Through my journey of Management 300 I have learned to improve my teamwork skill and my interpersonal skills, realising that I need to be more open to others and their values and belief so that I can better understand where they are coming from in their discussions. Furthermore management 300 has taken me on the Journey to learn how to learn so that I can continue to do so after university.
I have a new found approach to team work and the way in which I work in teams. Before entering Management 300, I detested team work. I felt as though nobody ever wanted to contribute and everyone assumed someone else would do the work and take responsibility for the work- that someone being me majority of the time. My experience in Mikes Bikes has changed this outlook on teams dramatically and has lead to learning how to become a better team member and improving my interpersonal skills. Using my new found reflective skills, I can now break down the problem I had with teamwork when entering Management 300.
In week 6’s Journal (Rozendaal, 2014c), I began to realise something was going wrong, I suggested groupthink as I thought not all the pros and cons of our strategy were discussed, and we came to a premature conclusion. I made an attempted to resolve the issue though making sure everyone has their say before a decision was made and trying to get as many opinions on the table as possible so that we could come to a well rounded decision. I tested my theory and attempted to involve everyone in the following weeks, however even though some individuals were asked their opinions and were kept up to date on the discussion, they didn’t really contribute. I realised that I hadn’t fully go to the bottom of the issue and needed more reflection as I still felt uneasy about the situation and the part I played in it (Rozendaal, 2014e). In week 10, however I finally began to understand the issue, which was that I was discriminating based on perceived intelligence (Rozendaal, 2014f).
I had identified that there was a core group of people making the decisions, and that the others were not fully participating. These were people who were in the core group were people I trusted and thought were intelligent. Christensen (2010) was used in my week 10 Journal (Rozendaal, 2014f) to explain that many people make the mistake of thinking that only smart people have something to offer you. This is because the schooling system is oriented this way, in which I have spent sixteen years of my life learning from those more intelligent than myself, not from those that aren’t.
Katz (1955) further confirmed that this inference I had made was wrong, explaining that human skill is accepting the existence of different viewpoints and beliefs which are different from your own, and therefore you can understand what others mean by their words and behaviour. From this I took away that it wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t listen to those that I saw as less intelligent, it was that I didn’t understand them, and therefore didn’t understand their views and opinions. This lead to my premature interpretation of them being less intelligent, and I acted in a way that reflected this opinion.
I recognise that there was a problem in week 6 (Rozendaal, 2014c), however didn’t fully understand the issue until week 10 (Rozendaal, 2014f) after a lot of reflection and testing to try to get to the bottom of it. I began to recognise the consequences of this assumption and what the reasons were for the change, which stimulated the reflection and helped me to understand the issue. The fact that I had assumed people less Intelligent than me lead me to communicate and work with them differently, dismissing their ideas. Spreier, Fontaine, and Malloy (2006) explain that “Overachievers tend to command and coerce, rather than coach and collaborate, thus stiﬂing subordinates… they may be oblivious to the concerns of others.’ (p.72). This is exactly how I acted towards members who I saw as ‘subordinate’- even though they weren’t really. I commanded and coerced them into agreeing with our decisions and didn’t think to consider why they may think differently. This lead to less well thought out decisions as less ideas and thoughts being considered in decision making. Some of these ideas could have been gems, however I let my preconceive opinion that it was less intelligent get in the way, and didn’t stop to understand or consider the ideas and where they were coming from.
My understanding of this came late in the Mikes Bikes experience; however, when I allowed myself to really consider what people were saying and understand people I surprised myself as my perceptions of people changed. Jess in particular was someone who I has miss-interpreted and never bothered to understand. However, when making a real effort to understand her values and beliefs, I began to understand her arguments and believe they were more credible and intelligent than I had initially thought. My behaviour changed as I was listening and engaging with her a lot more. We were collaborating, and together came up with good ideas on how to calculate marketing costs, which was some of the key decisions in reducing costs. These ideas would not have come out onto the table had I not begun to understand her more and attempt to collaborate more.
