Magoosh GRE

The process of preparing and delivering our team’s presentation

| February 1, 2017

Abstract

In any organizational or institutional setting, teamwork is usually instrumental in meeting departmental or organizational objectives. Even with the benefits that are associated with groups or teamwork, there are several challenges that may hinder attainment of the set objectives. This paper presents the process that was involved in the preparation and delivery of our group presentation. It discusses the stages of development that the group went through, highlighting the exercises that were undertaken at each stage. With reference to group motivation theory, it addresses the approaches that were used during the group exercise to motivate members to contribute towards the exercise. It has also presented the competencies that group members developed in the course of the group exercise.

Introduction

This paper provides an overview of the processes involved in the preparation and delivery of our team presentation. It relates the group work process to theories and literature on organizational behavioural theory that can be used to explain dynamics in group and teamwork. The main concepts to be covered in this paper include group and team development, motivation and learning at work. Group development is defined as the stages that groups undergo, from creation of the group to accomplishment of the assigned task (Bonebright, 2010). Motivation, which is a vital determinant of productivity, refers to the approaches used to trigger a desire in an individual to be more dedicated to the accomplishment of their tasks (Sachau, 2007). Learning at work, or team learning, is the attainment of skills by individuals in the course of the group task (Zellmer-Bruhn & Gibson, 2006).

Group and Team Development

This are the stages through which undergo from assembling team members to attainment of the set objective. There are different models that can be used to describe the process or group development. One of the widely used models is Bruce Tuckman’s four-stage model formulated in 1965, which divides the development process into four stages. These are forming, storming, norming and performing (Egolf & Chester, 2013). Whereas some teams undergo all these stages in group development, some end at the norming stage, which was also the case with our team. This section relates the development of our group with reference to Tuckman’s four-stage model.
According to Bonebright (2010), the forming stage involves creating an understanding of one’s team members. It is also characterized by the desire of individual team members to be accepted as part of the larger group (Hill & Parsons, 2014). In our team, this stage of group development involved activities that could enable us to work together and be more productive. Team members spent time interacting and knowing about each other so as to eliminate the tension that could prevent them from effectively working together. This stage also involved the appointment of the group leader, setting of ground rules and agreeing upon the meeting schedules. Conflicts were minimal at this stage, which can be attributed to the fact that challenges associated with teamwork had not yet arisen.
The second stage in group development is storming. This is the stage where different ideas or opinions are presented by group members for consideration (Garfield & Dennis, 2012). It is highly likely for group members to present conflicting opinions, which also triggers rivalry and tension within the group. Whereas conflicts might be considered as being adverse towards attainment of the team’s objectives, constructive conflicts provide a chance for group members to select the appropriate options to pursue in addressing the task at hand (Fleishman et al., 2008; De Wit et al., 2012). This is the most critical stage in group development, and issues have to be resolved before moving to the next stage (Egolf & Chester, 2013). Referring to the process of delivering our team’s presentation, some of the conflicts that arose included the theories to incorporate in the presentation or the sources to be used. For instance, I questioned why the group leader insisted on using books as our main sources, yet peer reviewed journals that were readily available in the college library database could also be used to compliment books. Other group members also questioned why they could not use any source they come across on the internet. However, these conflicts were minor and short lived.
The third stage is of group developing is referred to as norming (Egolf & Chester, 2013). After the conflicts have been resolved in the storming stage, the effectiveness of the team begins to increase, trust among team members grows and the individual differences are appreciated (Garfield & Dennis, 2012). This was the final stage of development for our group. For the functionality of the team, some group members stopped persisting with their ideas for the sake of avoiding conflict. There was also an increased cohesion among members, and as opposed to conflicting opinions that characterized the storming stage, team members showed support for each other, and provided constructive feedback for each others’ contribution to the team. The fourth stage of group development is referred to as productivity. According to Egolf and Chester (2013), not all groups progress to this stage. Our group did not get to this stage based on the fact that the task that was to be accomplished was short-term.
In summary, the developments that took place in our group, as well as the issues that characterized them, closely relate to Tuckman’s four stage model (forming, storming norming and performance). The fact that the group exercise was short-term meant that the group development did not progress to the performance stage, but the objective of the team was met.

