Meetings Matter: Effects of Team Meetings on Team and Organizational Success

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<ul><li><p> Group Research</p><p> online version of this article can be found at:</p><p>DOI: 10.1177/10464964114295992011</p><p> 2012 43: 130 originally published online 25 DecemberSmall Group ResearchSimone Kauffeld and Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock</p><p>Organizational SuccessMeetings Matter : Effects of Team Meetings on Team and</p><p>Published by:</p><p></p><p> can be found at:Small Group ResearchAdditional services and information for </p><p> Alerts: </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> What is This? </p><p>- Dec 25, 2011OnlineFirst Version of Record </p><p>- Mar 5, 2012Version of Record &gt;&gt; </p><p> at University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 4, 2012sgr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p></li><li><p>Small Group Research43(2) 130 158</p><p> The Author(s) 2012Reprints and permission:</p><p> 10.1177/1046496411429599</p><p></p><p>429599 SGR43210.1177/1046496411429599Kauffeld and Lehmann-WillenbrockSmall Group Research The Author(s) 2012</p><p>Reprints and</p><p>1Technische Universitt Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany</p><p>This article is part of a special issue on Organizational Meetings, SGR, 43(2), April 2012</p><p>Corresponding Author:Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock, Technische Universitt Braunschweig, Spielmannstrae 19, Braunschweig 38106, Germany Email:</p><p>Meetings Matter: Effects of Team Meetings on Team and Organizational Success</p><p>Simone Kauffeld1 and Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock1</p><p>Abstract</p><p>This study follows the idea that the key to understanding team meeting effectiveness lies in uncovering the microlevel interaction processes through-out the meeting. Ninety-two regular team meetings were videotaped. Inter-action data were coded and evaluated with the act4teams coding scheme and INTERACT software. Team and organizational success variables were gathered via questionnaires and telephone interviews. The results support the central function of interaction processes as posited in the traditional input-process-output model. Teams that showed more functional interac-tion, such as problem-solving interaction and action planning, were signifi-cantly more satisfied with their meetings. Better meetings were associated with higher team productivity. Moreover, constructive meeting interaction processes were related to organizational success 2.5 years after the meeting. Dysfunctional communication, such as criticizing others or complaining, showed significant negative relationships with these outcomes. These negative effects were even more pronounced than the positive effects of functional team meeting interaction. The results suggest that team meeting processes shape both team and organizational outcomes. The critical meeting behaviors identified here provide hints for group researchers and practitioners alike who aim to improve meeting success.</p><p> at University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 4, 2012sgr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p></li><li><p>Kauffeld and Lehmann-Willenbrock 131</p><p>Keywords</p><p>work groups, meetings, interaction analysis, group processes, team success</p><p>Team meetings constitute a vital situation: Team members expertise is com-bined for discussing ideas, making decisions, and initiating change processes (cf. Kauffeld, 2006a). To tap this potential, many contemporary organizations have implemented regular team meetings. For example, team meetings and group discussions are part of the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP; e.g., Liker, 2006). Ravn (2007) argues that meetings became popular as a result of the 1960s movement: Sitting in a circle, waiting for your turn to speak, and listening respectfully . . . were norms that traveled from the kin-dergarten to the boardroom (p. 4). Arguably, this development reduced (perceived) restraints to speak up at meetings, which in turn led to more time-consuming meetings (cf. Ravn, 2007). Employees and managers attend approximately 3.2 meetings per week. However, the quality of these meetings is evaluated as poor in 41.9% of the cases (Schell, 2010). Considering the amount of time that employees spend in meetings, this result is disturbing. Moreover, dissatisfaction with the meeting procedure and results affects employees attitudes and leads to a negative and pessimistic perspective on meetings (cf. Hackman, 2002). High meeting time demands have been linked to decreased well-being (Rogelberg, Leach, Warr, &amp; Burnfield, 2006) and increased fatigue and subjective work load (Luong &amp; Rogelberg, 2005). How-ever, abolishing meetings altogether is not a likely option. Teams often face difficult tasks, often without routine answers. This calls for combining sev-eral team members expertise, which in turn requires interaction (e.g., via team meetings). Group interaction means coordinating team members, tasks, and tools (Ericksen &amp; Dyer, 2004). Thus, meetings are a necessity for building successful teamwork. In light of the above mentioned findings, the following questions arise: What makes a team meeting successful? How can the potential inherent in teams (e.g., Strozniak, 2000) be triggered and used in team meetings?</p><p>One approach to this question lies in the analysis of the processes that determine more or less functional interaction during team meetings. This approach follows the traditional input-process-output model of team perfor-mance (Hackman &amp; Morris, 1975; see also Mathieu, Maynard, Rapp, &amp; Gilson, 2008). Processes in this model are those activities that mediate the relationship between input factors (e.g., team members personalities, group size, or financial incentives) and team outputs or outcomes (e.g., productivity, team member satisfaction, or meeting effectiveness). Process factors include </p><p> at University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 4, 2012sgr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p></li><li><p>132 Small Group Research 43(2)</p><p>planning and monitoring behaviors, as well as interpersonal team processes such as managing conflict management or increasing team members com-mitment (Marks, Mathieu, &amp; Zaccaro, 2001). Thus, the group interaction process is viewed as a central component for predicting team outcomes. To understand what makes a team meeting successful, it is necessary to examine the interaction process during the meeting: Which communication behaviors promote successful meetings? Which are detrimental?