Impact Stories

Improving Team Dynamics

Prof. Jennifer Feitosa discusses her research into improving team dynamics with diversity

In June 2020, CMC announced its Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America. As part of this ongoing effort, individual CMC faculty, departments, and institutes are addressing race and racism through various curricular and co-curricular actions. We asked faculty members to share their work in these areas.

Jennifer Feitosa is an assistant professor of psychological sciences and director of METRICS Lab. Some of the work she did in summer 2020—Design and (Virtual) Implementation of an Integrative Team Belonging Training with M. Gloria Gonzalez-Morales—led to a two-year funded award (BLAIS Challenge Award, Claremont Graduate University).

Tell us about your research focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

We kicked off with the Summer Research Program, where I was supervising six CMC students with the help of my METRICS Lab manager, Ally Davis.

We had two major summer projects: one to develop a framework for an integrative team training, and another one for the coding of team processes with behaviorally anchored rating scales. Although we had a range of tasks, the lab was drawn together by one purpose: to maximize the benefits of diversity in organizational team settings.

Why are more diverse approaches to teaching important to you?

I know what it feels like to be part of different worlds, navigating unknown terrains, and finding a way to belong. I like to foster that to students by providing them with an outlet to allow them to make mistakes, learn about each other, and develop skills while in a psychologically safe environment.

Diversity and inclusion are at the core of all facets of my work. As an example, for teaching, we are drawing from real data to illustrate some of the statistical tests that are used in psychology. Students will be able to come up with their own questions and analysis related to diversity while they apply their statistical knowledge.

What are the biggest takeaways from your most recent research?

Although overt workplace racism did not begin with COVID-19, the pandemic has catalyzed and exacerbated its effects1. If we really want to see a change, this will be an ongoing effort.

Because creating a virtual environment of inclusiveness and involvement through occasional face-to-face interactions is not currently an option, we suggest to maximize the benefits of virtual teams by learning more about each other at a deeper level in the current platform2.

*Kafka, A. M., *Avery, A. Y., *Almendarez, K. E., *Ishee, T. Z., *Hong, L., *Rangel, L. J., *Davis, A. S., & Feitosa, J. (under review). Pandemic meets race: An added layer of complexity. Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Feitosa, J., & Salas, E. (2020). Today’s virtual teams: Adapting lessons learned to the pandemic context. Organizational Dynamics. doi: 10.1016/j.orgdyn.2020.100777

“I know what it feels like to be part of different worlds, navigating unknown terrains, and finding a way to belong.”