team focussed on the tasks in hand. Lacks flexibility, and unresponsive to new ideas.
Makes sure the team delivers. An orderly, anxious perfectionist who worries about everything. Maintains a permanent sense of urgency that can sometimes help and sometimes hinder the team. Good at follow-up and meeting deadlines.
Different roles will of course be important at different times, and high-performing teams will normally be aware as to which role(s) should dominate at any particular time. Belbin roles can of course be linked to personality types (e.g. Myers Briggs Type Indicators), where common words such as 'Extrovert' and 'Analyst' will be found - but remember that Belbin roles are less definitive.
Handy6 provides two dimensions for group effectiveness:
- Ability to achieve organisational goals (formal goals)
- Ability to satisfy individual members social and psychological needs (informal goals)
Ideally maximal group effectiveness is achieved when the needs and expectations of the organisation are one and the same as those of the individuals:
- The givens
- the group
- the task
- the environment
- Intervening factors
- leadership style
- The outcomes
- member satisfaction
Elements to encourage good team working
The list below suggests the main elements to encourage good team working but it is not exclusive. There may be other elements that affect particular teams that are not on this list:
- clear team goals and objectives
- clear accountability and authority
- diversity of skills and personalities
- clear individual roles for members
- shared tasks
- regular internal formal and informal communication
- full participation by members
- the confronting of conflict
- monitoring team objectives
- feedback to individuals
- feedback on team performance
- outside recognition of a team
- two way external communication
- team rewards
- encouragement of self development/ training
Handy's physical factors affecting group effectiveness7
- Handy suggested that the following characteristics can affect effectiveness:
- proximity increases group interaction
- interaction increases cooperative feelings
- physical barriers can prevent group formation
- location of group meeting gives out signals
- shared facilities encourage group identity
An overview of group effectiveness can be looked at under two groups of factors:
Immediate constraints - these set the scenario for the group, the closer they match the expectations of the members, the more effective the group
Small groups tend to be more cohesive and encourage full participation as opposed to large groups, although there are advantages and disadvantages in both. Larger groups have a greater diversity of the talent, skills, knowledge etc, whereas the larger the group, the less chance of any individual member participating.
A good size group consists of 5 - 7 people.
A group with knowledgeable members does better in progressing a task than an inexperienced group. A group with a wide range of talents represented in membership does better than one with a narrow range.
Nature of task
In a production line, technology often disperses employees and makes group cohesiveness difficult. Decision making, creative thinking often require a variety of membership/ leadership styles and talents. If task is urgent (e.g. outbreak team) then groups tend to be forced to be task-orientated.
Close geographical proximity, preferably in the same building, helps the cohesiveness and effectiveness of a group. Bureaucratic organisations prefer formally set up groups. Matrix organisations prefer project led groups and are often more participative in style and therefore suit organisations where large numbers of professionals are employed.
Group motivation and interaction
These factors tend to be more modifiable than those set out under contract of members and leadership. Note all factors in (1) may have been set up by a supervisor, who is by definition external to the group.
Success or otherwise primarily depends on individual motivation and people's perception of the importance of the task and their role within it. Adequate and timely feedback is important, together with the individual's satisfaction with the membership of the group.
This depends on leadership, group motivation, and appropriate rules and procedures. Leadership depends on the optimum mix of attention to task and attention to people, taking the total situation into account
Group motivation arises not just from individual motivation, but also the ability of leadership to develop a team spirit and obtain a high level of commitment from team members. This high level of interaction encourages the openness of the team to discuss and to become more compatible with pursuit of task.
Appropriate rules and procedures are necessary to control decision making and conflict. These can be simple, but may need to be more complex if the task is part of a multi-faceted complex goal or organisation.
- Inter-group (between groups) behaviour
Whether formal or informal groups exist, it is important to have knowledge of behaviour within and between groups in organisations.
Behaviour within a group is determined by key factors:
Nature of task
(e.g. problem solving v. production)
(standard of behaviour)
(loyalty to group)
Size of Group
Breaking an organisation down into smaller units (work groups) in order to cope adequately with the diversity of tasks that face it, creates opportunities to develop task interests and special know-how, but, at the same time it also creates rivalries and competing interests which can be damaging to the organisations mission statement.
The first systematic study of inter-group interaction was carried out by Sherif et al8. While it was removed from the arena of large organisations, two groups were studied in a boy's recreational camp; it was an example of a planned observation study.
