WHY (ORGANIZATIONAL) VALUES MATTER?

WHY (ORGANIZATIONAL) VALUES MATTER?

WRITTEN BY: DAMIEN TEONG

Whilst being compare to the mission and vision of the companies, organisational values have always been downplay as a good-to-have addition to the mission and vision statements and provides an aesthetical feel to the entirety of the image of the organisation; yet interestingly enough, how could something as visual as the face of the organisation seen only as something so superficial.

After facilitating 500 (thereabouts) corporate teambuilding programmes for companies whom are either having their annual teambuilding or going through a post-merger or post-restructuring process; a troubling yet critical element of these sessions surfaces. Most of these sessions placed emphasis on creating social interactions between the team members, inducing cooperative efforts between the team members or understanding collaborative efforts between the various team mates; there is rarely, if any, efforts to reinforce organisational values. The lack of emphasis of organisational values for a teambuilding session is understandably so, because values are usually inducted during the initial phase of a partner’s/employee’s journey with the organisation.

While it is understandable for the lack of emphasis through his/her journey with the organisation, this doesn’t signify a lesser importance for the need of organisational values. One could understand organisational values as the D.N.A. of the organisation and the foundation of which the culture is built upon.

A relevant example of importance of values to the corporate culture and decision making would be Google. Google’s values are “avoid micromanagement, openness, general ethics and corporate citizenship” which breeds it’s culture of open spaces and market its employees as “Googlers” as a form of citizenship, these creates a sense of belonging for it’s ‘citizens’.  Organisational values not just shape the organisation’s environment and culture, it also plays an important “decision-making-guideline” for it’s products and decision making process, this is evident in Apple’s “value simplicity and avoid complexity” which in particular showcases its Iphone products to be elegantly simple and intuitive for even adolescence to utilize.

Organisational values also clarify the skeletal understanding of the company’s priorities; for e.g., using a particular ministry’s values: In pursuing this mission as XXXX’s officers, we remain always constant and true to our core values of HONOUR and UNITY; with their explanation of their values as extracted from their website written as follows:

HONOUR

We will always carry out our mission with honour, guided by the values of bravery, impartiality, integrity and the moral courage to do the right thing even in the face of personal danger and adversity.

UNITY

Unity is the key to our strength. While individually our departments are strong, collectively we are even stronger when united as a XXXX.  Our diversity becomes the source of strength. We respect each other as partners and the pursuit of a shared mission to keep Singapore safe and secure.

As XXXX’s officers, we will serve with determination, pride and passion, bonded always by the core values of Honour and Unity.

From the above-mentioned values, the amount of emphasis placed on seeking the individual’s commitment to the organisation speaks volume of the organisation’s priorities towards obligatory sacrifice and the team’s spirit towards a need for cohesion. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as these values originates from the Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore (MHA is the umbrella ministry overseeing Singapore’s Police Force and Civil Defence Force of Singapore).

Hence, regardless of the nature of the gathering sessions from formal settings such as Annual General Meeting to informal sessions such as teambuilding sessions, there should be at least a slight emphasis towards the core values before it becomes an estrange list of words.

Written by Damien TEONG (Facilitator)
on 3rd January 2018

MASLOW HIERARCHY OF NEEDS AND TEAMBUILDING

MASLOW HIERARCHY OF NEEDS AND TEAMBUILDING

WRITTEN BY: DAMIEN TEONG

Resonating Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory of a person and applying it in a Team.

I have always been intrigued by theories created by the founding fathers of Psychology, and among these founding fathers, Abraham Maslow is perhaps and arguably one of the more profound ones. He stressed the importance of focusing on positive qualities in people as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms”, which led him to found and create his theory best known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

His theory, namely Maslow hierarchy of needs suggests that there are 5 levels of motivation and each level has to be achieved before one can proceed to the next level. These 5 levels are namely, Physiological needs, Safety Needs, Belongingness and love needs, Esteem needs and finally self-actualization.

For the rest of this article, although profoundly abstract, this article would demonstrate how Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory can be applied into the Teambuilding framework.

