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How Team Member Can Support Each Other’s Needs : An Intervention in Real Teams

Jungert, Tomas LU (2016) Academy of Management p.387-388
Abstract (Swedish)
Ensuring highly motivated employees is crucial for organizations to stay competitive. In Self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Gagné & Deci, 2005) employee motivation plays a crucial role for this, as employees usually perform well and experience well-being when they feel autonomously motivated, while they function less optimally when they feel controlled. Autonomous motivation is herein defined as the engagement in an activity because one considers it important, valuable or fun, and is free of internal or external coercion (Gagné & Deci, 2005). Controlled motivation is typified by feelings of being controlled, either because others drive one’s behavior through rewards and punishments or because people put... (More)
Ensuring highly motivated employees is crucial for organizations to stay competitive. In Self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Gagné & Deci, 2005) employee motivation plays a crucial role for this, as employees usually perform well and experience well-being when they feel autonomously motivated, while they function less optimally when they feel controlled. Autonomous motivation is herein defined as the engagement in an activity because one considers it important, valuable or fun, and is free of internal or external coercion (Gagné & Deci, 2005). Controlled motivation is typified by feelings of being controlled, either because others drive one’s behavior through rewards and punishments or because people put themselves under pressure. Autonomous motivation is essential for important work outcomes such as performance (Moran, Diefendorff, Kim, & Liu, 2012), creativity (Grant & Berry, 2011), and work satisfaction (Van den Broeck, et al., 2013), while controlled motivation does not lead to such beneficial outcomes. Thus, understanding the antecedents of these types of motivation is crucial. Even if SDT builds from the assumption that autonomous motivation is fostered through satisfaction in the basic needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Van den Broeck, Vansteenkiste, De Witte, Soenens, & Lens, 2010), insights of how employees’ needs may be satisfied in the context of work are mostly interfered from cross-sectional studies and thought to arise from environmental aspects, e.g. broader work environment (Gillet, et al., 2013), one's job (Van den Broeck et al., 2008) or supervisor (Stenling & Tafvelin, 2014), while the role of team members is overlooked.
To gain more understanding on how organizations may increase employee motivation through need satisfaction, we present a field experiment to complement the increasing body of cross-sectional questionnaire research on employee motivation and need satisfaction (Van den Broeck, 2013) and answer the call for more field experiments in the domain of work (Grant & Wall, 2009). The purpose was to examine whether team members can be trained in supporting each other’s basic psychological needs and whether such need support would be associated with increased autonomous motivation of individual team member as compared to control teams who were not part of the team intervention. In addition, we examined whether changes in need satisfaction would be positively associated with work motivation of the individual team member.
In close collaboration with the organization and building on SDT, we developed a specific form of team intervention program with the aim of improving the individual team members’ collaborative and communicative skills so that they would improve at supporting each other’s needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, as well as having positive effects on the individual team member’s autonomous vs. controlled work motivation, compared to teams with no specific team intervention (controls). The intervention was not merely designed as an intervention on communication, but aimed at improving need satisfaction and work motivation, with the aim to train team members to foster each other’s need for autonomy, competence and relatedness and had the following hypothesis: (1) Compared to employees in the control groups, employees in the experimental groups will experience increased satisfaction of the needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness and will therefore experience higher levels of autonomous motivation, and (2) Compared to employees in the control groups, employees in the experimental groups will experience increased satisfaction of the needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness and will therefore experience lower levels of controlled motivation.
Method and Results
The design of this study consisted of pretest and follow-up measurements among a sample of 211 employees (mean age = 45.14 (SD = 8.48) years, work experience in current teams = 2.82 (SD = 2.50) years, 76% female) working in 29 teams; 22 teams in the experimental condition and 7 teams as control groups evenly distributed over 3 organizations in the banking and property sector in Northern Europe. The control teams did not receive any special attention during the research period. The experimental groups participated in an intervention including workshops lead by trained HR employees and additional training sessions among team members, with the focus on communication and collaboration among the team members aimed at fostering their psychological needs and subsequent autonomous vs. controlled work motivation. Over seven weeks, the experimental groups had two half-day workshops, led by trained HR-employees, and three sessions, where the teams trained on their own, with the focus on smooth cooperation and perspective taking, aimed at fostering the need for autonomy; how to give positive feedback to each other, aimed at supporting the need for competence, and improving the group dynamics, to satisfy the need for relatedness by using 15 cards depicting work behaviors or qualities; e.g. sharp (being attentive to what other people say), praising (how often and in what ways workers give praise), and competitive (competing with others). Team members discussed how the team members perceived themselves and their peers in the team. Between the two workshops, team members trained on their own in three sessions. Participants were invited to complete a web-based survey at T1, 2 weeks before the intervention and at T2, directly after the intervention. Participation was voluntary and the respondents were assured confidentiality of their responses. The overall response rate was 87.20 percent at Time 1.
Motivation was measured using the Work Motivation Scale (MAWS; Gagne, Forest, et al., 2015). Basic need satisfaction was measured using the BPNWS (Brien, Forest, Mageau, Boudrias, Desrumaux, Brunet, & Morin, 2012). The hypotheses were tested by means of SPSS, using the macro of Preacher and Hayes (2008) for testing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models.
