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Session 3. Team building

Session guide: Team building
Reading note: Team building



FORMAT Plenary participatory lecture



At the end of this session, participants should be able to understand and appreciate:
1. The concept and importance of team building.
2. Factors which influence group formation, dynamics, influence and cohesion.
3. Team building: conditions necessary for; stages in; and theoretical approaches.
4. Team building and management in agricultural research organizations.


Exhibit 1

Team building

Exhibit 2


Exhibit 3

Factors influencing behaviour

Exhibit 4

Factors influencing group cohesion

Exhibit 5

Increasing group cohesiveness

Exhibit 6

Encouraging work groups

Exhibit 7.

Conditions necessary for building a team

Exhibit 8

Stages in team building

Exhibit 9

Approaches to team building

Exhibit 10

Components of team building

Exhibit 11

Team management

Exhibit 12

Team meeting structure

Exhibit 13

Improving team efficiency


Reading note: Team Building.




Overhead projector and chalkboard

Session guide: Team building

Initiate discussion by asking participants "What is a team?" Why should a team be formed, particularly in a research institution? Show EXHIBIT 1 and discuss the concept of team building. A team is collection of people who interact with each other regularly and are dependent on each other for attainment of common goals. A team brings together people with different expertise and thus enables application of specialized knowledge in solving problems. Team building helps in improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Elicit examples of various teams in the organizations to which the participants belong, and enquire what functions the teams perform. Ask "Are they effective?" If so, in what way?

Groups and group dynamics underlie the concept of team building and management. Show EXHIBIT 2 and discuss important considerations which influence group formation. These are:

· personal characteristics,
· interest and goals,
· influence,
· opportunity for interaction, and
· other related factors.

Continue referring to EXHIBIT 2 and discuss the concept of group dynamics and group influence.

Now discuss behaviour (EXHIBIT 3). The important factors which lead to variations in behaviour are compliance, identification, internalization and social facilitation. Ask participants why people differ in their natural tendency to help others. Discuss and distinguish between cooperation and competition. Group cohesion is important in bringing members together towards a common goal and generating team spirit. Show EXHIBIT 4 and 5, and discuss factors which could enhance group cohesion, and ways and means of improving it. Show EXHIBIT 6 and discuss steps in fostering group productivity, satisfaction, cohesion and learning, which together encourage work groups.

Now start discussing team building and management issues. To begin with, ask participants how teams are useful in achieving organizational goals. What are the conditions necessary when building a team? Show EXHIBIT 7 and discuss these conditions. Encourage participants to share their experience with respect to each of these conditions.

Various stages in the team-building process are forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Show EXHIBIT 8 and briefly discuss each of these stages.

There are many approaches to team building. Some time could be devoted to a discussion of each of these approaches, as illustrated in EXHIBIT 9. Observe that goal setting creates commitment and a feeling of involvement. The inter-personal approach develops mutual trust and confidence among group members, and creates an environment where decision making involves group consensus, problems being solved efficiently, and conflicts resolved easily. The managerial grid approach aims at productive and cohesive team-work and involves four steps. The role model considers 'team' as a series of overlapping roles.

The components of team building are: developing the individual, achievement of the task, and building and maintaining the team. Show EXHIBIT 10 and discuss each of these components and how they interlock with each other.

Now initiate discussion on team management. Team management could be either authoritarian or democratic. Authoritarian styles are task and achievement oriented, while democratic styles use a participative approach. Show EXHIBIT 11 and discuss the two styles briefly.

Discuss the six sequential team meeting steps (EXHIBIT 12). Participants could be asked whether, in their experience, team meetings are along those lines, or otherwise.

There are methods available for managing teams efficiently and effectively. Show EXHIBIT 13 and discuss these methods. They include setting effective norms, providing the necessary technology, ensuring high skill levels, and providing effective extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.

The session could be concluded by a brief discussion of team building and management in research organizations, and increasing trends in this direction. Team building is essential for multidisciplinary research.


· A team is a collection of people who interact with each other regularly and are dependent on each other for the attainment of common goals.

· Team building removes hindrances and enhances organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

· The key elements of a team are goal sharing, interdependence, commitment and accountability.

Source: Shaw, 1981.


Two or more people who interact and influence one another

Personal characteristics
Interests and goals
Opportunity for interaction
Other factors

Group dynamics
How group members are influenced
Factors in helping, cooperating and competing
Group cohesion and satisfaction, and productivity of group members
Maintaining external linkages Increasing effectiveness of task groups

Group influence

Source: Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.





