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OB 205 - Managing Groups and Teams

Notes from OB 205 - Managing Groups and Teams with Lindred Greer in Fall 2016


Session 1 - Group Formation and Decision Making

  • Hippo example (Lindred Greer)
    • When you're the leader, you should have a big presence
    • In meetings, however, drop below the water with your eyes just above the surface (allow others to lead the meetings)
      • The leader doesn't necessarily have to participate
    • When you need to intervene, come out with a big presence
  • Harvard study - we're able to predict team success after observing interactions for 30 seconds
  • Concept of true north
    • Always be clear about defining direction
  • Speed - take ~30 seconds upfront to define direction
  • Be wary of groupthink
    • The leader is key in promoting culture
  • Embrace diversity
    • Composition: shared values/passions but different perspectives
    • Norms: cultivate an environment that promotes disagreement
    • Assumptions: question assumptions
    • Opinions: encourage discussion of minority
    • Group goals: set clear problem solving goals
    • (all of the above come together through compensation / alignment of interests)

Session 2 - Influence, Team Process, and Getting Your Voice Heard

Team Performance - Best Practices

  • Designate a devil’s advocate
    • Question assumptions
  • Identify expertise and those with strong viewpoints
  • People like you more when you call out what you have in common, people listen more when you call out what gives you a unique perspective
  • Rotate meeting control (live in other ppl’s shoes)
  • A hippo knows when to lead and when to scale back
  • How to manage team influence processes:
    • Manage composition
    • Manage participation
    • Manage influence (know who knows what)

Team Performance - Problems

  • Composition
    • Is the expertise available?
  • Participation
    • (this is a learned behavior)
    • Is the experience being shared?
      • Online eliminates hierarchy (but not for entire life)
    • Build trust and psychological safety
    • Solicit data in advance of meetings
    • Achieve through smaller group sizes
    • Proximity, visibility, and nonverbals matter
  • Influence
    • Are those with expertise making an impact?
    • The first person who speaks / the person who speaks the most determines the tone

Session 3 - Team Design Basics

  • Contingency planning
    • Having a plan helps, but make sure its the right plan
    • Mentorship/experience
  • The Problem of Coordination Neglect
    • Dividing labor comes naturally, coordinating labor does not
    • How else can we coordinate other than appointing a leader?
      • Avoiding hierarchy
  • Types of Process Loss
    • Coordination losses
      • Inadequate interdependence (mismatched strategies)
      • Conceptual blocking (too much noise)
      • Organizational remedy: formal info system (who does what, define terms)
      • Interpersonal remedies: share best practices; maintain clear boundaries
    • Motivation losses
      • Social loafing (diffusion of responsibility)
      • Sucker effects (lack of trust)
      • Organizational remedy: formal reward system
      • Interpersonal remedies: provide feedback and recognition; build group commitment
    • Diverge then converge

Session 4 - Organizational Hierarchy and Intergroup Dynamics

  • Power exacerbates motives
    • It makes you shortsighted
    • It messes with people’s heads
    • Induces conflict, lack of trust
    • The more you get, the more you want
    • How do you reconcile differing values?
  • Decrease intergroup conflict
    • Emphasize superordinate goal (true north, guiding principles)
    • Groups naturally evolve towards a state of hierarchy
    • Hierarchy vs. equality within group
      • Pros and cons depending on each situation