Researching Workgroup Productivity within Restaurants
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After years of restaurant management experience and analysis, I can tell you that restaurants rely heavily upon a group of individuals which effectually work together to accomplish the organizational objectives; therefore, structured workgroup dynamics are necessary for optimal group productivity and cohesiveness. Restaurant workgroups need leadership which imposes the proper utilization of apposite tools and strategy, in collaboration with capable and effective conflict resolution. It is important that group leaders remove any obstacles which may obstruct workgroup productivity and/or hinder the group’s performance and overall success. Restaurant workgroups face an abundant array of issues: role and intergroup conflict, communication problems, and at times the cohesiveness may decline among its diverse members- all of which can hinder group productivity. When there is influential direction from proficient leadership, correlated with solid workgroup dynamics, the restaurant workgroup is better equipped to overcome any barriers that may hinder its cohesiveness, and overall, can function more productively.
Group Behavior in Organizations, by Susan Losh (2011), explains that “Group dynamics refers to the study of the structure, properties, and processes that exist in collectivities in which members interact to achieve common and interdependent goals.” In researching a restaurant, the fundamental aspect you must first consider, is the workgroup dynamics within. Restaurants are almost always occupied as a group of individuals working together within it, and it depends upon this foundational group support system to carry out the organizational objectives successfully. Observing the workgroup dynamics employed within the restaurant, examines what features most effectively warrant optimal productivity in carrying out these organizational tasks. In researching the productivity of a restaurant workgroup, it is important to analyze what concerns the workgroup faces, as well as how they handle and overcome these issues, and further prevent such problems from hindering their productively. It is important that the workgroup is aligned with the proper tools, and that they have these resources readily available to utilize, should obstacles arise.
One of the most prevalent trepidations of a restaurant’s workgroup, is the occurrence of intergroup and role conflict which may impede the productivity of its members if not addressed and resolved properly. According to Gary Krebs (2011), author of Communication in Organizations, “Group roles are patterns of communication that group members develop over time with other members. These communication patterns serve different functions for groups and become expectations for group member behavior.” Role conflict within the workgroup usually deals with problems concerning one’s role within the group, or animosity in perception towards other roles. Barbara Bowes (2012), author of Re: Structure, Make sure Organizational Roles are Clear, stresses that, “If an employee’s role is not clear, then individuals are left to make assumptions about their responsibilities… Overall, interpersonal conflicts will arise, important work tasks can be neglected and conflicts will occur over role, responsibility and authority.” “Conflict is an unavoidable part of interpersonal relations and organizational life because each relational partner has different goals, ideas, and strategies for addressing organizational issues” (Krebs 2011).
Conflict will naturally arise among a group of diverse individuals interacting, so rather than letting it negatively impact the workgroup, instead, encourage any conflict to remain healthy- you can do this by promoting that conflict remains positive and produces beneficial results . “There are in fact ways of fostering cooperation to offset the potential hazards of conflict creation”, (Losh 2011). Intergroup and role conflict, if moderately reserved, and effectively interceded, can be a positive learning experience which fosters productivity within the group. A restaurant workgroup almost always appoints leadership, known as management, to oversee the workgroup; this leader must be able to mediate any conflict among the group’s diverse members to successful resolution. As a leader of a restaurant workgroup, you need to be able to guide the overall behavior of the workgroup in the right direction during conflict. In order to effectively handle conflict, the manager must encompass leadership skills which include quality conflict resolution techniques; this will help to ensure that conflict does not hinder workgroup productivity.
Whether or not conflict hinders group productivity greatly depends upon how the leader of the group handles conflict. Cooperation starts with the leader of a restaurant workgroup; he/she must be the exemplar of cooperation and foster an environment which warrants compromise and negotiation. The leader must also keep an open mind which entitles everyone to their own views, and everyone’s observations must be equally considered and respected by the leader, as well as by all the members of the workgroup. Shari Caudron (2000), author of Keeping Team Conflict Alive, explains that conflict can remain positive if the work environment allows healthy conflict to flourish; “Respect individuals and individual differences. Before you can do anything to help employees develop conflict management skills, the organization must create the kind of culture that supports diversity of all kinds, including diversity of thought and opinion”, (Caudron 2000). Conflict, is “an area where leadership is necessary; developing a shared vision is critical and often falls to the leader to provide”, (Losh 2011).
The workgroup of a restaurant is better equipped for compliance, when the work environment allows diversity, yet instills a common purpose among all. When conflict does occur, it helps when the leader is able to redirect the emphasis on what group members (or groups) have in common, as well as redefining the terms of conflict, as this will help to move any disagreements towards mediation and negotiation. Instead of hindering the group’s cohesiveness, conflict can be a positive learning experience, as it can force a group to clarify and prioritize its goals, foster the development of skills, and teach its members to learn how to negotiate and to compromise. (Losh 2011). In researching restaurant workgroups, another important aspect that must be examined within the group, is its communication. The communication within the workgroup is a vital aspect and contribution to effective workgroup dynamics; how the members of the group communicate, as well as what communication issues affect the workgroup productivity should be examined. Communication is relied heavily upon to carry out organizational objectives productively among the restaurant workgroup members, therefore the workgroup must be able to communicate well with each other, and be able to overcome any barriers in the way of communicating effectively.