Social facilitation

Source: Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.


· group formation factors
· group development factors
· difficulty of entry
· status congruence
· reward allocation
· success
· stability of membership
· external threat
· group size

Source: Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.


· communicating with the subordinates as a group
· emphasizing and promoting competition with other groups
· rewarding cooperation
· managing conflicting within the group
· setting achievement goals for the group rather than for individuals
· treating everyone equitably and not playing favourites
· encouraging social interaction among group members

Source: Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.


· treat employees as social beings and not as mere numbers
· establish a manageable group size
· encourage group members to select the other members whenever possible
· assist groups to develop and mature
· encourage group productivity norms
· deal with group situations where cohesion is based on norms harmful to the organization
· support groups to develop good productivity goals, encouraging participation of individual members
· cautious use of competition to encourage group productivity
· provide opportunities for success

Source: Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.


· clear objectives and agreed goals
· openness and confrontation
· support and trust
· cooperation and conflict
· sound procedures
· appropriate leadership
· regular review
· individual development
· sound intergroup relations

Source: Woodcock, 1986.







Sources: Adair, 1987; Kormanski and Mozenter, 1987.


· Goal-setting approach
· Inter-personal approach
· Managerial grid model
- Self-evaluation
- Perceptions about mode of functioning
- New behaviour and performance goals
- New styles of team-work
- Individual behaviour
· Role model

Sources: Beer, 1976; Argyris, 1966; Blake and Mouton, 1969.


Developing the individual

Achievement of the task

Building and maintaining the team

Source: Adair, 1987.


Authoritarian style
Democratic or participative style

Source: Tarkenton and Tuleja, 1986.


Follow up

Review performance data


Solve problems

Plan action


Source: Tarkenton and Tuleja, 1986.


Set effective norms

· Informal and relaxed atmosphere
· Participative discussion regarding tasks
· Clear understanding and acceptance of objectives
· Free expression and tolerance of other's views
· Recognition and resolution of disagreements
· Decision making by consensus
· Criticism frequent but not personal
· Clear responsibilities
· No dominance of team leader and no power struggle
· Self-awareness of group about its operations

Provide the necessary technology

Ensure high skill levels

Provide effective extrinsic rewards
· Meaningful, clearly defined tasks with identifiable ends
· Each member skilled in completing the job
· Autonomy in working methods, planning and assignment of responsibilities in the group

Source: Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.

Reading note: Team building

Team building in agricultural research organizations

Team building is an approach towards enhancing organizational effectiveness and proficiency. A team is 'a collection of people who interact with each other regularly and are dependent on each other for the attainment of common goals.' The objective of team development is the removal of impediments to improving group effectiveness. The key elements of a team are goal sharing, interdependence, commitment and accountability.


A clear understanding of groups and their formation and dynamics is essential before discussing team building and management. 'Group' is defined as consisting of two or more people who interact and influence one another (Shaw, 1981). According to their numerical size, groups can be dyads (group of two members), triads (group of three), small (four to nine members) or large (ten or more).

Group formation

Important variables (Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986) which influence group formation include:

· Personal characteristics, which include shared beliefs, values, attitudes, security needs and affiliation needs.

· Interests and goals in common.

· Influence, since a group can exert more power and influence to get proper attention and action.

· Opportunity for interaction, which helps in developing affinities and relationships.

· Other factors are similar functional departments, cooperative physical activities, intellectual pursuits, emotional needs or protection, and attention and friendship.

Group dynamics

Understanding group dynamics is essential for a manager in order to encourage effective team-work. Group dynamics can be understood by exploring (Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986):

· how group members are influenced,
· factors in helping, cooperating and competing,
· the way group cohesion relates to satisfaction and productivity of group members,
· maintaining external linkages, and
· how to make task groups more effective.

Group influence

The process of influence and obedience in groups is important for group dynamics. How people influence each other in a group is the process of group influence. This process prevails in all types of human interaction and interdependence. Obedience or conformity involves direct influence of the group on the behaviour of individuals such that their behaviour outside the group will be different.


People differ in their vulnerability to pressures, yet most people can be influenced to behave in a particular manner. Compliance, identification, internalization and social facilitation are some of the important factors which could play a crucial role in influencing people to behave differently.

· Compliance is when people agree in spite of their own beliefs and preferences. This is obedience.

· Identification refers to agreements when people respect or are attracted to others.

