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Journal number 1 ∘ Teona Maisuradze
Challenges with the individual and group productivity

Annotation.The workplace has never been such a diverse and full of changes as it is today. The diversity of jobs in an organization creates different demands on people, which in itself leads to diversity of behavior and creates multidimensional models of job performance. Acceleration of the current processes and changes of modern technology makes workplace more diverse and busy, which has a greater impact on the productivity. Increased teleworking jobs due to the spread of COVID19 worldwide since 2020 has made it even more challenged. It has affected on the nature of both group and individual productivity. Vague present and future increased stress level of the employees. It is not new that high level of organizational stress is directly related to productivity.  When the stress level is high, both person's and a group’s ability to use full potential and complete the tasks with an efficiency – decreases. The paper is a review type, which emphasizes factors affecting individual and group performance, connects it with organizational stress and gives recommendations in the context of a modern era.

Keywords: Organizational stress, group productivity, individual productivity. 

Introduction

The diversity of jobs in an organization creates different demands on people, which in itself leads to diversity of behavior and creates multidimensional models of job performance. These models help to assess employee productivity, which is quite important for both employees and the organization as a whole. Productivity assessment allows the employer to improve and / or develop it. The level of impact of the workload on the quality of work performed is quite high, which is confirmed by numerous studies. For instance, a massive study of stress in National Health Service staff of the United Kingdom found that high workloads are a major cause of stress (Wall, et al., 1998). Achieving high productivity is directly related to employee workload when workload distribution is proportionally related to their ability to cope with stress (Shah, et al., 2011). Researchers note the correlation between too high and too low workloads with low levels of productivity. In addition, it is argued that a sudden increase or decrease in workload worsens the quality of work performed.

Literature review

Productivity is the interest of the researches since the roots of management as a science have arisen. Many different definitions are available in the literature. Let us have a look to some which include team productivity together with the individual one. Aguinis  (Aguinis, 2009)  defines productivity management as the continuous process of identifying, measuring, and developing the productivity of individuals and teams and aligning it with the strategic goals of its organization. Murphy and DeNisi  (Murphy & DeNisi, 2008) propose a model (Figure 1) that greatly visualizes the above definition. [1]

 

Figure 1 A model of performance management, Murphy and DeNisi, 2008

This model shows that individual and organizational goals determine the desired level of productivity. Organizational strategies are reduced to small, measurable goals for teams and individuals. When assessing the level of productivity, we evaluate the results of teams and individuals. Hence, it is necessary to separate the internal and external factors that affect their work performance. Kahn & Biosiere (Khan & Byosiere, 1992) provide a useful theoretical framework for studying stress in organizations (see Figure 2).

 

Figure 2 Theoretical framework for the study of stress in organizations, Kahn & Biosiere, 1992

External factors affecting employee productivity include the circumstances that affect employees in the organization. According to the Khan and Byosiere’s model, stressors in organizational life include conflicts with colleagues, managers, or clients along with physical conditions. Another important factor is the vagueness of job duties, which is presented as the role ambiguity in the given model. This refers to a situation where it is not clear to the employee what those around expect of him/her or what to expect from others. Such a situation may lead to incorrect feedback and mutual dissatisfaction between the employee and the supervisor.

Control is another factor that impacts employees’ work performance. However, it implies the degree of control perceived by a person itself. The level of control, along with flexible working hours and environmental conditions, include the individual's level of freedom to do things according to his or her own vision. Lack of support and involvement from supervisors, as well as excessive control, affect the quality of the employee's work.

Acceleration of the current processes and changes in the world of modern technology makes the people’s jobs more and more diverse and busy, which in itself has a greater impact on their productivity. Kahn and Biosiere’s model distinguishes stress moderators, which include factors that can influence, reduce, or increase stressors. These moderators can be considered as internal factors affecting employee productivity. Individual productivity is affected by the personal characteristics of the person itself, such as endurance and self-esteem. The greater the endurance of an individual, the less is effect of stressors. Moreover, warm, positive, and optimistic people are less likely to be influenced by stressors compared to agitated and anxious people. In addition to an individual’s personality traits, social environment is viewed as a moderator of stress. Support and assistance from family, friends or colleagues reduces the impact of stressors. The same can be said for good teamwork, which can also have a positive impact on the employee (Woods & West, 2010).

