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Kokshe Academy, Kazakhstan
It is said that “Psychology is about people…it is about why people do the things they do” (Davey, 2004:1). Work psychology applies psychological knowledge to the workplace. It focuses on ways people respond to working in the vast and ever changing organizational environments that operate today: from being self-employed to working part time in a small team, to negotiating careers within vast multinational organizations or to managing the complex edifices that deliver our public services.
Work psychology is of considerable value to the organization in contributing to the performance and productivity of the workplace. This is often achieved through applications such as reducing sickness and absence in the workplace, developing employee appraisal programmes, providing occupational counseling and coaching, delivering training and development, and improving selection methods.
Psychology is a wide and varied discipline, characterized by a range of perspectives, theoretical positions, and approaches to research. There is no current orthodoxy within mainstream psychology, nor within work psychology, about what methods are best, nor which theoretical perspectives and paramount.
Psychology, with a history of research, theory development, and application that spans over 150 years, is uniquely placed to throw light both on human behaviour in the workplace and the working environment, providing an understanding of individual, group, and organizational functioning. In a current rapid world economies, the experience of work is changing dramatically. Students of work, employment, and business will find the perspective of work psychology enlightening in understanding this process.
The virtue of working in teams is one that is widely extolled in the literature and implies that enthusiasm towards working in teams in something that is seen across the world.
What happens to people within group situations has been the subject matter for many social psychologists for many years. The first controlled experiment dates back to 1897 (Triplett) where cyclists were studied either against the clock or in the presence of other people and it was discovered that the presence of others enhances performance. We are discussing about two groups of people’s performance: social facilitation and social loafing.
Social facilitation refers to the influence of the presence of others when doing a task or activity that has positive effects on performance. Studies such as Triplett’s (1897) and following studies thereafter investigating these effects support these findings, which suggests that the presence of others is motivational and does indeed enhance performance.
The other social process that affects performance is social loafing (Latane et.al 1979), which indicates how people exert less effort in a group setting because they can get away with it. According to Ringlemann (50 years ago) people work less efficiently when working on additive tasks (tasks which involve many people, such as the tug of war). The larger the group the less effort individual’s within it will put into the task because responsibility for its outcome is diffused, so that each member feels less responsible for pulling his/her weight. (Furnham, 2001).
However, it has been suggested that there are ways to overcome social loafing, such as to make workers identifiable and to get them more involved in the task (by participation) and by rewarding individuals for contribution to the group (baron and Greemberg 1990). Although it seems that such incentives are more likely to encourage individuals to work for themselves. Rather than the greater good of the team which so much of the literature seems to extol.
The composition of a group or the group dynamics – the make-up of the group – are vital to a group’s effectiveness. The interest in the composition of the group brings about several theories and questionnaires in an effort to make up groups that have the right characteristics, skills, and experiences. The best known is Belbin’s (1981,1993) Team Role Types, where he identifies nine key roles that he deems necessary for a team to consist of if it is to have the right composition that makes a team effective.
A group of people who work together to achieve a particular task (s). To elaborate upon this, consider a class of 25 students. This may be a convenient group size for workshops or seminars as the seminar tutor is capable of directing this many students and still have some interaction with individuals. However, it would probably be ineffective to give such a group a common task each week in class where they had to work cooperatively together. It is much more usual for the tutor to break the class into smaller groups of say, four to six students, and ask these groups to work on the task. This is almost an instinctive reaction. However, if you were to analyze the advantages of doing this you might arrive at the following list:
· The group size allows each student to have some role to play;
· Decisions may be reached within a reasonable timespan;
· Over time the group will get to know each other – and may then work better;
· There are sufficient people to share knowledge, advice, and opinions.
A team is considered either to be a group that performs (well), or it represents someone’s wishes for how that group should perform. So, a group of 11 football players that does not perform well as a collective body may not be working as a team.
There are various reasons and benefits of working in team while you are at the university. The five key areas required for team skills at work are given by Stevens and Campion (1994, 1999) as:
· Collaborative problem solving;
· Communication – listening effectively;
· Conflict resolution;
· Goal setting and performance management;
· Planning and task coordination.
The process through which teams form and develop has been rigorously tested in practice. By learning how this process happens, you will be more able to work with the dynamics of any group or team members using a common “language”. Also it tells you that teams often go through a particular sort of learning curve before they become effective. The model of team development that we are going to use, introduced by Bruce Tuckman (1965) [1; 63] and development in his later work with Ann Jensen (1977) , is now well-established in education and training. The model shows that teams go through a series of stages in their development – forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. It is only by going through the stages of forming , storming and norming that the group can actually begin its work in the performing stage. Further detail is shown below.