First of all, the most basic level, Physiological needs refers to the physical requirements for human survival. In Maslow’s context, an individual has to first satisfy this level of needs before him or her can proceed on to the next level of needs. In the context of Teambuilding, the team must have some form of compensation or revenue for it to continue its survival.

The second level refers to safety needs; safety needs refer to absence of threats to physical safety such as war, natural disaster or violence. Safety needs also include personal security, financial security, health and well being and safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts. In the context of an organization or a team, it would refer to the trust and faith in the skill sets of the individual team members and that each team member would have the backing for one another. It could refer to competition from other competing teams and/or organizations which could threaten the source of revenue, resources or compensation. Hence the team would have to ensure that their survivability is ensured.

Next level along the hierarchy of needs would be love and belonging. Superficially, this level of needs refer to the interpersonal relationships and feelings of belongingness; that said, it is highly important for an individual to achieve love and belongingness as deficiency in this level of needs can override the need of safety as witnessed in children who cling to abusive parents resulted with negative impact to the individual’s ability to form and maintain emotionally significant relationships. In the context of a team, it would refer to the loyalty of the members towards one another and if they feel a sense of belongingness to the team and if the team’s mission and values resonate with the individual. It would be of imperial importance for the team member to resonate with the team’s mission and values or in the very least align his/her values with the organization’s/team’s.

With the previous three levels of needs satisfied, the next level of needs would be Esteem needs. Everyone has a need to feel respected which includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem refers to the need/desire to be recognized, accepted and value by others. Maslow identified that most people have the need for stable and consistent self-respect and self-esteem. Malsow also noted that there is a “lower version” and a higher version” of esteem needs. The lower version refers to the need for respect from others (such as fame, status, recognition and attention) and the higher version presents itself as a need for self respect (an example is that an individual may have a need for strength, competence mastery of a certain skill , self confidence and independence). Maslow noted that this higher version would take precedence over the lower version as the higher version depends on individual competence through experience and deprivation of these needs may lead to inferiority complex, weakness and helplessness.

Esteem needs for a team could most likely be referred to branding or brand establishment. The need for an established and recognized brand is almost similar to Malsow’s identification of the need for stable self-respect and self-esteem. While the lower version of esteem needs seem to resonate with the principles of having a strong and recognizable brand, the higher version of esteem needs would refer to the team members achieving strong competency levels in what they are doing, professionalism and a high standard in its industry.

Maslow also emphasized that while he originally thought that the needs of humans had strict guidelines, he came to believe that the hierarchies are interrelated rather than sharply separated and that esteem needs and the subsequent levels are not strictly separated; instead, the levels are closely related. Thus, in the context of an organization or a team, the subsequent levels or the basic needs of survival and safety are just as important as belongingness to a team or a mission and also as important as developing core competency levels with professionalism.

The next level, self-actualization refers to what a person’s full potential is and the realization of that potential of that potential. In other words, “What a man can be, he must be”; for this level, individuals may perceived or focus this need specifically, such as becoming an ideal chef or in other scenarios, it may be expressed in paintings, pictures or inventions. Maslow went on to mention that the individual must master the previous needs in order to understand this level of need.

In the context of a Team or an organization, the Team/Organization would strive to achieve what is their ideal form in terms of utilizing individual’s strengths and weaknesses to complement one another.

In his later years, Maslow discovers a further dimension of needs, namely self transcendence. Throughout this process, he criticize his own version on self-actualization; “the self only finds its actualization in giving itself to some higher goal outside oneself, in altruism and spirituality”. In other words, if a team were to reach this level, it would be giving itself a higher goal outside the Team itself. The Team/Organization would be looking at developing the industry, reshaping the industry, bringing or moving the industry as a whole. The Team would be concentrating its efforts into developing leaders and the direction of its vision as well.

With all these theories in mind, it begs the question of why would this Hierarchy of needs theory be useful in developing Teams or Individuals? Maslow theorize this theory in an effort to understand how do people improve themselves and why and what was their motivation; thus, if we know if an individual is on a certain level, what kind and type of motivation he or she or the Team requires to move up to the next level. Although there have been critics saying that this manner of understanding people is humanistic in nature rather than contesting on the facts that humans are perverse in nature, nonetheless, it is a useful theory in understanding and finding out how to motivate an individual or a Team.

