So what have I learnt about teams this week? To be honest I feel most of what was taught in classes this week I felt like it was most things I was already aware of. I know the problems with teams; conflict, free riders and clashes of personality. These are all things that I have unfortunately experienced many, many times, oh the stories I could tell about being my teams! So where to if I feel like I know all about teams, which I most definitely do not. To begin with Daudelin (1996) again there needs to be an articulation on a problem so I can, through reflection, discover what I have learnt about teams. I would say my biggest problem with teams is building an effective team, a team that is not merely just existing or as the reading says ‘’Not just groups of people with a label attached” (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992).
To analyse this problem in more detail, as Daudelin (1996) suggests, I would say that it is not teams itself I have an issue with, in fact I rather get excited about being in a team. I agree with the reading that teams can outperform the individuals by a huge margin and this can be seen in my own experiences (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992). Being in teams gives me a chance to be social in an academic way which I love, I enjoy hearing others ideas and bouncing my own ideas off them. But the issue with teams for me is finding the people that actually want to contribute their ideas and have the same excitement as me. I have always found that within my teams it is usually me and one other really putting in the effort, and in a group of eight, that is not a good ratio! As the reading suggests a team as such as the one I just stated can become an inefficient team that is well under performing (Oakley, Felder, Brent & Elhajj, 2004). So therefore perhaps I may actually have formed a negative opinion on teams over the years. This has meant that when I get put into teams I get very frightened of the whole process because I might end up in this such thing we call a ‘bad team’ or more correctly an ineffective team. Building from my last week’s reading, the ambiguity of the unknown about what sort of team you will end up in could also be effecting my expectations of teams.
This brings me to my next part of my reflection learning, testing a theory to solve my problem (Daudelin, 1996). This is where my learning from the past week has occurred. Through discussions in class of my problem of building an effective team, I believe the main solution for this issue is the consolidation of goals and expectations within a team. The idea of the importance of these alignment goals and expectations can be reiterated in the readings when it states that doing so should result in a reference for teams to rely on and hopefully a functioning team (Oakley et al., 2004). So to test this theory I have had to be honest and think critically about what do I really want from a team? Do I want to merely survive? No way. Do I want easy going group? Not what I am at university for. Do I want to be in a competitive group? Maybe but winning actually isn’t much to me. So therefore I chose learning, a team that is focused on learning is a team that I will see concrete returns from in knowledge, which is what I am at university for.
This brings me to my final stage of reflection as suggest by Daudelin (1996), deciding whether to act, and what is the successfulness of this action. Will aligning our goals and expectations bring us effectiveness? Will this learning based team bring me success in hopes for a ‘good team’? From my first experience of my team, which are all learning orientated people, I have high hopes!
Daudelin, M. W. (1996). Learning from experience through reflection. Organizational Dynamics, 24(3), 36—48
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.