After controlling for gender, participating in the intervention was related to increased autonomous motivation, as expected. Participating in the intervention failed to relate to increases in the satisfaction of the need for autonomy, but was related to increases in the satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness. Contrary to expectations, none of the needs, however, proved to be related autonomous motivation. Hence, the relationship between participation in the intervention to the increase in autonomous motivation could not be explained by increases in need satisfaction. Hypothesis 1 could therefore only be partially supported.
After controlling for gender, participating in the intervention was however not related to differences in controlled motivation. Participating in the intervention failed to be related to increases in the satisfaction of the need for autonomy, but was related to increases in the satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness. Hypothesis 2 could therefore not be supported.
Discussion
The significant relationships of changes in satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness with autonomous work motivation underline the usefulness of a team-based approach to motivation intervention. To encourage team members to change perspectives, reflect upon how they express themselves, how they perceive the peers in their teams, and how they behave in supportive ways towards their team peers seem to create a group climate that satisfies the basic needs to feel competent in work and related to the team. The reason the intervention did not have an effect on the need for autonomy may be that the team members perceived their need for autonomy to be highly satisfied before the intervention, which might have led to a ceiling effect. In addition, increased need satisfaction did not seem to be positively associated to increased autonomous work motivation, however, autonomous work motivation did increase over the intervention.
This study provides added value for theory on need satisfaction as it shows how team members together can enhance satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness of their peers and is the first study to show that employees in teams, via an intervention, can improve the team members’ feelings of effectiveness in handling challenges and feelings of bonds with their colleagues. Such improved need satisfaction does further likely result in the increased autonomous motivation experienced by the team members.
Important strengths with this study are the prospective design with measurements prior to and after the intervention and the experimental design with control and experimental groups. However, it was not possible to randomize the teams.
A limitation is that no non-self-report outcome measure beyond motivation was included. However, the positive outcomes of autonomous and controlled motivation are by now well detailed in the literature, for example learning (Roth et al., 2007), job performance (Moran et al., 2012), and work satisfaction (Van den Broeck et al., 2013).
In conclusion, this study demonstrates a relatively brief, team-based intervention program, may be effective in creating need support in teams and increase team members autonomous motivation, compared to the control group where no such intervention took place. This underlines the importance of need satisfying for the success of work motivation programs. In addition, the results can be extended to many other kinds of organizations where people work in teams. This approach may also work in a more general sense by helping individual workers in developing communication and cooperation abilities and being supportive of their co-workers in general. (Less)
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DOI
10.5465/AMBPP.2016.12905symposium
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@misc{3753847f-9b0f-43d5-a417-f289ed9670c7,
  abstract     = {Ensuring highly motivated employees is crucial for organizations to stay competitive. In Self-determination theory (SDT; Deci &amp; Ryan, 2000; Gagné &amp; Deci, 2005) employee motivation plays a crucial role for this, as employees usually perform well and experience well-being when they feel autonomously motivated, while they function less optimally when they feel controlled. Autonomous motivation is herein defined as the engagement in an activity because one considers it important, valuable or fun, and is free of internal or external coercion (Gagné &amp; Deci, 2005). Controlled motivation is typified by feelings of being controlled, either because others drive one’s behavior through rewards and punishments or because people put themselves under pressure. Autonomous motivation is essential for important work outcomes such as performance (Moran, Diefendorff, Kim, &amp; Liu, 2012), creativity (Grant &amp; Berry, 2011), and work satisfaction (Van den Broeck, et al., 2013), while controlled motivation does not lead to such beneficial outcomes. Thus, understanding the antecedents of these types of motivation is crucial. Even if SDT builds from the assumption that autonomous motivation is fostered through satisfaction in the basic needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Van den Broeck, Vansteenkiste, De Witte, Soenens, &amp; Lens, 2010), insights of how employees’ needs may be satisfied in the context of work are mostly interfered from cross-sectional studies and thought to arise from environmental aspects, e.g. broader work environment (Gillet, et al., 2013), one's job (Van den Broeck et al., 2008) or supervisor (Stenling &amp; Tafvelin, 2014), while the role of team members is overlooked. <br>
To gain more understanding on how organizations may increase employee motivation through need satisfaction, we present a field experiment to complement the increasing body of cross-sectional questionnaire  research on employee motivation and need satisfaction (Van den Broeck, 2013) and answer the call for more field experiments in the domain of work (Grant &amp; Wall, 2009). The purpose was to examine whether team members can be trained in supporting each other’s basic psychological needs and whether such need support would be associated with increased autonomous motivation of individual team member as compared to control teams who were not part of the team intervention. In addition, we examined whether changes in need satisfaction would be positively associated with work motivation of the individual team member. <br>
