360-degree feedback

a process through which feedback from an employee's subordinates, colleagues, and supervisor(s), as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves is gathered.


Perceived capabilities of a technology (e.g., Twitter let's you connect with people, Canvas is useful for managing schoolwork)


who or what is responsible for the message


a list of topics to be discussed ahead of a meeting


A desire to improve the welfare of another person, at a potential cost to the self and without any expectation of reward.


The bias to be affected by an initial anchor [number, idea, etc.], even if the anchor is arbitrary, and to insufficiently adjust our judgments away from that anchor.


the immediate, visible actions that reveal deeper structuration processes and are enacted with "moves". Appropriations may be faithful or unfaithful, be instrumental and be used with various attitudes.


visible, tangible aspects of organizational culture.


a declaration, statement, or claim of fact


a useful or valuable thing, person, or quality.


Taken for granted beliefs about human nature and reality

audience-centered perspective

Keeping in mind the audiences starting position and considering why the audience might believe, trust, or consider the position a speaker advocates.

behavioral observation scales

Identifies observable behaviors as they relate to performance and is less demanding of the evaluator.

behaviorally anchored rating scales

A system that requires considerable work prior to evaluation but, if the work is carefully done, can lead to highly accurate ratings with high inter-rater reliability.

Belbin's team roles

A set of more and less preferred roles that ought to be fulfilled on a team to accomplish both functional and team roles.


The systematic and predictable mistakes that influence the judgment of even very talented human beings.

bounded awareness

The systematic ways in which we fail to notice obvious and important information that is available to us.

bounded ethicality

The systematic ways in which our ethics are limited in ways we are not even aware of ourselves.

bounded rationality

Model of human behavior that suggests that humans try to make rational decisions but are bounded due to cognitive limitations.

capability constraints

The factors that can enable or constrain an agent, as well as how an agent uses structures

CASA paradigm

n both novel and mundane situations, people form and act on impressions of technology that are based on a longstanding psychological tendency towards anthropomorphizing the physical world

Central Tendency Error

The failure to recognize either very good or very poor performers and provide indistinguishable ratings across all employees (i.e., all employees receive moderate ratings).

Coercive power

Power based on the ability to punish or withhold from another


Encouraging feelings of belonging, cooperation, openness and commitment to the team.

collective self-esteem

Feelings of self-worth that are based on evaluation of relationships with others and membership in social groups.

Collectivist cultures

cultures that place more value on the needs and goals of the group, family, community or nation

common-pool resource

A collective product or service that is freely available to all individuals of a society, but is vulnerable to overuse and degradation.

commons dilemma game.

A game in which members of a group must balance their desire for personal gain against the deterioration and possible collapse of a resource.


Shared meaning making among team members.

Communication climate

The communicative norms for a workplace, usually this focuses on how willing or unwilling people are to raise issues or concerns and to speak freely.

communication ecosystem

A description of the many forms of communication we engage in regularly including interpersonal conversations, mass media, and social media.

competitive advantage

Factors that allow a company to perform more effectively than competitors (e.g., capacity, production, culture, etc.).


an expressed struggle between interdependent parties over goals which they perceive as incompatible or resources which they perceive to be insufficient.

Conflicts of misperceived differences

hen people interpret each other’s actions or emotions erroneously.

Conflicts of process

Conflicts about how to reach goals or pursue values which they share

conflicts of substance

conflicts related to questions about what choices to make in a given situation, rest on differing views of the facts

Conflicts of value

Conflicts in which various parties either hold totally different values or rank the same values in a significantly different order


Central questions of who, what, where, when, why and how within the range and parameters of the school or work assignment.


The situational components of a conversation. Context involves past experiences, similarities, differences, and other information that shapes a conversation or presentation.

contract team

A team brought in from outside in order to do the project work


cooperation is when multiple partners work together toward a common goal that will benefit everyone.

coordination loss

the amount of energy lost when working in a group or team. This includes the time, energy, and effort associated with coordination.


shared values and beliefs that are in direct opposition to the values of the broader organizational culture

counterfactual thinking

Mentally comparing actual events with fantasies of what might have been possible in alternative scenarios.


the extent to which an individual has other sources of power to buffer the effects of another’s power

critical incident technique

Critical incident technique- A technique where supervisors record incidents, or examples, of each subordinate’s behavior that led to either unusual success or unusual failure on some aspect of the job.

Cultural intelligence

a competency and a skill that enables individuals to function effectively in cross-cultural environments


the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.


the use of lies, partial truths, or the omission of relevant information to mislead your audience.


The process of engaging in meaningful deliberation and striving to come to a resolution. Successful decision-making often involves discussion, avoiding biases, and second-guessing assumptions. 

decomposed games

A task in which an individual chooses from multiple allocations of resources to distribute between him- or herself and another person.

Defensive communication

communication behavior which occurs when an individual perceives threat or anticipates threat in the group

dependency relationships

Links among major components of a project (e.g., to build a house laying a foundation is a dependency for putting up walls).

dialectic of control 

The ability of agents to intervene in the world or to refrain from such intervention, with the effect of influencing a specific process or state of affairs

dichotic listening

A task in which different audio streams are presented to each ear. Typically, people are asked to monitor one stream while ignoring the other.

direct approach

An approach to writing that states the main argument early and overtly.

Discursive consciousness

the ability to verbally express knowledge


exploited and victimized in a variety of ways by agents of oppression and/or systems and institutions; feeling disconnected from part of society or a group

Distributive justice

the fairness associated with decision outcomes and distribution of resources.

Document layout

how information is presented, including margins, line justifications, and template expectations.

dominant responses

Responses to stimuli which are well-learned or based on instinctive behaviors

downward social comparison

the process of comparing ones self to someone else who is in a lesser position (e.g., worse off, more challenged, with fewer resources, etc.)

duality of structure

structures are recreated through agency. The duality of structure emphasizes the ongoing recreation of structures through agency

Dunning-Kruger Effect

The tendency for unskilled people to be overconfident in their ability and highly skilled people to underestimate their ability.


The ability to understand another person's emotional experience

evaluation (writing)

commenting on and suggesting changes to writing by other people

Expert power

power that comes from having a high level of knowledge within your area of expertise

Extrinsic rewards

Rewards external to the work itself (e.g., wages, salary, benefits, titles, recognition).


objective statements that can be checked for accuracy in the document.


Rhetorical tricks deceive your audience with their style, drama, or pattern, but add little to your speech in terms of substance and can actually detract from your effectiveness.


cultures that tend to value nurturing, care and emotion, and are concerned with the quality of life

fixed mindset

The belief that personal qualities such as intelligence are traits that cannot be developed. People with fixed mindsets often underperform compared to those with “growth mindsets”

float time

The amount of time that a task in a project network can be delayed without causing a delay to: subsequent tasks ("free float") or project completion date ("total float").

Formal groups

Groups used to organize and distribute work, pool information, devise plans, coordinate activities, increase commitment, negotiate, resolve conflicts and conduct inquests.


The design expectations of author and audience including headings, salutations, etc.

Formative assessment

A range of formal and informal assessment procedures conducted during the process (e.g. midway through a meeting) in order to modify activities to improve process.


a context for understanding or interpretation. Frames are groups of rules learned through interaction, past experience, conversation, etc. which guide behavior in a given situation


The bias to be systematically affected by the way in which information is presented, while holding the objective information constant.

free rider problem

when individuals benefit from the cooperation of others without contributing anything in return

Frog Pond Effect

The theory that a person’s comparison group can affect their evaluations of themselves. Specifically, people have a tendency to have lower self-evaluations when comparing themselves to higher performing groups.

functional role

A role which relies on the skills and experiences that we bring to the project or problem in hand

functional team

a team in which work is carried out within a group organized around a similar function or task

Gantt chart

a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule

graphic rating scales

A performance appraisal technique where the supervisor or rater is typically presented with a printed or online form that contains both the employee’s name and several evaluation dimensions (quantity of work, quality of work, knowledge of job, attendance). The rater is then asked to rate the employee by assigning a number or rating on each of the dimensions.

