Collaboration in a group - how to deal with external factors?
When an excellent leader gathers a responsible and competent team around him, he appears. that nothing should stand in the way of success. After all, a good leader knows how to motivate, resolve conflicts, reward and provide feedback so that cooperation in the group is at the best possible level. What if, after all, something jitters and hinders development? Perhaps the problem lies not with the group, but with its environment. It is worth remembering that the team does not function in a vacuum and is influenced by various external factors. It is up to the leader to deal with them.
External factors are less, if at all, less controllable. Even if they are very threatening or ruining cooperation in a group, even the best leader cannot always eliminate them from the environment. This does not mean that he is powerless against them. The task of a perfect leader is to analyze the environment in which his group works and to identify factors that are important for the process of performing the task as well as for its results. The next challenge will be to determine which of the features of the environment are positive and generate growth and which are pulling the team down. And the last, but not the least, activity - eliminating or reducing as much as possible the impact of negative aspects on the group, while using positive influences. The group will be attacked by various external events and nothing can be done about it, but it cannot be left completely on its own.
Depending on the environment in which the team operates, what its goals and tasks are, it will be influenced by various aspects. However, it is possible to list those external factors that most often affect the work of the group.
Collaboration in a group - how does time pressure work?
Time and its passage are certainly an external factor that cannot be eliminated from group collaboration. Importantly, it is also a variable that is usually very difficult to control. If there is little of it to complete the task, the pressure can add to stress, build up conflicts or inconsistencies. Too much time leads to procrastination, i.e. postponing a task with the thought that it still has time to go, not yet on fire. Relatively few people can pull themselves together and start completing a task, especially difficult, complex or unpleasant, long before the scheduled deadline.
In a team, the time to complete a task is an even more formidable opponent. Collaboration in a group often involves the collaboration of different people who react differently to working in difficult conditions. Some may be on fire as soon as they are separated to get it over with as quickly as possible. The part who likes to act at the very end, in times of positive stress, will delay work. Those who do not find themselves under pressure at work will tire of the thought that the deadline is fast approaching and the work is still not ready. If it turns out that someone's incomplete task is blocking someone else's work, conflict is ready.
How should a leader deal with the passage of time? First of all, it must limit its negative impact as much as possible from the very beginning - when the group is given a task. Time will always be limited - regardless of whether the leader is the supreme power or whether he is still a manager, director or president. Unfortunately, it is impossible to escape from the deadline - but you have to make sure that it is real and distant enough to be able to perform the task reliably and properly, without sacrificing other duties or free time for it.
When you manage to set a suitable date "in advance", you need to distribute tasks in the group. Here it is necessary to take into account the previously mentioned personality traits and the temperament of its members. Therefore, for those in hot water, it is worth giving starting tasks, without which the work will not start. For those who like to work long and tediously, set aside something that requires a lot of effort but doesn't have to be done for anymore. If we have an employee on the team who is constantly worried that he will not make it, it is worth giving him something that he can successively do on his own, without much dependence on others.
Of course, it is not always possible to arrange tasks in such a way that everyone gets exactly what they like. Nevertheless, you can always try to do it and at least approximate the challenge to the capabilities of a team member.
Collaboration in a group - what is the importance of organizational culture?
Although organizational culture may be associated primarily with a large organization - a corporation, its elements are found in every, even small enterprise. The organizational culture includes everything that affects the functioning of people working in it.
Importantly, organizational culture is not only about work regulations, instructions for action or other codified assumptions. This specific construct is also created by the employees themselves, their habits, attitudes and beliefs. Thus, organizational culture includes less pragmatic and more abstract elements - such as values, mood, unwritten requirements of behavior, style of interpersonal contacts and management, etc. Moreover, we do not always even recognize it on the level of consciousness. Edgar Schein, an American psychologist specializing in social psychology, pointed to three levels of organizational culture.
- The first is the most down-to-earth, conscious - that is, what you can see, written and applied rules, traditions, etc.
- The second level, only partially conscious, covers all the previously mentioned ideological issues, such as values, moral principles, and guidelines of conduct.
- The third level, completely unconscious, is the attitude towards each other, employees towards the organization and the organization towards the environment.
