Organisational behaviour is the study about human activities and conduct in the context of business organisation. This essay discusses about an incident, happened in my workplace, few years back, when I was working as one of the team members for a project management team. Such incident hampered team dynamics, motivation and communication. Actions were taken to resolve the issues and restore the situation.
There were serious conflicts in my team having twenty members assigned with different duties and responsibilities. People in the group were not cooperative and formed two separate groups within the team. This segmentation was hampering work flow, efficiency and above all, group dynamics. These two groups had opposing perceptions about each other and hence, “us and them” situation was very much explicit within the aforesaid team. I used to feel helpless at times especially when I observed that these groups were not thinking in line with organisational objectives and more concerned about their own personal benefits out of the organisation. Some of the outcomes I witnessed are absenteeism, lack of communication and consequently low productivity. I noticed that the primary reason of this problem was probably one team member who used to behave unprofessionally at times.
He always used to make gossip and spread rumour among the team members. He had been very casual and irregular to come to office. Once, he was caught intoxicated during office hours. His last year’s performance appraisal was not satisfactory to him. He was warned for this unprofessional behaviour at work place. He used to make abusive language. My team leader was also not at all satisfied with his behaviour and performances. Long absenteeism and unprofessional behaviour were hampering his performances. Situation worsened when he suddenly went for long unplanned leave. It hampered the work flow as we needed to deliver a report to our client by the end of next week and we were running short of time. Everyone was working day and night to meet the deadline. In such a situation, long unplanned leave made our senior management concerned. When being contacted, the person communicated that due to some personal problems, he would not be able to come for two weeks. He confirmed that he was not ill but facing some personal difficulty to come to office. I was informed by my other team members that this was not the first time the person took such unplanned leaves. Ultimately, one person was recruited on contractual basis. We put our utmost effort to wrap up the project and finish the assignment within the stipulated deadline. We were finally able to complete the task one day before the day on which the job was supposed to be delivered to the client. My team leader and management were happy.
Management, thereafter, finally took the decision to sack the person. He was communicated via email. He, in his farewell speech, admitted that his contribution to the organisation should have been much more and he himself was not able to add any value to the business. He also confessed that it was his fault to attempt to divide the team, based on vested interest and he assured that he had learned from his mistake. My team leader wished him best of luck and we finally bade him adieu. After such incident, the team finally regained its old spirit of group dynamics. Members were motivated. Communications became fair and unambiguous and productivity increased.
As a team member, I was observing how my team leader was trying to resolve the issues by analysing the current situation and examining the performance of team members. In the context of above mentioned scenario, importance of motivation; group dynamics and communication are discussed. Firstly, two motivational theories are enumerated. Once is Maslow’s need hierarchy theory and second one is Herzberg’s two factor theory.
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, there is five different level of motivation an employee feels about at a workplace. These are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self actualization needs. The physiological needs refer to the very basic need in which the most basic needs of human beings are considered such as need for biological and maintaining, shelter, food, water and physical wellbeing needs consists in physiological needs (Spinks and Wells, 1995). The other part wherein the team member can be motivated in an organization in the given case is safety needs wherein the need for security, stability in the routine life and protection is essential. When one need is satisfied, the other need arouses and team members would again try to achieve the next level of need such as social needs (Barkley et al. 2005). This includes the affection, belongingness and love in relationships which is an important element to be observed and satisfied. Team members having some issues can be motivated to achieve the esteem needs where respect, recognition, self esteem, prestige and personal sense are the main needs for getting involved in the work. Self actualization needs are the last stage and team members can work better to achieve this need while this is the highest level of self fulfilment that helps to grow the abilities in the most creative manner (Punnett, 2004). This is the way how the motivation theory helps to mainly respond to the given situation and impacts the work while resolving the issues.
Figure -1: Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory
(Source: www.bbc.com, 2016)
In the instant case, the person who was creating so much of trouble within the team probably belonged to second and third stages. He very much knew his drawbacks such as his drinking habit. He was scared of losing his jobs. He was having insecurity issues. On scrutiny of the situation, it was identified that his personal life was also disturbed. He grew up by his single mother. He is a divorcee having no child. He had always been occupied thinking his personal problems and that hampered his performance.