 

HERZBERG’S TWO FACTOR THEORY AND WORKPLACE SATISFACTION

HERZBERG’S TWO FACTOR THEORY AND WORKPLACE SATISFACTION

WRITTEN BY: DAMIEN TEONG

My interest and inquisitive nature in a deeper understanding of people spurred me into studying psychology for my bachelors, and throughout my studies I have always been curious about motivational psychology and social behaviors. It wasn’t long before this curiosity led me to come across Herzberg’s two factor theory; and as all conventional and modern psychology theories related to motivation goes, it is undeniable that this theory was clearly influenced by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. And while Maslow’s theory was build on a foundation of 5 levels of needs, Herzberg went on further to add another dimension to these needs and hence giving birth to his two factor theory also known as Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory.

Among students studying psychology, it seems almost general knowledge that there are always two sets of factors that affecting any individual on any given day. External factors refer to external or things that you do not have control over, such as natural disasters, accidents or in the context of this article such as business climate and economic conditions; while internal factors refers to one’s resilience to different aptitudes among other intrinsic factors.

As mentioned earlier for his theory, Herberg divided the needs into 2 sets of factors:

– Motivators (examples of motivators are challenging work, recognition for personal or individual’s achievement, responsibilities, involvement in decision making, meaningful work and sense of importance and significance to his/her organization) are efforts that contributes to positive satisfaction but are derived directly from the intrinsic conditions and aspects of the job itself, such as acceptance, recognition, achievement, or personal growth, and

– Hygiene factors (examples of hygiene factors are status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions, good pay, paid insurance, vacations) are factors that do not give positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, and their absence will lead to dissatisfaction. Herzberg used the term “hygiene” in the sense that these are maintenance factors. These factors are primarily extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary. Interestingly and not without rationale, Herzberg often referred to hygiene factors as “KITA” factors, which is an acronym for “kick in the ass”, the process of providing incentives or threat of punishment to make someone do something.

According to Herzberg, discrepancies in the hygiene factors causes dissatisfaction among employees in a workplace. In order to remove dissatisfaction in a work environment, these hygiene discrepancies must be eliminated. Herzberg mentioned that there are several ways that this can be done but some of the most important/sure-fire ways to decrease dissatisfaction would be to pay reasonable wages, ensuring job security for the employees, and to create a positive culture in the workplace.

Through his studies and stronger empirical support (compared to Maslow’s theory), Herzberg considered the following hygiene factors from highest to lowest importance: company policy, supervision, employee’s relationship with their boss, work conditions, salary, and relationships with peers. Reducing/removing dissatisfaction is only one half of the task of the two factor theory. The other half requires increasing satisfaction in the workplace. This can be done by improving on or increasing motivating factors. Motivation factors carry an imperial importance to motivate an employee to higher performance. Herzberg went on to further elaborate and classified our actions and how and why we do them, for example, if you perform a work related action because you have to then that is classed as “movement”, but if you perform a work related action because you want to then that is classed as “motivation”. In other words, the initiative taken behind an action classifies whether an action is a movement or motivation. Herzberg thought it was important to prioritize eliminating job dissatisfaction (eliminating discrepancies in the hygiene factors) before going onto creating conditions for job satisfaction simply because the efforts behind the two would work against each other.

According to Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory there are four possible combinations:

  1. High Hygiene + High Motivation: The ideal situation where employees are highly motivated and have few complaints.
  2. High Hygiene + Low Motivation: Employees have few complaints but are not highly motivated. The job is viewed as a form of sustenance or a paycheck.
  3. Low Hygiene + High Motivation: Employees are motivated but have a lot of complaints. A situations where the job is exciting and challenging but salaries and work conditions are not up to par.
  4. Low Hygiene + Low Motivation: This is the worst situation where employees are not motivated and have many complaints.

 

Herzberg’s theory focuses on the importance of internal job factors as motivating forces for employees. He designed it to increase job enrichment for employees. Herzberg wanted to create the opportunity for employees to take part in planning, performing, and evaluating their work. He suggested a few ways of doing this:

– Removing some of the control management has over employees and increasing the accountability and responsibility they have over their work. This would lead to an increase in employee autonomy.

– Building and creating natural work units where and when it is possible. An example would be allowing employees to create a whole unit or section instead of only allowing them to create part of it.

– Providing regular and continuous feedback on productivity and job performance directly to employees instead of through supervisors.

– Encouraging employees to take on new and challenging tasks and becoming experts at a task.

Critics:

Although Maslow and Herzberg’s theories have been significant to the humanist and motivational psychology; it has been pointed out repeatedly that there are inadequacies in the need for hierarchy and motivation-hygiene theories. The most common criticism for both of these theories is that it contains relatively explicit assumption that happy and satisfied workers produce more, even though this might not be the case; and that happier workers may not be more productive.

Another alarming criticism is that these and other statistical theories are preoccupied with explaining “average/common” behaviour, despite substantial differences between individuals that may impact one’s motivational factors. For instance, what might be a motivational factor for an individual may not be another’s motivator. An example of this is that in their pursuit of status a person might take a balanced view and strive to pursue several behavioural paths in an effort to achieve a combination of personal status objectives.

 

FUNDAMENTALS OF TEAMBUILDING

FUNDAMENTALS OF TEAMBUILDING

WRITTEN BY: DAMIEN TEONG

As we identified ourselves as Adventure Learning facilitators whom organize and customize Teambuilding programmes on a regular basis, I came to realization that our learning curve here though steep, carries a very different model of learning. The current model of learning requires On-The-Job Trainees to experience the different elements of a programme before undergoing a deeper understanding of theoretical models and the rationale, needs and uses of these models; this begs the understanding of the general concepts developed by social scientists and how we should apply these concepts into our daily programmes, and if so, which of these concepts are more relevant to us.

Teambuilding is defined as the process of utilising various methods of interventions that are targeted at enhancing social relations and clarifying team members’ roles with the ultimate objective of increasing efficiency and effectiveness in achieving the organisation’s objectives, mission and vision.

Traditionally, these activities usually assign tasks to different members of the team to solve through collaborative means. Teambuilding activities are deliberately structured to surface interpersonal problems that affect functionality of the team and while facilitating this process could address current and potential issues; it also carries the possibility to resolve these issues as well.

Teambuilding, as according to Klein is commonly used for group development interventions in organizations today. Of all organizational interventions, team-development interventions were found to have the largest effects on financial measures of organizational performance.

Team building generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development; it could be employed in many organisations or non-formal organisations and is applicable to sports teams, school groups, armies, flight crews and other contexts. Although past literature has raised many issues on the conceptual definition and understanding of team building, there is now, consensus and conceptual clarity about what team building is composed of. Its four components are:

  • – Goal setting: Aligning around goals
  • – Interpersonal-relationship management: Building effective working relationships
  • – Role clarification: Reducing team members’ role ambiguity
  • – Problem solving: Finding solutions to team problems

 

Goal setting refers to a form of intervention that emphasizes on setting objectives and developing individual and team goals. Team members become involved in action planning to identify ways to achieve goals. It is designed to strengthen team member motivation to achieve team goals and objectives. By identifying specific outcome levels, teams can determine what future resources are needed. With a clear action plan and objectives, resources would be more focus on achieving the specific objectives. Individual characteristics (e.g. team member motivation) can also be altered by use of this intervention. Successful goal settings help the teams to work towards the same outcomes and make them more task and action oriented.

The second component, role clarification refers to a form of intervention that emphasizes increasing communication among team members regarding their respective roles within the team and identifying their individual roles and possible contributions. Team members improve their understanding of their own and others’ respective roles and duties within the team. It includes an understanding of the talent that exists on the team, and how best to use it, and allows members to understand why clear roles are important. The members should also realize that they are interdependent and the failure of one team member leads to the failure of the entire team.