 However, the teamwork itself and its goals are different from those of the individual, as are the factors affecting person’s labor productivity. Teamwork is valuable for each organization. It serves performing voluminous and complex tasks that are difficult, time consuming and almost impossible to accomplish individually (or require much more time). (West & Markiewicz, 2004) argue that well-managed teamwork can bring many benefits to a company, such as flexible response to change, employee dedication and well-being, full utilization of their skills, cost reduction, increased efficiency of processes, improved productivity, elevated innovation and effective collaboration with other organizations. This issue is quite popular among researchers and as a result, we have multitude findings that confirm that well-managed teamwork has a positive impact on improving the productivity of the organization. In addition, Godard (Godard, 2001) revealed that teamwork is associated with lifting the level of satisfaction of its members, empowerment, dedication, involvement, and a sense of belonging.

The above-mentioned studies confirm a positive association between teamwork and increased productivity; although this linkage depends on the effectiveness of group work itself.

Individual and group performance: Internal factors

The internal factors affecting the team performance are are many. One of the most important is intercultural issues - Team diversity: Having members of different ages, genders, ethnicities or statuses, on the one hand, creates a significantly larger pool of information for the team, increasing the likelihood of innovation and better quality decisions. However, it can also lead to mistrust (e.g. towards relatively young members or a foreign national), lack of communication, and conflicts, which negatively affect team effectiveness. Some researchers believe that diversity can have a positive impact on team performance when members are aware of and believe in the value of that diversity. Furthermore, characteristics of team members (extroversion, conscience) is the factor which can be considered at the very early period of creating a group. There personal traits affect also on their working skills - the most important of listed factors. The presence of an overly self-confident, dominant or aggressive individual in the team may lead to the ineffectiveness of the decision made. Such individuals can suppress the ideas of other members; easily persuade weak and less self-confident members. Subsequently, all this is reflected in the decision made not as a team, but individually, and neglects the purpose of teamwork. Group based on collaboration prompts results that are more effective. Listening to members, noting and appreciation of their contribution even further increases efficiency as well as satisfaction level.

Social skills, effective communication skills, listening skills, altruism, cooperation, patience, tolerance - the introduction / application of these skills creates a sense of trust, security and mutual respect in the team. Selecting members with such skills or working on developing those skills (coaching) results in a higher likelihood of group effectiveness. Irving Janice singled out the phenomenon of "group thinking", which implies the possibility of making mistakes in the decision-making process, when members of a close-knit team prefer to reach an agreement rather than the quality of the decision made.  Members’ skills to accomplish tasks - Complex tasks in an organization often require the involvement of individuals with different technical skills, such as an IT specialist, biologist or engineer. Properly selected qualified employee is of great importance to the success of the team. 

Individual and group performance: External factors

The effectiveness of teamwork requires the creation of a suitable environment from the company. Diverse teams have great prospects for innovation and delivering beneficial results, however the organizational culture may suppress them. We consider the factors affecting teamwork on the part of the organization as external factors. The level of integration between departments should be considered in terms of organizational structure. Tensions and conflicts between departments are detrimental to teamwork when group members are from different departments. Thus, proper communications and avoiding conflicts between divisions is essential in order for the team to work effectively and therefore make quality decisions. It is necessary to consider the number of hierarchical levels as well, as the larger the number of these levels, the greater the chance that it will affect teamwork. In small or medium-sized organizations with 20 to 250 employees, if there are more than three hierarchical levels, consideration of reducing them is advised to increase the productivity of group work. Levels of status and hierarchy may create problems in terms of unequal appreciation of team members' contributions. The effectiveness of group work requires an organizational culture in which there is no bureaucracy, nepotism, lots of rules and regulations. Support, stability, trust, proper communication, engagement and challenges create an environment in which it is possible to maintain a high level of team productivity.

Another factor is the organization's concern for raising the qualification of the employee. Employee development not only affects individual productivity, but also improves the quality of work in the team to which that employee belongs. The results of a study by Budworth (Budworth, 2011) indicate that raising the qualifications of individual employees can boost collective effectiveness when such employees constitute the majority of the team. Besides, the existence of such a team reward system in the organization indicates the importance of teamwork to employees, as well as the value of individual contributions to it. [2] 

Conclusion

To sum up, In order to encourage effective work, all the internal and external factors presented in the paper should be considered while thinking about productivity of individual, team and organization as a whole. Considering this factors, communicating them with the employees can give a possibility to avoid organizational stress and reduce vagueness of the present and the future. Only this way it is possible to increase individuals’ productivity and achieve full usage of their potential personally or in a team. In order to encourage these, it should be mentioned also, that the reward factor is vital. It needs to be based on the quality of the whole team's work together with the individual one. In case of achievement of predetermined goals, the reward should be distributed equally, fairly and transparently among the team members. The understanding of all this by an individual employee leads to enhanced diligence and concentration, which ultimately is reflected in the boosted productivity of the whole team. 

References

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