</p><p>To date, research on real team meeting interaction in the workplace is sparse, with a few exceptions (e.g., Kauffeld, 2006a, 2006b). This study builds on previous research concerning meeting success by examining the team interaction processes that separate successful from less successful meet-ings. Functional and dysfunctional meeting behaviors are identified via inter-action analysis of 92 real team meetings in the field. Moreover, these observational data are linked to satisfaction measures as well as objective team productivity data and organizational success. Our results offer impor-tant theoretical implications for studying team meetings and provide useful hints for practitioners who want to help teams make the most of their meeting time; for example, practitioners may use interaction analysis as a reflexivity tool for pointing out a teams strengths and weaknesses.</p><p>Observing Team Meeting InteractionDespite a growing body of research on team meetings (e.g., Leach, Rogelberg, Warr, &amp; Burnfield, 2009; Luong &amp; Rogelberg, 2005), the process compo-nents that can increase or decrease meeting effectiveness remain somewhat vague. To gain insight on the actual behaviors that can promote or inhibit meeting success, participants actual behavior during team meetings needs to be examined.</p><p>On the basis of the functional perspective of problem-solving groups (e.g., Wittenbaum et al., 2004), previous research with real work groups has identified both functional and dysfunctional interaction behaviors. Kauffeld (2006b) compared self-directed and traditional work groups and found that the former were better able to structure their discussions and create conditions for implementing their ideas in practice. Kauffeld and Meyers (2009) identi-fied complaining cycles, that is, negative complaining loops that keep teams from making the most of their meeting time. These findings have been rep-licated and extended to complaining and action cycles in team meetings (Lehmann-Willenbrock, Meyers, Kauffeld, Neininger, &amp; Henschel, 2011).</p><p>The research reported here is based on a recently developed and validated instrument for group interaction analysis, act4teams (see Kauffeld, 2006a, </p><p> at University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 4, 2012sgr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p></li><li><p>Kauffeld and Lehmann-Willenbrock 133</p><p>2006b). The act4teams coding scheme derives from an extensive review of past research on interaction, expertise, teams, and problem-solving processes. Existing classification systems for intragroup interaction such as the interac-tion process analysis (IPA, Bales, 1950), the system of multiple-level observa-tion of groups (SYMLOG; Bales, 1980), and time-by-event-by-member pattern observation (TEMPO; Futoran, Kelly, &amp; McGrath, 1989) were consid-ered as well as time-based process dimensions (Marks et al., 2001). For a detailed explanation of the theoretical underpinnings of the act4teams coding scheme, see Kauffeld (2006a). act4teams distinguishes four types of team interaction: problem-focused, procedural, socioemotional, and action-oriented communication. Table 1 shows these four types of interaction.</p><p>In accordance with input-process-output models of team interaction pro-cesses and performance outcomes (e.g., Hackman &amp; Morris, 1975), we expect functional team meeting communication to promote team meeting success and dysfunctional communication to diminish team meeting success. The act-4teams coding scheme serves as a basis for distinguishing between functional and dysfunctional team meeting communication (cf. Kauffeld, 2006a; Lehmann-Willenbrock &amp; Kauffeld, 2010; see Table 1). Problem-focused com-munication is presumed to be inherently functional. However, procedural, socioemotional, and action-oriented communication can be either functional (positive) or dysfunctional (negative). We now explain these team meeting interaction aspects and their presumed link to meeting success in more detail.</p><p>Problem-Focused CommunicationMeetings are usually meant to serve several purposes such as exchanging information, solving problems, and finding consensus or making decisions (cf. Leach et al., 2009). Problem-focused communication is directly related to understanding the issue, finding appropriate solutions, and evaluating those solutions. A successful problem-solving process is characterized by a thor-ough definition and analysis of the problem (e.g., Wittenbaum et al., 2004). If teams do not accomplish these steps, they are more likely to fail (Mitroff &amp; Featheringham, 1974). Moreover, problem-focused communication involves idea generation and finding solutions. A complex problem (cf. Funke, 2010) can lead to several possible solutions (Drner, 1997). Finally, problem-focused communication can relate to knowledge sharing, when team members develop a common representation of a problem and possible solutions to it (cf. Mesmer-Magnus &amp; DeChurch, 2009). As all of these communicative activities have been linked to positive team outcomes, we hypothesize,</p><p> at University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 4, 2012sgr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p></li><li><p>134 </p><p>Tab</p><p>le 1</p><p>. 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so</p><p>lutio</p><p>n</p><p>(con</p><p>tinue</p><p>d)</p><p> at University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 4, 2012sgr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p></li><li><p>135</p><p>Prob</p><p>lem</p><p>-focu</p><p>sed </p><p>stat</p><p>emen</p><p>tsPr</p><p>oced</p><p>ural</p><p> sta</p><p>tem</p><p>ents</p><p>Soci</p><p>oem</p><p>otio</p><p>nal s</p><p>tate</p><p>men</p><p>tsA</p><p>ctio</p><p>n-or</p><p>ient</p><p>ed s</p><p>tate</p><p>men</p><p>ts</p><p>Cro</p><p>ss-li</p><p>nkin</p><p>g a </p><p>solu</p><p>tion </p><p>Prob</p><p>lem</p><p> with</p><p> a s</p><p>olut</p><p>ion </p><p>obje</p><p>ctio</p><p>n to</p><p> a s</p><p>olut</p><p>ion </p><p>Conn</p><p>ectio</p><p>ns w</p><p>ith a</p><p> so</p><p>lutio</p><p>n e.</p><p>g., n</p><p>amin</p><p>g ad</p><p>vant</p><p>ages</p><p> of</p><p> sol</p><p>utio</p><p>ns</p><p> S t</p><p>atem</p><p>ents</p><p> abo</p><p>ut t</p><p>he </p><p>orga</p><p>niza</p><p>tion</p><p>Org</p><p>aniz</p><p>atio</p><p>nal k</p><p>now</p><p>ledg</p><p>e 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