Using the work group as a laboratory for learning: Increasing leadership and team effectiveness through feedback



An experimental field study was conducted in a large municipal government to determine the effects of training designed to improve managers' interactions with their natural work groups. The SYMLOG Leadership Values Instrument was used to measure group and individual effectiveness on three bipolar behavioral characteristics (Dominance-Submis-siveness, Friendliness-Unfriendliness, and Accepting-Opposing Task Orientation of Established Authority) before and after training. Managers practiced feedback skills and group process methods in the workshop, applied them in the workplace, and received feedback in peer teams at the next session. A statistically significant difference was found, with the treatment group perceiving themselves and their natural teams as more effective and as characterized by greater Dominance and Friendliness. Thus, the increased use of feedback skills caused these managers to view themselves and their subordinate work groups as more proactive, engaged, and cohesive as a team.