Determinants of Team Performance: Mediating Role of Team Reflective Learning & Team Trust.

AuthorJha, Sumi


Teamwork can be defined as an ability to work collectively with other members to achieve a common goal (Dixon, 2017; Kramer, 1999). Unlike individual role within the organization, the role of a team is to be collectively accountable for setting and accomplishing specific goals for which it was formed (Peralta et al., 2018). While the team functions, each member of the team contributes his/her own specific skills and knowledge, meeting their individual objectives and moving the group's efforts to greater levels of performance (Kramer, 1999). The strength of the team depends on the teamwork and not on the strength of the best individual. However, every team member has certain expectations from its team which is directly related to the team performance (Schaubroeck & Yu, 2017; Helmreich & Schaefer, 2018; D'Innocenzo, Mathieu & Kukenberger, 2016).

The study examines an unconventional sports team called Govinda team. To celebrate Lord Krishna's birthday, individuals in the parts of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (Indian States), form human pyramid and reach earthen pot. Tourists from different parts of India come to Mumbai (financial capital of India) to watch the spectacular sports event Gokulashtami or dahi handi (earthen pot filled with curd). An earthen pot containing a mixture of milk, dry fruits, ghee (oil) is hung around 20-30 feet high in the air with the help of a rope. Enthusiastic young men form a human pyramid by standing one on top of the other, trying to break the pot.

Gaps in the Study

There is paucity of study on the concept of informal team's performance. Though several researchers attempted to study the variable 'team performance', the concept still remains unexplained for informal and un-organized sports teams, which are not part of formal organizational set-up and the team is temporary in nature (Valentine, 2017; Maureira, Benchekroun & Falzon, 2018). In this study we will explore the team performance of team members who are a part of an Indian festival called "Gokulashtami" (festival to celebrate birth of Lord Krishna). Researchers also found that in the informal team, trust among team members improves team cohesiveness and learning (Kukenberger et. al., 2015). Members and coaches of Govinda team also emphasized on the importance of team trust for team effectiveness. We explored the antecedent variables like team psychological safety, team composition, team efficacy (Edmondson, 1999) as independent variable and team reflective learning (Savelsbergh et al., 2009; Schippers et al., 2007) and team trust (Erdem & Ozem, 2003) as mediating variable. The outcome variable is team performance (Hackman, 1987). The variable team reflective learning, another less studied variable, is of profound importance in this team as it is important for them to reflect on questions like: why they could not complete the human pyramid, why the team could not reach the desired height, how they can learn from past mistakes to perform better in future. Therefore, the uniqueness of the present research is in the choice of sample and the choice of variables under study.

Literature Review

Increasing complexity in the modern workplace has coincided with both greater interdependence and specialization of job roles. Consequently, the use of teams and team-based organizations has become increasingly common (Schaubroeck & Yu, 2017).

Team Psychological Safety (TPS), Team Trust (TT) & Team Reflective Learning (TRL) Psychological safety builds trust among members. When we trust our members, we believe that the team member is both honest and benevolent (Larzelere & Huston, 1980; Roussin et al., 2016), as well as reliable and predictable (Johnson-George & Swap, 1982). Team members having trust on each other result in frequent interactions and interdependence increases (Penarroja et al., 2015). Govinda team human pyramid is completely based on the trust among team members. Members who form base of the pyramid provide confidence to members who climb up to form layers. During practice of pyramid formation, if any team member finds it difficult to cope or adjust, they must report to the other members of team. The reporting of problems will be open and fair if the team has high psychological safety (Roussin et al., 2016).

H1: There is significant positive relationship between team psychological safety and team trust

Reflective team learning (Gould & Taylor, 2017) is a process of seeking feedback on the way team performed certain tasks and relate them to outcome. Konradt et. al., (2015) found that team which is open to receive feedback, discusses the areas of improvement, communicate openly and anticipate probable outcome. Reflective learning will be facilitated in a psychologically safe environment which is composed of positive beliefs about how team members will respond when another member will ask questions, seek feedback, discuss a new idea or accept mistake (Sanner & Bunderson, 2015; Harms, 2015). Therefore, psychologically safe team will invest more time in reflective learning for enhanced performance.

H2: There is significant positive relationship between team psychological safety and team reflective learning

Team Efficacy (TE), Team Trust & team Reflective Learning

Researchers still explore and are interested in the studies on trust, factors leading to trust or causes or consequences of trust (Kramer 1999; De Jong et al., 2016). Based on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977; Geng et. al., 2016), team members develop awareness about their abilities and competencies. Yong & Park (2017) found that the interaction among team members would help them being aware of the teams' abilities and competencies (team efficacy). The belief that the team members are able to perform builds trust among them, which results in team collective positive outcome (De Jong, et al., 2016; Larzelere & Huston, 1980). The term team efficacy was defined by Bandura (1997:477) as "a group's belief in their conjoint capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required producing given level of attainments." Team efficacy effects what members of the team decides to perform as a collective and the degree of effort members put in to become successful. Team having higher team efficacy would have trust among team members ability (Kirkman et al, 2000) and even if the team fails, members will not leave it (Yong & Park, 2017). Therefore, higher the team members' efficacy, higher will be the standard of performance.

H3: There is significant positive relationship between team efficacy and team trust

Healey et. al. (2015) advocated that team members gain insight regarding minute details of activities and processes involved in attaining goals by reflecting and discussing openly. Govinda teams after every practice session would sit and discuss about the area of improvement and goal focus. Researchers have researched on the effect of sub-group strength (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003) and interdependence (Van den Bossche et al., 2006) on team learning. Team members develop estimate of capabilities of team members and decide on the group strength (Loeb et. al., 2016). The efficacy estimate made by team members help them in investing significant time in discussing and reflecting on goal (Healey et. al., 2015). Therefore,

H4: There is significant positive relationship between team efficacy and team reflective learning

Team Composition (TC), Team Trust & Team Reflective Learning

The composition of team helps its members being more creative, if they are from diverse background, have different qualifications and have different temperaments (Schaubroeck & Yu, 2017). Teams can also help members overcome stagnation of ideas, and benefit from complementary skill sets (Kuehn, 2017). Members from similar background may trust each other more in comparison to those with different backgrounds (Cheung et al., 2016). In the Govinda team, the members are from the similar social background. The compositional differences in the team are because of age and experience. The more team members appreciate and accept the compositional differences, riskier of their effectiveness can be managed (Kuehn, 2017). The risk may be minimized by having high trust among team members. Trust is an important variable in the work place and this has been addressed by a great deal of previous research (Kramer, 1999; De Jong et al., 2016). For instance, Kirkman et al. (2000) found that trust was a primary issue raised in open-ended comments by members of self-managing work teams. Situationally based trust (i.e. whether or not specific coworkers are trusted) is a better determinant of teamwork preferences in comparison...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT