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Groupthink in a Virtual Environment Work Team Term Paper

Introduction The idea that a team may resort to making decisions in its own interest at the expense of the organization to which it forms a part, sounds incredible. Yet, there are situations that actually precipitate these eventualities.

In the case discussed in this paper, a situation arises where a specific team seems to decide to take advantage of its position to protect itself from the risk of breaking apart. The team prioritizes its cohesiveness above the company’s good. This paper explores various aspects of the case and determines the aspects that precipitated the situation, and how to correct it.

The Organization Background

T.A. Sterns is a tax accounting firm that has a very good reputation among its clients because it offers excellent services. The services benefit heavily from four programmers who work as a team to develop tax analysis programs. The team leader’s crisis stems from the fact that he is dealing with a very independent and differentiated team compared to the rest of the company.

This team has special working conditions and remuneration packages. They all work from home using online support systems, and meet only occasionally. The team does very specialized tasks requiring a high degree of interdependence amongst them.

The team is in charge of producing tax analysis programs that contribute a lot towards the company’s work. The design of the programs take into account the need for flexibility to allow for quick incorporation of new laws and changes in the tax system to ensure that the output is credible. This requires an ongoing effort to track and include changes.

The programs benefit from their diverse experience as lawyers and tax accountants, with a strong interest in programming. They all work from different locations, with each enjoying the flexible task based working model that their job encapsulates. This situation sets the stage for the crisis under scrutiny.

The team has developed a new way of getting work done, that potentially may require fewer of them to do the work they currently do, but they are not willing to put any of them out of work. The four members report to Dave, who is the workgroup manager. He accidentally finds out about what is happening.

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T.A. Sterns utilizes different modes of work for its different classes of employees. Its programmers use virtual workstations that make it possible for them to work from different locations while connected by email, conferencing software, and telephone. The offsite teams comprise the virtual environment work teams.

The one under review has four members, who report to a manager Dave Regan. Dave’s role is to monitor the work produced by the work team and ensures that their work performance meets company’s needs and specifications. Tom reports to the management on the team’s performance.

The work team has its own team leader- Tom Andrews. Tom has the most experience and takes care of the training of new team members and ensuring that the team delivers on its targets. He is the primary liaison with Stearns. Tom’s team reports to him. The team uses several methods to get the job done.

They arrange for teleconferencing, they make calls and they use email as modes of sharing out the work they have. Over and above the official functions, they also use these modes to carry on informal chatter. They plan to meet for recreational purposes, for instance, at Tom’s ranch, when they are not working on a project. Once a month they all meet together for lunch.

The team therefore has its formal structures revolving around Dave and Tom, but in addition, they have an informal one that has space for informal interaction and social support. These two work structures work seamlessly because they use the same systems. The interaction between a formal work environment that gets the job done, and an informal one that allows for space for recreation, provides the team with a relaxed job environment.

The Situation Description of the Situation

In general, the team works by taking whatever assignment brought to them and estimating the time required to get the job done. Key among these requirements is the time required to complete an assignment. It determines how many team members should be committed to it. This puts the team in a situation where they must find ways of doing their work fast and save on time. This is how Cy, started experimenting with macros to see how best to reduce the time it takes to complete an assignment.

Cy developed a particular set of macros that he tried out. The macros actually contributed to a substantial saving of time. The macros achieved this improving the speed of introduction of changes into existing programs. CY tried it on an ongoing project and realized they actually saved time.

We will write a custom Term Paper on Groupthink in a Virtual Environment Work Team specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Tom, though initially skeptical, tried to work with the macros. To his surprise, he realized that they were working well and actually saved time. The potential to save many hours was a very attractive proposition to their work, and meant that they had more time to spend on recreational activities.

The most beneficial aspect of the macros was the time reduction on project time by decreasing the time required to introduce changes to existing projects.

In addition, by using shortcuts, the macros made the program less bulky and easy to use, increasing the efficiency of the resultant program. Such an initiative, if reported to the management, would have attracted a financial reward for Cy because it meant the company would spend less in producing programs. This option was open to Cy. By forfeiting it, he precipitated the crisis under consideration.

