Individual and Group Behaviour / New Technologies

“Human behaviour is complex and every individual is different from another. The challenge of an effective organization is in successfully matching the task, the manager and the subordinate.” (Practical Management, 2008)

face_qmarks_freeI. Individual Behaviour

People, through their individuality and uniqueness, bring unconsciously something (either positive or negative) to others.  It can be values, emotions, but also skills, abilities, creativity, etc. When hiring a new employee, companies expect that this individual will add a value to the company through its characteristics.  Therefore, the study of individual behaviour is essential within an organisation as these characteristics influence how a person will behave at work and interact with others.

why-we-are-different

Human behaviour is directly affected by individual difference. It will have an impact on how a person perceive things (e.g.: a directive at work) and respond. As a result, individual behaviours impact effectiveness of teams.

 Several factors impact how an individual behave:

 – Hereditary and diversity factors which combined “primary dimensions” which are unchangeable (e.g.: age/gender/physical attributes) and secondary dimensions which may change throughout the life (e.g.: educational background, religion, belief, health)

 – Abilities and skills including mental abilities (e.g.: emotional intelligence, tacit knowledge) and physical abilities (e.g.: motor skills, body coordination)

 – Perception is “the basic cognitive process that transforms sensory stimuli into meaningful information.” (Practical Management, 2008, p.4) In others words, it is the way something is seen and feel by an individual. According to the attribution theory of Heider (quoted in Malle, 2011), perception can be influenced by two attributes: external (the result of a situation) or internal (the result by something within a person).

 – Attitude can be defined as a mental state of readiness: “a state of being prepared for something” (Cambridge, 2015). It is closely link with the personality and the perception of the individual. For instance, job satisfaction results from the employee’s perception regarding its job and may seriously influence its attitude at work.

 – Personality defined as the way a person feels, behaves and thinks, results from the heredity, the cultural forces, the social class and the relationship of an individual. (Practical Management, 2008)

 To use efficiently the human capital of an organisation, a manager should be able to analyse and understand individual behaviours as each individual possess different strengths and weaknesses. To do so, keen observation is necessary. As highlighted by Cole (2002, p.92), technical skills and qualifications are not enough if it is not accompanied with “the ability to work as a team members and the position of ‘desirable personal attributes’ such as willingness to listen, flexibility and the capacity to give”. It is also relevant regarding managers. For instance, according to its personality, the way a manager will behave with a woman or a young employee may be influenced. Tasks assigned to an employee can be determined by the manager’s perception regarding the employee’s abilities. In some particular cases, managers can also restructure a job regarding the individual behaviour of an employee in order to increase its productivity.

teamwork_1Finally, working in team has become a popular practice as it develops the interpersonal skills of employees and lead to new ideas and opportunities. Adair (quoted in Cole, 2002) emphasises the importance of carefully selecting team members within a group. According to him, team is more than just a group working toward a common goal. “It is a group in which the contributions of individuals are seen complementary. Collaboration, working together, is the keynote of a team activity.” (Adair quoted in Cole, 2002, p.91) This statement is agreed by Richard Antoine, Human Resource officer for Procter & Gamble. He claimed that “individual performance still matters, but you won’t perform well in this complex world if you aren’t collaborating with.” (Procter & Gamble, 2015)

6a00d83452ceb069e2016302c1bd08970dII. Team Roles and Group Dynamic

 One of the main factors that determine a group performance is how effectively the team members can work together.

 In his theory, Belbin has identified nine “team roles” as a result of the behavioural strength and the weaknesses of people at work. According to her, when building a team, each member should be chosen for a specific reason and for the purpose to balance the group. Each of them is represented through this nine roles and one individual can suit several team roles. (Belbin, 2014) By knowing which roles a team member is playing within a group, managers can create productive teams where members complete each others and allocate the right task to the right person. Individual strength can be used as an advantage for the group and weaknesses can be managed as predictable.

Belbin's Team Roles

Belbin’s Team Roles

In parallel, Lewin (quoted in Mind Tools, 2015) has described group dynamic as the impact of the role of one person within the group on the group as a whole.  A group with a positive group dynamic will be easily identified by the behaviour of team members together and their commitment toward a common decision whereas a negative group dynamic may lead to conflict, low performance and the difficulty to come with the same decision. (Mind Tools, 2015) Once again, the individual aspect is highlighted as the behaviour derived from it and the organisation’s performance affected.