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Since the organizational culture is not always and not fully recognizable by participating employees, it is difficult to determine exactly how it affects cooperation in the group. However, this does not change the fact that a lot depends on it. For example, if the organizational culture is purely profit-driven without paying special attention to the team, it may have a depressing effect on the group of employees. Such employees will see themselves as "dirty work" people who have no real influence over which direction the organization is going. Thus, their enthusiasm for work or their own initiative will disappear. The same will happen when the values and norms are inconsistent (or even inconsistent) with the employee's moral code. It seems very idealistic, yet, contrary to popular belief that the pursuit of money is superior to everything else, not all people can adapt to all conditions.
What can be done with an organizational culture that influences the group? If the group leader is only part of the big machine that is the organization, most often he cannot do too much, especially in relation to the most fundamental assumptions of the company. However, he can always try to change the rules of functioning of his own team, thus facilitating the work of his subordinates. If, on the other hand, the leader is also the boss in his own company - well, in such a situation it is only in his hands to improve the organizational culture in the company. It is also worth remembering that the fundamental principles should always be the least threatening to others - after all, it is impossible to change them along with the employment of each new employee.
Leadership in the organization - vision and goals of the organization
Popular among coaches and other motivating gurus, the saying "you have to run as fast as possible to stand still" is certainly true of companies. Let's try to imagine a company that has already gained a high position in the market, leaving the competition behind. Now its board has decided to only cut coupons - it is not interested in advertising, technological changes, etc. The business continues to rank high - it's good, it has earned it - but the competition is already creeping up behind it. And at some point it will jump over it. The company theoretically stands still - it does not reduce production, does not lose customers - but in fact, it is withdrawing from its competitors. Those who were left behind are now leading the way and making even more profits.
Businesses therefore need to keep going - and so do their employees. The team within the organization can never rest on its laurels, and its work should be adapted to what the management or the leader-boss is striving for. Teams should be group-oriented. A problem similar to that in the case of organizational culture may arise here - what if the goals of the organization are in conflict with the goals of its employees? If employees do not agree with, for example, unethical behavior, there is a high probability that they will give up trying to get the best possible job and simply start performing their duties in an imitative manner.
Therefore, it is worth defining the company's goals so that all employees can get to know them. You can also try to provide a tool in which employees can set goals themselves. Unfortunately, as with culture, it will never be possible to please everyone.
External Resources - How Do They Affect Group Collaboration?
The team can be very well-coordinated, extremely hardworking and committed. But the projects it undertakes will usually also require external resources. Here, however, problems can arise - not always such resources are sufficient for the entire team. Or for every team in the company.
It is worth addressing the problem of insufficient resources from the very beginning, before taking any action to implement the project. Before the tasks are divided, one should read the opinions of individual employees - they are most often experts in the field of their tasks, thus they will be able to determine what and how much they need. In such a conversation, it may turn out that the minimum of resources allocated by the leader is too much, and thus frees them for another group. If the expert decides that we have granted him too little, determining it in the pre-design phase will allow for the improvement of plans and prevent a sudden stoppage of work.
Of course, it will not always be possible to provide everyone with the resources needed to complete the project. In many companies where it is a daily practice for employees to submit ideas, a limited budget does not allow for the implementation of all of them. However, it is - as already mentioned - a higher force, i.e. an external factor that cannot always be controlled as we would like.
Competition and resource allocation affect, and group collaboration
Even the smallest successful one-man business will require hiring over time. For the efficient functioning of the company, they are then divided into teams and departments that deal with separate things within the company. At the same time, the operation of each team is like a gear in one machine - each group affects the others, and only their joint work and cooperation in a group can bring results.
Theoretically, every employee knows about the above dependencies. Nevertheless, it often happens that one group has a negative influence on another, inhibiting its development and potential. This action is usually not on purpose. This is, for example, about the aforementioned shortage of resources - transferring them to one group blocks activities in another. However, sometimes teams sabotage each other's actions, negatively paint the image of a rival team in front of the board, and participate in a rat race.
What can a leader do in such a situation? Above all, it should ensure that the system for allocating resources, promotions, rewards and penalties is clear and transparent to all. Thanks to this, it will significantly minimize the risk of the feeling of unequal treatment between groups. Objective criteria also prevent mutual accusations of being the boss's pets. It is worthwhile to bet on a healthy competition in which teams give feedback and choose to reward the best individuals rather than punish those who are not coping.
As you can see, quite a few factors affect the group from the outside - especially since the ones mentioned above are only the most common ones. Their spectrum, however, is much wider. A wise leader must remember about them in order to mitigate their negative impact - and where they give the opportunity, get the best out of them.