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Social Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Team Building

 Group Dynamics for Teams by Daniel Levi (Sage) This brief, readable book explains the basic psychological concepts of group dynamics with a focus on their use in small groups our teams. It is grounded in psychology but with a very practical focus (m organizational behavior issues and applications. The goal of the book is to improve people's knowledge of the group dynamics that underlie teamwork in order to help them participate in teams more effectively in their day‑to‑day work.

Group Dynamics for Teamsbegins with an overview of how teams are being used at work and of the factors that relate to team success. The book goes on to examine basic topics such as goals, norms, cooperation, and communication, while reviewing the maim challenges that teams face, including conflict, decision making, problem solving, creativity, and valuing diversity. The final section analyzes the use of teams in the workplace, including the impact of organizational culture, technological support for teams, differences among types of work teams, and team building. Each chapter contains learning objectives, summaries, and activities intended to reinforce concepts and provide practical guidance in illuminating how teams operate.

Excerpt: The 17 chapters in this book cover a wide range of topics related to group dynamics and teamwork. These chapters are organized into the following four parts: characteristics of teams, processes of teamwork, issues teams face, and teams at work.


Chapters 1 and 2 provide an introduction to group dynamics and team­work. Chapter I explains the differences between groups and teams. The purpose of using teams in organizations and why they are increasing in use are examined. The chapter concludes with a brief history of both the use of teams and the study of group dynamics.

Chapter 2 explores the characteristics of successful teams. It explains the basic components that are necessary to create effective teams and examines the characteristics of successful work teams. In many ways, this chapter es­tablishes a goal for team members, whereas the rest of the book explains how to reach that goal.


Chapters 3 through 6 present the underlying processes of teamwork. Chapter 3 examines the processes that relate to the forming of teams. Team members must be socialized or incorporated into teams. Teams must estab­lish goals and norms (operating rules) so as to begin work. These are the first steps in the stages of team development.

Chapter 4 presents some of the main concepts from group dynamics that explain how teams operate. Working together as groups affects the motiva­tion of participants both positively and negatively. Team members form so­cial relationships with each other that help to define their identities as teams. Teams divide their tasks into different roles so as to coordinate their work. The actions of team members can be viewed as either task oriented or social, both of which are necessary for teams to function smoothly.

One of the underlying concepts that defines teamwork is cooperation. Teams are a collection of people who work cooperatively together to accom­plish goals. However, teams often are disrupted by competition. Chapter 5 explains how cooperation and competition affect the dynamics of teams.

Team members interact by communicating with each other. Chapter 6 ex­amines the communication that occurs within teams. It describes the com­munication process and how teams develop communication patterns and climates. The chapter also presents practical advice on how to facilitate team meetings and develop skills that help to improve team communication.


The third part of the book contains seven chapters that focus on a variety of issues that teams face in learning to operate effectively. Chapter 7 exam­ines conflict in teams. Although conflict often is viewed as a negative event, certain types of conflict are both healthy and necessary for teams to suc­ceed. The chapter explains the dynamics of conflict within teams and dis­cusses various approaches to managing conflict in teams.

Chapter 8 describes how power and social influence operate in teams. Teams and their members have different types of power and influence tac­tics available to them, and the use of power has wide‑ranging effects on teams. In one important sense, the essence of teams at work is a shift in power. Teams exist because their organizations are willing to shift power and control to teams.

For many types of teams, their central purpose is to make decisions. Chapter 9 examines group decision‑making processes. It shows under what conditions teams are better at making decisions than are individuals and the problems that groups encounter in trying to make effective decisions. The chapter ends with a presentation of decision‑making techniques that are useful for teams.

Chapter 10 presents the leadership options for teams, from authoritarian control to self‑management. The various approaches to understanding lead­ership are reviewed, with an emphasis on leadership models that are useful for understanding team leadership. Self‑managing teams are examined in detail to illustrate this important alternative to traditional leadership ap­proaches.

The different approaches that teams use to solve problems are examined in Chapter 11. The chapter compares the ways in which teams actually solve problems to the ways in which teams should solve problems. A variety of problem‑solving techniques are presented that can be used to help improve the ways in which teams analyze and solve problems.

Creativity, which is one aspect of groups that often is criticized, is dis­cussed in Chapter 12. Groups can inhibit individual creativity, but some problems require groups to develop creative solutions. The chapter exam­ines the factors that discourage creativity in groups and presents some tech­niques that foster group creativity.

Chapter 13 examines the ways in which diversity affects teams. In one sense, if everyone were alike, then there would be no need for teamwork. Teams benefit from the multiple perspectives that come from diversity. However, group processes need to be managed effectively for these benefits to be realized.


The final section of the book presents a set of issues that relate to the use of teams in organizations. Chapter 14 examines the relationship between teams and the cultures of their organizations. Organizational culture defines the underlying values and practices of an organization. Teams are more likely to be successful if their organizations' cultures support them. This re­lationship is reciprocal because using teams can cause organizational cul­tures to change.