Group Motivation

Motivation in teamwork incorporates all the efforts that are made by team members to increase the cohesion and levels of productivity of the entire team (Wright et al., 2012). With reference to Hertzberg’s dual factor theory of motivation, there is a set of factors that increases the productivity of individuals in accomplishing their tasks. There is also another separate set of factors that cause dissatisfaction and thus, limit individual productivity (Sachau, 2007). This section addresses the approaches that were used to motivate group members.
In group work, one of the motivation approaches is through ensuring effective communication among all people within the group (Dunin-Keplicz & Verbrugge, 2011). In group work, responsibilities are divided into smaller tasks and assigned to members depending on their competence. Given that all these sub-tasks contribute towards the attainment of the overall team objective, it is necessary for all team members to communicate about the progress of their respective tasks. This will avoid situations where some members unknowingly derail, or fail to complete their tasks within the agreed upon time limits (Lencioni, 2012). During the preparation and delivery of our group presentation, we ensured that communication between us was effective. This was done by requesting all group members to provide their phone numbers and email addresses. We also followed each other on social media platforms. This ensured that if there was a breakdown in one communication channel, there was always another viable objective.
When handling group tasks, it is vital to schedule regular meetings in consideration of the responsibilities of all group members. This ensures that every group member is available during the meeting (Dunin-Keplicz & Verbrugge, 2011). Regular meetings also allow for close consultations between group members in case some group members hit a snag in completing the tasks that they have been assigned (Lencioni, 2012). Most of the members in our team were dedicated and never skipped meetings. Whereas there were team members who easily handled the tasks that they had been allocated, there are some who found it quite challenging to accomplish their tasks. We understood the fact that there are some people who are quicker than others in accomplishing their assigned tasks than others is common. Thus, instead of reprimanding them, we took to the initiative to ensure that group members who had a challenge in completing their tasks were assisted to complete them.
Motivation in teamwork also entails making everybody feel like they valuable members (Hill & Parsons, 2014). For instance, if a decision is to be made about a project, the opinions of all group members have to be considered. This encourages constructive debates, which are vital for rational decision making. The group members’ motivation to deliver may be adversely affected if major decisions are only made by a section of the team, which may also lead to groupthink. Groupthink is a common phenomenon in teamwork where the fear of conflicts, or desire for group conformity and harmony, causes other group members to agree with decisions made by others. This is regardless of whether they are suitable or not (De Wit et al., 2012). During our group work, all members were allowed to actively engage in discussions and every opinion presented was listened to. Even though it was not possible to implement incorporate all members’ opinions in decision making, reasons why some opinions were considered over others was also clearly explained to all group members. Our team was culturally diverse, and included people from both genders. Therefore, tasks were distributed in consideration of this diversity.
Different approaches were used to motivate group members. However, even with the efforts that were made to optimize the productivity of every group member, there were some individuals who failed to attend group meetings without good reasons. Regardless of these drawbacks, the rest of the team worked diligently to the completion of the project.

