Teamwork is the quintessential contradiction of the Indian society grounded in individual achievement. In the Indian ethos, psychological equation with peers does not happen though psychological equation with father or mother can happen. In organisations where there is a predictable
carryover of such attitudes, and colleagues are seen as threats and peer interactions are usually comfortable in task irrelevant situations, teams do not develop automatically but have to be developed by the management through purposeful action. Teams do form spontaneously in the face of a common threat or through exceptional leadership qualities of the team leader.
Thus, both team processes and team acts or tasks become integral for effective team building. By team acts are meant the structurally induced procedures of team building as initiated by a team leader or a consultant to harness a group into a team. Team acts have been identified as role definition, task definition, decision-making, communication, implementation, and renewal. Team processes refer to those self related issues that the individual team member faces while performing various team building acts initiated by the system. Four team processes have been identified: Belongingness, authority, distribution of resources, and identity (See Fig 1).
Figure 1: Team Building as a Function of Team Processes
In its initial processes of identity formation, boundaries are created as a team defines its work and makes choices. The individual team members concerns and acceptance in the group which are fundamentally rooted in the person's own sense of self (Drexler, Sibbet, Forester, 1988) are essentially the belongingness concern of the team processes.
The authority dimension division of team processes deals with issues of power, control, and influence in the work group, while in the distribution of resources dimension, the individual is concerned about how his own and other team member's skills and resources are going to be utilised effectively for team functioning to which end he is either a resource controller or a resource contributor interacting with the structure and infrastructure of the system. (Pulin Garg, 1981).
The identity dimension implies the relational orientation of the individual and arises from the theoretical concept of identification (Indira d Parikh, 1978). Sushant Banerjee (1991) defines identity as a dynamic set of processes characterised by the equation I = PSye, where identity (I) is the interaction of the set of processes characterising the personalised context of an individual (Pc) and the systemic context (Sye) of his environment. The latter stage of groups formation results in group identification (a sense of belonging in which group membership is related to self-definition). For the purpose of this study, we talk basically of two kinds of identity - the micro identity or the autonomous working definition of the individual, and the macro-identity or the team identity of the individual.
A series of studies on R&D engineers and scientists (Sinha, Misra, 1961; Kakar, 1971) have shown that they operate mainly from micro-identity. Specifically, they show characteristics like autonomy in task preference for low task control, high affiliation and support from the team leader, moderate risk-taking, non-conformist attitude, and a tendency to socialise with people of the same background.
The Indian authors hitherto have focused on leadership style (Tarun Seth, 1988; Menon, 1988), team building acts like goal (clarity, communication), and task roles or like Gouranga Chattopadhyay (1968) discuss the social, cultural barriers to team building. The significance of the present study thus lies in its attempt to study the team member-orientation and its recording of the team building processes.
The study is based on the critical review of the opinions of 60 senior and middle-level managers from the public sector, private sector, and multinational organisations. The sample was chosen by means of random stratified sampling in order to get a proportionate representation. As many as 25 managers were from the private sector, 15 from multinationals, and 20 from the public sector organisations.
Open-ended interviews were done in order to generate qualitative data about the team building issues and concerns of the Indian managers. The time taken for the interviews ranged between 30 and 45 minutes. The respondents were assured of the confidentiality of the interviews and were open and comfortable in stating their views. The mode of questioning was semi structured. Respondents were asked to state their (a) attitudes as a member of the particular team in which they were working, and (b) their attitudes towards the kind of team building action taken by their team leader. The first set of attitudes are discussed in the present paper, while the latter are presented in another paper Group Related Issues and Concerns of the Indian Managers on Team Building (to be published in Organisational Management). During the course of the interview, the interviewer sought clarifications, elaborations of any point barring which no negative or positive comments were given which might interrupt the flow of the respondent's ideas and thoughts. Annexure I provides an interview guide and gives a sample of the questions asked to the respondents.
The interviews helped in exploring ideas and views to get relevant insights and were planned essentially to develop an instrument for measuring team functioning. Data were basically analysed to examine the dominant tendencies and priorities of thought and not to give precise numbers meant for any statistical analysis. The next phase of the study is being designed based on the insights obtained in this paper. The paper highlights tentative ideas for further conceptual exploration, design of appropriate measure, and empirical validation.
These two major themes were further categorised as belonging to identity (individual identity and orientation theme), and belongingness, authority, and distribution of resources (beliefs and goals in deployment theme) of the team processes dimension of the team building model discussed earlier. Since the focus of team processes is the self-orientation of the individual in a particular team, self-orientation has been discussed under a separate heading which gives a total flavour of the values and beliefs of the individual vis-a-vis those of the Organisation.
Table I gives a list of the 'categorisation of responses.
Table 1: Categorisation of Responses
By and large, the Indian managers show a strong need for team building activities which are more structured and consistent than the ones followed at present. At the macro-level, this need is felt as an establishment of institution building efforts, especially among organisations with high growth and turbulent environments. At the micro-level, team formation is ad hoc the more the pressure of the task, the more strong the threat from the environment, the more cohesive the team. Though professionally every Organisation has teams marketing, production, etc. - team cohesiveness is purely business-oriented with little or no emotional togetherness.