· Internalization refers to the change in behaviour manifested when people accept requests or orders because either they are consistent with their own beliefs and values or they expect the desired behaviour to be rewarding to them.

· Social facilitation occurs as a result of the influence exerted by the mere presence of someone.

Helping behaviour

People's penchant to help others differ. Some people care, and are willing to take more risk to help others. There are several factors that reduce or facilitate helping, and they can be important to the success of a group or organization.

Cooperation and competition are also crucial for an organization. Cooperation is more than mere helping: it encompasses giving support to others and contributing time and effort in situations where people can work together towards the same goals. In competition, people are more concerned with personal or group interests.

Group cohesion

Group cohesion refers to the degree to which group members are attracted to each other and to group membership. Cohesiveness brings group members towards a common goal and creates team spirit. According to Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll (1986), some of the important factors which can enhance group cohesion concern:

· group formation,
· group development,
· difficulty of entry,
· status congruence,
· reward allocation,
· success,
· stability of membership,
· external threat, and
· group size.

A manager can boost group cohesion by:

· communicating with the subordinates as a group,
· emphasizing and promoting competition with other groups,
· rewarding cooperation,
· managing conflict situations within the group,
· setting achievement goals for the group rather than for individuals,
· treating everyone in the group equitably without favouritism, and
· encouraging social interaction among group members.

External linkages

A group comprises members representing various areas, skills or backgrounds. Good, balanced representation can facilitate acceptance of a group's work.

Encouraging work groups

Group efficiency and effectiveness can be increased by fostering group productivity, satisfaction, cohesion and learning. This can be achieved by various measures, including (Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986):

· Treating employees as social beings and not as mere numbers.

· Taking care when establishing group size so as to establish neither too small nor too large a group.

· Encouraging group members to select other members whenever possible. This improves inter-personal relations in the group, which in turn generates cohesion and cooperation.

· Supporting groups to develop and mature. It helps in settling tensions and other difficulties in the group.

· Encouraging group productivity norms in congruence with organizational goals.

· Dealing with group situations where cohesion is based on norms that are harmful to the organization.

· Supporting groups to develop good productivity goals. Encouraging participation of individual members' in the group task so as to avoid the ill effects of social loafing. Social loafing occurs when in a group an individual does not do his share of work, expecting that the work will get done anyway since other members of the group are working towards the same goal.

· Exercising care and discretion in utilizing competition to encourage group productivity.

· Providing groups with opportunities for success.


A team can

· make important contributions to the development of the organization,
· wield strong influence on individual work attitudes and behaviour, and
· gain the commitment of its members by being participative and consequently facilitating implementation.

Building a team

The building blocks of effective teams, as identified by Woodcock (1986) are:

· clear objectives and agreed goals,
· openness and confrontation,
· support and trust,
· cooperation and conflict,
· sound procedures,
· appropriate leadership,
· regular review,
· individual development, and
· sound intergroup relations.

Stages in team building

To make teams efficient and effective, a research manager should use:

· managing talents to successfully guide teams through various stages of development, and
· leading skills, which would kindle team members to achieve their full potential at every stage of team development.

There are five sequential steps involved in the team building process (Kormanski and Mozenter, 1987; Adair, 1987):

(i) Forming refers to awareness. During this stage, team members are oriented, become committed, and then accept the goals and programmes.

(ii) Storming refers to resolution and development of a feeling of belonging.

(iii) Norming refers to cooperation and collaboration in which communication is promoted. This results in a feeling of enticement and support.

(iv) Performing refers to productivity. During this stage problems are solved and interdependence fostered, which results in achievements.

(v) Adjourning refers to separation. This does not occur if the previous four stages have been successful, with no problems encountered.

Approaches to team building

There are several approaches to team building, with differing degrees of group participation, self-examination, problem confrontation and goal setting. Any of these approaches can be used for team development. A manager can also blend and integrate different approaches, depending upon situational requirements.

Goal-setting approach

The goal-setting approach (Beer, 1976) is based on the assumption that a goal influences not only individual and group behaviour but also direction, coordination and extent of group efforts. If problems of the group are identified through interviews with group members, they can be handled by group solutions. Based on these solutions, the group could set goals. Goal setting creates commitment and a feeling of involvement.

The inter-personal approach

Based on the assumption that an inter-personally congenial team functions more effectively, the inter-personal approach encourages 'sharing of feelings, psychological support for one another, and non-evaluative communication' among team members (Argyris, 1966). Cooperation and better understanding is obtained by developing mutual trust and confidence among group members. It helps in creating an environment where conflicts are effectively settled, problems solved efficiently, and decision making is based on group concordance. This increases the effectiveness and productivity of the team.