The two groups were encouraged to develop separate identities. The following observations were made between the groups:
- Each group began to view the other group as an enemy
- Hostility increased as communication between them decreased; this encouraged negative stereotyping of each other to arise
- The effects of winning or losing an inter-group competition:
- maintains or increases group cohesiveness but reduces motivation
- moves group's attention away from task towards individual needs
- tends to lead to disintegration of group by 'scapegoating'
- task becomes all important
- this focus allows the group to critically appraise themselves and realistically assess what changes are required to make the group effective
- Inter group competition therefore has advantages and disadvantages
- group develops a level of cohesiveness
- group focuses on task
- group develops competing or even conflicting goals
- inter-group communication/co-operation breaks down
Impact of competition within each competing group
- members loyal to group
- concern for task accomplishment is greater then member's psychological needs
- more autocratic leadership
- each group becomes more highly structured and organised
- member loyalty demanded by group
- other group seen as the 'enemy'
- distortion of perception
- hold negative stereotypes of other groups
- if groups are forced into interaction, reinforcement of above
Sherif8, as well as other researchers, has followed up the resolution of inter-group conflict and recommendations for organisations:
- Encourage and reward groups on their contribution to the organisational goals ('the common good') rather than just to individual group goals
- Stimulate high level of interaction and communication between groups and provide rewards for inter-group collaboration
- Encourage movement of staff across group boundaries in order to increase mutual understanding of problems
- Avoid putting groups in head on conflict by competing for resources or status
- Communication in groups
Factors affecting communication in groups
Communication in groups is complex and without careful organization can have a negative impact on the outputs from the group.
There is better communication in groups that:
- are meaningful to their members
- spend time initially and periodically on their communication processes
- give good member satisfaction and participation
- are flexible
Inhibiting factors in group communication
- how much we speak
- to whom we speak
- whether we speak defensively or openly
- how much we hear
Level of communication depends on:
- individual's personal needs and goals versus groups needs and goals
- personal identity, image and role within the group. Who am I?
- power influence and control. Who has it?
- acceptance by other group members, intimacy
- Group norms
Guide behaviours facilitate interaction by specifying the kinds of reactions expected or acceptable in particular situations. Group norms exist when:
- Group think
What is group think?
The term was devised in the 1970s by the American psychologist Irving Janis9, who analysed group decision making in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He defined group think as a form of decision making characterised by uncritical acceptance of a prevailing point of view. It is a form of collective delusion, where bizarre policies are rationalised collectively and contradictory evidence is discredited. Members of the group suffer an illusion of both invulnerability and morality, and construct negative stereotypes of outsiders. In the health service this may happen where a health authority is under great outside pressure because of e.g. a huge overspend.
Eight Main Symptoms of Group Think:
- Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.
- Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.
- Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.
- Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group.
- Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.
- Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.
- Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent.
- Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.
Avoiding Group Think
- The group should be made aware of the causes and consequences of group think.
- The leader should be neutral when assigning a decision-making task to a group, initially withholding all preferences and expectations. This practice will be especially effective if the leaders consistently encourages an atmosphere of open inquiry.
- The leader should give high priority to airing objections and doubts, and be accepting of criticism.
- Groups should always consider unpopular alternatives, assigning the role of devil's advocate to several strong members of the group.
- Sometimes it is useful to divide the group into two separate deliberative bodies as feasibilities are evaluated.
- Spend a sizable amount of time surveying all warning signals from rival group and organizations.
- After reaching a preliminary consensus on a decision, all residual doubts should be expressed and the matter reconsidered.
- Outside experts should be included in vital decision making.
- Tentative decisions should be discussed with trusted colleagues not in the decision-making group.
- The organization should routinely follow the administrative practice of establishing several independent decision-making groups to work on the same critical issue or policy.
Group Think Development and Symptoms
Group development stage Symptoms of group think Stage Team is: Signs may include: 1
concerned with 'who fits where'
not much achieved work-wise
concerned with 'how we work together'
lively debate and discussion
trying out ways of working as a team
things beginning to be achieved
concerned with achieving the goals
relaxed, purposeful atmosphere
feelings of confidence
most talk being about the job
goals being achieved!
concerned with breaking up and moving on to new tasks
typing up loose ends
feelings of sadness
planning for new teams
An agreement - or at least no one disagrees so strongly that they feel unable to accept the consensus view!
Uses in management
- to determine the level of support for a policy and the extent of opposition
- to identify areas of disagreement which would be fruitful areas for further research
- to provide a basis for quality assurance, in the absence of clear scientific evidence.