Pinpointing the Problem

This new method of working on programs presented a number of consequences, some positive, and some negative. The positive consequences for the group was that they could be able to save a lot of time on future projects, potentially freeing up more time for recreational activities , which they seemed to enjoy. For the company, it provided them with an opportunity to reduce the size of the work team hence cut on costs. The company could redeploy the redundant member of the work team to more needy areas.

The consequences of these actions included interruption to the way of working that the team was accustomed. There was a real possibility that with the exposure of the new macro, they could lose the team life, as they knew it. They were not sure which among them could lose their job if the management knew about the macros potential.

This drove them to secrecy. On the other hand, the company’s reward policy did not provide sufficient incentive for Cy to come forth with this important development. He valued his team environment more than individual reward. He was very excited about his creation, but making it public proved to be a more serious threat to him than seeking recognition.

In the end analysis, we can say that the problem was the risk of breaking apart the team. The individuals in the team felt attached to one another and did not want a situation to arise where they could lose one of them. The incentives from the company failed to attract their imagination to put forward their suggestions to the existing rewards scheme because it did not address their most precious concerns. In a word, the group suffered from groupthink.

Discussion Why the Group is a Team

There are several characteristics that this group display which qualifies them to be a team. These characteristics include communication, leadership style, and sharing of resources. In addition, they care for each other’s personal needs. The key element that provides group cohesion for this team is communication.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Groupthink in a Virtual Environment Work Team by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More They have a well-developed multi-modal form of communication that ensures smooth communication within the group. They meet regularly to discuss work related issues further enhancing communication within the group. They type of communications also varies, ranging from formal to informal. This is a strong sign that the group is a team

The team leadership is participative. This aspect defines teams. All of them have a say on how the group runs. The discussion they had where they swore to secrecy in as far as the new macros are concerned provides the evidence for this. Tom did not make a unilateral decision on the issues but discussed it with the rest of the members.

Another element that the group displays which makes it a team is the sharing of resources. By sharing the macros with Tom and the team members, Cy did not just hide something that had the potential to make their work easier. He made it available to all of them. Tom inviting the team to his ranch is also an example of the team sharing resources.

The final aspect of teamwork displayed by this group is when they cover for each other to allow them to deal with personal issues. Teams care about the well-being of each member even when they are away from the core business of the team. These elements increase team cohesion making it possible for the team to perform at enhanced levels.

Characteristics of the Team that Predispose it to Making Ineffective Decisions

The first characteristic that predisposes this team to making poor decisions is the fact that it has attained a high degree of team cohesion. The team has worked together for a number of years and they like it. As a unit, they feel close to one another, indeed like a second family. Their interaction shows that they have blurred the lines between pure work-based relationships and formal relations. This may be because they work in a virtual environment devoid of the formal structures that attend to people working in an office setting.

It is fun to be part of the group. They all have some sort of recreational activity some of which are similar. These activities remain assured as long as the team remains intact. They have the funny emails, the fishing, the skiing, and the support when someone is unable to fulfill their needs among others.

This kind of environment makes it hard for them to take any decisions that may rock the team’s boat. They would like to have these privileges for as long as possible.

The third reason for the group making bad decisions is that anything that threatens the life of the team threatens the whole life system associated with it. The decision they take robs the company of the potential of Cy’s idea to save time and money because of the risk it presents to the life of the team. There is a risk that one of them could end up laid-off. This risks the life of the team, so they decide against it.

The main thing is that the group exists at a certain level of awareness and it feels that it needs all its members to be able to operate effectively.

Its cohesiveness has more meaning to its members than the organization that provided for its creation in the first place. The propensity to make bad decisions stems from this heightened state of allegiance to the group and a strong desire to remain in it, compared to company goals.

Characteristics of Groupthink Manifested in the Work Team

Irving (1982) identified eight elements of groupthink. The group has a false impression of insusceptibility. This makes them prone to taking extreme risks. In this case, the entire group decided to swear to secrecy while applying the new methods, which showed up anyway. They felt they could keep their macros effort secret. The second element they showed is rationalization.