Group climate

The relatively enduring tone and quality of group interaction that is experienced similarly by group members

Group cohesion

The solidarity or unity of a group resulting from the development of strong and mutual interpersonal bonds among members and group-level forces that unify the group, such as shared commitment to group goals.

Group configuration

The roles adopted by group members--this includes decision-making structure, power dynamics, and hierarchy.

group decision support software (GDSS)

software which helps structure group decision and discussion processes

group fantasies

verbalized references to events outside the “here and now” of the group, including references to the group’s past, predictions for the future, or other communication about people or events outside the group

group polarization

The tendency for members of a deliberating group to move to a more extreme position, with the direction of the shift determined by the majority or average of the members’ predeliberation preferences.


A set of negative group-level processes, including illusions of invulnerability, self-censorship, and pressures to conform, that occur when highly cohesive groups seek concurrence when making a decision.

growth mindset

The belief that personal qualities, such as intelligence, can be developed through effort and practice.

growth needs

Needs for growing intellectual development, asethetic or beauty needs, and eventually actualization and transcendence (seeing yourself of something bigger than your body).


the imaginary bag we all carry, into which we place unresolved conflicts or grievances over time leading to frustration and influencing how we interpret actions


learned dispositions, skills and ways of acting

Halo Effect

A supervisor assigning the same rating to each factor or category being evaluated for an individual.


attentional shortcuts which guide evaluations

Hidden profiles

A complex group problem in which one (or more) member possesses unique information which can aid the other group members in solving the problem.


a culture that emphasize nonverbal communication and indirect communication styles

high-power distance culture

culture tends to accept power differences, encourage hierarchy, and show respect for rank and authority

highly tolerant of uncertainty

cultures with a high tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk-taking. The unknown is more openly accepted, and rules and regulations tend to be more lax

inattentioanl deafness

The auditory analog of inattentional blindness. People fail to notice an unexpected sound or voice when attention is devoted to other aspects of a scene.

inattentional blindness

The failure to notice unexpected objects or events when attention is focused elsewhere

Inattentional deafness

The auditory analog of inattentional blindness. People fail to notice an unexpected sound or voice when attention is devoted to other aspects of a scene.

independent verification

Finding additional sources that validate, back-up, counter, or compliment the claims made in your writing

indirect approach

An argument approach that presents an introduction and evidence before making the central claim

Individual outputs

Personal satisfaction and personal development and learning or other personal goals.

individualistic cultures

cultures that place greater importance on individual freedom and personal independence

Informal groups

Groups not formally sanctioned (by an organization) which serve to satisfy needs of affiliation, and act as a forum for exploring self-concept as a means of gaining support, and so on.


Resources a team has access to which help it accomplish its goal--these are controlled and influenced by management. Inputs include time, people, skills, problems, climate, group configuration, and other starting resources.

Interactional justice

refers to the treatment that an individual receives as decisions are made


interaction and activity—and focuses on a given technology’s ability to involve or engage the users

interindividual-intergroup discontinuity

The tendency for relations between groups to be less cooperative than relations between individuals.

intrinsic rewards

rewards that are related directly to performing the job (e.g., autonomy, growth, feelings of accomplishment, etc.)


the idea that an action or decision is morally right, which may be defined according to ethics, religion, fairness, equity, or law.


Individuals who influence others in teams and organizations.

least-sized group principle

The argument that the ideal group size is one which incorporates a wide variety of views and opinions but contains as few members as possible.