In close collaboration with the organization and building on SDT, we developed a specific form of team intervention program with the aim of improving the individual team members’ collaborative and communicative skills so that they would improve at supporting each other’s needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, as well as having positive effects on the individual team member’s autonomous vs. controlled work motivation, compared to teams with no specific team intervention (controls). The intervention was not merely designed as an intervention on communication, but aimed at improving need satisfaction and work motivation, with the aim to train team members to foster each other’s need for autonomy, competence and relatedness and had the following hypothesis: (1) Compared to employees in the control groups, employees in the experimental groups will experience increased satisfaction of the needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness and will therefore experience higher levels of autonomous motivation, and (2) Compared to employees in the control groups, employees in the experimental groups will experience increased satisfaction of the needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness and will therefore experience lower levels of controlled motivation.  <br>
Method and Results<br>
The design of this study consisted of pretest and follow-up measurements among a sample of 211 employees (mean age = 45.14 (SD = 8.48) years, work experience in current teams = 2.82 (SD = 2.50) years, 76% female) working in 29 teams; 22 teams in the experimental condition and 7 teams as control groups evenly distributed over 3 organizations in the banking and property sector in Northern Europe. The control teams did not receive any special attention during the research period. The experimental groups participated in an intervention including workshops lead by trained HR employees and additional training sessions among team members, with the focus on communication and collaboration among the team members aimed at fostering their psychological needs and subsequent autonomous vs. controlled work motivation. Over seven weeks, the experimental groups had two half-day workshops, led by trained HR-employees, and three sessions, where the teams trained on their own, with the focus on smooth cooperation and perspective taking, aimed at fostering the need for autonomy; how to give positive feedback to each other, aimed at supporting the need for competence, and improving the group dynamics, to satisfy the need for relatedness by using 15 cards depicting work behaviors or qualities; e.g. sharp (being attentive to what other people say), praising (how often and in what ways workers give praise), and competitive (competing with others). Team members discussed how the team members perceived themselves and their peers in the team. Between the two workshops, team members trained on their own in three sessions. Participants were invited to complete a web-based survey at T1, 2 weeks before the intervention and at T2, directly after the intervention. Participation was voluntary and the respondents were assured confidentiality of their responses. The overall response rate was 87.20 percent at Time 1.<br>
Motivation was measured using the Work Motivation Scale (MAWS; Gagne, Forest, et al., 2015). Basic need satisfaction was measured using the BPNWS (Brien, Forest, Mageau, Boudrias, Desrumaux, Brunet, &amp; Morin, 2012). The hypotheses were tested by means of SPSS, using the macro of Preacher and Hayes (2008) for testing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. <br>
After controlling for gender, participating in the intervention was related to increased autonomous motivation, as expected. Participating in the intervention failed to relate to increases in the satisfaction of the need for autonomy, but was related to increases in the satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness. Contrary to expectations, none of the needs, however, proved to be related autonomous motivation. Hence, the relationship between participation in the intervention to the increase in autonomous motivation could not be explained by increases in need satisfaction. Hypothesis 1 could therefore only be partially supported. <br>
After controlling for gender, participating in the intervention was however not related to differences in controlled motivation. Participating in the intervention failed to be related to increases in the satisfaction of the need for autonomy, but was related to increases in the satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness. Hypothesis 2 could therefore not be supported. <br>
Discussion<br>
The significant relationships of changes in satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness with autonomous work motivation underline the usefulness of a team-based approach to motivation intervention. To encourage team members to change perspectives, reflect upon how they express themselves, how they perceive the peers in their teams, and how they behave in supportive ways towards their team peers seem to create a group climate that satisfies the basic needs to feel competent in work and related to the team. The reason the intervention did not have an effect on the need for autonomy may be that the team members perceived their need for autonomy to be highly satisfied before the intervention, which might have led to a ceiling effect. In addition, increased need satisfaction did not seem to be positively associated to increased autonomous work motivation, however, autonomous work motivation did increase over the intervention.<br>
This study provides added value for theory on need satisfaction as it shows how team members together can enhance satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness of their peers and is the first study to show that employees in teams, via an intervention, can improve the team members’ feelings of effectiveness in handling challenges and feelings of bonds with their colleagues. Such improved need satisfaction does further likely result in the increased autonomous motivation experienced by the team members.<br>
Important strengths with this study are the prospective design with measurements prior to and after the intervention and the experimental design with control and experimental groups. However, it was not possible to randomize the teams. <br>
A limitation is that no non-self-report outcome measure beyond motivation was included. However, the positive outcomes of autonomous and controlled motivation are by now well detailed in the literature, for example learning (Roth et al., 2007), job performance (Moran et al., 2012), and work satisfaction (Van den Broeck et al., 2013). <br>
In conclusion, this study demonstrates a relatively brief, team-based intervention program, may be effective in creating need support in teams and increase team members autonomous motivation, compared to the control group where no such intervention took place. This underlines the importance of need satisfying for the success of work motivation programs. In addition, the results can be extended to many other kinds of organizations where people work in teams. This approach may also work in a more general sense by helping individual workers in developing communication and cooperation abilities and being supportive of their co-workers in general.},
  author       = {Jungert, Tomas},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  pages        = {387--388},
  title        = {How Team Member Can Support Each Other’s Needs :  An Intervention in Real Teams},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2016.12905symposium},
  year         = {2016},
}