Working as a team leader can be challenging. There are so many pieces that must come together to create an efficient work environment. Leaders can be better prepared for certain issues through effective leadership and management training, but there are still many unexpected issues that arise. For example, “social loafing” and “group norms” are challenges that need to be handled carefully. In order to learn how to effectively deal with these problems, it’s important to first understand what they are.
ESTABLISHING GROUP NORMS
Group norms are guidelines or operating principles that everyone understands and agrees upon. Groups benefit from having strong norms. However, norms don’t just evolve. Especially when groups are made up of diverse individuals, it’s important that they don’t take norms for granted. Effective leadership training will demonstrate that the difference between satisfied and productive group members and those who are frustrated is often the difference between groups that have well-established norms and those that are floundering.
Social loafing occurs when group members get away with not doing their share of work and other group members let them get away with it. Sometimes this occurs if a worker is likable or the other group members don’t want to speak up about another’s performance. It’s important to be proactive. Right from the beginning, group members need to know what will happen to social loafers. If the group has specific operating principles in place, and everyone understands the consequences, social loafing is less likely to occur.
ORGANIZED & COHESIVE TEAM
Both leaders and group members require an organized and cohesive team in order to thrive. If you think about the best group experiences you have had, chances are that you are thinking of a highly cohesive team. A cohesive team works together, and group members feel appreciated. You feel your contributions are valued and that people listen, even when they may not necessarily agree. In fact, one of the hallmarks of a cohesive team is that members feel comfortable disagreeing with one another, but do so respectfully.
Overall, leaders can successfully manage their teams by recognizing social loafing
before it negatively affects the rest of the group members, harming morale and the
team’s performance. Also, managers can be effective by communicating honestly with all team members, establishing group norms, and holding group members accountable. Organization, strategy, honesty and speaking up are keys to establishing strong group norms and ensuring that diversity is a positive influence on the group.
—For more resources on planning and managing corporate training, go to the Website www.ecornell.com/whitepapers.