Friday, March 27, 2009

Teams share knowledge that is known !

While many reckon the benefits of working in teams, a new research has shown that people working in groups do share information, but they only discuss things they already know.

The analysis of 22 years of applied psychological research has also shown that "talkier" teams are less effective.

"We're seeing a widespread trend toward a more virtual and globalized world and this is transforming the way people in the workplace communicate," said the article's lead author, Jessica Mesmer-Magnus, PhD, of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

She added: "We need to better understand how teams will perform in this new setting and, to do that, we need to look at how they've worked in the past."

For the study, Mesmer-Magnus and Leslie DeChurch, PhD, an organizational psychologist at the University of Central Florida, analysed research on information sharing in the workplace, consisting of studies of approximately 4,800 groups and more than 17,000 people.

The analysis revealed that teams, which spent time sharing new information performed better overall in their tasks.

But they also found that most teams spent their time discussing information that was already known by the rest of the group.

Groups whose members talked more openly during meetings were on better terms with one another but that did not necessarily mean they performed better.

"What this suggests is that teams who talk more amongst themselves aren't necessarily sharing useful information. Therefore, they're not actually coming to a better result. Rather, it's more important what the teams are talking about, than how much they are talking," said Mesmer-Magnus.

Also, the researchers discovered that teams communicate better when they engage in tasks where they are instructed to come up with a correct, or best, answer rather than a consensual solution.

"This highlights the conundrum surrounding team tasks. There's a separation in what teams actually do and what they should do in order to be effective," said Mesmer-Magnus.

The findings are reported in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology. (ANI)

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