Belongingness refers to the individual team member's concerns of being accepted in the group and whether he is "in" or "out" of a group as a team member. To answer this question affirmatively, the team must be doing something that one wishes to be a part of and where one can contribute something worthwhile. This can be initiated at three levels - the system, the team leader, and the individual. The responses of our sample of managers show that very little system related action is generated to make the individual feel a sense of "belongingness". The managers generally voiced the concern that they felt as though they were "outsiders" in goal-setting at the corporate level, and felt that role clarity was very often not present. As one manager had put it: "The job is very loosely defined ... objective-setting is an exception, not a rule .... I can shirk or take on as much responsibility as I like" or that "there are no ,written objective... objectives should be defined every six months".
At the managerial or team leader's level, the sense of belongingness is high on decision-making for the task under the manager's direct control, implementation and, to some extent, renewal. Obviously, belongingness cannot be driven by such macro practices. In this context, the managers felt that the task driven is essentially intiated by the leader depending upon the situation. In the absence of a leader-driven action to increase belongingness, the individual's reaction could be seen in the lack of belongingness in communication. For example: "I rarely ask for help. I am convinced of my capability" or "there is little or no sharing about how well team members are working together or how they affect task performance".
Authority refers to the influences and controls that converge on the individual which, in turn, depends upon where he is placed in the system. These can be hierarchical (superior-subordinate) or multiple (lateral, environmental, functional, etc.).
While all managers have sufficient control and influence over their performance and their subordinate's performance, the very organisational objective of insulating accountability goes against team building and creates islands. As one manager had put it: "Here, everybody is a surgeon, you really do not have the authority... you have to carry a lot of people... I feel powerless to do certain things in the head office. In a lot of ways, I can plan, stretch, and devise, but what I devise, I am not in control". In broad isssues of the job, especially cross-department goal-setting, the individual feels powerless. Similarly, where important decisions are to be taken which involve a fair degree of risk and financial implementation, powerlessness is more acute. Endorsement of important decisions becomes an important part of the superiors or team leaders role where the final authority is vested in his status - power - as the leader of the team. One manager said: "if I fail to convince any boss, it is my failure, if I win them it is to my credit".
It thus appears that authority is seen as hierarchical and single person in specific task-related areas, while systemic constraints are held responsible for lack of multiple authority. In some public sectors, where there is a clear hierarchy and bureaucracy, powerlessness is usually felt by the leader bypassing the manager to interact with the latter's subordinates, thus leading to role erosion of the manager and his hierarchical authority over his subordinates.
Distribution of resources refers to the systemic distribution of resources to the individual depending upon the role he is expected to perform in the Organisation. Thus, one can be either a resource controller or a resource contributor. The respondents of our interviews see resources as mostly being distributed according to relationship. As such, a conscientious person takes on a lot of pressure due to pooling of resources, for instance, sharing secretaries or computers, while a non-conscientious person plays one person against the other, thus leading to procrastination and prolonging of projects. There is also too much tight strap for time and resources which prevents effective team functioning.
The resource contributors who interact with the structure of the system - those who are leaders, or in task-related areas like finance, typically voiced: " I do not accept team recommendations till I am thoroughly satisfied". "I tend to push people to highly stretchable targets". "Not being a man of detail, changing tracks is difficult for me"; or "I try very hard to convince people to my way of thinking and bring them in line with my views". Networking thus becomes an effective tool to procure resources especially when it is difficult to reason with the resource contributor and bring them in line with one's views.
Identity, as mentioned earlier, has been classified as micro-identity and
macro-identity. Micro-identity which refers to the individual, autonomous style of
functioning, and which requires the least supervision and control over task perfonnance,
was found to occur most frequently among R&D personnel. On the other hand, non
R&D personnel, such as people in marketing, production, and sales, who display
Microidentity patterns feel that networking is essential to get things done in the present
Organisation. The nitty-gritties of their role not being defined, much of the
evolution of the role rests on them. Most of the time is spent on operations rather
than seeing the end result, and many times, the individual has to take on the other team
member's role who is unable to fulfill the task. Because of the individual
orientation towards work, there is very little work-related interaction with peers.
According to one manager: "physical proximity forces a relation-
Thus, the Organisation culture, the kind of technology the Organisation is in, the functional diferences, provide a context for effective team building, which can nurture an individual's macro-identity orientation or effectively provide situational stimulators for gearing micro-identity patterns towards macro-identity. On the other extreme, it can stifle the macro-identity of the individual by promoting an individualised orientation towards work.
The expectations of the Organisation as voiced by some of the managers was that the Organisation should be fair, ethical, consistent, open, and should treat the individual as an important investment - one should get the feeling that one "matters" in the Organisation. Also, many individuals would not like to associate with an Organisation that is too socialistic - individual differences should be there as seen in the reward system.
There were also functional differences in the self-orientation of the managers. For people in sales and marketing, credibility seems to be an important value, while for R&D professionals, identification and collegial support are important.
----(1976 b): The Reflective Universe. New York, Delacourte Press.
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