Problem solving is a form of intervention which emphasizes identifying major task-related problems within the team. Team members become involved in action planning, implementing solutions to problems identified, and evaluating those solutions. Problem Solving, as a form of intervention is also critical as it requires the team to self-diagnose and self reliant. If teams are good in problem-solving skills, they are less likely to need external interventions to solve their problems and in the future, much more cost efficient.

Interpersonal relations management refers to the intervention which emphasizes increasing teamwork skills (i.e. communication, open sharing and mutual understanding). This intervention is to help team members develop trust in one another and increase confidence in the team. It requires the use of a facilitator or a third party to develop mutual trust and open communication between team members. As team members achieve higher levels of trust, cooperation and team characteristics can be changed as well.

In other words, a Teambuilding session must be able to address at least 1 of these components, or in part, able to subtly suggest or surface probable underlying conflicts or in the very least, suggest propensity towards resolving situations or conflicts lying within the environment of team building.

Klein, C., Diazgranados, D., Salas, E., Le, H., Burke, C. S., Lyons, R. & Goodwin, G. F. 2009, Does Team Building work?. Small Group Research

Salas, E., Diazgranados, D., Klein, C., Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Goodwin, G. F., & Halpin, S. M. (2009, 12). Does Team Training Improve Team Performance? A Meta-Analysis. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 50(6), 903-933. doi: 10.1518/001872008X375009

To lead an orchestra, you must turn your back against the audience.

People in your organisation are not sugarcane, they are your trees. You are the gardener, while your job is to facilitate their growth while they are your biggest assets.

Team building differs from team training in a number of ways, it is not necessarily formal or systematic in nature; it does not necessarily target skill-based competencies, and is generally conducted in settings that are not in the actual environment where the team conducts its day-to-day operations.

Team building core principles

Among the 4 components, it would seem that the easiest component one can manage on his/her own to the biggest extent would be arguable interpersonal relationship management. While in a team setting, strong and positive interpersonal relationship management might not surface strong return on investment, it is more than necessary for a team to run in the long run.

In Stephen M.R. Convery’s book “The Speed of Trust”, he theorizes that trust always affect two outcomes, namely speed and cost.  economics of trust in which more trust equals to less speed and less cost.

While team building doesn’t necessarily defines as building up the individual’s competency in his/her skills set to increase the productivity of the team; it does however, requires each individual to contribute their strengths (and plausibly individual’s weakness as well) to complement the rest of the team.

Trust and its importance in the process of Team building

4 components, of which, the most xxxxx is : Interpersonal – relationship management

There are 2 types of trust in a work place: Namely, trust in your competency and trust in your character. Cost of trust is xxxxx, and interpersonal relationship is built on this trust.
Prove that social emotional learning will help interpersonal –relationship management.

These team-development interventions have proven to have positive effects on cognitive and effective processes and performance team outcomes.

While team building doesn’t necessarily defines as building up the individual’s competency in his/her skills set to increase the productivity of the team; it does however, requires each individual to contribute their strengths (and plausibly individual’s weakness as well) to complement the rest of the team. More importantly, it requires each individual to be socially aware of their personal and team mates’ strengths and weakness. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org), Social and Emotional Learning core competencies are made up of five interrelated sets of cognitive and behavioral competencies; namely, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

Self awareness refers to the ability to recognize and detect one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behaviour while accurately assessing his/her strengths and limitations and possessing a well grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-management refers to the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations; including managing one’s stress, impulses and motivation while working towards his/her goal.

Social Awareness refers to the ability to empathise with other’s perspective while understanding the social and ethical norms of behaviours of other cultures.

Relationship skills refer to the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals including a strong ability to communicate clearly and negotiate constructively and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible decision making refers to the ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behaviour and social interactions under the consideration of ethical standards, societal norms, well-being of others and consequences.

Increasing the key domains of Social and emotional skills would increase interpersonal-relationship management.

There are five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioural competencies in SEL and they are clustered as five key domains of social and emotional skills.