Although teams often are thought of as people interacting directly with each other, Chapter 15 examines the impacts of teams that interact through electronic communication. Computer‑based communication technologies allow for the creation of teams whose members are dispersed around the world. The use of these technologies changes some of the dynamics of how teams operate and how organizations use teams.

The different types of applications of teams in the workplace are pre­sented in Chapter 16. Teams can be created among factory and service work­ers, professionals, or managers. These different types of teams create differ­ent opportunities and risks for organizations. Regardless of the types of teams, there are issues that organizations need to manage to support the use of teamwork.

The final chapter examines team building, that is, the various approaches for improving the ways in which teams operate. There are a variety of ap­proaches that organizations can take to help develop more effective teams. One of the keys to the development of effective teams is creating a mechanism to provide good feedback to teams so that they can improve their own performance.

Team Troubleshooter by Robert W. Barner (Davis-Black) Internal conflict, lack of direction, unclear expectations, inadequate support--every manager knows what it's like to be part of a troubled team. Meetings are dreaded, schedules fall by the wayside, members look for excuses to jump ship. When a team is in trouble, its leaders need to act quickly to implement solutions that work.

Team Troubleshooter offers a practical, nuts-and-bolts approach to help today's teams meet performance challenges head-on, resolve problems quickly, and get back on track. With more than 40 assessment tools, techniques and strategies, exercises, charts, graphs, and more, this hands-on guide identifies the 12 most common problems that hinder success and presents a five-step plan for guiding a team through the improvement process: diagnosing the problem, exploring options, planning action, getting commitment to change, and implementing the solution.

Team Troubleshooter equips team leaders, facilitators, and members with suggestions, guidelines, and tools that can be readily applied to the problem at hand and pinpoints problem areas often overlooked by team leaders. The author's Team Health Check assessment shows how team problems relate to key performance areas covered in the book's 12 problem-solving chapters. These chapters in turn provide the strategic interventions needed to fix problems fast.

A guide to helping struggling teams and team members get on, and stay on, the right track. Includes the Team Toolkit, a practical set of solutions for a number of problems, including resolving conflicts, diagnosing problems, overcoming setbacks, managing virtual teams, and other challenges. Softcover. DLC: Teams in the workplace.

From the Author
I always find myself drawn to a new writing project by the challenge of trying to capture a fresh and practical approach to an important business topic. In the case of Team Troubleshooter, that topic relates to how best to grow and nurture work teams. It is important to me that you understand that Team Troubleshooter isn't simply an abstract treatise. Instead it is based on what I've gathered during the past twenty years through my personal experiences as a line manager, business owner, and team building specialist.

During this time, my work with teams has brought me a number of unique and rewarding experiences. I have found myself sitting down over Tiger Beer and seafood in Singapore to resolve team building issues with an international sales team, riding an air boat through the Florida Everglades with members of a state government land management team, and meeting within a multicultural transportation team in the Virgin Islands immediately following the aftermath of a hurricane. Currently, my work involves directing a virtual organizational development and training team, whose members are scattered around the U.S. E-mail and video conferencing have become the daily lifelines that connect me to the rest of my team.

What I've attempted to do in Team Troubleshooter is share with you, all of the applied team building guidelines, tools, and facilitation methods that I've gathered over the years, and to organize this information in a way that will enable you to quickly find what you need and apply it. No one ever said that managing a team was easy, but hopefully, within my book you will discover a number of things that can make the job a lot easier.

I hope that you find my book useful, and I'm always open to comments, suggestions, and inquiries regarding my writing. You can contact me at my e-mail address: ibscribe@aol.com
Struggling teams need help fast, before festering problems sap morale and spiral out of control. This practical, accessible problem-solving guide shows busy managers how to meet performance challenges head-on, resolve issues quickly, and get teams back on track. Presenting more than forty assessment tools, techniques and strategies, exercises, and more, author Robert Barner describes the twelve most common team problems, explains how to identify them, and provides tools and strategies for resolving them efficiently and effectively.

Team Troubleshooter goes beyond most books on team building to offer detailed advice on managing virtual teams, building support with senior management, and resolving critical problems with a team's customers. Whether used for personal learning, leadership coaching, team problem solving, or team development, Team Troubleshooter is packed with tools to help team leaders, members, and facilitators overcome challenges to performance excellence.

About the Author
A twenty-year veteran in international consulting who has worked with clients around the world, including AT&T, Honeywell, GTE, and Disney, to strengthen team performance, Robert W. Barner is a senior level organizational consultant. Most recently he was Vice President of Organizational Development and Learning for Choice Hotels International. He is author of Executive Resource Management, and Crossing the Minefield. Also a frequent business article writer, his articles have appeared in The Futurist, HR Magazine, and Training & Development Journal.

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