AN OVERVIEW OF
Cheryl L. Harris
What Is Team Effectiveness?
Hackman (as cited by Weil, 1995) cites three useful measures for team effectiveness. The
measuring standards are 1)productive output that meets or exceeds standards, 2) social processes
that maintain or enhance the capability of members to work together on team tasks, and 3) group
experience that satisfies personal needs of group members (Weil, 1995).
According to Cohen,
Ledford, and Spreitzer (1996), work team effectiveness is defined as both high performance and
employee quality of work life. The idea draws from sociotechnical theory, which states that both
social and technical systems must be maximized for an optimally effective team.
Schwarz (1994) modified Hackman’s work to specify three criteria necessary for effective
groups. First, an effective group delivers output that meets or exceeds the standards of the
group’s stake holders. Second, the processes used to carry out the work allows members to work
together effectively on current projects and on subsequent efforts. Finally, as a whole, the group
experience must satisfy the needs of its members.
Tannenbaum, Salas and Cannon-Bowers (1996) define effectiveness as a combination of team
Sales Team and Its Effectiveness Since graduation from college in December 1990, I have been involved in several team activities including sales teams, management teams, and recreational sports teams. Each provided different experiences and each have resulted in varying degrees of effect. One of the most effective teams in which I was involved was the first sales team created when I was hired by ...
performance in terms of outputs and the team’s ability to grow and regenerate itself.
Tannenbaum and colleagues (1996) cite some contextual prerequisites for team success. First,
there must be a logical reason for using a team. Teams are not a panacea for every situation; if a
task is better done individually, no team is needed. Second, management must demonstrate that
they support the team. Third, the team must have the necessary resources to complete the
Finally, the team’s needs must be properly diagnosed. If the above assumptions are met,
then a wide range of interventions are available to facilitate a move toward team effectiveness
To better understand team effectiveness, team performance is evaluated in terms of inter-team
productivity and intra-team productivity. According to Mohrman, Cohen & Mohrman, Jr.,
(1995) team effectiveness is based on team performance, which is the extent to which the groups’
productive output meets the approval of customers, interdependent functioning, which is the
extent to which the team is inter-reliant on one another, and team satisfaction, which is the extent
to which the team is satisfied with team membership.
Tannenbaum, Beard & Salas (as cited by Tannenbaum et al. 1996) created a model in 1992 to
describe Team Effectiveness. This model is depicted in Figure 2. As shown in the model, team
Team Effectiveness 2
effectiveness is seen in terms of inputs, throughputs, and outputs, with contextual characteristics
in the background. Inputs include task characteristics, work structure, individual characteristics,
and team characteristics. Throughputs include team processes and team interventions. The
throughputs are the way the team interacts while converting inputs to outputs. Outputs include
team changes, team performance, and individual change-all of which are indicators of team
effectiveness. The contextual characteristics apart from the team are composed of organizational
and situational components (Tannenbaum, Salas & Cannon-Bowers, 1996).
... team effectiveness is process variables. These include member commitment to a common purpose, establishment of specific team goals, team ... goals have seen found to raise team performance on those criteria for which ... raise accuracy, and so on. Effective teams have confidence it themselves. They ... using teams. But team processes should positive results. That is, teams should create outputs greater ...
Components Necessary for Team Effectiveness
Kellett (1993) conducted a study comparing the group processes of effective and less effective
work teams. Team effectiveness data was collected through member perceptions and expert
raters (identified by the team).
Team processes were measured by each team member
completing West’s Climate for Innovation questionnaire and Litwin and Stringer’s Motivation
Climate questionnaire. Results concluded that effective teams had 1)a more dramatic style of
decision making, with decisions made in a forum which was interpersonally non-threatening,
with encouragement of diverse thinking which facilitates more participation by members, 2)
clearly defined and mapped out objectives with active engagement in setting goals and agreeing
to objectives by the members, 3) an open attitude for change, 4) a shared concern for excellence
in completing the task, 5) continued evaluation of performance, and 6) an intentional avoidance
of “groupthink” in which team members tend to adopt a conforming, non-divergent pattern of
thinking, 7) active work-related support, and 8) a recognition of the importance of risk-taking
Less effective teams tended to be over structured, with too many constraints on the way the
teams were allowed to go about their work. More effective teams had minimized red-tape and
lacked emphasis on formal organization and authority. An unexpected finding in Cohen, Ledford
and Spreitzer’s (1996) study indicated no difference between effective and non-effective teams in
relation to levels of interpersonal warmth.