They were able to find a good reason why they should not bring the attention of the management to the new method of getting the job done. They thought it would lead to a job loss for one of them. They also showed Moral aggrandizement by doing this. They felt that by keeping the macros secret, they would protect their jobs.

The fourth element of groupthink that they displayed was the use of Stereotypes when referring to people who were not members of their group. They called people who had to work regular hours as “face timers” while calling themselves, “free agents”. This shows that they viewed themselves as elitist and different from the rest. The fifth element of groupthink that Irving (1982) identified is pressure on nonconformists to remain in the track.

Once Tom and Cy agreed that the best way forwards with the macros was to keep it secret, they went to Marge and Megan and swore them to secrecy. The group also practiced internal censorship.

They did this when Cy begun to evaluate normal channels of reporting breakthroughs like the one he had, and decided that it was not worth it to come forward with it. He felt his allegiance lay with the group more than it did with the management.

Cy and Tom went on further to display the next characteristic of groupthink as identified by Irving (1982) when they were under the impression that everyone agreed with their position. Finally, the effort to swear group members to secrecy displayed the characteristic of guarding group from outside thinking that characterizes groupthink.

Dave’s Effectiveness as a Leader

Two issues come to mind in the evaluation of Dave as an effective team leader. These are the fact that he identified suspicious output from the group that he could not explain well, while the second on one is that he ignored the signs of groupthink that showed when the group started delivering different results.

First, it is understandable that the programming group needed to work in a stimulating environment that supported creativity. However, they seem to have developed into a semiautonomous unit that was under no regulation at all as long as they delivered results.

Dave was not part of the monthly lunch meetings or the regular contact the group members had. Whether by design or default, the working conditions predisposed the team to groupthink, and puts Dave in bad light as a group leader.

The first factor to consider in the conduct of Dave as a group leader is that while he did not keep track of the groups working practices, he noticed that there was a change in the quality of the output this group provided.

They were delivering higher quality work but in smaller volumes. He asked questions and kept an ear out to find out what was going on. This went on until he had a good idea of what was happening. On this count, he performed well as a group leader.

On the second factor, Dave ignored the signs of groupthink because of the superior work output the group was turning in. when he asked what was going on, he did not get sufficient responses, but rationalized that whatever it was it was good for the company because the group was producing better results. In this regard, Dave was not a good team leader

Corrective Action

There is urgent need for corrective action in as far as groupthink is concerned. Dave must work in order to correct the situation, but at the same time, he must avoid spooking the group members because of their initial fears, and the consequences of groupthink. He can deal with it in the following three steps

The first thing that Dave must address is the concern that the group has about one of them losing their job if the management gets to understand the potential the macros have in reducing the time required to finish a job.

This group seems to have reached a high performance level and it may be beneficial for the company to retain it as it is. Some options for ensuring that no one in the group looses their job are by asking them to teach their methods to other workgroups and to take on more work as a group. This will mitigate their primary fear

Secondly, Dave needs to institute an external reporting mechanism that will take into account the individual goals and aspirations of the group members. This may come in the way of performance appraisals and personal work targets. The model used now, where all the reporting comes through Tom, promotes the atmosphere for groupthink.

The third step that Dave needs to take is to develop a report jointly with the team, detailing the potential of the macros developed by Cy to save the company money. In this report, the group may ask the management to retain them as a group because of the threshold of effectiveness they have attained, and they may propose to handle more work.

Works Cited Irving, Janis L. Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. New York: Houghton and Mifflin, 1982.

Effects of divorce on young children Research Paper

Nursing Assignment Help How does Divorce affect young children? The effect of divorce on children depends on the age of the children at the time when the divorce is taking place, the gender of the child, and the characters of a child. Other minor factors that may determine the level of affection is the degree of conflict between the two parents, and the amount of support received from other relatives and close friends. For instance, if a child is in infant age, they may not understand the conflict between the parents (Knox and Schacht 279).