In going back to the initial problem that I hated teamwork, I realise that it was a consequence of the way I acted in teams. I hated ending up with all the work, however it wasn’t that people didn’t want to contribute and collaborate, it was that they weren’t able to as I shut them down because I didn’t understand where they coming from. Therefore I made myself do all the work as I didn’t see others contribution as valuable because I didn’t understand it.
What this experience has showed me is that in order to have effective teamwork I need to practice working on my human skills (Katz, 1955). I need to learn to get to know people better so that I understand their values and beliefs, and not simply jump to premature perceptions. In understanding this I can appreciate their words and behaviour, thus can better see the value in what they are saying. If I can see this value I will be less likely to insinuate that I think they are less intelligent, and therefore they will be more likely to participate, and provide the value which would otherwise be missed. This will improve both the end decision and also the interpersonal relationship as there is more mutual respect for opinions.
Going forward into the future, I currently see myself as becoming a business coach. I want to work with small businesses to help them to grow their business. This involves teamwork and a lot of interpersonal skills. I know I will be working with all sorts of people, and understanding the existence of different values and beliefs will go a long way to appreciating their viewpoints and where they are coming from. This will better enable me to communicate and collaborate with clients and colleagues in a way where there is mutual understanding and respect, which will result in better decisions and more results from the coaching.
A second Journey Management took me on was one to learn how to learn. I thought I knew how to learn, I knew how pick up information and put it back down into an exam script. I thought this was learning because this was how learning at school had always been done. However, Argyris (1991) was right when he said “most people don’t know how to learn”.
I identified early on that Management 300 would give me concrete experiences to utilise in future (Rozendaal, 2014a). I realised that I would be able to test out ways of working in groups and try things out in a safe environment (Rozendaal, 2014a). What I didn’t realise was not only would it give me experiences for the future, but it would teach me how to analyse and interpret these experiences so that I can continue to gain insight and learn from my experiences past the curse of management 300.
Going back to my first learning journal (Rozendaal, 2014a) where I recognised I would have concrete experiences from this course that I could draw on in future. I realise now that I didn’t recognise how I would actually use these experiences. I didn’t know how to use them, and I don’t know how to process them in order to learn from them. Daudelin’s (1996) framework helped in the process of learning how to reflect. In realising what the problem was, it was easier to analyse it (Daudelin, 1996). In analysing it I would search for possibilities and find out why It was a problem or if it is a problem (Daudelin, 1996), this is where the double loop learning occurs and where a deeper understanding of underlying assumptions are made (Synnott, 2013). This is the main element in the process of reflection I struggled with. Formulation and testing of hypothesis is where I now know I can draw in my past experiences and use them to do better in future. Creating meaning from the current or past event that serves as a guide for the future is what Daudelin (1996) defines as learning, and I have certainly learned how to do this thought management 300.
Although I recognised early on the benefits of having concrete experiences, I struggled with the analysis of them throughout the weekly journals. In my week 5 journal (Rozendaal, 2014b) I began to understand double loop learning, however was stuck in what Argyris (1991) describes as single-loop learning. I was looking at the problem, and trying to fix it without looking inward and asking myself why I was fixing it, and the reasoning behind it. Using the example of the learning developed above, this single loop learning is outlined in Learning Journal 7 (Rozendaal, 2014d), whereby I explained that our problem of disjointed teamwork was that we weren’t working together, so we need to work together more. This is single loop learning as I have simply thought about a short term fix, and have not considered the underlying assumptions that make up the poor teamwork, or why we are trying to fix it. Furthermore, I have defensive reasoning as I have blamed my team as a whole rather than looking inwards to see how I am contributing to the poor teamwork. To move into double-loop learning one must have deeper thinking and looks beyond the problem and challenge the underlying assumptions that support the goal of better team work (Synnott, 2013). I struggled to move into this double loop learning as I tended to instead move into what Argyris (1991) explains as the doom-loop. Argyris (1991) looked at a consulting company and found that many people were refusing to learn because they would get defensive about their past actions and the mistakes they made, often blaming these small mistakes on others (Argyris, 1991). In looking over my journals, many of them involved the failures of the team and what we needed to change as a team to improve. Such as in journal 7 (Rozendaal, 2014d), where I explained that the whole team needed to collaborate in order to have better decision making. I avoided looking inwards at myself and looking at how I was directly affecting the poor decision making. I didn’t want to admit that it was my fault that the team had poor teamwork. This is most likely because I had always thought I was good at collaborating, and didn’t think I was directly to blame for the poor performance. This ‘doom-loop’ blocks individuals from learning as they don’t look inwards at themselves and therefore don’t recognise how they can learn to act differently in a particular situation (Argyris, 1991).
