by: David Shoemaker
Working as a team leader can be challenging. There are so many pieces that need to come together in order to create an efficient work environment. Leaders are specially prepared for certain issues in executive leadership training, but there are still many unexpected issues that arise in the workplace. 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.
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. Executive leadership training explains that the difference between satisfied and productive group members and group members who are frustrated is often the difference between groups that have well-established norms and those that are floundering.
The next issue that can arise involves something called social loafers. Social loafing is when group members get away with not doing their share of work and when other group members let them get away with it. Sometimes this occurs if a worker is likable, other times it occurs because the other group members just don’t want to speak up about the other’s performance. It’s important to speak up and 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 much less likely to occur.
Similarly to executive leadership training, in financial management courses future managers are taught the importance of honestly addressing social loafers because they can affect productivity negatively. Financial managers learn how to communicate with different levels of executives as well as communicate strategies, which is important in motivating people to meet goals. It is the financial manager’s job to deliver results, which directly depends on the success and organization of their team.
It’s necessary to have an organized and cohesive team in order to thrive. There are ways to see if you have a cohesive team on your hands. For example, you should first think back about all of the teams that you have belonged to whether it is in the organization you are in now or in previous positions that you may have held. If you think about the best group experience you have ever had, chances are that you are thinking of a highly cohesive team. A cohesive team works together, and you feel valued. You feel your contributions are valued and that people listen but 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. Financial management courses discuss how managers should deal with disagreement respectfully in order to be successful.
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. Organization, strategy, honesty, and speaking up are keys to establishing strong group norms and ensuring that diversity is a positive influence on the group.