Learning Team Dynamics and Analysis

A team can be greater than the sum of its individual parts. During the storming stage, members became uncomfortable with one another, since no discernible group structure existed. Problems arose when team members did not meet deadlines and did not properly format research. We implemented negotiation as a conflict management strategy and effectively resolved the quarrel. Dynamics of any team can only work if it is well-balanced and if an effort is made by all. Every role is important for the success of a team. After analyzing Jung’s Psychological Types, we were able to outline our specific strengths and challenges we may face. [Ph.D.1]

Learning Team Dynamics and Analysis Below you will find the important processes and strategies we used to form the A-Team. We believe a team can be greater than the sum of its parts and we evaluated the personality type of each of our five members in order to better ourselves and our team. During development, we faced and overcame a conflict that taught us a valuable lesson concerning the importance of communication. We all engage in different roles in order to have a working team and the absence of one role can shatter the success of any team as a whole. This is why we took extra caution in the early stages of development.[Ph.D.2]

Team Development Processes The A-Team began its forming stage at the start of the class when everyone was excited and filled with high expectations. We posted much discussion in an effort to get acquainted. According to Tuckman and Jensen (1977), this is the phase when team members test and feel their way along. The storming phase came next and was a little challenging because we were faced with a conflict that caused some hostility and fears of failure for the team. It was in this stage, members became uncomfortable with one another, but we implemented negotiation as a conflict management strategy[Ph.D.3] and effectively resolved the quarrel.

During the norming stage, we established rules of acceptable conduct (norms). Lewin and Schecter (1995) suggest this is when a strong, cohesive, clique-free team exists that embodies a value system of mutual care and concern; a positive peer culture. Throughout this stage, we shared leadership and began to experience a sense of belonging and stability. In the performing phase, our team began striving for common goals. We believe this is our current phase because we have developed cohesiveness and we can openly communicate to complete assigned tasks. We consider the A-Team an airplane in a cloudless sky…on cruise control expecting little to no turbulence. Unfortunately, all teams dissolve at class end so when we reach the adjourning phase it could be difficult and/or emotional.

Strategies According to Finholt (1997), virtual teams and groups are a mixture of people who collaborate closely even though they are separated by space, time, and organizational barriers. At first it seemed some of us were still adjusting to communication in virtual classrooms so it was tough finding efficient ways to manage our team processes. Our newsgroup is used as the main forum for brainstorming. In addition, MSN messenger has proven to be invaluable for our discussions.

Lastly, we rely on personal e-mail and the telephone as alternate communication methods. The A-Team Charter notes that from time to time acts of God or family commitments create barriers for attending meetings. We have all followed our lead and done well at informing someone as soon as possible when this occurs. As with every team, conflict will arise. Our breakdown in communication had the potential to dissipate our team. One lesson each member learned is that conflict can and does happen, but if resolved correctly the lesson learned is all that matters.

Individual Development Roles and Dynamics

According to the roles of team effectiveness scale, Alex is an initiator (McShane, 2002). He builds agendas for meetings and begins discussions. Alex is also a harmonizer because he remains neutral during conflict, attempting to loosen tension using humor. Barry and Sarah fall into the information giver category, as both are eager to share gathered information with the team. While Barry possesses a lot of knowledge, he and Charles act as encouragers. They search for new ideas and promote team members to voice their opinions. Charles and Sarah act as information seekers for the group, supporting and challenging different points-of-view, reviewing given data and double-checking outside sources as well as statements of other team members. Jennifer belongs to the coordinator/evaluator class. She brings ideas together into one flow of information, keeps the team on track and confronts conflict issues as well as problematic material.

“Teams comprise an important structural component of many organizations” (Maznevski ; Chudoba 2000). The dynamics of a team can only work if the team is well-balanced meaning an effort is made by all. Every role is important for the success of a team. Without the “Initiator” role, the discussions would never start. “Information Seekers” and “Information Givers” collect relevant facts from legitimate sources and distribute them to each member. In the case that someone is unable to attend a meeting, the “Summarizer” would automatically post our chat. In turn, the absent individual would share responsibility and would have to make an effort to read the post. We do not currently have a “Summarizer” on our team, but if we were to reassign someone to that role, we might be able to better organize our discussions.

Self-Assessment Strengths and Challenges Due to individual completion of the Personality Assessment of Jung’s Psychological Types, we are better equipped to understand the possible influence each personality has on the effectiveness of our team. After analyzing the results, we were able to outline our specific strengths and challenges we may face. Four out of five members are extroverts rather than introverts, which means most of us are out-going and “[prefer] social settings” (Wethayanugoon, 1994). In addition, the results indicate that 4 out of 5 team members are sensing rather than intuitive and feeling rather than thinking. S[Ph.D.4]ensing individuals tend to be detail-oriented and focus on “immediate realities.” Feeling individuals prefer to make judgments based on “personal and social values” and tend to be “good at persuasion and facilitating differences among group members” (Georgia State University, 2004).

Although we value these attributes and consider the variety to be a strength, we anticipate possible challenges in the future. Extroverts tend to have strong personalities with an urge to take charge. We declared that any member taking measures into their own hands is to be confronted in a group meeting where the team will decide on what action to take. The A-Team does not have a leader so each member has agreed to all decisions being based on a majority rule. Another challenge that potentially exists is the presence of many feeling individuals. Although these people tend to be good at facilitating differences among group members, each will have different values and beliefs. To help avoid conflict, we allow each member to present his/her thoughts on any given topic. The team will make every effort to ensure that decisions do not contradict values of the team or of its individual members.

Conflict Management Tools

Problems arose during execution of the first team assignment when team members did not meet deadlines and did not properly format research. This created a lot of tension. We reestablished unity and faith using negotiation. Negotiation “occurs whenever two or more conflicting parties attempt to resolve their divergent goals by redefining the terms of their interdependence”(McShane, 2002). Constructive negotiation can enhance the disputants’ relationship by increasing trust and understanding (Pruitt ; Carnevale, 1993).

Our team applied this method over chat sessions to discuss the problem, which allowed all team members to express their feelings, present their ideas for resolution and reach the best conclusion. Another method for conflict resolution is third-party intervention…when a neutral person helps to resolve conflict. A professor would be appropriate to serve this role when pertaining to UoP learning teams. In our case, we utilized negotiation, which happened to work. We believe that third-party intervention should be used as a last result; we believe we can internally find a resolution. Open communication, planning and team dynamics are all parts of conflict prevention that could be utilized in order to avoid conflict.

Conclusion

The A-Team has learned many things individually and as a group. As a majority, we are outgoing, we are sensors and we are feelers but no two members are just alike; however, we overcame conflict and reinstated trust without resulting to third-party intervention. We realized we may need to reevaluate our role playing in order to fill all those necessary for the functional success of a team. Communication directly affects the dynamics of teamwork, meaning as communication increases, the dynamics will be soon to follow. Through our assignment we have been able to recognize areas in which we are lacking and plan to take corrective action in order to alleviate our weaknesses.