The last two decades has witnessed a change in work practices with most organizations relying on teams to complete tasks. In addition, theory and research on team effectiveness has also increased. Effective teams are social in nature with team members having high task interdependency and shared, common values (Salas, Cooke & Rosen, 2008). One of the challenges for organizations is to ensure that team members are confident in their ability to perform tasks as an interdependent unit. This CQ Dossier focuses on team-efficacy and how organizations can influence and build team-efficacy to ensure that teams are effective in their work.
Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief that they have the ability to perform well in a particular domain (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy theory focuses on the individual and the majority of research has gathered evidence for the effectiveness of self-efficacy on individual performance (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998). Teams focus on interactive tasks so work interdependently towards a common goal making it difficult to distinguish individual acts from team actions.
To distinguish between individual and team efficacy, Bandura (1997) proposes that collective-efficacy influences
the tasks that employees perform as a team,
the effort they make in meeting team goals, and
their motivation and persistence when group efforts fail to produce results.
The change from individual to team level occurs when individuals change their perspective from themselves to the team level in evaluating team-efficacy. The agreement among all team members raises efficacy to the team level so team-efficacy constitutes the joint beliefs of team members in their team’s capacity to mobilize team effort to perform well as a team (Gibson, 2003).
How to measure team-efficacy?
Because team efficacy is distinct from individual efficacy, it is important to measure efficacy at the team level. Previous measurement of team-efficacy has been conducted through aggregating perceptions of individual self-efficacy (Gist, 1987). However, this method for measuring team-efficacy is not sufficient because it doesn’t capture how team members interact when they perform a task. A more precise measure of team-efficacy is determining the average of individual perceptions of team-efficacy, while taking into consideration within-team homogeneity with respect to team members perceptions of collective efficacy (Saavedra, Early & Van Dyne, 1993).
A study examining the relationship between team-efficacy and team performance utilized this method through asking team members to rate their team’s ability to perform the task at different levels (Katz-Navon & Erez, 2005). An example item was: “Do you think your team can evaluate 12 (14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26) employees in 10 minutes? and each team members rated their level of confidence, regarding that specific level, on a scale from 1 (not confident at all) to 10 (very confident).
How to influence and build team-efficacy?
The majority of research on how to influence efficacy has been conducted at the individual level. It is only recently that researchers have examined factors that influence team-efficacy (Tasa, Taggar & Seijts, 2007).
Teamwork behavior raises team-efficacy
Tasa and colleagues (2007) developed a multi-level model of team-efficacy and, among the findings, discovered that teamwork behavior raised team-efficacy. These teamwork behaviors included interpersonal and self-management knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) relevant to working in a team and were based on the typology developed by Stevens and Campion (1994). The interpersonal team skills include
These findings suggest that if organizations wish to boost team-efficacy, it is worthwhile to build strong teams who have gained effective team behavior skills.
Verbal self-guidance training positively impacts team-efficacy
Research has also examined whether training interventions can boost team-efficacy. In one study among 42 teams of undergraduate students, verbal self-guidance training had a positive effect on team-efficacy and subsequent team performance (Brown, 2003). Verbal self-guidance (VSG) training is based on the principle that positive self-talk can boost confidence levels and performance (Brown, 2003); so, Verbal self-guidance is a source of verbal persuasion and is a form of self-regulation (Brown, 2003).
Team-efficacy and team effectiveness
Most reviews on efficacy and work performance have examined the relationship at the individual level. However, in their study of self-managing students, Tasa and colleagues found that teamwork behavior was related to team-efficacy, which was related to team performance (Tasa et al., 2007). In the verbal self-guidance training intervention study, team-efficacy mediated the relationship between VSG training and team performance.
In addition, team-efficacy was positive related to team performance and the use of verbal guidance skills (Brown, 2003). Overall, the research on team efficacy and performance is promising yet more needs to be done to provide strong evidence for the linkage.
Leadership interventions to increase team-efficacy
Previous research has shown that training can increase team-efficacy. In the case of the self-guidance training, team-efficacy was related to performance following training. Although self-guidance implies that managers are not needed to boost team-efficacy, this is not necessarily the case. As Brown (2003) points out, external leaders can help teams to monitor their self-statements to focus on the positive rather than negative aspects of the team tasks.
Leadership style is also important in increasing team-efficacy. A study by Arnold and colleagues (Arnold, Barling & Kelloway, 2001) found that transformational leadership was positively related to-team efficacy, and also to trust and commitment. Organizations can train managers to be transformational in their leadership style in order to increase team-efficacy.
Team-efficacy is an important management tool
This CQ Dossier demonstrates that team-efficacy is an important organizational phenomenon and is distinct from individual-level self-efficacy. Research has demonstrated that it is a valid and reliable construct that can be measured. In addition, organizations can boost team-efficacy through training and development interventions.
Critical appraisal of team-efficacy: Solidity Level 3
Based on the empirical evidence for the relationship between team-efficacy and team performance, this dossier is assigned a Level 3 rating, (Based on a 1- 5 measurement scale). A level 3 is the mid-point rating score for a dossier based on the evidence provided on the efficacy of the relationship between team-efficacy and team performance. To date, the research on team-efficacy and performance has been solid yet more research is required to solidify the positive relationship. Most of the research has been conducted on the individual level.
Team-efficacy influences the tasks that employees perform as a team
Team-efficacy constitutes the joint beliefs of team members in their team’s capacity to mobilize team effort
If organizations wish to boost team-efficacy, they must build strong teams who have gained effective team behavior skills
Team-efficacy is positively related to team performance
Leadership style is important in boosting team-efficacy
Management skills newsletter
Join our newsletter for exclusive management tips, training offers and videos!
References and further readings
Arnold, K. A., Barling, J., & Kelloway, K. (2001). Transformational leadership or the iron cage: which predicts trust, commitment and team efficacy? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 22, 7, 315-320.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman
Brown, T. C. (2003). The Effect of Verbal Self-Guidance Training on Collective Efficacy and Team Performance. Personnel Psychology, 4, 935.
Gibson, B. C. (2003). The efficacy advantage: Factors related to the formation of group efficacy. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 2153-2186.
Katz-Navon, T., & Erez, M. (2005). When collective and self-efficacy affect team performance: The role of task interdependence, Small Group Research, 36, 4, 437-465.
Salas, E., Cooke, N. J, & Rosen, M. A. (2008). On teams, teamwork, and team performance: Discoveries and Developments. Human Factors, 50, 3, 540-547.
Stajkovic, A. D., & Luthans, F. (1998). Self-efficacy and work-related performance: A meta- analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 24, 240-261
Stevens, M. J., & Campion, M. A. (1994). The knowledge, skill, and ability requirements for teamwork: Implications for human resource management. Journal of Management, 20, 503–530.
Tasa, K., Taggar, S., & Seijts, G. H. (2007). The development of collective efficacy in teams: A multilevel and longitudinal perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1, 17–27.
Annette was born in England and now lives in the United States. She has a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has taught at several institutions. Annette has published in several journals, including Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Human Resource Development Quarterly, and Organizational Research Methods. She worked in the public and private sector for many years, primarily as a management trainer.