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The term ‘collective efficacy’ relates to the shared belief of team members in their ability to successfully accomplish a task (Bandura, 1997). A task might be relatively small, such as the completion of a project, or it may perhaps be as large as the achievement of the objectives in your organisation’s strategic plan.

Different industries and sectors may have slightly nuanced interpretations of the notion of collective efficacy. In the education sector, for example, John Hattie identifies collective efficacy for teachers, or collective teacher efficacy (CTE), as being the collective belief of teacher in their ability to positively affect students. Hattie considers this to be the second most significant influence related to student achievement in his published list of the 195 Effects in The Applicability of Visible Learning to Higher Education (2015) Essentially, Hattie’s meta-analysis indicates a school staff that believes it can collectively accomplish great things is vital for the health of a school. If they believe they can make a positive difference then they very likely will. (Visible Learning.Org)

When a team of employees have a shared belief in the ability of their team, there is a correlation between this and the amount of effort a team will expend, as well as improvement in their levels of motivation and the interpersonal environment which prevails (Rapp et al, 2021) It stands to reason, therefore, that there is a positive correlation between levels of collective efficacy and levels of satisfaction.

What are the advantages of collective efficacy?

  •  Collective efficacy ultimately contributes to team performance because it motivates and drives effort. (Goncalo, 2010) Team members need to have belief in a team’s ability to execute tasks effectively in order to work harder and collaborate more effectively.
  • The link between collective efficacy and team satisfaction is important when taking into consideration the value that trust, support and a sense of well-being have on reducing employee turnover and burnout.
  • Strong collective efficacy can lead to adaptability and adeptness at planning, structuring and the setting of appropriate goals (De Rue et al.,2010)
  • Collective efficacy can lead to a healthy confidence that translates into positive emotional interactions within the team, driving greater levels of engagement (Elms et al, 2023)

Are there any disadvantages to high levels of collective efficacy in an organisation?

While increases in engagement, motivation, belief and effort are highly valued consequences of healthy collective efficacy in organisations, very high levels of collective efficacy can have some disadvantages which need to be managed and mitigated by the leaders of a team.

  • Too much collective efficacy may hinder performance, as there is the potential for teams to become overconfident and therefore have a reduced responsiveness to feedback
  • Teams with very high levels of collective efficacy may have a tendency to desire to maintain the ‘status quo’ and therefore have a resistance to adaptability or a consideration of alternative approaches.

What can leaders in organisations do in order to foster collective efficacy while optimising team effectiveness?

Organisational leaders need to prioritise opportunities for employees to build trust, while fostering cohesiveness and a sense of shared purpose. The potential downsides of high levels of collective efficacy, as discussed above, can be mitigated by providing teams with the opportunity to foster critical thinking, drive questioning and feel comfortable enough to challenge the status quo.

Be Challenged would love to partner with you in the design and delivery of programs to foster and develop collective efficacy, while also challenging teams to enhance their effectiveness according to your key objectives.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa Kelliher
Head of People and Culture
Head of Business Support
Educational Consultant


To contact the team at Be Challenged about your next event.

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