Group Management & Organizational Behavior

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Group dynamics and effective group management has been a focus of in management circles for centuries. The reasons behind this particular scenario are not hard to discern. Effective team management is correlated to business success and improvement of employee commitment, satisfaction and retention. While researches have aggressively pursued the benefits and contributions of a team to organizations, some people have argued that effective team management would result to better achievements.

Functional teams have been described as military model that has is the staple of most organizations. According to Bradford (1978) a functional groupis a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal.” The decision of this type of team may have come from consensus but the team is often led by a manager or boss. Self directed team on the other hand is defined by Hickman, (1998) as “an intact group of employees who are responsible for a whole work process or a segment that delivers a product or service to an internal or external customer.” In other words, they are responsible for their own work schedules and ensure their success. Autonomy refers to self government. This is the ability make management decisions without due influence and interference from external environment that does not constitute a team.

A Review of Discussion on Self Directed Team

The reason as to why many managers are befuddled by worker motivation is overconcentration on the technical aspects of the employee. However, striking a balance between performance and motivation opens a winnow for a bundle of benefits to organizations. Frederick Herzberg, an industrial psychologist asserted that “motivation and job enrichment that strikes at the heart of the success of self-direction concepts” (Parker, 2003). He capitulated that a person’s needs can be broken down into to major categories. These include hygiene and motivational factors here hygiene factors refers to the biological needs of an individual such as the provision of basic needs. Herzberg insists that human beings have developed the mechanisms of avoiding pain by taking part in what is necessary for the provision of basic wants. Motivational factors on the other hand refer achievement in work environment and the ability to psychological growth.

Self Directed Teams use the organization’s missions to develop their purpose which must not only be relevant but must also be beneficial to an organization. These purposes according to Parker (2003) “might include problem solving, increasing sales and productivity, career training, and product improvement.” Because of the absence of a manager on how to drive the team, they at times draw up a plan or a charter on how they will achieve their purpose(s). Every challenge that confronts the team in the process of project development demands the in put of all team members in the search for an applicable solution. However, self directed teams demand the input of the company in developing a meaningful mission statement that can empower the team. This involve “doing what it needs to do including making important decisions, support the team, establish and provide the boundaries, rules, and company policies, and train the members with the skills and knowledge needed to accomplish their purpose (Parker, 2003). The team remains accountable for its success or failure to achieve its critical objectives of the project.

Literature Review

Several authors have carried out studies and come up with results showing the effectiveness of application of team management in creating a culture of family in business. Some authors have carried out study to examine the effects of self directed and self managed teams on various outcomes with a combination of support from the organization. Others have sought to examine how various types of teams contribute to the success or failure of an organization. There are also some authors who have sought to find ways and methods of proving the effectiveness of team management.

Grazier (1999) in his study which sought to establish the effectiveness self directed work teams through a review of Herzberg’s concepts. In this article, the author explores the roles Herzberg’s application of job enrichment in the description of motivator cats that define job satisfaction. The concepts embodied self direction is thus clearly illustrated and include a myriad of factors that encompass the theory of job enrichment as postulated by Herzberg. These include “removing some controls while retaining accountability, increasing the accountability of individuals for their work, giving a person a complete natural unit of work and granting additional authority to employees in their activity; job freedom” (Grazier, 1999).

Douglas (2009) also found that self directed teams have the capacity to deliver viable project outcomes because of the greater autonomy to manage and take responsibilities for their actions and decisions. Through an exploitative study that involved the collection of data for 18 months, the author analyzed the importance communication on self directed work teams. The results of the study pointed out that soft influence technique of communication is more effective in managerial communication hen implementing self directed work teams.

Franz (2004) in her article, Self-Directed Work Teams: The Antidote for “Heroic Suicide” has effectively analyzed and examined the “rationale of self directed work teams, characteristics of effective work teams, and successful work team leadership” (Franz, 2008). In the realization that success in business today is a product of teamwork and employee empowerment, the author has presented a list of benefits organizations reap from self directed teams. These include the production of higher quality solutions, increase in customer satisfaction, reduction in operating costs, and improvements in quality and productivity” (Franz, 2008). Other benefits that an organization tends to reap from self directed team according to Franz (2008) include “better alignment of workloads, retention and attraction of top employees, rapid response to technological change, increase innovation and creativity and support risk taking.”

