Is Bureaucracy Bad for Creativity? That Depends on You
Topic: Creativity, Strategic HR, Teams
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: How does bureaucracy impact individual creativity? A cross-level investigation of team contextual influences on goal orientation-creativity relationships
Authors: Giles Hirst, Daan Van Knippenberg, Chin-Hui Chen, & Claudia A. Sacramento
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman
Bureaucracy and creativity. They might seem like mortal enemies—we often think of red tape and paper work as the killer of creative thinking—but it doesn’t have to be! Really, it depends on your employees. When we talk about goal orientation (why people do what they do), we usually take about three types of people. First, you have your learning-oriented workers. These are the ones who do what they do for sheer enjoyment of the work. They are intrinsically motivated. Second, you have your performance-prove-oriented employees. These workers want to show you how good they are. Third and finally, you have your performance-avoid workers. These are your risk-adverse employees—the rule followers. They all respond to bureaucracy differently, particularly when it comes to creativity.
We can divide bureaucracy into two dimensions—centralization and formalization. Centralization deals with the amount of decision making ability team members have. The more centralized decision making is, the less team members have opportunity to add their input. Formalization deals with the paperwork. It’s the policies and procedures employees have to adhere to in their job. Like centralization, the more formal the procedure, the less wiggle-room there is for workers.
Joining Teams and Going Overboard!
Publication: Academy of Management Review
Article: Multiple team membership: A theoretical model of its effects on productivity and learning for individuals and teams
Authors: M.B. O’Leary, M. Mortensen & A.W. Woolley
Reviewed By: Jade Peters
A team is a set of individuals, bound to work together towards a shared goal or outcome. The number of teams an employee is involved in and the variety of the teams are important factors when addressing the employee’s learning and productivity.
A recent team membership model shows that the more teams an employee is on the more productive they are up until a point where too many teams become overwhelming and productivity decreases significantly. On the other hand, the variety of teams an employee is on is important because the variety can really aid in the increase of learning within teams and employees.
Really understanding how team membership can affect productivity and learning will help managers and team leaders become more mindful of the number of teams they assign their employees too and the variety of the teams. Managers are going to want a productive employee that gets the most learning experience out of the teams that they join. Employees alike can really benefit from this as well. Knowing when to join teams and resisting teams they know will overwhelm them can help increase their productivity while they still maintain an increase in learning.
O’Leary, M.B., Mortensen, M., & Woolley, A.W. (2011). Multiple team membership: a theoretical model of its effects on productivity and learning for individuals and teams. Academy of management review, 2011(36), 461-478.
human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Do We Have Organizational Support? Let’s Not Agree to Disagree
Topic: Teams, Job Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2011)
Article: When Managers and Their Teams Disagree: A Longitudinal Look at the
Consequences of Differences in Perceptions of Organizational Support
Author: M.R. Bashshur, A. Hernandez, V. Gonzalez-Roma
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Your manager likes Chinese food, classical music, Ohio State football, and is a lifelong Democrat. You, on the other hand, love Mexican food, heavy metal, went to Michigan, and have a ten inch GOP tattoo across your back. Will workplace productivity suffer? Hopefully not. But what if you believe your organization fails to adequately support your work team, while your manager thinks they’re doing a fine job? According to research by Banshur, Hernandez, and Gonzalez-Roma (2011), this scenario could lead to poor productivity and poor attitudes.
Researchers extensively surveyed bank employees at well over a hundred bank branches and made several important findings about perceived organizational support, which is whether employees or managers believe that the organization is doing everything they can to ensure the success of the team. This may include providing needed resources, additional training, or simply showing they care about the efforts and success of the team. When teams perceive organizational support, they feel the need to reciprocate by increasing productivity, and will also experience “positive affect”, which basically means they will be in a good mood.
But the authors found a problem. When there is a discrepancy between the manager’s perception and the rest of the team’s shared perception of organizational support, negative consequences could occur. Specifically, when managers think that organizational support is high, but team members feel it is low, this leads to lower productivity and generally bad moods. This is because the manager may appear out of touch with reality, leading to frustration and tension for the employees. When the scenario is reversed, and the manger thinks support is low while team members feel it is high, negative outcomes are also possible. For example, the manager might proscribe unneeded additional training, which could also be a source of frustration. Still, the effects are not as severe as in the first scenario.