As per Herzberg’s two factor theory, there are two factors such as motivators and hygiene factors which motivates people in an organisation. The motivator factors are achievement, growth, responsibility, recognition, advancement and work. These factors help team members to perform well at the workplace without disputing and making conflicts. When these are satisfied by the company, team members would work well and focus on the desired goals by agreeing to what is correct. On the other hand, hygiene factors are those dissatisfying factors which make employees feel unhappy with the working conditions and these include company policy, relationship with supervisor, work conditions, salary and security and health factors.
Figure -2: Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory
(Source: www.bbc.com, 2016)
In the given case, the aforesaid team member was not getting recognition as he was not doing something which needed such. He adversely affected team dynamics and hence his scope of career advancement was lower. Secondly, he divided the entire team and his relationship with his team leader was also not satisfactory.
Group dynamics is the force that helps to operate the groups and affects in a manner so that group performance is increased while it assists in increasing group members’ satisfaction (Spinks and Wells, 1995).
As per Tuckman’s team development model, stages of group development include the forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Forming is initial stage with uncertainty, conflict and confusion. Brain storming stage assimilates disparities and disagreements of team members. Chaos is finally settled down in norming stage. Team starts performing once all the conflicts are reduced to an acceptable range and members get devoted and motivated for accomplishment of the task given. However, group comes to an end in the adjourning stage. It is needless to mention that not all groups undergo adjourning as some groups are relatively permanent. Groups may be of various types such as task groups, command groups and functional groups. Task groups are formed to complete the given task for the accomplishment of which the groups are formed. Command groups are, on the other hand, are relatively stable and do not come to an end. These groups supervise the subordinates. Functional group is similar to task group with the exception that this group if formed for an unspecified period of time to provide specific functional services.
Various HR models, till date, have identified that the emergent behaviours and the required behaviours are two primary factors to be considered to analyse team dynamics (Soucy and Larose, 2000). The required behaviours include contribution for continuous affiliation and the team support that is requested from the group members. Emergent behaviours include the formal and informal behaviour of the team members. Theories on group dynamics suggest that group norms, roles and emotions should be analysed in a group context to identify the issues, if any and also to set the standard behaviour expected from a member to display at the workplace. Roles are one of the important factors in behaviours (Peled, 2000). Conflicts created due to different perceptions make the emotions and spirits of a group turbulent and unstable.
It has been identified that cohesive group performs better. The figure below shows the mutual relationship between group cohesiveness and group productivity. It is needless to mention that higher the unity and cohesiveness; higher the efficiency and productivity.
Moderate to Low Productivity
Figure -3: Relationship between group cohesiveness and group productivity
(Source: Created by author)
In the instant case, the sacked team member posed serious concern for the team dynamics. He diluted the very basic purpose of team development which is unity and efficiency. His behaviours affected the team’s productivity and hence business got suffered. He vitiated the justification of group formation. He impacted the group dynamics adversely. He did not provide direct coaching to anyone, rather always tried to mend the way of doing things in his favour. He obstructed intra group dynamics and consequently communication process and motivation of the team members.
Communication refers to the process of exchange of information which helps the team members to understand the goals of an organization. It works well when there are unsaid disputes and said conflicts in the group. Communication assists in achieving future goals of the organisation within stipulated time (Leider, 1955). Interpersonal communication can be improved by focussing on various sub elements of communication process such as source of information, encoding the message, transmission of the message, channels, receiving the message, decoding the message, feedback and noise. There are two or more parties in a communication process, namely, sender and receiver (Beebe and Masterson, 2003). In the case where the team members do not agree on a particular decision, it is essential to communicate with them in a formal manner and explain them the importance of group dynamics while encoding the objectives of the project implementation and the strategies used with the help of this method. Efficient communication minimises the cost and enhances the group productivity (Keyser, 2000).
