This individual reflection paper examines various aspects of teamwork that I found helpful during our final Global Master of Business Administration (GMBA) Capstone group project, “EcoDee.” It connects environmentally conscious tradespeople with like-minded consumers in need of their services. Using different concepts, such as Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and Kolb’s Learning Cycle, this paper will highlight the challenges, learnings, and ways to improve working in fast-paced, pressured, and virtual team environments.
Teamwork is a group’s collaborative effort to attain a specific objective or accomplish a task most effectively. Today, teamwork plays a crucial role, especially in enhancing quality, determining firm governance and strategy, launching, designing products and reengineering systems (Balhareth, 2018). Moreover, teamwork is responsible for bringing individuals together in a situation where they can share ideas to achieve the same goal.
The past nine weeks of our GMBA Immersion group work have highlighted those dimensions of teamwork that reflect efficiency and success. According to Schultz, McEwen, and Griffiths (2016), there are five dimensions of teamwork: adaptability, communication, leadership, decision-making and coordination. To establish the connection between teamwork and its dimensions, this paper will use different concepts to define a business idea that brings together eco-friendly and sustainability-conscious tradespeople and liked-minded consumers via a mobile application.
Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
Theories may be of good use to the given business. They guide and provide meaning to what individuals perceive in their daily activities (Rubenstein, Ridgley, Callan, Karami, & Ehlinger, 2018). For instance, when researchers collect and investigate data via observation, investigators need clear ideologies concerning relevant data (Cullen & Wilcox, 2018). In the business environment, the social cognitive theory by Bandura (2005) has helped organisations with regard to teamwork. Bandura (1969) stresses the significance of imitating, modelling and observing other people’s emotions, attitudes and behaviours.
The theory focuses on different cognitive processes that workers encounter during learning. Employees can gain knowledge from others in the sustainability and the eco-friendly industry, referred to as vicarious learning (Font, Garay, & Jones 2016). The learner carefully watches how a specific model functions and influences operations (Connolly, 2017). When an appropriate situation arises, the learner will replicate the action to achieve the same results.
Kolb’s Learning Cycle
David Kolb’s cycle is a theory that describes the learning process requiring experience. Schultz et al. (2016) state that for knowledge to develop, experience is crucial since learning occurs through active participation and discovery. The theory has two sections that define the process of learning, particularly in the workplace. The first part states that learning requires four stages: active experimentation, concrete experience, reflective observation and abstract conceptualisation (Levesque et al., 2017). In other words, Kolb perceived learning as a progression through the four stages, thereby transforming learners’ experiences into knowledge (McKinney, 2017). The second part of Kolb’s theory focuses on the different styles of learning. Kolb’s (1984) perception is that learners can show that they have acquired knowledge when they are able to apply it in inappropriate situations successfully. Thus, for knowledge to occur, an individual should encounter new experiences.
Through collaboration, the group offered to create a mobile app that would bring together tradespeople and individuals interested in environmental preservation. According to Arreza’s (2020) research, 90% of Australian consumers are more likely to buy ethical and sustainable products, and 85% want retailers and brands to be more transparent about the sustainability of their products (para. 1). Although evidence-based research guided our decision-making process, reaching this decision was still a challenge that stimulated us to apply relevant theories. Based on the social cognitive ideology, some people learn independently while others observe. Some people, on the other hand, encounter teamwork for the first time and learn through experience, thus adhering to Kolb’s cycle.
All the team participants had their individual strengths and weaknesses. They were dedicated to the team and gave their energy and time. Every member contributed without expecting anything in return, thereby strengthening the group. The individuals were also adaptable to be resilient and versatile in the face of change. They were able to manage and comprehend the situation by viewing it from a different perspective. Every decision was made with the intention of benefiting tradespeople, consumers and, ultimately, the environment.
There were a few areas where the team needed to improve. The engagement level was well above what was expected. Being the final six-week sprint in our two-year GMBA journey, although suitably exhausted, everyone was still invigorated and supportive. Nevertheless, despite the success, we encountered some members working without involving themselves with the group as a contribution. The situation directly resulted from tight deadlines, significant workloads and working in remote teams across various time zones. The disadvantage of this was that some people could not grasp the concept other individuals were using. Through honest reflection amongst our team at the commencement of this final Immersion term, we addressed this situation openly, and we all agreed to work more cohesively.
The other area of improvement was the existence of biases in the group, which affected the decision-making process. Due to the nature of command-and-control decision-making teams, all the biases are linked to essential or novel decisions and promoted by time constraints and high levels of uncertainty (Jones & Roelofsma, 2000). Reflecting as a group at the start of this term, we recognised that groupthink had played a part in our previous terms work. Thus, we agreed to personally challenge the status quo and critically assess one another’s activities.