An effective team has high levels of integration and coordination. Members of effective teams
believe in their own efficacy. Individuals possess the capabilities and the permission to effect
the outcomes for which their team is directly responsible (Mohrman et al., 1995).
teams 1) participate in goal setting, 2) establish obtainable and measurable goals, and 3) reward
Case Two: Fire Art, Inc. Diagnosis of team ineffectiveness and corrective action plans Fire Art, Inc. has encountered a dilemma where their competitors are now able to profitably make short runs in the production of glass. Because of this competition, Jack Derry, the CEO of Fire Art, Inc. has asked Eric Holt to put "together a team...one person from each division, and have a comprehensive plan for ...
in accordance with organizational expectations.
Research identifies the following elements operable in effective teams: an elevated goal, respect
for the leader, group goals that take precedence over individual goals, candid communications, a
collaborative climate, competent members who give each other feedback and reinforce
individual progress, a results-oriented environment, a unified commitment, a standard of
excellence, and external support with adequate resource allocation (Johnson & Johnson, 1997).
Cohen et al. (1996) found support for three categories that predict team effectiveness: group task
design, group characteristics, and employee involvement context. Cohen (1996) did not find
support for encouraging supervisory behaviors as impacting team effectiveness.
Team Effectiveness 3
Hoevemeyer (1993) identified the following five areas as significant to team effectiveness: 1)
team mission, 2) goal achievement, 3) empowerment, 4) open, honest communication, and 5)
positive roles and norms. The mission should be jointly developed and agreed upon by all
members, and members should be given specific work assignments with defined scope and
authority that are in alignment with the overall organizational mission and business strategy.
Team empowerment, a commitment to open communication, and support by positive rolemodeling,
prepare the way for the team to implement plans that will result in goal achievement
Employees are empowered to forge ahead when the organization is structured so they have the
necessary information, resources and support to enable them to combine the knowledge and skill
within the team structure.. Hoevemeyer (1993) found that the most successful teams excel in all
five of the cited areas of effectiveness. Thomas Griffin (1994) states five universal keys to
effective teamwork that can be applied to any type of team. They are: 1) a clear shared
understanding and purpose, 2) clearly defined roles and processes, 3) value added participation
and cooperation, 4) interdependency, and 5) ongoing continuous improvement. Some of the key
A self managing work team is one that has the power to make its own decisions and direct all activities needed to reach its goal. This type of team is formed by management but once formed and given a goal, becomes self controlling. Team dynamics play a key role in the success or failure of the group. An essential step in the formation of a self managed team is the formation of team roles and ...
processes for effective teams, identified by Griffin (1994), include systems/approaches for
generating information, organizing information, and making decisions about the information.
Goal Setting, Shared Understanding, Group Effort and Accountability
Team Effectiveness is directly related to the teams’ establishment and implementation of
operational goals. Research suggests that improved team performance is the result of a shared
understanding of hard goals (Robbins, 1993).
Members need clearly specific goals and
continuous concrete feedback in relation to progress. The goals should support the team
mission, organizational mission and business strategy (Hoevemeyer, 1993).
Hackman (1990 as cited in Bolman & Deal, 1992) found both “structural and human resource
variables” that were critical to group effectiveness. Groups with a clear charge and clear
deadlines did much better than those without. A common recipe for failure was to burden a
group with a vague purpose, squishy deadlines, and fuzzy success criteria, and to instruct the
team to work out the specifics (Bolman & Deal, 1992).
Hackman and colleagues (1990, as cited in Bolman & Deal, 1992) also found that some early
wins often triggered a self-sustaining upward spiral in performance. A positive start produces a
greater likelihood of success. Effectiveness of work groups is impacted by the level of effort
group members expend on completing tasks, and the amount of knowledge and skill members
bring into the group (Hackman as cited by Weil, 1995).