Applications in health services management
- individual clinical care
- organisational priority
- prioritising services
- strategic planning
- research needs
a) Consensus development
- to explore uncertainty/ differences of opinion to reduce disagreement to define areas of agreement/ disagreement
- incorporate wide range of peoples views
- ensure representative views
- ensure all participants have an equal opportunity to express their views, provide opportunity for participants to explain their views and reconsider them
Need for structured methods because committees may not reflect consensus:
- some individuals dominate discussion
- hierarchical organisation will inhibit junior people from disagreeing with seniors
- people often find difficulty in being seen to change their opinion in public
- fear of appearing naïve or ignorant
b) Consensus development conferences
Consensus development conferences were started in US in 1977 and were a mixture of three activities:
- Judicial process
- Scientific meeting
- Town meeting
Consultants in Communicable Disease have used this approach, for example around an outbreak of a new disease such as SARS. Other examples include:
- breast cancer screening
- indications for tonsillectomy
- availability of insect sting kits for non-physicians
- caesarean section
- regional strategy for ENT services
A topic must meet the following selection criteria:
- It should have public health importance; it should affect or broadly apply to a significant number of people.
- Controversy or unresolved issues should surround biomedical/scientific aspects of the topic that would be clarified by the consensus approach, or there should be a gap between current knowledge and practice that a CDC might help to narrow.
- It must have an adequately defined and available base of scientific information from which to answer the conference questions and to resolve the controversies insofar as possible.
- It should be amenable to clarification on technical grounds, and the outcome should not depend mainly on the subjective judgments of panelists.
- independent panel
- meeting held in public, decisions made in private
- previously posed questions
- consensus statement produced
- dissemination of statement
Three groups involved:
- involve key researchers with opposing views, rather than supposedly objective written reviews of evidence
- opportunity for panelists to question experts
- opportunity for public to participate
- process open to public scrutiny
- high cost
- representativeness of panel
- ability of non expert panel to understand the issues
Consensus development is not a substitute for scientific research, but a method of assessing current opinions. The consensus view is just as likely to reflect collective ignorance as wisdom. A consensus technique cannot generate additional knowledge.
A Delphi survey is a structured group interaction process that is directed in "rounds" of opinion collection and feedback10. Opinion collection is achieved by conducting a series of surveys using questionnaires. The result of each survey will be presented to the group and the questionnaire used in the next round is built upon the result of the previous round11.
Identify potential participants - ensure they are representative
- Round 1: invite participants to suggest relevant issues/ factors that should be considered. Produce questionnaire of closed questions plus opportunity for respondents to suggest additional ones
- Round 2: participants score their level of agreement/ disagreement with each statement. Aggregate results and include on next questionnaire
- Round 3 participants review their original scores in the light of the group scores.
- large numbers of participants
- geographically dispersed
- low cost
- no face to face discussion of different views
- little quantitative data acquired
- validity of answers uncertain
Example: Nominal (expert) group techniques
- small panel of experts (9 - 12 people)
- GP provided with review of scientific literature
- self administered questionnaire to each individual to determine level of agreement with statements
- aggregate scores compiled and returned to participants
- panel meeting to discuss areas of disagreement - facilitator may be expert (Delbecq technique) or non expert (Glaser technique)
- quantitative scores (re-rating) and qualitative data recorded
- analyse/interpret and discuss results
- atings are anonymous
- discussion uncovers ambiguity and increases validity of answers
- discussion allows some statements to be redefined if necessary
- panelists enjoy it
- representativeness of panelists
- definitions of agreement/ disagreement
- potential influence of outlier with a small sized panel
- moderate cost
- dependant on panelists attending
1 Schein EH, Bennis WG. Personal and Organizational change through Group Methods: The laboratory approach. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1965.
2 Boyett & Boyett, 'The Guru Guide',1998
3 Harry Scarborough, 'A Tavistock Anthology, 1995
4 John Adair, Three Circles Model up-dated in 'Not Bosses but Leaders' with Peter Reed edition 2003
5 R Meridith Belbin. "Management Teams - why they succeed or fail", 1981
6 Charles Handy, Understanding Organisations, 1976- 4th ed 1993
7 Handy CB. Understanding organisations. Harmondsworth: Penguin 1985 4th ed.
8 Sherif M. Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The robbers cave experiment
9 Janis, I L & Mann L (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press
10 Turoff, M. & Hiltz, S. R. 1996, 'Computer Based Delphi Processes', In Adler, M. & Ziglio, E. (eds) Gazing into the Oracle: The Delphi Method and Its Application to Social Policy and PublicHealth, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.
11 Delbecq, A.L., Ven, A.H. and Gustafson, D. 1975, Group Techniques for Program Planning: A Guide to Nominal Group and Delphi Processes, Scott, Foresman & Co., Glenview, Illinois.
© K Enock 2006