As we approach the time for us to be assigned into our respective teams I ponder as I browse through the selected readings for the week what teams are used to achieve, seeing the number 1 associated adjective of teams; synergy raising its head once more I realise, slightly sickeningly that there is some truth in what is being stated.
When ever I have worked in a team we always managed to finish a strangely large volume of research and work & keeping in mind Daudelins notes on reflection I thought back to what really was the driving force for the time and effort my team and I put into our assignment last semester.. I decided that Oakely and Co are right to suggest that fear from ones peers far exceeds that of the teachers and so the fear of being labeled a loafer and a disdain for loafers exposed me in a position as though I was simultaneously a prisoner and a guard as in the famous Stanford prison experiment where students given power and the authority of guards tended to abuse their peers in a quite brutal fashion. In as much it is a unique position to be able to punish those I deemed as lazy yet fearful of being perceived as lazy myself as my job demanded significant time away from uni and it was this that I think pushed our team to do quite well and spend large amounts of time and effort on our assignment.. whether or not fear of irrational students is a "good" motivator it is indeed effective.
I also note the differences in the writers Katzenbach, somehow painting a somewhat less authoritarian perspective of what it is to be in a team than compared to the gang of frenzied teaching staff of Oakely, Felder Brent & Elhajj which is to be expected as we all know students are found in the lower order of invertebrates somewhere beneath worms. I realise that they too are on to some good points, or rather points which are used to test the productivity of small groups of students whom are to be transformed to churn out a large body of work in a short period, something I think most students in this course have experienced at least once before.
I feel that Oakely, Felder, Brent & Elajj principles of control such as peer evaluations reflect the hard HRM which back up Katzenbachs work regarding the means used to control those in the teams and align goal congruance. This i feel reflects the reality for many of us as we head out into the workforce, the use of team citizenship and the use of verbally publicly agreed terms (which probably will be substituted written contracts in the real world) binding those components of the team to their expected performance levels and if they are not met.. it will be the team members rather than the firm which will be responsible for the firing of (us)? A fearful thought perhaps but necessary I as we leave the relative safety of our years in education to the capitalist marketplace where our ability to provide worth becomes the sole reason for our employment.
Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. K. (1992). Why teams matter. McKinsey Quarterly, (3), 3--27
Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of student centered learning, 2(1), 9--34.