Teams Behaving Badly: A Combination of the People and the Environment
Topic: Ethics, Teams, Decision Making
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAR 2011)
Article: Thick as Thieves: The Effects of Ethical Orientation and Psychological
Safety on Unethical Team Behavior
Authors: M.J. Pearsall & A.P. Ellis
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Individuals faced with ethical dilemmas are always free to choose between their perceptions of right and wrong. But some situations are more complicated than that. What happens when an entire team must collectively decide what to do? What factors might sway the group decision in favor of acting unethically? According to research by Pearsall and Ellis (2011), certain types of groups are more prone to ethical violations than others.
The authors first distinguish between two common attitudes people may have:
utilitarianism and formalism. Utilitarianism is when a person tends to make decisions by only focusing on possible outcomes and striving to maximize benefits. Formalism is when a person makes decisions while trying to stay within the guidelines of specific rules and regulations.
After conducting an experiment in which work groups were presented with an
opportunity to cheat on a self-scored evaluation, the authors found that groups whose members had a high level of utilitarianism were more likely to cheat than groups whose members do not espouse a high level of utilitarianism. Groups whose members espoused formalism cheated less than groups whose members did not espouse formalism, although this effect was not as strong as predicted.
Even among groups whose members had a high level of utilitarianism, some groups were more likely than others to act on it. The determining factor was psychological safety, which is the extent to which group members believe that they will not be punished for making suggestions that seem out of the box or risky. On teams that have a high level of psychological safety, unethical people feel free to suggest solutions that may compromise ethics, without fear that the group will chastise or look down upon them. On these teams, utilitarianism is more likely to lead to actual ethics violations.
So if utilitarian-minded people and psychological safety lead to unethical behavior, does that mean they are bad? Not necessarily. In fact, utilitarian people are known for their innovation and can be quite valuable on teams. Likewise, psychological safety is something that organizations strive to increase in order to foster idea-generation and creativity. So what can organizations do to curb ethics violations? One solution is for managers to practice ethical leadership. The authors explain that this might influence followers to uphold ethics standards, even when utilitarian-minded people exist in a psychologically safe environment. And while it may be impractical to completely avoid situations that encourage ethics violations, identifying when they are most likely to occur is the first step in reducing their frequency.
human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Time for Teamwork: When Aspects of Collectivism are Most Beneficial
Topic: Goals, Job Performance, Teams
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (March, 2011)
Article: The power of “we”: effects of psychological collectivism on team
performance over time
Authors: Erich C. Dierdorff, Suzanne T. Bell, and James A. Belohlav
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
Collectivism, in essence, is the orientation of a group’s members toward a similar set of goals and for their mutual wellbeing as a team. A group composed of collectivistic members should be more cooperative and will likely show a higher degree of citizenship behavior amongst its team members. However, can certain aspects of collectivism be damaging? The authors of this study set out to determine the interplay of psychological collectivism and team performance over the course of time.
The authors measured a number of different aspects of collectivism in group members during various points in group formation and attempted to link this information to the group’s performance. For example, they found that preference, the collectivistic aspect involving interest in aligning with other group members, was beneficial to groups at initial formation. On the other hand, the aspect of reliance, or assuming that other members will take on as much responsibility as you will, can be damaging to a newly formed group. Group members need time to get to know one another on the interpersonal level and diving too quickly into responsibility assumptions can damage new relationships.
Group Culture and Speaking Up
Topic: Culture, Teams, Leadership
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2011)
Article: Speaking Up in Groups: A Cross-Level Study of Group Voice Climate and Voice
Authors: E.W. Morrison, S.L. Wheeler-Smith, & D. Kamdar
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Think of the last time you had an important suggestion to make while at work. Did you say it? According to research by Morrison, Wheeler-Smith, and Kamdar (2011), the answer may reveal as much about the beliefs of the people you work with as it does about you.
Research has traditionally focused on employee voice from the perspective of the individual. Employee voice means the willingness to make extra suggestions or comments to help improve something. For example, researchers have always wondered what motivates people to speak up more often, and what factors people consider when deciding if they should voice their opinions. This new research goes one step further. It says that employee voice will be more likely to occur when certain beliefs are shared by the entire work group as a whole.
After conducting a survey of distinct work groups within a single company, the authors identify two factors that create a group voice climate, or the type of setting which will encourage employees to speak their minds. The first factor they call group voice safety beliefs. This is whether all people in the group feel safe to voice controversial opinions, or if they fear punishment for doing so.
Does Helping Hurt the ‘I’ in Team?
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (DEC 2010)
Article: Why Seeking Help From Teammates Is a Blessing and a Curse: A Theory of Help Seeking and Individual Creativity in Team Contexts
Authors: Jennifer S. Mueller & Dishan Kamdar
Reviewed By: Kerrin George
Increased information sharing among individuals can harness unique perspectives that will create new ideas. One way that information is shared within teams is through seeking help and helping fellow teammates. Often overlooked, however, is the question of whether this increased demand of helping within teams may come with potential negative consequences with respect to creativity.