Franz discussion showed that organizations and individuals stand to reap a cocktail of benefits through better management of self directed teams. According to Franz (2008) “given these benefits, work teams without a doubt need to become the norm rather than the exception for extension work.”

Other researchers have also supported the effectiveness of teams in achieving set targets. Purser & Cabana (1998) in The Self managing organization: How leading companies are transforming the work of teams for real impact have abided in the fact that organizations are increasingly adopting self directed and self managed teams for greater organizational productivity. These authors assert that “success in today’s workplace often derives from teamwork and employee empowerment and many organizations, including Cooperative Extension, turn to collaborative work to embrace and capitalize on this change” (Purser & Cabana, 1998). In addition to the above, the authors have expounded on the ten characteristics effective work teams and drawn up a conclusion that abide with other researchers on the effectiveness of self directed teams in an organization.

The last interesting study on team effectiveness is presented by Axelrod (2000) in his work: Terms of engagement: Changing the way we change organizations. The author intrinsically dissects the reasons behind a surge of most organization in the nurturing and development of self directed teams. The author has however applied a different approach in his work by pointing out the team leadership. According to Axelrod (2000), “team leadership appears more complex than heroic leadership in that no one person can effectively handle the difficult problems facing organizations today.”

Discussion of the Findings

It can be discerned from the discussion of the literature on the materials that the rush for the adoption of self directed teams is correlated to the increase in production they present to an organization. There is a general agreement in the literature that through soft influential approach to team leadership, tams can be can be used to organize work and encourage team autonomy. The information leant from this articles provide a rich source of the relevance of about self directed teams in the workplace and a deeper understanding of team dynamics and performance in organizational settings. This is because there is the obvious point that organizations have the capacity to improve employee levels and satisfaction and production by proper entrenchment of a self directed team culture.

Key Emerging Themes from Literature

Three key themes have emerged from the literature discussed above. These include;

  • The complexity of team management has presented a scenario in which even self directed teams demand some form of soft leadership for success.
  • Communication forms a fundamental aspect of team success or failure.
  • The fundamental role of the top management in articulating clear organizational missions influences the capacity of a self directed team to achieve their purpose.

Key Findings and Reflection

The self directed team methods that have emerged as findings from the literatures are autonomous and semi-autonomous team methods. However, most organizations prefer the application of semi autonomous group method in their culture. This has been demonstrated to “create organizational growth through learning, serve as mechanisms for honoring the past, and appreciate and use diversity” (Bradford, 1978). This explains the reasons behind the use of soft influential leadership approach in self directed team management.

The information covered in here provides groundwork for the understanding of self directed team and their contribution to organizational productivity and employee satisfaction. Whereas organizations might come across in the institution of perfect models of self directed work teams, they stand to reap benefits from such initiatives. Teams are empowered to encourage autonomy by removing some controls while at the same time encouraging responsibility and accountability and giving a person a complete unit of work to perform. Soft influential management approach is the best for the encouragement of self directed teams. The understanding that each and every organization is unique in its own self, self directed team approach cannot be applied across all sectors of the industry despite the fact that it is effective in improving the bottom-line. One area in which my new knowledge will influence my behavior as an employee is the appreciation and understanding of diversity in the workplace.


Axelrod, R. 2000. Terms of engagement: Changing the way we change organizations. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Bradford, L. (1978). Group development. San Diego: University Associates.

Douglas, C. 2009. Communication in the Transition to Self-Directed Work Teams. Journal of Business Communication. Vol, 11. 166-210.

Franz, N.K. 2004. Self-Directed Work Teams: The Antidote for “Heroic Suicide”. Journal of Extension. Vol. 42. no 2. 146-161.

Grazier, P.B. 1999. Why Self-Direction Works: A Review of Herzberg’s Concepts. Web.

Hickman, G. R. (Ed.). (1998). Leading organizations: Perspectives for a new era. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Parker, G.M. 2003. Cross-functional teams: working with allies, enemies, and other strangers. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Purser, R., & Cabana, S. (1998). The Self managing organization: How leading companies are transforming the work of teams for real impact. New York: The Free Press.

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