Leading Your Life
Teams Support Your Learning Commitment
At DeVry, we prepare you to be successful in your career. One skill that you will need to be successful in the workplace is the ability to take all that you have learned in this course and apply it to working in teams. You will be on many teams in the workplace, so DeVry will help you prepare for that by letting you work on teams in many of your classes. Here is some information that will help you as you move forward.
At some points in our lives, all of us have worked on a team; your team may have been at work, at school, or in a community organization. However, you may not know the following facts about teams:
• All teams go through stages of team development.
• Individual members may prefer certain roles on the team.
• Teams establish rules and norms that govern how the team will work together.
• Conflict is a normal and often productive part of teamwork.
• Differences in culture, values, generations, and gender impact how teams perform.
• Virtual teams share many of the challenges of face-to-face teams.
Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing
When teams form and need to accomplish a goal, there are a number of stages that the team goes through in order to complete the project. In the lecture this week, follow Team DeVry as the teammates go through these stages of team development.
Team DeVry is a group of students similar to you and your team. Like you, they need to complete a team project; like some of you, they are a virtual team. To get started, they decide to collect some information about each other. They begin with a chart that includes the time zones where the members live. To this chart, they decide to add phone numbers, work hours, and the three most convenient times to contact each other.
In this early stage of team development, team members get to know each other and define their limits of acceptable behavior.
Team DeVry is using this week to complete its chart and find out more about each other. So far, things are going great!
In this stage, the team begins with a lack of unity. They share views on how to proceed, often experiencing some degree of conflict. This stage is a continuation of the forming stage as members gain a deeper understanding of other members.
Team DeVry is having some difficulties deciding whether the members will communicate by e-mail or teleconferencing, usingwww.freeconferencing.com. Five of the members – Beth, Kendra, Anthony, Zak, and Stefanie – would like to communicate using instant messaging, but Robert, Jamal, and Nicole have work conflicts at the time that everyone else would like to meet.
There is no need to worry – this is characteristic of the storming stage.
In this stage, good communication skills and tolerance come to bear in order to set the framework for working together in an effective and efficient way to achieve objectives. Routines start to surface as group members determine their roles in the group and begin to understand how they will interact.
Team DeVry has worked out its differences and is now on task to meet its goals. The teammates have agreed on multiple communication methods with which all team members feel comfortable, and they have established a weekly routine to get their assignments completed. Like others in this stage, they take their work seriously and want to succeed.
Often called the synergy stage, this stage is reached when members are comfortable enough with each other to put aside differences and focus exclusively on team objectives. Group members enact their roles and assess their performance.
Team DeVry has finished its project, and the teammates are satisfied with their final result. Like any team, this group has had some difficult meetings that have included conflict among members. In the long run, if members feel that this effort was worth their grade, they are more likely to view group projects positively, and they will continue to have positive team experiences in the future. If not, they will continue to struggle with teamwork until they have had a positive experience.
Team roles are most often put into three categories:
• Task roles – Members are concerned with plans of action, facts, and evidence.
• Maintenance Roles – Members are concerned about keeping harmony within the group.
• Individualistic Roles – Members are self-centered and put their own needs and interests ahead of those of the team.
What do you think would happen to Team DeVry if all team members took on task roles? What if they all took on maintenance roles?
Rules, Norms, and Conflict
On teams, rules and norms establish the procedures for how the team will work together. These procedures can play a large role in how conflict is managed. Like team roles, team members may also take on conflict management styles.
Avoiders will do anything to avoid conflict.
Accommodators are willing to give up if the issue is not important to them.
Compromisers are willing to give up something to get something in return.
Collaborators are looking for a win-win situation.
Controllers want their own way and do not consider the goals of other team members.
Think back to Team DeVry and the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing. In what stage do you think that they would be setting up rules and norms? In what stage would be they be most likely to encounter conflict?
Diversity and Teams
Diversity can take place across culture, values, generation, and gender. Review the definitions of culture, values, generation, and gender in your text, and then review the section on groupthink. Finally, read the example given below.
The members of a work team are all friends who come from the same background, share the same interests, and are all the same gender. How will the diversity of this team impact their decision making? What strategies could this team use to avoid groupthink?
As a member of this class, you may be a member of a virtual team. Keep in mind what your textbook says about successful virtual teams:
• Communicate clearly and frequently.
• Think about how your messages will be received.
• Keep meetings organized and on task.
• Make sure that everyone gets to ask their questions in the meeting to avoid later confusion.
• Find an easily accessible way to share your work.