Factors leading to effort expenditure
include getting trustworthy feedback and socializing opportunities to enhance group synergy.
As a team develops a shared, cohesive culture with its own rituals and customs, individual
efforts often “go beyond a formal job’…” in which team synergy and loyalty encourages each
person to commit to doing something of significance” (Bolman & Deal, 1992, p. 43).
enhance the depth and breadth of team knowledge and skills, targeted training programs are
needed to supplement existing knowledge and skills. Teams that develop group interaction
Aims / details: The primary purpose of the report is for you to work with three other people and undertake a study of an organization – the steps for establishing team performance plans, the development and facilitation of team cohesion, the facilitation of teamwork and, liaising with stakeholders. Reviewing the effectiveness of teams within an organization is imperative so that opportunities for ...
patterns that avoid inappropriate weighting of member contributions generally function more
effectively (Weil, 1995).
Team Effectiveness 4
Clemmer (1993) cites five organizational elements as stepping stones or stumbling blocks to
team effectiveness. They are vision and strategic focus, values and culture, skills, alignment,
and deployment. Vision broadens the context and focus to infuse work with meaning, purpose,
and direction. Values and Culture provide a common ground for effective teamwork which is
particularly influenced by senior management’s modeling of a solid commitment to teams. Skills
ranging in breadth and depth enable the team to continually enhance its abilities. Alignment
fosters change within key systems including recognition and reward practices for team
accomplishments. Deployment attends to the proper approach to initiating teams within an
organization and structuring the organization to substantiate teamwork (Clemmer, 1993).
Manager Role in Team Effectiveness
Managers are crucial to the success or failure of a team. In effective teams, managers need to be
prepared to serve as an internal consultant, visionary, experimenter, coach and educator. As an
internal consultant, the manager helps identify problems through asking the team about
obstacles. As visionary, the manager is the conduit for information from the outside world, such
as top management’s vision, the overall business plan, and the needs of customers (internal or
As experimenter, the team leader helps the team design work-process to improvement
performance. As coach, the leader acts as a trainer and observer, providing constructive
feedback, as well as ensuring timely, meaningful rewards for desired team behaviors and
combined performance. Finally, as educator, the team leader facilitates the discussion and
implementation of lessons learned from the completion of projects which can strengthen the
teams’ abilities for future work (Antonioni, 1994).
Johnson and Johnson (1997) found that managers help create effective teams by providing 1)
Team work is defined as the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal. A successful team involves individuals who can work well together, trying their best in any circumstance to achieve that one main goal that they have set out to achieve. Teamwork means that people will try to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing constructive feedback, ...
initial direction, 2) clarification of assignments, 3) performance feedback, 4) an attitude of trust
in the team and team members, 5) a commitment to team framework, 6) current information, 7)
take-charge leadership when appropriate, 8) reinforcement of team decision-making, 9) freedom
to develop creative solutions and 10) support and recognition of cooperative efforts and attitudes.
In creating effective teams, managers should act as facilitators. Ehlen (1994) asserts that
managers are needed to facilitate 1) shared understanding, 2) shared responsibility, 3) mutual
influence and 4) task autonomy. Managers are often the primary link between the team and the
top management, the business strategy and overall corporate objectives (Mohrman et al.., 1995).
Managers or cross functional team leaders are responsible for providing current, strategic twoway
Mutual accountability is a bedrock to team effectiveness. Managers and team leaders are
responsible for assisting teams in developing systems of evaluation to monitor team progress.
The team leader may need to coach a newly formed team as to how to evaluate progress in the
midst of a work project as well as facilitate hindsight evaluations upon completion of the project.
Managerial team leaders assist in accessing targeted professional development and acquisition of
new skills and abilities for teams as a unit and for team members individually. Rather than
assume a “hands-off” or “hands-on” posture, team leaders coach team members in becoming
respectful of personality differences and appreciative of differences in point of views (Ehlen,
Team Effectiveness 5
Effective managers 1) do not maintain personal responsibility for work assigned to team
members, 2) do not monopolize team projects, and 3) do not control daily activities. An effective
team leader will empower teams by encouraging all team members to share responsibility for
collective performance (Anonymous, 1994).
