The importance of groups and teams have become a major focus in the business world today. Organizations have started to realize that the evolution from an individual to a team management approach is a priority in present day. The reality is that much of an organization’s work is accomplished directly or indirectly through teams, which are used as means of growing effectiveness and efficiency. Any organization is constantly changing and evolving (Scarnati 2005). Naturally, group procedure and conflicts are influenced by the choice of team member selection and directly impact required results. Creating an effective team takes time and will determine the level of productivity. In order for a group to be successful it is important that its members are able to meet and discuss their ideas.
This is made a lot easier if members’ schedules are complementary, i.e. members are able to meet at mutually agreed times without too much trouble. Part of what makes group work worthwhile is members’ diversity. Ensuring a group has a number of different perspectives, values and ways of thinking will add to the wealth of ideas created for a task in most cases. However, when people arrive at work they bring with them their individual traits and personalities (Dalal, R. S,2005). Regardless of a person’s position or responsibilities in the workplace, personality plays a role in how a person approaches a team, completes a task and interacts with other members of that team. Personality encompasses a person’s relatively stable feelings, thoughts, and behavioural patterns (Borman, W. C., Penner, L. A., Allen, T. D., & Motowidlo, S. J,2001).
To work effectively in a team, it is helpful to understand the personalities of different employees. Having this knowledge is also useful for placing people into the most suitable jobs and organizations. Someone with an outgoing personality is likely to be a cheerleader for the group, focus on positive aspects of the project, and possibly volunteer for leadership and coordination roles. Likewise, someone who is shy and reserved is more likely to take a follower role and be more comfortable completing tasks that are assigned to him/her or taking direction from others. People who are naturally focused and organized are usually efficient in managing time and completing tasks on schedule. These people do well in leadership roles, but their personalities can potentially conflict with those who have a more laid-back and relaxed approach and aren’t as deadline-conscious or motivated. This becomes a serious problem if that colleague in the team has a manipulative personality as well, and attempts to sabotage other staffers’ work efforts (Borman, W. C,2001).
While not necessarily poor workers, people with overly-relaxed personalities often prefer to work at their own pace without constraints of time lines, which can lead to frustrations unless appropriately managed. When researchers analysed the traits describing personality characteristics, they realized that many different words were actually pointing to a particular dimension of personality. Five dimensions seemed to emerge, and these explain much of the variation in our personalities. The ‘Big Five’ dimensions are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (Dalal, R. S,2005).
Openness is the degree to which a person is curious, original, intellectual, creative, and open to new ideas. People high in openness seem to thrive in situations that require flexibility and learning new things. They are highly motivated to learn new skills, and they do well in training settings (Dalal, R. S,2005). They also have an advantage when they enter into a new organization. Their open-mindedness leads them to seek a lot of information and feedback about how they are doing in order to build relationships, which leads to quicker adjustment to their new job. When given support, they tend to be creative. By being open in a team, the other members will be able to communicate their ideas and be confident about it. Conscientiousness refers to the degree to which a person is organized, systematic, punctual, achievement-oriented, and dependable.
Conscientiousness is the one personality trait that uniformly predicts how high a person’s performance will be across a variety of occupations and jobs. This personality trait makes it easier to work in a team and keep all members on board. Once they are hired, conscientious people not only tend to perform well, but they also have higher levels of motivation to perform, lower levels of turnover, lower levels of absenteeism, and higher levels of safety performance at work. Extraversion is the degree to which a person is outgoing, talkative, sociable, and enjoys socializing. Extraverts do well in social situations, and, as a result, they tend to be effective in job interviews. Part of this success comes from preparation, as they are likely to use their social network to prepare for the interview. (Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Viechtbauer, W,2006).
Extraverts have an easier time than introverts do when adjusting to a new job. Moreover, they are not necessarily model employees. For example, they tend to have higher levels of absenteeism at work, potentially because they may miss work to hang out with or attend to the needs of their friends. Agreeableness is the degree to which a person is affable, tolerant, sensitive, trusting, kind, and warm. This may reflect their ability to show empathy and to give people the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, people who are disagreeable are shown to quit their jobs unexpectedly, perhaps in response to a conflict with a boss or a peer (Riketta, M, 2002). When working in teams it is important to be more agreeable with the other members. Neuroticism refers to the degree to which a person is anxious, irritable, temperamental, and moody. Neurotic people have a tendency to have emotional adjustment problems and habitually experience stress and depression.
People very high in neuroticism experience a number of problems at work. For example, they have trouble forming and maintaining relationships in a team and are less likely to be someone people go to for advice and friendship. Being highly neurotic seems to be harmful to one’s career, and such employees tend to have lower levels of career success (Riketta, M, 2002). Working with this type of person in a team may have negative consequences. An individual’s value can reflect on working in teams. Values refer to people’s stable life goals, reflecting what is most important to them. Values are established throughout one’s life as a result of accumulating life experiences, and values tend to be relatively stable. The values that are important to a person tend to affect the types of decisions they make in a team, how they perceive their environment, and their actual behaviours towards others. Value attainment is one reason people stay in a company (Borman, W. C,2001).
When a task in the group work does not help them attain their values, they are likely to decide to leave if they are dissatisfied with the team. How an individual behaves at work often depends on how they feel about being there. Therefore, making sense of how people behave depends on understanding their work attitudes (Borman, W. C,2001). An attitude refers to our opinions, beliefs, and feelings about aspects of the environment. At work, two job attitudes have the greatest potential to influence how individuals behave. These are job satisfaction and organizational commitment. If the employee is satisfied with the job and is committed to the organisation he will be more effective in a team and is more willing to part take in all activities brought forward by the team.
An individual’s behaviour is not only a function of their personality and values but also of the situation. We interpret our environment, formulate responses, and act accordingly. Perception may be defined as the process by which individuals detect and interpret environmental stimuli. What makes human perception so interesting is that they do not solely respond to the stimuli in the environment. It can be concluded that the differences in personality, values, perception, work attitudes, motivation and performances of individuals have a significant bearing on team interactions and dynamics. Also, resolving any conflicts arising from these differences with minimal disruption will ensure a successful working team.
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