Legitimate power

Power based on position or authority, this is a formal form of power


a person or thing whose presence or behavior is likely to cause embarrassment or put one at a disadvantage.

local dominance effect

People are generally more influenced by social comparison when that comparison is personally relevant rather than broad and general.

Long-term orientation

cultures that focus on the future and delaying short-term success or gratification in order to achieve long-term success


a culture that emphasizes verbal expression and direct communication styles

low-power distance cultures

cultures in which people relate to one another more as equals and less as a reflection of dominant or subordinate roles, regardless of their actual formal roles


modality, agency, interactivity, and navagability cues affect how people perceive credibility of information

management by objectives

Closely related to the goal-setting theory of motivation.


the management of facts, ideas or points of view to play upon inherent insecurities or emotional appeals to one’s own advantage


cultures that tend to value assertiveness, and concentrate on material achievements and wealth-building

matrix team

a team in which members report to different managers for different aspects of their work

measurable gain

A system of assessing the extent to which audience members respond to a persuasive message (ranging from hostile to supporter).


an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.


a written document that serves to record the interaction and can provide an opportunity for clarification. Minutes often appear as the agenda with notes in relation to actions taken during the meeting or specific indications of who is responsible for what before the next meeting.

mission statement 

an often vague statement of purpose, describing who the company is and what it does


to the text, audio, video, or other sensory form of communication available in a given technology

monochromatic time

an orientation to time is considered highly linear, where interruptions are to be avoided, and everything has its own specific time

motivated sequence

A five step motivational process: 1) Get their attention
2) Identify the need (i.e., Problem)
3) Satisfy the need (i.e., Solution to the problem)
4) Present a vision or solution
5) Offer a concrete call to action.


the force, stimulus, or influence to bring about change


The finding that increasing the number of competitors generally decreases one’s motivation to compete.


interface features that suggest transportation from one location to another

need to belong

a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive, and impactful interpersonal relationships

nondominant responses

novel, complicated, or untried behaviors that the organism has never performed before or has performed only infrequently)


Shared standards of acceptable behavior by groups.


No One Speaks Twice Until Everybody Speaks Once.


The process of learning the norms, rules, and culture at a new organization.

open systems model of team work

a model of teamwork that emphasizes the inputs, throughputs, and outputs of a team in a complex environment

Organization (writing)

The manner in which an argument is presented to readers. This includes the structure of the argument (e.g., claim-data-warrant) and the overall structure of the paper including headings, logical flow, etc.

Organizational culture

A system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show employees what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior


Excluding one or more individuals from a group by reducing or eliminating contact with the person, usually by ignoring, shunning, or explicitly banishing them.


treating others differently because of their group memberships


A social category or group with which an individual does not identify.


(successful) outcomes which satisfy organizational or personal goals or other predetermined criteria


The bias to have greater confidence in your judgment than is warranted based on a rational assessment.

perception check

Asking others if your interpretation of their non-verbals is appropriate (e.g., "It seems like we agree, could someone share a concern?"

Performance appraisal systems

A system that provides a means of systematically evaluating employees across various performance dimensions to ensure that organizations are getting what they pay for.

Personal Biases

Biases including liking or disliking for someone, as well as racial and sexual biases. Personal biases can interfere with the fairness and accuracy of an evaluation and are illegal in many situations.


 An act or process of presenting arguments to move, motivate, or change your audience.

physiological needs

Food, water, air, and energy--Step 1 of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Polychromatic time

an orientation to time where multiple things can be done at once and time is viewed more fluidly


Power from cooperation derived from our sense of connection, our bonding with other human beings, and with the environment.


Power over refers to decisions one individual or group maker which affect others.


The power of a strong individual in a group of equals, the power not to command, but to suggest and be listened to, to begin something and see it happen

primary audience

the intended recipients of a business communication (report or presentation)

prisoner’s dilemma

A classic paradox in which two individuals must independently choose between defection (maximizing reward to the self) and cooperation (maximizing reward to the group).


benefits, advantages, and power that are gained based on perceived status or membership in a dominant group


to frame the potential issues and benefits

Procedural justice

fairness of the processes that lead to outcomes.

project team

a group of people who come together as a distinct organizational unit in order to work on a project or projects.