Learning at Work

Learning at work refers to the skills and competencies that members of a team learn as they collectively accomplish a task (Zellmer-Bruhn & Gibson, 2006). Typically, the abilities of each individual in the team will vary, with each being more competent in some areas, less competent in others In this regard team members learn from each other through sharing knowledge so as to compliment one another’s skills (Dunin-Keplicz & Verbrugge, 2011). This section discusses the process of team learning within the group during the exercise.
Team members have to ensure that they have created strong relationships and trust amongst themselves to facilitate team learning. Failure to create a team environment that allows members to learn from one another may undermine the attainment of the overall team objective (Lencioni, 2012). Learning at work or team leaning can be made possible through observations, dialogue and reflection (Hill & Parsons, 2014). Team members should be willing to enable those who are not as competent as they are in certain aspects that are vital to the accomplishment of the team’s objective to improve. Likewise, team members who lack some competencies ought to take the initiative to learn through observation or asking for assistance (Zellmer-Bruhn & Gibson, 2006).
One of the models that can be used to understand team leaning is the action-learning cycle (Coghlan & Rigg, 2012). Action learning is a continuous learning process, where individuals from their own experiences and actions, as well as those of other members of their team. Through their own experience, people learn to avoid repeating mistakes they did and continue to improve their competencies in certain disciplines. The action-learning cycle was designed to enable individuals to draw lessons from their experiences by making analytical reflections of their actions (Pedler & ‎Abbott, 2013). This means that lessons from past experiences can guide present actions, while lessons learnt from the current experience can be used to guide future actions.
In the course of the preparation and delivery of our group presentation, team members learnt from each other in different ways. Based on the relationship that had been developed between team members, dialogue was one of the most used approaches for team learning. Group members were willing to share information with others to improve each other’s levels of competence. For instance, one two of our team members were competent in using different data analysis approaches so as to come up with relevant conclusions on the research topic. In addition to this, while most of us were comfortable with the basic function of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, one of the team members and I, were more competent with the more advanced options. Therefore, we spent some time during meetings learning from and teaching each other. Learning took different approaches, which included reflections and observations. Even though some of the competencies that were learnt were not improved to the extent that perfection was attained, most of the group members had improved their skills in one aspect or other. I improved my confidence and public speaking skills through the mock presentations that were held by the group in preparation for the final presentation to a larger audience.. All team members also learnt several concepts that could enable them to be more productive members of teams in future.
In summary, the group exercise was instrumental in developing some competencies that every group member lacked. As mentioned, different approaches were used in learning or teaching each other about different concepts that were challenging for different group members.

Conclusion

The capability of an individual to be a productive member of a team is one of the vital competencies that are required for success in any aspect of life. In the preparation and delivery of our group presentation, several characteristics of groups, which relate to organizational behavioural theory, were identified. This paper has presented an overview of the factors that characterized the team working process. One of these is the process through which the ram developed through the formation, storming and norming stages. Based on the fact that the group assignment was short-term, we did not get into the performance stage. The motivation factors that contributed towards the achievement of the overall team goal have also been presented in this paper. Ways in which different group members leant from each other to improve their competencies in several areas have also been addressed in this paper. Whereas the group task was successfully accomplished, some of the few drawbacks that affected the research have also been presented.

References

Bonebright, D.A., 2010. 40 years of storming: a historical review of Tuckman’s model of small group development. Human Resource Development International, 13(1), pp.111-20.

Coghlan, D. & Rigg, C., 2012. Action learning as praxis in learning and changing. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 20, pp.59-89.

De Wit, F.R.C., Greer, L.L. & Jehn, K.A., 2012. The Paradox of Intragroup Conflict. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, pp.360-90.

Dunin-Keplicz, B. & Verbrugge, R‎., 2011. Teamwork in Multi-Agent Systems: A Formal Approach. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Egolf, D. & Chester, S., 2013. Forming Storming Norming Performing. Bloomington: IUniverse.

Fleishman, R., O’Leary, R‎. & Gerard, ‎C., 2008. Recent Developments in Conflict Resolution and Collaboration. London: Emerald Group Publishing.

Garfield, M.J. & Dennis, A.R., 2012. Toward an Integrated Model of Group Development: Disruption of Routines by Technology-Induced Change. Journal of Management Information Systems, 29(3), pp.43-86.

Hill, F. & Parsons, L‎., 2014. Teamwork in the Management of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. New Jersey: Routledge.

Lencioni, P., 2012. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Intact Teams Participant Workbook. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Miner, J.B., 2005. Organizational Behavior: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Pedler, M. & ‎Abbott, C., 2013. Facilitating Action Learning: A Practitioner’S Guide. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill International.

Sachau, D.A., 2007. Resurrecting the motivation-hygiene theory: Herzberg and the positive psychology movement. Human Resource Development Review, 6(4), pp.377-93.

Wright, B.E., Moynihan, D.P. & Pandey, S.K., 2012. Pulling the Levers: Transformational Leadership, Public Service, Motivation, and Mission Valence. Public Administration Review, 72(2), p.206–215.

Zellmer-Bruhn, M. & Gibson, C., 2006. Multinational organization context: Implications for team learning and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 49(3), pp.501-18.

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