After years of previous restaurant management experience, I know firsthand how significant communication is to the organization; a leader of a restaurant workgroup must be able to clearly direct his/her employees with effectual communication, and the members must be able to communicate effectively with each other in order to function productively. Krebs (2011) defines intrapersonal communication as, “communication that occurs when communicators interact with themselves to make sense of organizational demand.” In order for the employees to make sense of their organizational demands, these demands must be clearly outlined through effective communication. Restaurant workgroups rely upon effective communication to carry out almost all of its organizational objectives, therefore, any problems in communication must be resolved. If communication is unclear, and the issues of communication are not addressed, it may result in the decline of the workgroup’s productivity.
According to Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance, by author Zia Ahmed (2010), “Research shows that organizational performance markedly improves when communication is permitted to flow uninterrupted and employees are empowered, provided incentives, and given the necessary resources to perform at an optimal level.” Within the restaurant workgroup, communication must be an open two-way street; not only is it important that the manager clearly communicates to his/her employees, but the employees must also feel comfortable confiding and communicating with their leader, and amongst the workgroup members. Communication in the Conditions of Diversity, by author Marta Rawluszko (2009), explains that “Communication is one of the main dimensions in functioning of each organization. Being the key area of human relationships development, communication significantly influences effectiveness of any team or enterprise.”
Communication can be utilized as a valuable asset to achieving workgroup productivity within the restaurant, however, if the communication within the workgroup is nonfunctioning, chances are that the members will not function productivity either. Communication is heavily relied upon within a restaurant workgroup in order to maintain its cohesiveness. The kind of communication patterns that are used can affect group decision making, problem solving, and satisfaction as well as member influence (Losh 2011). Communication can be utilized as a valuable asset in fostering the workgroup productivity within the restaurant. Communication can be utilized to help its members achieve productivity within the restaurant through company-wide communicated training, which will help to clearly articulate task orientation, and this provides an outlet to clearly define and discuss organizational objectives. Also, utilization of company-wide meetings allows the workgroup to communicate together as a whole and discuss any issues which might hinder productivity.
Just like workgroup conflict can be either positive or negative in fostering productivity, communication must also be employed effectively to warrant optimal group productivity. Another important facet which contributes to the restaurant workgroup’s productivity is its cohesiveness; it is important to examine which factors lead to cohesiveness, as well as which attributes inhibit cohesion among its members. Cohesiveness can be described from different perspectives, but overall, it relates to the togetherness of the group members. Turhan Kaymak (2011), author of Group Cohesion and Performance: A Search for Antecedents, explains that one can define group cohesion as being the level of commitment members feel toward the group and the group’s tasks. This phenomenon is usually examined from the perspective of how it adds to, or detracts from, group and organizational performance and productivity. When a restaurant workgroup is cohesive, there is an overall feeling of willingness and motivation among its members to work together in coordinating group efforts more productively. There are several factors that must be considered in order for cohesion to exist within a workgroup.
First, there must be good communication within the group to achieve cohesion; communication is a prerequisite to creating and maintaining cohesion. In order for a restaurant workgroup to achieve cohesion, there must be effective communication, as an insufficiency in communication will only deter cohesiveness. Another element to obtaining restaurant workgroup cohesion is developing a sense of unity; this can be accomplished through developing a shared sense of common purpose among the group. A restaurant workgroup is better equipped to function as a cohesive team, if they share a common goal and collectively work towards that goal together. Finally, the restaurant workgroup must have a high level of commitment and overall perception that what they do together as a team is more effective than their individual contributions alone. Cohesion is more likely to exist when there is effective team building and company-wide training which promotes togetherness and instills a common purpose among all in achieving organizational objectives. Without a shared purpose or a common goal for the restaurant workgroup to work together towards achieving, the members of the group are more likely to separate into individuals working towards their own personal intentions instead.
Teams that are not committed to each other or to a common goal, will less likely experience cohesion and group productivity. However, if there is a clearly defined goal instilled within the group members, one in which they all understand, this will help to inspire the team to commit to a common cause. In researching effective restaurant workgroup cohesiveness in obtaining group productivity, you must also take into consideration the drawbacks to cohesion which can hinder workgroup productivity. For example, excessive cohesiveness can be an adversity to obtaining workgroup productivity; when too much cohesion exists, groups are more prone to groupthink. Groupthink “can be described as a process in which strong group cohesion can lead to a cycle of bad decision making” (Losh 2011). Bad decisions can be made among workgroup members when they are only exposed to limited sources, or one-sided information. With such strong in-group cohesion, opposition to poor decisions from within may be effectively stifled” (Losh 2011).
It is important for all group members to be conscious of this pitfall to cohesion, and to take the precautions necessary to prevent and overcome such behavior which could hinder positive workgroup cohesion and productivity. Just because a group is cohesive and closely interconnected, does not mean it is promoting positive outcomes. Many factors must be considered in determining the value of the group and its potential for becoming a productive and cohesive workgroup. Strong leadership skills are also heavily relied upon for positive cohesion among the workgroup; the leader must be able to foster unity and cohesiveness among team members as a whole. Cohesion among the restaurant workgroup means producing a work environment that is conducive to productive work.
After years of first-hand management experience working within a restaurant workgroup, I can tell you that restaurants rely heavily upon a group of individuals which effectually work together to accomplish the organizational objectives; therefore, structured workgroup dynamics are necessary for optimal group productivity and cohesiveness. Restaurant workgroups must be capable of resolving any obstacles which may obstruct workgroup productivity. Restaurant workgroups face an abundant array of issues: role and intergroup conflict, communication problems, and at times the cohesiveness may decline among its diverse members- all of which can hinder group productivity. When there is influential direction from proficient leadership, correlated with solid workgroup dynamics, the restaurant workgroup is better equipped to overcome any barriers that may hinder its cohesiveness, and overall, can function more productively.
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