In later learning journals, I began to recognise the part I played in the ineffective teamwork, I realised my actions were contributing to the poor teamwork , and I began to emerge out of the doom-loop (Rozendaal, 2014e). I realised that I was personally shutting down others contributions and should allow others to have their say. This was where I broke the doom-loop and began to look inwards at myself and my actions, which is where I really began to learn a lot more about my interpersonal skills.
Although I had broken out of the doom-loop, I had not yet begun to use double-loop learning. I was not questioning my underlying assumptions of my actions, nor did I understand the reasons why I was acting this way. This was outlined in Journal 8 ((Rozendaal, 2014e) where I knew I was shutting people out of the conversation; however I didn’t understand the reasons behind why I was doing it, nor why I should change the behaviour. I simply assumed that the whole team should be on the same page, and that everyone should contribute.
In week 10 (Rozendaal, 2014e), I began to look deeper into my actions and why I was cutting people out, discovering that it was because I didn’t think they had anything to contribute as I saw them as less intelligent. Although this is deeper reflection, I still hadn’t questioned my reasoning for why I wanted everyone to contribute and whether it was better. It wasn’t until this summative Journal that I really began to understand the benefit of the double-loop as I began to actually do it. I looked at the consequences of blocking people out, and also discovered that I knew the benefits of the collaborative teamwork. I looked beyond the immediate problem and recognised how to solve it in a long term way and why I should improve. I was digging deeper to look at the root of the problem while also looking at the big picture and how the overall direction of the team and its strategy was changed though my actions and the assumptions that underlay them. I feel as though learning why I was not allowing collaboration of the whole team and knowing why it’s beneficial was a significant learning curve. I had recognised something within myself that I would never have come up with had it not been for the reflective process and for learning how to think in a double-loop.
In discovering how to analyse the problems and using double-loop learning to do so, I learned how to have a solid basis to formulate a hypothesis and determine an action upon. Practicing creating meaning from past experiences using double loop learning, and using these learning’s as a guide for future behaviour every single week meant that I was getting better at it and also beginning to understand the value it offered. I can use this experience in reflection as a guide for future reflection, which is what learning is about according to Daudelin (1996).
I can see myself applying this experience in reflection to future work. As I have said, I see myself becoming a business coach in the future, and I feel reflection will be a powerful tool in improving my interactions with clients every week. I know how to reflect on how meeting have gone and know how to improve and learn from them though the reflection process. Argyris (1991) stated “most people don’t know how to learn.” But now I do.
Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4—15
Christensen, C. M. (2010). How will you measure your life? Harvard Business Review, 88(7/8), 46-51.
Daudelin, M. W. (1996). Learning from experience through reflection. Organizational Dynamics, 24(3), 36—48
Katz, R. L. (1955). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review, 33(1), 33--42.
Rozendaal, J. (2014a). I'm Learning that I will learn how to learn though reflection. Retrieved From https://wiki.auckland.ac.nz/display/MGMT300/I%27m+Learning+that+I+will+learn+how+to+learn+though+reflection
Rozendaal, J. (2014b). Learning to question my reasoning though reflection. Retrieved From https://wiki.auckland.ac.nz/display/MGMT300/Learning+to+question+my+reasoning+though+reflection
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Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). Leadership run amok. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72—82
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