Team Member Role in Team Effectiveness
Rocine and Irwin (1994) suggest that team effectiveness is dependent upon the presence of
balanced roles within the team. Four task-oriented roles are identified as shaper, innovator,
analyzer, and implementer along with four process-oriented roles as coordinator, networker,
harmonizer, and gatekeeper. Members of more experienced teams often change roles dependent
on the issue or tasks. Effective team members understand and commit to group goals, exhibit
concern and interest in others, acknowledge and confront conflict constructively, listen to others,
include others in decision making when appropriate, recognize and appreciate member
differences, contribute ideas and solutions, appreciate the ideas of others, and encourage and
appreciate comments about team performance (Rocine & Irwin, 1994).
Schwarz (1994) proposes a model that builds on the works of Richard Hackman, Eric
Sundstrom, Kenneth DeMeuse, and David Futrell. The model is depicted in Figure 3. In this
model, the organizational context, group structure, group process and group effectiveness work
as a unified system to make team members function together effectively. The group facilitator
(which may or not be the manager) is able to intervene in group processes to facilitate midcourse
corrections from which the team can learn for future work. Subsequent chapters within
this book will focus on the four core group processes of shared understanding, facilitative
functioning, decision-making and goal setting.
Common Team Problems and Effective Points of Intervention
The Tannenbaum et al. 1992 (as cited by Tannenbaum et al. 1996) model suggests some possible
causes for limited team effectiveness. Table I is a summary of some categories of variables,
symptoms, and specific variables at the root of team problems. Knowing the root of the problem
is the first step to intervention. Once the problem is identified, a wide variety of interventions
become available to solve the problem(s) impacting effectiveness. Table II is a summary of
interventions compiled by Tannenbaum et al. (1996) to promote team effectiveness. The authors
refer the reader to Tannenbaum (1996) and references cited in Table II for assistance with
targeted interventions. Every problem is different; therefore, interventions must be appropriate
to the problem in order to produce resolution. As the old adage says, “To a person with only a
hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Competent practitioners need a full set of assessment and
repair tools to repair a break in team functioning in order to redirect the team back on to the track
of team effectiveness.
Benefits of Effective Work Teams
Hoevemeyer summarizes four benefits of developing self-managing work teams. First, an
effective team eliminates the need for a manager to be involved in daily details as members take
control of doing what needs to be done. Second, an effective team provides more timely and
Team Effectiveness 6
appropriate customer service. Third, an effective team produces higher morale, productivity, and
pride within team members than present in individuals who work alone. And finally, team
members value working together and help break down barriers that limit growth within an
organization (Hoevemeyer, 1993).
Shared understanding, facilitative functioning, decision making and goal setting are crucial
pieces to the puzzle of team effectiveness. Upon completion of the subsequent chapters, the
authors encourage the reader to return to the Team Effectiveness Diagram, Figure 1, to revisualize
the core components as a whole with each component being vitally important and all
components being absolutely necessary for a team to obtain high levels of effectiveness.
Team Effectiveness 7
Table 1 Some causes of team problems
Category of Symptoms Specific variable at
variables root of problem
Task The task is overly complex or poorly Task complexity
The organization of the task is Task organization
Work structure Work is assigned suboptimally or by Work assignment
the wrong people
Team norms regarding work are Team norms
inconsistent with organization culture
Individual Team members or team leader lacks Task KSA’s; general
characteristics necessary skills or abilities abilities
Team members do not clearly Mental models
understand their own or other’s role
Team members have poor motivation Motivation; attitude
Team Skill/experience/attitude mix of team is Member
characteristics sub-optimal heterogeneity
Team lacks cohesiveness Cohesiveness
Team processes Team handles conflicts poorly Conflict resolution
Team makes decisions or solves Decision-making;
problems poorly problem-solving
Source: Tannenbaum, Salas, & Cannon-Bowers., 1996, p. 509.