This is the stage at which the group is brought together. It is a time of ‘orientation’ when the group discuss their purpose as a group and their general direction. Alternatively, the group may be set up by a consultant (or at university, by your tutor) and be given a brief that says how are to work together on a particular task. Some members may feel that the group offers them a safe environment while others will wish to use the group to push forward their own ideas.
This stage is characterized by the airing of the various opinions of group members. It is time when the emotions of group members appear – ranging from mild anxiety to interpersonal conflict as members seek to establish their own position and, related to this, how the task should be tackled.
During this stage resistance to working together as a group is overcome and the group decides how it is going to go about its job. It is a time of agreeing a range of ‘group norms’: ways of working and behavior which are generally acceptable to the group.
Typical group norms for a group of students who have been a project to work on might include:
· Acceptable levels of work input;
· Degree of trust and openness expected;
· Ways of allocating tasks;
· How decisions will be approved;
· Deadline expectations;
· Attendance at group meeting.
As the terms suggests, now that the group has sorted out how it is going to work, it can begin to be a functional unit. If the group has got ‘stuck’ at any of the previous stages it may not begin its work. Alternatively, if it has managed to somehow struggle through the stages but in an unsatisfactory manner, it may not perform particularly well.
The group disbands at this stage. This may simply be because the task is complete and the reason for the group’s being together no longer exists. Perhaps the tasks is no longer considered important, or another has replaced it as the focus of attention. Another reason may be that the group members move on to other areas of interest. [2; 419]
It is perfectly true that you can learn on your own. You can research and be creative, have experiences and reflect upon them. However, at some point you will feel the urge to talk to someone about those experiences, your ideas, and the questions that remain unanswered in your min. In similar fashion, you can tackle certain tasks yourself – but larger, more complex ones will be beyond your capability as an individual. So, sooner or later, you will reach the limitations of what you can achieve in terms of your ability to learn and do your own: this is where working with others – teams in particular – has its benefit. It is quite likely that you will spend a significant part of your working life in teams – this is one of the main reasons why you re asked to work in teams at university. For some of your work you will be involved with large, complex projects that require a coordinated effort for their completion. Project work at university gives you the opportunity to engage with this process. For now we will focus on some of the benefits associated with teamwork, that emerge from the bullet list below:
· Large, complex projects possible;
· Greater range of information available;
· Generating more ideas;
· Collaboration can lead to even better ideas;
· Motivational aspects of teamwork.
Brainstorm/idea generation – is a very creative step. You are looking for a freewheeling approach to getting as many ideas as you can, no matter how improbable – feel that you can really let your imagination go at this point. You then sort through the ideas and select some to take forward to the next step.
Team situations allow you to develop many social and interpersonal skills. You may have already identified some of these within your Personal Development Plan. Some common problem areas are:
· Shyness when talking to people you do not already know;
· Making ‘small talk’
· Putting your own ideas forward.
Usually, if any of these apply to you, you will be aware of them. Less common, but equally problematical areas include:
· Being too bossy;
· Not listening to other’s views;
· Appearing to be ‘too serious’.
Some of the team members may be used to working in a group environment whilst others may not. Moreover, those who view the individual as the central focus may find it hard to adjust their thinking [3; 226]
By working in a team at university you will be able to develop your identity as an individual in terms of the role you assume with other team members. For instance, are you the sort of person who likes to be in charge of others? Or would you want to be more like this sort of person? At university you have the opportunity to explore this and other group roles in a relatively supportive environment. You have time of reflection. You have advice on hand from your tutor and your colleagues. It is unlikely you will have all of these to help you in your future work situation unless you are fortunate enough to work somewhere that encourages such a trusting environment.
An influential model of group/team roles is that of Meredith Belbin. Originally devised during the late 1970s, the model has proved its worth and is often used on business and management courses to help students analyze themselves in terms of what Belbin calls “team role”. Originally asset of eight roles, there are now nine roles that are used as the basis for identifying an individual’s approach to working in a team. [4; 216]
Recommendation to publishing of the article of Diana Ismailova, vice-rector for International Affairs, candidate of philology: “The importance of studying perception in the workplaces” The article is devoted to the work in a team and its significance when studying at a higher education institution. The topicality of the article is hard to overestimate for this problem is one of the top issues of the pedagogic community. The author conducted huge work to define the necessity of team work of students. The scientific article of Diana Ismailova “The importance of studying perception in the workplaces” meets all the requirements for publication and is recommended for publication.
Doctor of Psychology, Kokshe Academy,