J. Richard Hackman was a professor of social and organizational psychology at Harvard University. Hackman was known for his many contributions to our understanding of work design and team effectiveness. ( Wageman & Amabile, 2013) He was also the author and co-author of 10 books. Throughout his career Dr. Hackman observed corporate boards, sports teams, orchestra players, telephone-line repair crews, hospital workers and restaurant kitchen staff members. (Hevesi, 2013) According to Hackman teamwork and collaboration are critical to mission achievement in any organization that has to respond quickly to changing circumstances.
My research in the U. S intelligence community has not only affirmed that idea but also surfaced a number of mistaken beliefs about teamwork that can sidetrack productive collaboration. (Hackman, 2011) Many companies and people are all for teamwork and thinks this is the best way to achieve a more productive workforce and success. According to Dictionary. com teamwork is define as cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in interest of a common cause.
Our company is one of those believers in teamwork but Hackman argues that most company has misconceptions on teamwork. The first misconception that Hackman mentions is on “harmony. ” Many companies feels that if a team has smooth interaction it would avoid wasting time and having debates on how to proceed. (Hackman, 2011) According to Hackman (2011), “Conflict, when well managed and focused on a team’s objectives, can generate more creative solutions than one sees in conflict-free groups. ”
Conflict and constructive criticism seems to bring out great ideas and help see more than one point of iew. The second misconception that Hackman mention was “mixing it up. ” According to Hackman (2011), the longer members stay together as an intact group, the better they do. As an employee who participates in groups it easier to continue to work with the same people because you get to know and learn the people in the group which helps with knowing their triggers and fuses. When adding new people to an existing group or changing team could possibly prolong the project because now that team has to reacquaint themselves with each other as well as understanding the new members’ ideas and views.
The third misconception which seems like a no brainer is that “Big is Better. ‘ According to Hackman (2011), the larger the group, the higher the likelihood of social loafing and the more effort it takes to keep members’ activities coordinated. When participating in a large group, you run the risk of having many opinions and more arguments that you probably wouldn’t have in a smaller group. Technology has allowed for companies to be able to have teams work together across building as well as globally.
When you walk into some of the medium and bigger companies you now see tele/video-conference rooms where members hold meetings and are looking and talking with each other without being in the same room. According to Hackman (2011), teams working remotely have a disadvantage. When you have a team member in another country you run the risk having a time difference which causing issues with the team on a time that works for everyone. Also, if there’s a large amount of people conferencing in you run the risk of everyone trying to speak at one time.
Face-to-face communication seems to work the best and worth the cost to have the team meet in a central location a couple times throughout the project. (Hackman, 2011) Is having a Leader lead all activities the best way to complete a project? Not at all. According to Hackman (2011), the most powerful thing a leader can do to foster effective collaboration is to create conditions that help members competently manage themselves. It’s always nice to have a project manager to keep the team on task but it’s more important that the project manager allows the members to do what they are task to do.
Research suggests that conditioning creating accounts for about 60% of the variation in how well a team eventually perform, 30% of the quality of the team and 10% is real-time coaching. (Hackman, 2011) Is putting a group of people together and giving them a task a successful team? According to Hackman (2011), it takes careful thought and no small about amount of preparation to stack the deck for success. There are many teams that are thrown together without a known leader, very little preparation and are expected to succeed.
This is a high result in disaster for that project. There may be many misconceptions about teamwork but there are some benefits and advantages of having teamwork in the workplace. One advantage is when working in a team everyone’s strength and expertise can be utilized and responsibility can be distributed. (Goodman, 2015) Typically, teams are formed by the expertise of each person that is need to get the job done.
As the world famous Michael Jordan quotes, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. Another advantage according to Frost (2015), the sense of security and support a team creates may encourage employees to take more risks. Sometimes when working on a team project, that extra boost or knowledge transfer from other team members can lead to relationships that would benefit the team. When you have multiple people working on a project, this allows for many checks and balances to catch any mistakes or missing information that later can hurt the company. (Frost, 2015)
Many customers and business partners may find it easier to communicate with a team rather than a number of individuals working in isolation. Nordmeyer, n. d. ) When working on a proposal the government would like to have one document from the company which means a member from each department needs to work together to deliver a final product that represents the company. If individuals were to put together the proposal document it runs the risk of not being well put together and not what the customer requested. Overall, Hackman stated some good points and misconceptions but it’s up to the business to decide if teams would or would not be more effective to them to achieve a successful project.
Also, if a business decides to form a team they should take into consideration who the team members are, area of expertise, and if they have any past experience working on teams. Businesses should also choose a leader who can lead, teach, coach and motivate the group. Lastly, the business should make sure that the team fits the project to avoid any unnecessary conflict and to ensure high productivity. Brian Tracy states, Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it. (Goodman, 2015)