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How do individual differences and perceptions affect team dynamics? Essay

In any workplace it is vital that management and employee’s find the right balance to enable them to work as one unit in the most efficient and effective way. Team dynamics in an organisation can be affected by how people within the team interact, respond and influence one another in achieving a common goal. Both individual differences and perceptions can affect team dynamics in positive and negative ways. The following critical analysis will explore the affects on team dynamics by exploring three key concepts: personality differences, perceptual differences and behavioral differences. These concepts will then be further analyzed by investigating the broader ideas that stem from them to evaluate their affects on team dynamics.

Personality is an important individual characteristic, it is known as the “relatively enduring pattern of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that characterize a person, along with the psychological processes behind those characteristics” (McShane & Von Glinow 2013, p.41). Within an organisation employee personalities can greatly affect team dynamics, to ensure these individual characteristics are understood and utilized in the right way, management can successfully create teams to produce the best work. This can be done by having an understanding of the idea of ‘Nature versus Nurture’ (McCrea et al., 2000) and also how the ‘Five Factor Model’ (Digman, 1990) relates to individuals, positive team dynamics can be achieved.

The determinants of ones personality stems from Nature “genetic or hereditary origins” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2013, p41) and ones Nurture which can include “person’s socialization, life experiences and other forms of interactions with the environment” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2013, p41). For an organisation to create a better working environment for employees they can complete personality testing which can be applied for personal development, which further assists dynamics within teams. The personality dimensions in the Five Factor Model includes; “conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience and, extraversion” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2013, p42) and these factors can influence employee motivation and role clarity in various ways. Personality influences will inevitability influence how a person reacts to emotional or stressful situations and their ability to handle team requirements.

Perceptions are the outcomes of information processing or are the consequences of selective attention, selective comprehension, encoding, storage, retention, information retrieval and judgment (Waller et al., 1995). What individuals perceive often affects their subsequent choices and actions (Hambrick & Mason, 1984; Thomas, Clark & Gioia, 1993). These perceptual differences are evident within the workplace through stereotyping of fellow co-workers, as it “is a natural and mostly non-conscious “energy-saving” process that simplifies [employee perceptions]”(McShane & Von Glinow 2013, p.76).

The advantage of stereotyping enables individuals maintain a positive self-concept and the process leads to categorization, to achieve social identity, and homogenization, a comparison process within a workplace. The disadvantages of stereotyping, specifically for team dynamics, are that stereotyping can distort individual perception and can “lay the foundation for discriminatory attitudes and behavior”(McShane & Von Glinow 2013, p.78). These risks that can result from negative stereotyping can have a flow on effect for a perceptual process known as the ‘Attribution Theory’ (McShane & Von Glinow 2013) where by a an individual decides “whether an observed behavior or event is caused largely by internal or external factors” (McShane 2013, p.79).

The effects of the attribution theory on team dynamics can be evident specifically with “time urgency and time perspective… [as] these two temporal individual-difference variables have critical influences on how individuals and teams respond to deadlines” (Carpenter et al., 2001). To have a successful outcome for a team, perception within a team must ensure that members are aware of tasks and time limits and form ’cause-and-effect relationships’ (Feldman, 1981) to ensure that the overall team process can run smoothly and can survive it its working environment.

Organisational behaviour are the actions and attitudes of individuals and groups toward one another and toward the organisations as a whole, and its effect on the organisation’s functioning and performance. The behavioural differences that affect team dynamics within an organisation can be evaluated through the use of the ‘MARS Model of individual behaviour’ (McShane & Von Glinow 2013), specifically the motivation and the ability of individuals. Employee motivation is the force that drives employees to complete their tasks on time and at the best standard, it is also a factor that influence team dynamics as if some members are more highly motivated there can be a discrepancy in the task outcome and can have the disadvantage of stress for the motivated team members. The ability of employees also greatly affects their capability to produce the desired outcome, to take advantage of employees skills, their competencies need to be taken into account to ensure that if working within a group, members are appropriately ‘job matched’ (McShane & Von Glinow 2013) to achieve the ideal result.

At any given time within an organisation employees, regardless of their individual differences, will have multiple roles. These roles are outlined by the 3D theory identify that “there are three types of persons and roles they play in the workplace: Distinguished, Doer, and Devoid. A Distinguished is the one who is an irreplaceable person. A Doer is a worker of average ability and talent, and a Devoid is an employee free-loader who is a moocher more than a contributor” (Chong & Sikula 2013). To create an effective team dynamic is it is vital that management understand how these behavioural differences affect their employees and organise teams to ensure that these factors affect the dynamics in a positive way.

Overall individual differences and perceptions can have great affect on team dynamics within a workplace. This has been evident through the exploration of the concepts of personality, perceptual and behavioural differences, and how each of these factors are uniquely different and therefore must be approached with understanding for each concept for an organisation to effectively manage its employees for their capabilities for working in teams to achieve the best possible outcome.


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Olivia Oswin – 7536097 – Assessment 1B – HRM20011 Organisational Behaviour

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