One of the critical components of teamwork experience is adaptability. When defined with Kolb’s theory, an individual can adjust to new experiences (Riley et al., 2016). Being able to learn from experience is advantageous because it allows one to develop. Without adaptability, most team members would not understand the concept proposed and, as a result, might lose interest. Personal engagement is one of the techniques that could be utilised to evaluate whether one is adaptable. Fortunately, in our team, all participants were proactive group members and showed interest in the subject discussed, thus being helpful and adaptable. Contrastingly, which was not evidenced in our team’s case, less proactive team participants demonstrated a lack of interest, which might be due to their poor adaptability.
Another crucial element is communication that exists within the group. According to Secheresse, Pansu, and Lima (2020), communication is the most vital teamwork component. Its goal is to ensure equal information dissemination, thereby eliminating wrong assumptions. To nurture good communication within the group, a leader should lead by example and be a good listener. One has to learn to listen, which is an essential part of building respect. To measure group participants’ understanding concerning the topic discussed, our group leader, at the end of every session, provided surveys that everyone could answer. The significance of this exercise was to find out which areas had the most reviews, thereby guiding the team in the right direction.
A team provides an opportunity for different people with specific skills to come together creatively. Culture and dynamics are essential factors in situations that require positive feedback (Balhareth, 2018). Self-efficacy refers to a situation where individuals can rely on their knowledge to accomplish tasks individually. This is an essential factor that defines the nature and culture of the team. Our group assignment topic of using the mobile phone application as an eco-friendly platform for tradespeople and consumers is an important topic that acts as a cohesive tool.
Each group member had a chance to think beyond current technologies, thereby increasing engagement and fostering group dynamics. The social cognitive theory promotes self-learning as part of the culture (Middleton, Hall, & Raeside, 2018). Our team members were required to conduct online research and refer to previous GMBA subjects, such as Be Sustainable, to research the topic in question.
While operating as a team, there are cultural biases that inhibit good decision-making. For instance, in the case of utilising the mobile application, some individuals believe that it would be inconvenient to other like-minded people because they may be unable to access the internet (Font et al., 2016).
Therefore, this is critical for people to understand the essence of utilising the mobile application. To achieve this goal, people should be self-regulated, which implies adhering to rules governing how they behave. In addition, the idea of groupthink correlates positively with cultural bias and prevents problem-solving and sound decision-making. Some group members with specific ideas might influence others to think in a particular way, thereby overriding the ability to provide alternative views. Discouraging groupthink is the most appropriate action that a team leader can perform to ensure that the group’s objective is met.
From observation, one can be able to see that the group has a strong structure. Our team had the correct number and mix of members, norms, processes and designs. According to Wallace (2019), an effective team includes participants whose skills are balanced. Our team had diversified knowledge, perspectives and views, along with diverse ages and races. The importance of this was that team members were able to avoid groupthink since this could have affected decision-making.
The group’s composition was based on what skills everyone had and how they contributed to sustainability and eco-friendliness. We brought technical skills and knowledge: Samara with her CSR skills, Akhil with his finance and supply chain expertise, Mirza with his sales and marketing skills, Rory with his Public Affairs and Tradesmen relationships, and me with digital marketing and technology expertise.
The team was engaged, oriented and energised when it was discussing the issue of sustainability as an eco-friendly resource amongst tradespeople for like-minded consumers to connect in a virtual marketplace. According to Levesque et al. (2017), for a group to be inspired, they should have something that guides their work rate. This objective is challenging, but it should be achieved to enhance the team’s spirit. The aims should be consequential, which shows that group members care about work outcomes. In this case, the results of the objective should satisfy the employee either intrusively or extrinsically. Providing direction makes it easier, particularly for members with distinctive backgrounds, to share different ideas. The result is that the outcome of work is more conclusive and convincing to the people it targets.
Leadership and group performance are also dependent on the team’s shared mindset. To avoid team participants’ division, they need to have a common task perception (McKinney, 2017). Prior to COVID-19, on-campus study groups were mostly made up of people who met in person during their meetings. Nevertheless, due to lockdowns and available technology, face-to-face meetings are no longer needed. Today’s groups may be diverse and can involve people worldwide. Leaders should ensure that they foster a distinct mindset for the team to be more cohesive. As our team discovered, a cohesive team mobilised all participants to work on a common goal. A disjointed group does not consider the effects of different mindsets. People would be divided, in this case, thus making it more difficult to work jointly.
Critical reflection on each learning experience was one of the most important takeaways from the GMBA course. According to David Kolb’s theory, learning is the process where knowledge is generated through experience transformations. Capstone Immersion 1 and 2 have served as a springboard for putting everything we have learned into action in an intense team environment with a common shared goal. Through this critical reflection, I have realised how my perceptions of teamwork have changed. Learnings leadership, communication, resilience, problem-solving processes can now be successfully critiqued and applied to my professional career.
The presented observation is a reflective mind map of my GMBA learning journey as seen through the lens of Social Cognitive Theory and the Kolb cycle. The diagram below is a map that shows the main dimensions of teamwork.
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