The effect of an infant may occur because of the changes in parents reactions and the time dedicate to him. The major effect on the infant is realized when he or she start loosing appetite due to the change of moods of the parents. The infant may also experience some stomach upsets, and start drooling.

For the preschool children who age between 3-5 years, they believe they are the causes of divorce in most cases. In several researches done they say that their failure to do house chores or to take their dinner made their mummy or daddy to run away.

Once parents divorce these preschool children start fearing because of feeling lonely, as they think that, their parents abandon them. The feeling of being abandoned make these children to show some baby like behaviors, through claiming their old toys, and some will even start wetting the bed even if they had stopped (Weiten, Lloyd and Yost 546).

Some children show some funny behaviors like denying that something has happened to their parents, some become uncooperative to the people looking after them, and some experiences an increased level of anger and stress. They feel comfortable when near an adult where there is assurance of security, but at the same time, they show some sense of aggressiveness.

Getting used to parental divorce by school-aged children is more difficult than for the preschool children or even the mature children. The school going age have the capability to understand that they are subject to suffering out of their parental divorce. Their age does not allow a control measure of this pain and perception that they will suffer.

They are too young to cope with this type of internal pain (Ahrons 98). The greatest effect of divorce to these children is experiencing misery, humiliation, divided love, and high anger.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Some psychologists have said that these children can forget these divorce issues through active participation in play and activities with other children of the same age.

Active participation of their bodies and mind would eliminate idleness and a chance of deep thoughts. These children of this age have the capability of hoping that their parents will rejoin again.

Another common effect of divorce to the children of this age is feeling of rejection by their parents and may be start complaining of constant headaches and stomach upsets.

Teenagers suffer greatly among all other groups when parental divorce occurs. Most of the time, when faced by challenges, teenagers become angry, and at the same time they start fearing and feeling lonely.

Even if they are not the cause of the problems, they feel guilt and having a stressing moment. Teenagers are mostly disturbed when the divorced parent gives them the responsibilities of adult people; they start feeling as if they that is not their duties because they are still young.

This situation forces them to undertake the responsibilities of their parents like cooking chores and looking after the smaller siblings. Teenagers make extra efforts of responding to the low motivation of their parents, and coping up with the increased stress of their parents.

They take control over several issues in the family from taking care of the parents to even domestic animals. Teenagers have highly emerging sexual feelings, and they feel lack of enough knowledge and support that is supposed to come from the parents.

We will write a custom Research Paper on Effects of divorce on young children specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More This is a very crucial stage to the teenagers as they start doubting marriage life when they witness such behaviors. Some teenagers make decisions of staying unmarried if they witness such separations from their own parents.

Teenagers try as much as possible to understand the reasons behind their parental divorce, although this turns to be a very stressing moment they try to cope up with it. Sometimes they may absorb that shock of loneliness, but their capability of mind to remember the events occurrence spoils them a great deal by making them peace less for a long time before they adjust fully (Clarke and Brentano 104).

They try as much as possible to battle in their minds in an effort of determining one parent who is the cause of the divorce. They feel much pressure placed on them in the process of determining the troubleshooter and the reasons behind the whole process.

In terms of gender, some psychologists have proved that boys who grow with the presence of their fathers and girls by their mothers may have the ability to handle this better than children brought up by a person of opposite sex. A male child who has grown with the presence of their fathers are not very hostile, and they are in a better position as far as handling challenges is concerned, than those who grew with the presence of their mothers alone.

The girls who grow with close supervision of their mothers grow up being responsible and showing behaviors of a fully-grown adult. The ability of a child to cope with the effects of their parents divorce depends on the relationship between the parents and their children. The gender and the stage of the child also matters but not as much as the relationship in the family.

According to another group of psychologists, they claim that even if a child is mature, parental divorce is very stressing for any child.

The fact that they do not prepare for that divorce in advance makes it hard for them to bear. According to the research done by specialists, they say that less than 11% of the children receive some support from family friends and relatives during this tempting moment in the family. The amount of pain that these children go through comes from different sources (Brown 11).

