Ever wondered what you can do to improve your teamwork? How to work better as a group and make your team more productive? You keep reading boring articles with useless tips, and still can't boost your performance? Well, you have just come to the right place, because our tips below are scientifically proven! Social psychology is the scientific study of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It is directly related to the business world, because what is business if not groups of people trying to influence other people's thoughts, feelings and behaviors? Here are some social psychology theories that will help you understand your team's work better, so you can make exactly the changes you need to build the most productive and creative team ever!
Do We Work Better Alone or With Others?
We have all been in a situation where we do a task when someone is watching, and all of a sudden we screw up. The mere presence of someone behind us makes us nervous and we can't do our thing properly. However, we also know that sometimes our work gets better when we do it in the company of other people. So how can we know what's better? Should we work in teams or give every employee a private cubicle? The answer is - it depends. A study on social facilitation found that the presence of an audience while performing a task is stimulating, and this stimulation enhances the emission of dominant responses and inhibits the emission of subordinate responses. When we're doing an easy or familiar task in front of people, the dominant response is correct and our performance improves. However, when we're doing a new or difficult task, the dominant response is incorrect and our performance is harmed.
So what does it mean and what should we do? Everyday tasks can, and should, be done in teams! These are simple and well-known assignments that everyone in your team can do with his eyes closed. Your work will be done faster and better. But when you're given an unusual or complicated task, the work should be done separately.
How to Prevent Social Loafing?
Social loafing is a decrease in motivation and effort of an individual in group projects. It happens for many reasons, like diffusion of responsibility ("I'm not the only one responsible for the outcome"), the free-rider effect ("I'm not that important, I can give less and gain more"), and the sucker aversion effect ("I bet others are not devoted to this task, so why should I?"). So yes, we usually act lazy when we're doing something as a team, when no one can see exactly what we're doing as individuals. But - there are some solutions, so don't give up yet! Group work can be beneficial to your company and there are factors that reduce the tendency for social loafing. Here are some:
- Make it possible to know how much every individual invested in a group project. Creating small teams can help you do that, so you can track each member closely and give them the appreciation they deserve.
- Let every team member believe that everyone's contribution is important and necessary for success and that others are doing the best they can. You can do that by having social events once in a while that will make your team close and united.
- Create interesting and challenging tasks for your team to make them feel like they are not really working, but doing something fun and intriguing.
Why Do We Make More Risky Decisions as a Group?
Group decisions have some great benefits - we are more committed to them, and odds predictions are probably more accurate. But they definitely have one big problem - group polarization. Decisions made in groups tend to be more extreme than the decisions of individuals, and even just a discussion exacerbates the initial tendency of most group members. When we're having a group discussion, two forces affect us - persuasive argument and social comparison.
- Persuasive argument - We are exposed to new arguments that we haven't thought of, and the very exposure creates extremism of opinions.
- Social comparison - We're always trying to be "more" than others, in every aspect. When others in our team express similar views to ours, we take a more extreme position to differentiate ourselves.
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The solution is simple - heterogeneity, heterogeneity, heterogeneity! Diversity has its own pluses, but it can also really help with group polarization. People who are different than us have distinct opinions and a fresh point of view, and they can "keep us away" from group extremism. Another great solution that can assist you to avoid group polarization is using software that can put your decisions in perspective. For example, deepTalk has a smart meeting assistant that will transcribe your team meetings and provide you insights. That can make order in your opinions so you can take a look at your conversations after they end and pinpoint the exact moments you think you have gone too far. After you've read these awesome tips, I'm sure you can use psychology in the best way to make your team more productive! Good luck :)