The main characteristics of effective teams involve balancing the needs of the team and its members. First, to satisfy the need for inclusion, all team members must feel accepted. The group must welcome new members warmly, but also ensure that veteran members continue to feel valued. Second, to satisfy the need for control, all members must be allowed to participate and have their needs of control satisfied. Members need to feel influential and respected. If people want to follow but wish to vocalize ideas, then everyone should be open to ideas of the follower. The more “dominant” members of the group should ask followers for suggestions and opinions to help them feel more comfortable with the group. Autocrats should not dominate the group, for they criticize others and try to control the group with their ideas. Third, to satisfy the need for affection, the group should express fondness and the friendliness to those that crave affection. However, members need to not be too friendly around those that are overpersonal, for over-friendliness would open those particular members to the idea of procuring intimate friendships.

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Other characteristics of strong group effectiveness are within concrete roles, when everyone understands and accepts their roles and duties within a group. There also needs to be a balance in the critical roles: Innovator, Coordinator, and Team Worker. Confidence is also a characteristic found in effective groups. Everyone would benefit if every member feels confident in both their roles and themselves. They think more positively and have an eager “can do” attitude. Confidence needs to be fostered with positive communication between members, however. Those that are not confident need to be encouraged and be provided with supportive and constructive feedback.

Finally, there needs to be a proper balance between passivity and aggression. Passive members must be urged by aggressive members to speak their ideas, and aggressive members can learn from passive members at times.

How do roles, needs, and diversity affect teamwork? Provide specific examples.
Roles, needs, and diversity affect teamwork in a myriad of ways. A proper structure with members that understand their roles can positively impact groups. Let’s take a look at a class project for creating a small business: You have five students with various roles. You have the coordinator/chairperson, the head of the group who organizes the group and meetings to create the small business, the innovator, who suggests methods of raising startup funds for the business and pushes for suggestions, and the team workers, who research the business expenses and suggest methods for fundraisers.

Needs affect teamwork easily. For example, say that the same five students that are creating a business plan are experiencing a small amount of friction. The coordinator is autocratic, and he demands that the business is a Smoothie Shop. No one in the group agrees, which leads to friction and poor cohesion.

Additionally, one of the members remains rather quiet and feels uncomfortable around the coordinator, when she feels that the shop should include other beverages and foods, not just smoothies. She believes that two of her teammates, who have spoken of her behind her back, hate working with her; thus, her needs for affection and inclusion are unfulfilled. If the coordinator actually asks the entire group what they would like for a business and the team workers urge each other to make at least one suggestion, then the team would become tighter-knit.

Diversity can also affect teamwork. For example, say that there are four men and one woman working on the school project. The team is assigning duties, and the coordinator, Daniel, speaks up, “Sally, you should work on the mission statement.”

Sally replies, “Why? I want to work on the budget.”

Daniel says, “Girls aren’t really good at math. You’re better off working on the mission statement.”
That is a prime example of stereotyping. Not only does Sally feel hurt, but she feels that the coordinator is biased and doesn’t want her in the group. This causes the cohesion of the group to fall apart. If Daniel actually gives Sally budget privileges, then Sally would feel more included and less stereotyped.

What are components of group diversity?
There are several components to group diversity. The personality is the core, then there are the Internal Dimensions, which includes race, age, gender, sexual orientation, cultural dimensions, mental ability, physical ability, and ethnicity. Beyond Internal Dimensions are External Dimensions, which contain political orientation, income, geographic location, personal habits, recreational habits, religion, work experience, educational background, appearance, family status, and marital status (74).

Unfortunately, there are obstacles that can be considered components to group diversity. You have the barriers of ethnocentrism, when you believe your culture is best, stereotyping, when you enforce a generalization on a specific group of people that may be false, prejudice, when you dislike someone based on attributes the person has no control over, and discrimination, when you exclude someone because they are considered “different.”

You then have the personality-related components of group diversity. Groups that are cohesive contain members that bear the characteristics of the Big Five Personality Traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience. These Big Five Traits must balance with the opposite personality traits: introvert, intuitive, feeler, and perceiver. If there is a definite balance between these members that carry opposite traits, then the group would act as a strong, positive unit.

Finally, you have the cultural and generational dimensions as components of group diversity. Specifically, the components are: individualist-collectivist, where you prefer to act independently or interdependently, power distance, or the extent of status among members (in terms of power), masculine-feminine values, or the concern for self and success in comparison to care for members, high context-low context, or objective and direct versus non-verbal and interpersonal in communication, and monochronic-polychronic, or how people organize and value time.

  • Engleberg, Isa N., and Dianna Wynn. “Diversity in Groups.” Working in Groups: Communication Principles and Strategies. 6th ed. New York: Pearson, 2012. Print.