The relative closeness or distance from a given comparison standard. The further from the standard a person is, the less important he or she considers the standard. When a person is closer to the standard he/she is more likely to be competitive.

purpose statement

The specific goal for the specific meeting, presentation, or team which clearly relate to the overall goals of the group or committee.

rational self-interest

The often challenged principle that people will make logical decisions based on maximizing their own gains and benefits.


The reader’s ability to read and comprehend the document.

Recency Error

Occurs when, in an evaluation, a supervisor may give undue emphasis to performance during the past months—or even weeks—and ignore performance levels prior to this.

referent power

power is based on interpersonal attraction of one individual for another

Reflexive monitoring

agents' ability to monitor their actions and those actions' settings and contexts

Relationship conflicts

Personality-driven conflicts which involve personal attributes or characteristics and which challenge people's egos or self-worth

Reward power

power to give or offer some kind of reward (tangible or intangible)

reward systems

the kinds of behaviors and outcomes it chooses to reward and punish.


repetitive activities within an organization that have symbolic meaning

role modeling

Behaviors which others look to as an example to be imitated (for better or worse)


A defensible place, protecting your supply lines for your most basic needs, could be your home--Step 2 of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

secondary audience

People who were not the intended recipients of an act of business communication (e.g., forwarded emails, information posted online, etc.).

selective attention

process of focusing on a particular object in the environment for a certain period of time. Attention is a limited resource, so selective attention allows us to tune out unimportant details and focus on what matters.

selective listening 

A method for studying selective attention in which people focus attention on one auditory stream of information while deliberately ignoring other auditory information.


Feelings of reaching your full potential, feeling accepted for who you are, and perceiving a degree of control or empowerment in your environment.

self-enhancement effect

The finding that people can boost their own self-evaluations by comparing themselves to others who rank lower on a particular comparison standard.


The feeling of confidence in one’s own abilities or worth.

self-evaluation maintenance

A model of social comparison that emphasizes one’s closeness to the comparison target, the relative performance of that target person, and the relevance of the comparison behavior to one’s self-concept.

self-interest is bounded

The systematic and predictable ways in which we care about the outcomes of others.

self-managed team

A team which operates in an informal and non-hierarchical manner, and has considerable responsibility for the way it carries out its tasks

self-organizing teams

A team in which members self-select their membership, this type of team is typically marked by an informal work style and little input or direction from senior management. These teams are often formed spontaneously in response to an issue, idea or challenge.

sense of love and belonging

our need to be a part of a family, community, or group--Step 3 in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

shared information

information that two or more group members know in common

shared information bias

a tendency for group members to spend more time and energy discussing information that multiple members are already familiar with (i.e., shared information)

shared mental model 

Knowledge, expectations, conceptualizations, and other cognitive representations that members of a group have in common pertaining to the group and its members, tasks, procedures, and resources.

Sharted information

information that two or more group members know in common

short-term orientation

focus on the near future, involves delivering short-term success or gratification and places a stronger emphasis on the present than the future

social category

Any group in which membership is defined by similarities between its members. Examples include religious, ethnic, and athletic groups.

Social cohesion

the attraction and liking among group members

social comparison

The process of contrasting one’s personal qualities and outcomes, including beliefs, attitudes, values, abilities, accomplishments, and experiences, to those of other people.

social facilitation

Improvement in task performance that occurs when people work in the presence of other people.

social identity

A person’s sense of who they are, based on their group membership(s).

