HOW DO INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES AND PERCEPTIONS AFFECT TEAM DYNAMICS?
In any workplace it is vital that management and employee's find the right balance to enable them to work as one unit in the most efficient and effective way. Team dynamics in an organisation can be affected by how people within the team interact, respond and influence one another in achieving a common goal. Both individual differences and perceptions can affect team dynamics in positive and negative ways. The following critical analysis will explore the affects on team dynamics by exploring three key concepts: personality differences, perceptual differences and behavioral differences. These concepts will then be further analyzed by investigating the broader ideas that stem from them to evaluate their affects on team dynamics.
Personality is an important individual characteristic, it is known as the "relatively enduring pattern of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that characterize a person, along with the psychological processes behind those characteristics" (McShane & Von Glinow 2013, p.41). Within an organisation employee personalities can greatly affect team dynamics, to ensure these individual characteristics are understood and utilized in the right way, management can successfully create teams to produce the best work. This can be done by having an understanding of the idea of 'Nature versus Nurture' (McCrea et al., 2000) and also how the 'Five Factor Model' (Digman, 1990) relates to individuals, positive team dynamics can be achieved. The determinants of ones personality stems from Nature "genetic or hereditary origins" (McShane & Von Glinow, 2013, p41) and ones Nurture which can include "person's socialization, life experiences and other forms of interactions with the environment" (McShane & Von Glinow, 2013, p41). For an organisation to create a better working environment for employees they can complete personality testing which can be applied for personal development, which further assists dynamics within teams. The personality dimensions in the Five Factor Model includes; "conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience and, extraversion" (McShane & Von Glinow, 2013, p42) and these factors can influence employee motivation and role clarity in various ways. Personality influences will inevitability influence how a person reacts to emotional or stressful situations and their ability to handle team requirements.
Perceptions are the outcomes of information processing or are the consequences of selective attention, selective comprehension, encoding, storage, retention, information retrieval and judgment (Waller et al., 1995). What individuals perceive often affects their subsequent choices and actions (Hambrick & Mason, 1984; Thomas, Clark & Gioia, 1993). These perceptual differences are evident within the workplace through stereotyping of fellow co-workers, as it "is a natural and mostly non-conscious "energy-saving" process that simplifies [employee perceptions]"(McShane & Von Glinow 2013, p.76). The advantage of stereotyping enables individuals maintain a positive self-concept and the process leads to categorization, to achieve social identity, and homogenization, a comparison process within a workplace. The disadvantages of stereotyping, specifically for team dynamics, are that stereotyping can distort individual perception and can "lay the foundation for discriminatory attitudes and behavior"(McShane & Von Glinow 2013, p.78). These risks that can result from negative stereotyping can have a flow on effect for a perceptual process known as the 'Attribution Theory' (McShane & Von Glinow 2013) where by a an individual decides "whether an observed behavior or event is caused largely by internal or external factors" (McShane 2013, p.79).
The effects of the attribution theory on team dynamics can be evident specifically with "time urgency and time perspective… [as] these two temporal individual-difference variables...
References: Hambrick, D. C, & Mason, P. A, 1984 _"Upper echelons: The organisation as a reflection of its top managers,"_ Academy of Management Review, 9: 193-206
Waller, M. J, Huber, G, P. & Glick, W. H, 1995 _"Functional background as a determinant of executives ' selective perception,"_ Academy of Management Journal, 38: 943-974
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