Key Domains of Social and Emotional Skills

Description

Self Awareness

Identifying and recognising emotions

Accurate self-perception

Recognising strengths, needs and values

Self-efficacy

Spirituality

Social Awareness

Perspective taking

Empathy

Appreciating diversity

Respect for others

Self Management

Impulse control and stress management

Self-motivation and discipline

Goal setting and organisational skills

Relationship Management

Communication, social engagement and building relationships

Working cooperatively

Negotiation, refusal and conflict management

Seeking and providing help

Responsible Decision Making

Problem identification and situation analysis

Problem solving

Evaluation and reflection

Personal, moral and ethical responsibility

 

Team building was originally a group process intervention aimed at improving interpersonal relations and social interactions. Over time, this activity has developed to address best practices for achieving results, meeting goals and accomplishing tasks. It refers to the activities in which teams can engage to change their context, composition or team competencies to improve performance. It is distinct from team training, which is also a team-development intervention that is designed to improve team functioning and effectiveness.

Team building differs from team training in a number of ways. Team building is not necessarily formal or systematic in nature, does not target skill-based competencies, and is typically done in settings that are not in the actual environment where the team works on the task.

Team building generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development, but can also be applied to sports teams, school groups, armies, flight crews and other contexts. There have been many issues in past literature about the conceptual definition of team building. However, now there is consensus and conceptual clarity about what team building constitutes. Its four components are:

  • – Goal setting: Aligning around goals
  • – Interpersonal-relationship management: Building effective working relationships
  • – Role clarification: Reducing team members’ role ambiguity
  • – Problem solving: Finding solutions to team problems

 

These team-development interventions have proven to have positive effects on cognitive and effective processes and performance team outcomes. Team building has seen the strongest effect on effective and process outcomes. According to Klein et al. (2009), team building is one of the most widely used group development interventions in organizations today. Of all organizational interventions, team-development interventions were found to have the largest effects on financial measures of organizational performance.Recent meta-analyses show that team development activities, including team building and team training, improve both a team’s objective performance and supervisory subjective ratings on performance.

 

The four approaches

The following are a summary of the four approaches as described by Salas and his team:

– Goal setting: this intervention emphasizes setting objectives and developing individual and team goals. Team members become involved in action planning to identify ways to achieve goals. It is designed to strengthen team member motivation to achieve team goals and objectives. By identifying specific outcome levels, teams can determine what future resources are needed. Individual characteristics (e.g. team member motivation) can also be altered by use of this intervention. Many organizations insist on teams negotiating a team charter between the team and responsible managers (and union leaders) to empower the team to accomplish things on behalf of the organization. Successful goal settings help the teams to work towards the same outcomes and make them more task and action oriented.

– Role clarification: this intervention emphasizes increasing communication among team members regarding their respective roles within the team. Team members improve their understanding of their own and others’ respective roles and duties within the team. This intervention defines the team as comprising a set of overlapping roles. These overlapping roles are characterized as the behaviors that are expected of each individual team member. It can be used to improve team and individual characteristics (i.e. by reducing role ambiguity) and work structure by negotiating, defining, and adjusting team member roles. It includes an understanding of the talent that exists on the team, and how best to use it, and allows members to understand why clear roles are important. The members should also realize that they are interdependent and the failure of one team member leads to the failure of the entire team.

– Problem solving: this intervention emphasizes identifying major task-related problems within the team. Team members become involved in action planning, implementing solutions to problems identified, and evaluating those solutions. They practice setting goals, developing interpersonal relations, clarifying team roles, and working to improve organizational characteristics through problem-solving tasks. This can have the added benefit of enhancing critical-thinking skills. If teams are good in problem-solving skills, they are less likely to need external interventions to solve their problems.

– Interpersonal relations management: this intervention emphasizes increasing teamwork skills (i.e. mutual supportiveness, communication and sharing of feelings). Team members develop trust in one another and confidence in the team. This is based on the assumption that teams with fewer interpersonal conflicts function more effectively than teams with greater numbers of interpersonal conflicts. It requires the use of a facilitator to develop mutual trust and open communication between team members. As team members achieve higher levels of trust, cooperation and team characteristics can be changed as well.

Written by Damien TEONG (Facilitator)