Team Effectiveness 8
Table 2 Interventions to promote team effectiveness
Intervention Sample methods Primary variables Resources/
influenced by references
Team-member Competency-based All individual Schmitt et al.
selection selection characteristics (1993)
interviews including traditional
Assessment ones such as task
center exercises KSAs, as well as
attitudes and skills
Team building Role/goal Team norms Tannenbaum,
clarification Attitudes Beard &
Interpersonal Power distribution Salas (1992)
approach/ Climate – team
resolution Team processes (in
Team training Training shared Coordination Swezey &
mental models Communication Salas (1992)
coordination Mental models
Leadership Leadership Individual Yukl & Van
development training characteristics (of Fleet (1992);
Coaching team leader) Bass (1990)
360° feedback Individual
Briefing skills characteristics of
other team members
Work redesign/ Autonomous and Task organization Campion,
Restructuring semi-autonomous Work assignment Medsker &
work groups Power distribution Higgs (1993);
Process Team processes Hamner (1990)
Source: Tannenbaum, Salas, & Cannon-Bowers., 1996, p. 510
*** figures omitted — see author for a copy.
Team Effectiveness 9
Antonioni, D. (1994).
Managerial roles for effective team leadership. Supervisory
Management, 39(5), 3.
Bass, B.M. (1990).
Bass & Stodgill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research and managerial
applications (3rd Ed.).
New York: Free Press.
Bolman, Lee G., Deal, Terrence E. (1992).
What makes a team work? Organizational
Dynamics, 21(2), 34-44.
Campion, M.A., Medsker, G.J., & Higgs, A.C. (1993).
Relations between work group
characteristics and effectiveness: implications for designing effective work groups. Personnel
Psychology, 46, 823-850.
Clemmer, J. (1993).
The coming teams crisis: Five stumbling blocks or stepping stones to
success. Cost & Management, 67(4), 30.
Cohen, S.G., Ledford, G.E., & Spreitzer, G.M. (1996).
A predictive model of self-managing
work team effectiveness. Human Relations, 49(5), 643-676.
Ehlen, D. (1994).
Supporting high performance teams. Manage, 46(2), 32-34.
Griffin, T. (1994).
The five universal keys to effective teamwork. Proceedings of the 1994
International Conference on Work Teams, 86-89.
Hammer, M. (1990).
Reengineering work: don’t automate, obliterate. Harvard Business
Review, 68(4), 104-113.
Hoevemeyer, V.A. (1993).
How effective is your team? Training & Development, 47(9), 67-
Johnson, R. (1996).
Effective team building. HR Focus, 73(4), 18.
Kellett, S. (1993).
Effective teams at work. Management Development Review, 6(1), 7-11.
Mohrman, S. A., Cohen, S. G. & Mohrman, Allan, Jr. (1995).
Designing team based
organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Robbins, S. P. (1993).
Organizational Behavior: Concepts, Controversies, and Applications
New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Rocine, V., & Irwin, D. (1994).
Make team members responsible for team effectiveness. Cost
& Management, 68(8), 28.
Team Effectiveness 10
Schmitt, N., Borman, W.C. & Associates. (1993).
Personnel Selection in Organizations. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Schwarz, R.M. (1994).
The skilled facilitator: practical wisdom for developing effective
groups. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Supporting high-performance teams: do’s and don’ts. (1994).
HR Focus, 71(3), 12,
Swezy, R.W. & Salas, E. (1992).
Guidelines for use in team-training development. In R.W.
Swezey & E. Salas (eds.), Teams: Their Training and Performance. Norwood, NJ: Ablex,
Tannenbaum, S.I., Salas, E., & Cannon-Bowers, J.A. (1996).
Promoting team effectiveness. In
M.A. West (Ed.), Handbook of work group psychology (pp. 503-529).
West Sussex, England:
John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Tannenbaum, S.I., Beard, R.L. & Salas, E. (1992).
Team building and its influence on team
effectiveness: an examination of conceptual and empirical developments. In K. Kelley (ed.),
Issues, Theory, and Research in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Amsterdam: Elsevier
Science Publishers B.V.
Weil, P.A. (1995).
Correlates of hospital leadership team effectiveness: Results of a national
survey of board chairmen. Health Manpower Management, 21(6), 20-24.
Yukl, G. & Van Fleet, D. (1992).
Theory and research on leadership in organizations. In M.D.
Dunnette & L.M. Hough (eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology, Vol. 3,
Chicago: Rand-McNally, pp.147-197.