Social identity theory

A theoretical analysis of group processes and intergroup relations that assumes groups influence their members’ self-concepts and self-esteem, particularly when individuals categorize themselves as group members and identify with the group.

social loafing

The reduction of individual effort exerted when people work in groups compared with when they work alone.

social structures

the rules, norms, and resources which enable and constrain everyday interactions

Social trust

The belief that another person’s actions will be beneficial to one’s own interests

Social value orientation (SVO)

An assessment of how an individual prefers to allocate resources between their self and another person.


relationships composed of both human and technological partners (e.g., a team with three humans and a machine)

span of control

the number of people each manager or supervisor is directly responsible for


other parties involved or affected by decision a team makes (e.g., customers, co-workers, managers, etc.)

state of vulnerability 

When a person places their self in a position in which they might be exploited or harmed. This is often done out of trust that others will not exploit the vulnerability.


a person’s perceived level of importance or significance within a particular context (whether deserved or not)


Messages about shared experiences, company lore, exemplary behavior, etc. which transmit values and assumptions about organization or team culture.

Strictness or Leniency Error

Errors in rating whereby an evaluator either provides uniformly low (strictness) or uniformly high (leniency) ratings of employees.

strong culture

A culture marked by many shared beliefs in shared assumptions, artifacts, and values.

structural modality

the means by which structures are translated into actions


a social theory of the creation and reproduction of social systems through an interplay of social structures and agency


The flow of a document including content and organization, but also word choice and grammatical structures. Team documents should be edited to have a consistent style throughout.


A culture that emerges within different departments, teams, branches, or geographic locations.

Summative assessment

Assessment of participants where the focus is on the outcome of a program--summative assessments occur at the end of a program.

supportive communication

communication which values others it can involve description, problem focus, spontaneous responses, empathy, equality, and non-judgement (i.e., provisionalism)

Symbolic convergence

The sense of community or group consciousness that develops in a group through non-task-related communication, including shared experiences, stories, jokes, etc.

System 1

Our intuitive decision-making system, which is typically fast, automatic, effortless, implicit, and emotional.

System 2

Our more deliberative decision-making system, which is slower, conscious, effortful, explicit, and logical.


A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that interact to form a unified whole. A system is surrounded and influenced by its environment. Systems are described by its boundaries, structure and purpose and expressed in its functioning.

Task and maintenance activities

These include activities that ensure that the task is produced effectively, such as planning, agreeing on procedures and controls. They also include activities that minimize threats to the process, such as monitoring and reviewing internal processes and dealing constructively with conflict.

Task cohesion

the commitment of group members to the purpose and activities of the group

Task performance

A measure of team success. This is judged on a number of criteria, such as quality of the formal outputs or objectives. In this case a product (e.g., goal, materials, etc.) and the time taken to perform the task are the criteria

task uncertainty

the less obvious and more complex the task to be addressed


a particularly cohesive and purposeful type of work group

team effectiveness

A combination of task achievement, individual success, and positive team interactions across both the task and process dimensions of team work.

Team processes

A sense of unity is created through sharing clear goals which are understood and accepted by the members.

team role

A role which tends to be based on our personality or preferred style of action.


The process by which members of the team combine their knowledge, skills, abilities, and other resources through a coordinated series of actions to produce an outcome.


Activities and tasks that help to transform inputs into outputs. Throughput represents the process, cohesiveness, communication, decision-making, and other work teams put in to accomplish their goals.


Purposeful statements that move the reader from one topic, idea, or section to the next. These often include overt signpost words like first, next, last, etc.

transposable schemas

Mental models which can applied to a wide and not fully predictable range of cases outside the context in which they were initially learned

uncertainty avoidance

cultures with a low tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk-taking. The unknown is minimized through strict rules and regulations

upward social comparisons

Making mental comparisons to people who are perceived to be superior on the standard of comparison


shared principles, standards, and goals.

Zoom Fatigue

Exhaustion stemming from concentration required to observe others and oneself on video, engaging in multitasking while talking with others online, and other challenges.


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Problem Solving in Teams and Groups Copyright © 2021 by Cameron W. Piercy, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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