Social Support in a Self-Organizing Project Team
Authors: Carita Salminen, Anju Marjamaa, Vesa Salminen
Abstract: The competitive environment is in turbulence and businesses are in a rapid digital and sustainable transition. This means challenges for organizations and the leadership of teams. Leadership is under uncertainties and pressure coming from inside and outside the team. Also, project team members face many stressful situations that cause uncertainty. Uncertainty stemming from the pressure of project work can be managed through social support. Projects are characterized by being time-limited and goal-oriented. For this reason, project teams face tough time pressures, which increase the workload of their members.Additionally, project teams are put together for a specific task, so their members may not have worked with each other before. A project team and even individual team members may work independently through self-organized tasks while having the same team objective. The basic nature of project work means that project team members are in a position from the beginning of a project where they can face quite a lot of uncertainty and stressful situations. In this work, social support refers to the means of interaction that alleviate the feelings of uncertainty that arise in stressful situations (Mikkola 2020). A project team tends to pay more attention to task-oriented processes, leaving less attention to relationship-centered interaction processes (DePoel et al. 2014), which include social support. Social support is known to have several positive effects in working life (Reinardy 2009).The goal of this research is to describe the perceptions and experiences of team members about social support. The following aspects of social support were analyzed: How is social support and its relevance understood? What factors promote and hinder social support?In this article social support is described from the perspective of project team members in working life. Because social support is constructed and mediated through interaction between project team members, it was essential to look at it through its manifestation.The research setting in this research is qualitative because it describes the team members’ perceptions and experiences. The goal of this research was to collect genuine opinions on this topic, so thematic individual interviews were conducted. A semi-structured thematic interview was chosen to hear people’s perceptions, which enabled a more in-depth treatment of the phenomenon. Social support’s manifestation in the project team was analyzed according to the perceptions and experiences of interviewees.The results of this research help to understand the importance of social support for project teams. The results increase understanding of how social support manifests itself in team interaction and what factors promote and hinder its delivery and application. In addition, they deepen the understanding of what social support is needed for and what implications it is seen to have from the perspective of team members.Ref.De Poel, F., Stoker, J., Van der Zee, K. 2014. Leadership and organizational tenure asymmetry as determinants of project team effectiveness. Group & Organization Management, 39 (1), 532–560.Mikkola, L. 2020. Supportive communication in the workplace. Mikkola, L. & Valo, M. (toim.) Workplace communication. New York: Routledge.Reinardy, S. 2009. Beyond Satisfaction: Journalists doubt career intentions as organizational support diminishes and job satisfaction declines. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 17 (3), 126–139.
Keywords: Self-Organized- Team work- Project- Interaction- Social support- Perceptions and experiences
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