In this context, communication channel may be discussed to understand the channel richness and how the information flows between parties. Communication channels are both formal and informal. It is important for an organisation to set up proper communication channel within the organisation and off course within various teams or groups within such organisation. Channel richness refers to the volume of information that is transmitted or passed through those channels. More the information passed; richer the channel. Important mails and video conferencing are effective communication channels. However, live speech contains high level channel richness. It is imperative for the success of business that organisation adheres the basic rules of communication and follow such protocol throughout. Grapevine is considered to be a negative element in communication channel and hence, should be avoided.
Face to face communication is better when it comes to live speeches, video conference and group discussions. It can be switched from routine to non routine while achieving the basic purpose of a particular type of conversation (Cicmil, 1999). At times, people feel barriers in communication such as physical distractions, technical issues and sometimes cultural differences. Semantic noise can be a barrier which is called noise for instance. Lack of feedback while receiving the message from a source can be a distraction and consequently a barrier in communication. Close mindedness as such with the preconceived ideas can be a major distraction (Felder and Brent, 2001). This arises in a conflict situation and was observed in this situation where team members had different perceptions.
In the instant case, communication within the team got seriously affected by the behaviour and activities of the sacked person. He circulated noises among the team members. Two way communications with him had never been fruitful. His close mindedness and preconceived ideas dampened the team morale.
1. On motivation front:
People in the group could be communicated about the proposed performance appraisal system, starting from next month, whereby, great work would be appreciated and hard work would be recognised.
People in the organisation might feel that their hard work are not recognised and so they feel de-motivated. If their effort is acknowledged with gift or thank you note as a token of appreciation, it would be a good motivator for them (Al-Mashaan, 2001).
2. On group dynamics front:
Functioning of the group might be effectively enhanced by introducing proper team hierarchy and appointing a team supervisor and a team manager.
Team supervisor will act under existing team leader and team manager will be the ultimate authority of decision maker of the group.
Existing structure of one team leader might be dicey for the effectiveness of the group as personal bias and sense of autocracy might creep in such scenario. Moreover, control mechanism and supervision make the leadership stable and help the group to perform better and efficiently.
3. On communication front:
Communication could be made better by implementing and adhering to proper communication protocol.
Training on soft skills and communications could be held on regular basis to reduce the chance of improper communication due to lack of knowledge of the team members.
Existing communication process might be risky for the effective and efficient functioning of the group.
Gossip and rumour are very frequent in the instant team, In such case, establishment of proper communication channel through frequent team meeting, review and feedback mechanism and one to one session would contribute significantly to success of the team.
Al-Mashaan, O.S. 2001 ‘Job stress and Job Satisfaction and their Relation to Neuroticism, type a behavior, and locus of control among Kuwaiti Personnel’, Psychological Reports, Vol. 88, No.3, p. 1145.
Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., and Major, C. H. 2005. Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco; Jossey-Bass Publishers
Beebe, S. A., and Masterson, J. T. 2003. Communicating in small groups. Pearson Education Inc. Boston: Massachusetts
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Cicmil, S. 1999 ‘An insight into management of organizational changes projects’, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 11, No.1, pp. 5–15.
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Keyser, M.W. (2000) ‘Active learning and cooperative learning: Understanding the difference and using both styles effectively’, Research Strategies, Vol. 17, No.1, pp. 35–44.
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Leider, H.J. (1955) ‘Intrathoracic Alimentary duplications communicating with small intestine’, Archives of Surgery, Vol. 71, No. 2, p. 230.
Peled, A. (2000) ‘Politicking for success: The missing skill’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 20–29.
Punnett, B. J. 2004. International perspectives on organizational behavior and human resource management. New York, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Soucy, N. and Larose, S. (2000) ‘Attachment and control in family and mentoring contexts as determinants of adolescent adjustment at college’, Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 14, No.1, pp. 125–143.
Spinks, N. and Wells, B. (1995) ‘Communicating with groups’, Executive Development, Vol. 8, No. 5, pp. 13–19.
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