The managerial grid model

The managerial grid approach (Blake and Mouton, 1969) aims at productive and cohesive team-work. It involves four steps. The first step is evaluation. Every team member evaluates their personal contribution and performance as well as that of others in the group. This process helps each member to identify what they are doing or not doing to make the team effective. In the second step, the understanding of group members concerning the team's functioning is deliberated and examined so as to identify the problems faced by the team. The third step is to eliminate unacceptable individual and team practices and to replace them with new behaviour and performance goals. The fourth step involves trying out new styles of team-work and individual behaviour to overcome problems being faced at that time. If these steps are successful, the usefulness of the new approaches is proven and will provide the group members with a model of how they can work together.

Role model

The role model concept is based on the assumption that 'role is a set of behaviour which an individual in a particular organizational position feels obliged to perform and which individuals in other organizational positions expect that person to perform' (Beer, 1976). Thus, a team is a chain of overlapping roles. Behaviour in a group can be understood in the context of how individuals understand their roles. If group members correctly perceive their role and the roles of other members, conflict and vagueness can be eliminated and efficiency increased. Many types of role and clarification meetings are used for developing effective teams.

Components of team building

There are three interlocking components in team building (Adair, 1987). They are:

· Developing the individual Individuals come to groups with their own needs. They work in groups to accomplish group tasks while simultaneously expecting that group membership will fulfil some of their individual needs.

· Task achievement This is the need to achieve something. It is the task on which the group is working.

· Building and maintaining the team The need to develop and sustain working relationships among members is necessary for the accomplishing of group tasks. This is the maintenance need of the group.

Team management

There are two approaches to managing a team effectively (Tarkenton and Tuleja, 1986). One is the traditional approach, based on an authoritarian style. The other is a democratic or participative approach.

The authoritarian style of team management relies on the manager being in full command. Involvement of group members in decision making is discouraged. The democratic or participative style of team management encourages group members to talk, express their opinions, and involves them in the decision making process and in problem solving. Through this process, group results are optimized.

By relying more on task and achievement-orientation, an authoritarian-style manager can perhaps ensure obedience without motivation and involvement, but that would not generate the best performance in the long term, whereas a participative style usually promotes that. To promote team-work, a manager should act as an educator or a facilitator rather than as a dictator or autocratic boss.

Team meetings

Tarkenton and Tuleja (1986) have developed a 'team meeting' structure, consisting of six sequential steps:

(i) Follow-up Every team meeting should conclude with some plan of action to implement the decisions made. Similarly, every team meeting should start by objectively reviewing progress in implementing the decisions approved in previous meetings. Follow-up action is necessary when planning and reviewing.

(ii) Review of performance data The next step is to evaluate progress in team performance since the last meeting. This is done to ensure that the team is moving in the right direction.

(iii) Reinforcement After reviewing the implementation or performance, a manager has to provide reinforcement. Obviously, positive reinforcements are given to those who have contributed to progress and performed well. Negative reinforcement is for those who fell short in their performance. In the team setting, positive reinforcement is effective in encouraging the good performer to continued with good, or even improved, performance. Simultaneously, it also motivates slow performers towards better efforts in the hope of receiving positive reinforcement later on, when they have improved their performance. A manager should use negative reinforcement only after exhausting other means. Initially, negative reinforcement should be mild so as not to demotivate poor performers. The aim should be to motivate towards better performance. Tarkenton and Tuleja (1986) observed that:

· behaviour resulting from positive reinforcement tends to continue, persist or even increase,
· behaviour that is re-motivated by negative consequences tends to deplete, and
· good behaviour which is not reinforced in any manner tends to decline over time.

(iv) Problem solving During team meetings, appropriate reinforcement aims at solving problems so as to make group members more productive. An imaginative and creative problem-solving approach is crucial to good team performance. It provides an opportunity for positive interactions between team members and is helpful in increasing team productivity.

(v) Planning action The next step in the team meeting process is to formulate an action plan and assign specific responsibilities to individual members of the group.

(vi) Communicating The last step of a team meeting is a brief discussion about the group's current and future concerns and progress. It strengthens team spirit. It simultaneously reassures team members that they are working jointly to achieve common goals.