Group Dynamics in Action

Group Dynamics in Action

ino_s3_i3_pop_500x375Companies like Procter & Gamble are dependent on the effectiveness of group work as its main activities are based on research and development. For this reason, teamwork represents a considerable part of the annual performance review process of Procter & Gamble. The company put the emphasis on building “diverse and collaborative teams” for the purpose to benefit from the emergence of innovation. (Procter & Gamble, 2015)

However some factors can either improve a group dynamic and its performance or inhibit it. In addition to team members’ skills as mentioned above, clarity of a team’s goals/tasks, resources available and deadlines represent some relevant factors which has to be considered carefully. Furthermore, manpower, which means the number of people required to achieve a task, can become an issue and impact negatively the performance of the team if it has not been measured appropriately.

téléchargementIII. Role and impact of technology on team work and performances

In the 21th century, it is not possible to dissociate technology from organisation and business. Technology is used to perform a variety of different tasks daily such as managing information externally and internally, training and developing staff, processing customer transactions, managing the stock, etc.  Despite the fact that generally the initial cost is high, significant benefits derived from the use of technology at work: higher productivity, time management improved, service enhanced, financially viable on the long-term are enhanced, processes speeded, etc. However, the most significant change for the last few years concerns communication.

Technology in the hands

Thanks to new technologies including devices as tablets and smartphones but also software’s development and improvement, communication has become easier, faster and boundless, representing a serious advantage for business. (Jones, 2013) Information can be transmitted instantly and everywhere. As a result of globalisation, it happens more and more often that companies hire people working in different cities, using technologies as the principal way to stay in contact with all of its employees. (Hendricks, 2013)

téléchargement (1)This has lead to the emergence of “virtual teams”. Hitt, Miller & Colella (2011, p.379) has defined a virtual team as a group of “associates who work together as a team but are separated by time, distance, or organisational structure.”  Virtual teams can operate across borders and are not bounded by logistics issues, except perhaps time difference if team members live in different countries. To work efficiently together, several tools are available: audio and video conferencing (e.g.: Skype), online chat rooms, e-mail, online bulletin, project-management software, instant messaging, web conferencing, blogs and wiki sites. (Mitleman & Briggs, 1999)

Virtual Team Needs and Processes

Virtual Team Needs and Processes

Consequently, for the effectiveness of the team, each member of a virtual team has to be either naturally used to technologies or has to be trained in order to be productive within the group. Nevertheless, they are dependent on the reliability of technology (e.g.: broadband speed, conference facilities such as Skype, internet access, hardware/software) Choosing the wrong technologies or having a poor broadband, for instance, can affect the performance and the group dynamic of virtual teams. Virtual teams can increase the company productivity if they are implemented properly. However, research has shown that face-to-face interactions between members, even casually, are still essential to increase the effectiveness of virtual teams and avoid the risk that the team fall apart as it is often the case. (Hitt, Miller & Colella, 2011)

 Conclusion

The organisation performance relies on a productive synergy and the use of adapted technologies. Following the theories, it is necessary to analyse individual’s behaviour in order to build efficient team group and develop a positive cohesion and group dynamic to generate higher productivity. However, it may be useful to consider it during the recruitment process rather than before to create a team. Then, analysing each employee is an unrealistic objective according to the organisation size. Therefore, intuition and critical thinking are suggested to be followed by managers while building a team; and, as Cole (2002, p.87) states: “a team gain effectiveness and performance with experience.”

Bibliography

Belbin Associates (2010) Belbin teamroles. PDF available from: http://www.practical-management.com/pdf/Organization-Development/Individual-Behavior-in-Organization.pdf?format=phocapdf (Accessed 12/01/2015)

Cole G. (2002) Personnel and Human Resource Management, Fifth Edition, Continuum

Hendricks, D. (2013) The Business Advantages of Information Technology. Tech Cocktail [Online] Available from: http://tech.co/business-advantages-information-technology-2013-11 (Accessed 15/01/2015)

Hitt M. A., Chet Miller C. & Collella A. (2011) Organizational Behaviour, Third Edition, Wiley

Jones, P. (2013) How evolving technology will change the business world. The Telegraph [Online] Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/technology/business-technology/10298682/future-workplace-technology.html (Accessed 15/01/2015)

Malle, F. (2011) Attribution Theories: How People Make Sense of Behaviour. Wiley- Blackwell. PDF available from: http://research.clps.brown.edu/SocCogSci/Publications/Pubs/Malle_%282011%29_Chadee_chap_precorr.pdf (Accessed 16/01/2015)

Mind Tools (2015) Improving Group Dynamics [Online] Available from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/improving-group-dynamics.htm (Accessed 16/01/2015)

Mittleman, D. & Briggs, R. O. (1999) Communicating Technologies for Traditional and Virtual Teams. Jossey-Basses

Practical Management (2008) Individual behaviour in organization. PDF available from: http://www.practical-management.com/pdf/Organization-Development/Individual-Behavior-in-Organization.pdf?format=phocapdf (Accessed 15/01/2015)

Practical Management (2008) Individual behaviour in organization. PDF available from: http://www.practical-management.com/pdf/Organization-Development/Individual-Behavior-in-Organization.pdf?format=phocapdf (Accessed 15/01/2015)

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