To begin with, when parents divorce and separate, the children start feeling insecure in various ways. The parent may be psychologically prepared to divorce because they may be experiencing such problems for a long period, but this reaches their children in surprise making them mourn and grief for a long time.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Effects of divorce on young children by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More In most cases, divorce changes the family set up where some members find themselves in a different status whereby they are have to move from the usual family place. This change of family arrangement brings much grieve and a feeling of being powerless to both the children and the parent who has moved away.

People in the society do not see any need of supporting children of the divorced parent as they do to the bereaved families (Sember 102). They take this as a normal process of life that does not require an external assistance. They refer this as irresponsibility of the both parents, which they ignore and cannot take it seriously.

On the other side, parents do not seek the assistance of their children because of fear of intimidation. Among the children who are preschoolers, may be a serious case where even sleeping becomes a challenge. Their fear may extend for a long time when they lack the custodial parent, because they do not understand how and when that divorce will end.

They tend to think the end of the world has come that they knew of happiness, protection, and love. This age is complicated because even the parents cannot explain to their child about their divorce. Even if they try to explain to these young children may not understand why their parents are behaving in such a reluctant manner.

For the children between the ages of 6-8 years their fear is worse because of that separation. The fact that divorce may be permanent disturbs them a lot and they keep on asking some nagging questions about when mummy or daddy will come back.

Bearing this hard situation with the children of this age becomes unbearable as the only topic that they would like to discuss with the left parent is that one and not any other. Sometimes they even tend to threaten the left parent that they will not attend the school unless they see the other parent.

While in school, they claim that other children are laughing at him or her after realizing that their parents are no longer together (Smoke 123). The children between the age of 8-11 years stay in uncomfortable mood by the fact that, they have to bear the hard situations with their parents.

These children end up not saying their needs because they do not want to overburden the left parent with problems. At this point, they suffer the loss of parental love, and lack of sharing their problems and reporting their needs.

The worst age of children witnessing the parental divorce is the age between 12-18years. In several cases, out of fear and anger they sit down and start discussing the reasons behind their parents’ separation. They start acting as judges as they try to determine who the cause of the divorce was, and what will happen to the custodial mother.

Some have worried too much, about what would be the results of the divorce to an extent of committing suicide and others hating their parents for a lifetime.

The struggle that a child would go through during and after the divorce has a great effect on that child after life. At the age of 18 years, a child may start acting in a different way as the whole perception of marriage life changes to him (Sember 108).

Some parents behave aggressively towards their divorce, and this makes their children to start adopting the wrong side of the behaviors. The life after divorce is hard and calls for much care because if children will be left to suffer by an irresponsible parent, this will be a double trouble.

In conclusion, many young children have suffered globally due to parental divorce. After divorce, the custodial parent feels overburdened, and in return, she delegates most of her duties to her children. The house has many chores, and the custodial mother is still working to look for more sources of income (Brown 8).

Most of the time, the teenage children are left with many house chores to cater for. Some parents have proved to act irresponsibly after divorce making their lovely children to suffer. Children who were born out of love, their parents are not supposed to abandon them to suffer due to their divorce. These children are innocent, and have the right to a good life full of love.

Works Cited Ahrons, Constance. We are still family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents Divorce. London: HarperCollins, 2005.

Brown, Waln. Effects of Divorce on Children. London: William Gladden Foundation, 2003.

Clarke, Alison and Cornelia Brentano. Divorce: Causes and Consequences. New York: Yale University Press, 2007.

Knox, David and Caroline Schacht. Choices in ralationships: An introduction to marriage and the family. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009.

Sember, Brette. The Complete Divorce Handbook. Oxford: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc, 2009.

Smoke, Jim. Growing Through Divorce. New York: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Weiten, Wayne, Margaret Lloyd and Elizabeth Yost. Psychology Applied to Modern LIfe: Adjustment in the 21st Century. New York: Cengage Learning, 2008.