I am currently in my fourth year at the university, studying a conjoint degree, and have surprisingly encountered very few courses that incorporate teamwork as part of the course work. Despite this, teamwork is something that I have never shied away from, and in fact, have always embraced it and tended to perform well when part of a team. This is something which Katzenbach and Smith (1992) say is not an uncommon experience, and people do tend to perform better when they are included as part of a team. For my own experiences studying in teams, I would say that they are limited but varied. Just last semester in another Management course (314) there was an assessment requiring for a team presentation. This group was a success not just for the end result grade but also the way by which our team operated throughout the entirety of the assessment; from being given the assessment to finishing the presentation. In regards to what Katzenbach and Smith discussed I would say that a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that this definitely felt like an inclusive team experience, rather than just a group of different people having to work together. This is because we made sure to interact and communicate and interact with one another throughout the entire assignment process.
Outside of University I have encountered teamwork in several different areas of my life. I have always participated in sports teams and other groups outside of school and university. I have also worked in retail for the past few years and have been an assistant manager during this time. Even though I only assumed this role for a few months in between study it did give me a decent insight into how teamwork and leadership can work in the ‘real world’. In a work situation there are far more variances in personalities and goals within the team than I had encountered from teamwork at university. I believe this was due to the fact that most team work at university was more focused towards a common goal; passing or achieving well in the course. At work however there were far more variances between the motivating factors, there were people who only needed to be there to collect a pay check, students who just needed a small steady income, other workers in positions of authority, people who were not attached to the job at all and did not care, those that had high sales goals and wanted to achieve, and so on. This was definitely something that was hard to manage, but at the time was never something that I dwelled upon. From having worked there for a decent amount of time up until assuming a position of authority, I was already decent friends with all the other workers, meaning that I did have a decent understanding of the nuances and variances between each and every other employee. Once this was understood it made it easier to manage the team as a whole to be successful.
What I think will be significantly different for the assessment for this course is that the goals for the group that I was put into are all the same. This should make it easier to establish a common grounds for how much time and effort we want to put into it. However, there was no familiarity between any of the members of the group, and so it will take time to get to know each other’s personalities and work habits in order to function best. This almost makes it completely opposite to what I had experienced in my work but more or less the same from my most recent group assignment from last semester. I can see how Tuckman’s model (1965) is applicable not only in this situation but all the other teamwork situations I have been involved in. The leadership role I found myself in at work meant that the ‘forming’ stage was far short than it will be for the assessment in this course. However the latter stages of the model will probably form far different to this, and assumedly more in line with how my other university teamwork assessments have gone. This is that the ‘storming’, and ‘norming’ stages require far more time and input in order for the final performance to be a success.
Overall I am excited to work as part of a team again, because as I mentioned, I have always managed to perform better when participating in a team for university work. I would say that I am not too nervous about how the team will perform, but this might be largely due to the fact that I have not encountered too much conflict within teams in the past. Upon meeting with my team and seeing that we all wanted the same goals and that other members had had successful team assessments in other courses I do feel confident that this can be successful as well.
Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. K. (1992). Why teams matter. McKinsey Quarterly, (3), 3-27
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental Sequence in Small Groups, Psychological Bulletin. Pp 384-99.