Globalization, increasingly complex tasks and the flattening of organizational structures have contributed to an increase in the use of work teams in today’s organizations (Northouse, 2016, p. 363). Modern companies rely on teams to increase productivity, perform critical tasks and achieve organizational goals. Cooperation and common goals are vital to team success. New technologies continue to expand the opportunities for dynamic “virtual” team meetings available across a multitude of platforms (Northouse, 2016, p. 363). What constitutes a team is constantly in flux as organizations are faced with many new forms of collaboration (Wageman, Gardner, & Mortenson, 2012). The gender composition of teams has been changing over the past few decades. Hoogendoorn, Oosterbeek, & Praag (2013) notes that gender diversity is a specific type of diversity that may affect performance.
A flatter organizational structure allows for faster response times, especially for teams that rely heavily on technology to operate (Porter & Beyerlein, 2000). Mankin, Cohen, & Bikson (1996) designate these newer teams as team-based and technology enabled. Teams that I have been a part of benefitted greatly from technology. Texting and instant messaging applications like Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger offered a great convenience and flexibility of communication. The days of calling everyone individually to relay information to team members is now usually reserved for specific situations or types of information. Video conferencing (VC) allows for an experience between teams over great distances that is almost like everyone is in the same room. I’ve never needed to use VC for individual teams, mainly because we have generally been in the same location. However, being a part of military video conferences between the United States and Afghanistan showed me how relevant they could be when it’s not practical or possible for everyone to be in the same locale.
Many jobs that were once limited or not open to women are now heavily influenced by women – i.e. military combat roles. The addition of different perspectives and experiences tend to strengthen the performance of work teams. Hoogendoorn et al. (2013) provide empirical evidence from a field experiment that monitored the performance of entrepreneurship teams of varying gender percentages over the course of one school year. The results of the experiment showed that sales increased for teams with a share of women, while most of the top performing teams had a nearly equal gender mix. Again, I can provide a maxim based on my experiences. I have been a part of many teams over the years. Some were predominantly or all male. One team – a 12-piece jazz ensemble – was usually comprised of only male musicians. For many performances, we had a female vocalist join us. In addition to her vocal talents expanding our repertoire, she provided us with a different perspective on how to engage with audiences – making our group more relatable.
Some organizational goals are appropriately accomplished by individuals. However, more often now than ever before, work teams propel organizations to new levels of productivity, achievement and service to communities.
Hoogendoorn, S., Oosterbeek, H., & van Praag, M. (2013). The impact of gender diversity on the performance of business teams: Evidence from a field experiment. Management Science, 59(7), 1514-1528. Retrieved July 12, 2017 from http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1287/mnsc.1120.1674
Mankin, D., Cohen, S. G., & Bikson, T. K. (1996). Teams and technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Morgeson.
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Porter, G., & Beyerlein, M. (2000). Historic roots of team theory and practice. In M. M. Beyerlein (Ed.), Work teams: Past, present and future (pp. 3–24). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer.
Wageman, R., Gardner, H., & Mortensen, M. (2012). The changing ecology of teams: New directions for teams research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 301– 315.