Improving team efficiency

Some useful ways to improve team efficiency are considered below (Beer, 1976; Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986; Adair, 1987):

(i) Influence the evolution of effective norms which a team adopts, and depending on managerial style, a manager can achieve this by defining standards, focusing on setting goals with the group, reinforcing goals when they are met, and recognizing good performance. Some important considerations (McGregor, 1960) in setting norms are noted below.

· The atmosphere in the group should be informal and relaxed.

· There should be provision for ample discussion regarding tasks, with each member participating in the discussion and expressing their views.

· Objectives should be clearly formulated and understood, and accepted by group members

· Members should listen to each other. They should be able to freely express their ideas and opinions, including those relating to group performance.

· Disagreements should be acknowledged and settled, rather than subdued.

· Most decisions should be arrived at through some form of concordance.

· Criticism should be frequent, but seldom personal.

· Responsibilities should be assigned clearly and without ambivalence.

· The team leader should not overshadow the team, and there should be no power struggle within the group.

· The group should be aware of its operation.

(ii) Improve the efficiency of the team, and a manager can do this by efficiently organizing the work and securing the means necessary, including appropriate technology, resources, and supporting facilities.

(iii) Ensure high skill levels.

(iv) Ensure that pay, promotions and recognitions are related to team performance. The manager thus demonstrates to subordinates the value of team-work and the value attached to the contribution of individuals in team-work.

(v) Provide intrinsic rewards, such as challenging work, clear responsibilities and autonomy in influencing work methods. The manager should ensure not only that jobs synchronize with the interests of individual members, but also that they find the job easier in a team setting. For effective intrinsic group rewards, managers should define tasks completely, purposely and explicitly. A task should have an identifiable end point. Each group member should have skills required to complete these tasks. The team should have freedom in deciding on its working methods, planning and allocation of responsibilities to individual members.

Team building in agricultural research organizations

Increasing specialization in every field has led to the need for a multidisciplinary approach in research. This necessitates pooling of experience and knowledge of various fields to foster creativity and efficiency in a research team. Agricultural research organizations consist of a number of groups. These groups are important because they provide a stimulus for creativity and innovation. Through synergic effects, they help in tackling multidimensional and complex research problems which require collaborative inputs from several disciplines. Team research also puts limited resources to optimal use. It can result in total solutions covering different dimensions.

Teams can be constituted either vertically or horizontally. Vertically formed teams are based on fields of production. Horizontal teams comprise departments based on disciplines. The size and skills of a team should be based on the problem to be solved and its magnitude. A research manager has to consider the relative merits and drawbacks of alternative approaches in forming the team so as to provide the required capabilities for realizing the goals set by the organization.

The research manager has a crucial role in facilitating smooth, effective and efficient functioning of the team which includes highly skilled scientists. The manager has to satisfy both individual and organizational needs through appropriate managerial interventions and reinforcements. The effective and efficient functioning of a team can be facilitated if the objectives of the team are jointly decided and tasks clearly specified. In research organizations, human factors play a proportionally greater role than in other organizations. A research organization can be effective only if the special human needs of scientists are satisfied.

In general in agricultural research organizations, it is desirable to attain a suitable blend of both vertical and horizontal elements in teams. Examples of discipline-based horizontal teams are: soil chemistry, soil physics, soil pedology, crop genetics and plant breeding, plant physiology, plant pathology, irrigation and salinity, animal physiology, agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, food technology or entomology. Teams based on production lines (vertical) are: field crops, vegetable crops, horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry or poultry.

In some organizations, team building may influence individual freedom and creativity, but not so in an agricultural research organization, where problem solving generally requires inputs from various disciplines. Research problems are jointly discussed by those constituting the team, i.e., the scientists of the various disciplines. On the basis of such discussion, goals are decided. The individual contribution of each scientist is also discussed and planned. Every scientist then has the freedom to plan their work independently. However, the scientists meet periodically to exchange experiences, discuss problems and review progress.


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Argyris, C. 1966. Inter-personal barriers to decision making. Harvard Business Review, 44: 84-97.

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Blake, R.R., & Mouton, J.S. 1969. Building a Dynamic Corporation through Grid Organization Development. Reading AM: Addison Wesley.

Kormanski, C., & Mozenter, A. 1987. A new model of team building: a technology for today and tomorrow. The Annual Conference: Developing Human Resources. La Jolla CA: University Associates.

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Shaw, M.E. 1981 Group Dynamics: The Psychology of Small Group Behaviour. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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Woodcock, M. 1986. Team Development Manual. Aldershot: Gower Press.

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