Mueller and Kamdar (2010) investigated the impact of helping behaviors among teammates on creativity (defined as the creation of new ideas that may feed innovation). Specifically, they examined the impact of employees’ help-seeking behaviors on their individual creativity, and whether reciprocation of help may diminish this creativity. In general, the authors found that employees that are intrinsically motivated to engage in creative processes (i.e., search behaviors) are more likely to ask for help, which leads to more individual creativity. However, these employees tend to reciprocate by giving more help to teammates, which predicts a decrease in the likelihood that intrinsic motivation and help seeking will lead to individual creativity, probably due to not spending that energy on one’s own work.
These findings bear the question: Does helping hurt individual creativity within teams?
Group Job Satisfaction Determined by the Emotional Intelligence of Its Leader
Topic: Leadership, Teams, Emotional Intelligence, Job Satisfaction
Publication: Small Group Research (JAN 2011)
Article: Managers’ Trait Emotional Intelligence and Group Outcomes: The Case of Group Job Satisfaction
Authors: L. Zampetakis & V. Moustakis
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
Regardless of the nature of an organization’s end goals, it is in any organization’s best interests to have employees that are satisfied with their jobs. Individual job satisfaction has been linked to increased performance and higher organizational loyalty, amongst other positive implications. It has been found in the past that individual job satisfaction and trait emotional intelligence, or one’s emotional self-awareness, are linked, as being able to identify and regulate one’s emotions has had positive effects on job satisfaction.
As organizational structure is becoming more and more group-focused, this study raises the possibility that the trait emotional intelligence of a leader could play a role in group job satisfaction. If such a relationship could be found, organizations could use this information to place those employees with high trait emotional intelligence in leadership roles, potentially boosting group job satisfaction and benefiting the organization as a whole.
Supporting the notion that groups tend to develop shared judgments and evaluations over time, the researchers found that the groups they studied developed unitary evaluations of their leaders’ emotional intelligence.
The Winning Team!
Publication: Leadership Quarterly (OCT 2010)
Article: Self-management competencies in self-managing teams: Their impact on multi-team system productivity
Authors: J. P. Millikin, P. W. Hom, C. C. Manz
Reviewed By: Lauren Wood
The emergence and increasing popularity of self-managed work teams in the past 25 years have lead many business leaders to claim that self-managed teams are the wave of the future. Indeed, self-managed teams have been shown to positively influence organizational outcomes such as customer service and productivity. However, some research has contradicted these findings suggesting, in fact, that self-managed teams may be overall detrimental to organizational success. Differences in team composition may be the culprit of these varied results; so, which team member qualities contribute to effective self-managed teams within the larger, multi-team system and which hinder productivity?
The current study investigated the effects of two team composition variables: team members’ degree of self-management abilities (practicing self-job enrichment and engage in positive self-talk) and the degree of interpersonal cohesion (perceiving similarity between themselves and the other team members). The results revealed teams which consist of members who are more self-managing displayed higher levels of productivity. Additionally, teams with higher self-management abilities as well as higher levels of interpersonal cohesion showed additional productivity gains over teams with high self-management abilities but low interpersonal cohesion levels.
Want to Accelerate Transition Into New Leadership Roles? Try this Five-Action Step Intervention
Topic: Coaching, Leadership, Teams
Publication: Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research (MAR 2010)
Article: New leader assimilation process: Accelerating new role-related transitions.
Authors: I.M. Levin
Reviewed By: Jailza Pauly
The first 90 to 100 days are crucial for those moving into new leadership roles. But why is this period so important? Leaders in new roles are more likely to make errors such as acting too quickly without the necessary information and failing to build relationships and credibility. To ensure accelerated assimilation and effectiveness into new roles, organizations can help their new leaders experience successful role transitions.
Levin recently proposed a five step structured intervention that combines executive coaching and team development. Its purpose is to address two tasks that are critical to success in new leadership roles: information seeking about the context and challenges of the new role and relationship building with the new team of direct reports and peers.
Step 1 – Launch
A contracting process between a qualified coach (e.g., Levin recommends a consulting psychologist), the new leader, and key stakeholders outlining substantive task-related and socio-emotional issues associated with the transition into the new role.
Step 2 – Leader Preparation and Team interviews
A parallel process of data collection through individual interviews with direct reports and peers, as well as ongoing analysis of responses (conducted by the consulting psychologist).