Having a sour taste in my mouth from team assignments last semester, this week I became increasingly anxious as Thursday’s class drew near and our teams would be revealed. This together with the readings got me thinking, what went so wrong last semester? Why was it such a torturous experience?
Perhaps if I had the knowledge gained from these readings then, my experience could have been greatly improved. This is not an exaggeration but looking back now, I was doomed from the start. There were very little criteria that we could self-select our teams on, the lecturer simply announced get into teams of fives. For me this ended up being the people around who turned to me with a smile saying, “want to be in a group together?” not knowing anyone else in the class I felt obligated to accept as people seemed to have already formed groups of their own. Those groups I became a part of at the beginning of the semester never transitioned to a “real team” (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992). Katzenbach and Smith (1992) describe a team as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable, we were nothing of the sort. The imbalance in the skills and differences in goals, purpose, and approach made us a dysfunctional group just barely getting by.
This experience has made me come to appreciate the week in how teams were formed based on the Mike’s bikes CVs, and the readings itself as maybe now I should be on the same page as my team members. The initial group meeting on Thursday has left me feeling optimistic about the work ahead that maybe for once I may enjoy it, and the company. I am appreciative of the one team member that took charge in establishing team expectations, essentially creating a team contract for us to abide by. Having the common purpose and goals sorted out, as the weeks go by I hope to have a completely different experience to last semester in an actual “Team”. Time and hard work can only tell if this concept of “high performance team” (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992) will materialize. But I have a good feeling that it will.
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.