Mount Everest Peak: Effective Team and Performance Management

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Introduction

This is a reflective report on a group project undertaken by a group tasked to develop a response on how to take the team to the peak of Mount Everest successfully. The report will explore the experience, reflections, learning and possible alternative cause of actions from the team’s project.

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The team members have several team roles which were employed in the team to ensure team role balance. Generally, all team members participated actively in the team duties. However, my experience was not good since the team failed to obtain its objectives.

High-performance team principles affected the motivation, productivity and commitment of members (Hanlan, 2004, p.xvii). The quality of relationships among the team members was relatively low due to conflicts caused by roles overlap and personality differences.

The group employed group problem solving which is defined as the identification, defining and generation of the optimal solution, thus it helped to create team cohesion (Metusin et al., 2005, p.68). However, this strategy was a major cause of time wastage. Importantly, all members were involved in making key decisions affecting the teams or individuals in the team. In so doing, there was a sense of ownership of the group project and motivation. However, consensus decision-making process was very difficult, resulting in time wasting (Lewis, 2004, p.111).

Experience

My experience in the team project was rather unpleasant due to the numerous challenges that the team faced. During forming stage where we developed rules and regulations, communication structure, and decision making process the group faced misunderstandings that threatened team cohesiveness. Therefore, team effectiveness was very low in that phase of team development (Basu, 2004, p.24). The group members could not arrive at an agreement on important matters. The chart below shows various stages of team development.

Due to unresolved challenges and poor team management, the team failed to attain its main objectives within desired time-frame. Moreover, the approach used by the team in decision making was not efficient thus resulting in team failure (American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Slipp, 1982, p.159). Essentially, group problem solving delayed the decision making process, since all members had to arrive at common decisions. In retrospect, lack of task driven leadership in crucial times, was a contributor to team failure. Basically, the leader lacked operational and technical competency on the project. Therefore, the leader lacked did not have the necessary skills to provide guidance and motivation or to establish a teamwork climate (Burke & Cooper, 2003, p.111). In deed, the leader failed to promote team cohesiveness through motivating the members. Moreover, the team leader lacked self-confidence and adequate assertiveness; as a result there was limited cooperation from the team members. The graph below illustrates the relationship between different levels of assertiveness and cooperation behavior.

Similarly, the leader’s conflict-resolution skills were not at par. Moreover, the team members favored conflict avoidance behavior. Further, due to a lack of good communication skills the leader failed to motivate team members to attain the team’s objectives. In addition members were reluctant to accept some duties delegated to them. Besides, communication breakdown and failure to share vital information among the team members also contributed to my experience.

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During performance evaluation, each member had to submit a report on the progress of their allocated duties. However some members were reluctant to offer their reports which impeded the progress of the team’s project. Moreover, the team did not develop a good time schedule during the forming stage, thus the team abandoned the schedule along the way. Subsequently the team leadership did not initiate a new time schedule.

Generally, there are factors that contributed to my experience namely, team dynamics and personality differences among members. Basically, I had to respect the view points of other members. Furthermore, two members of the team had strong friendships and they isolated themselves from the rest of the team. In addition, minimal understanding of different team members’ team roles and learning styles demonstrated by various members of the team was a source of conflict (Williams, 2004, p.9). Besides, personality of team members influenced their choice of duties, ways of communication and information sharing.

Moreover, the team faced unstructured problems; problems without an algorithm to follow in order to obtain an optimal solution. The team did not handle these problems effectively due to the rigidity of the team members and lack of innovation. In fact, the team did not promote a work environment that promotes the innovation and creativity of its members.

Reflection

Team members assigned me the role of team assistant since I posses leadership attributes. In addition my dominate Belbin’s team role was coordinator, while the secondary role was shaper. As a team assistant my main duty was to provide support to the leader. Further I also assisted the team leader in delegating duties and resolving conflicts. By understanding team role the leader of individual team members the leader could have determined individual’s preferred roles (George, 2002, p.162). In addition, understanding personality differences and team roles facilitated self awareness, develop mutual trust between the employees and assist in duty allocation.

Moreover there was constant role overlap between team coach and facilitator team roles leading to conflicts (Belbin, 2010). Role overlap affected the overall team performance. These conflicts could have been eliminated by encouraging members to respect one another and defining boundaries of roles properly. Similarly team members had more than one preferred team role. Generally, lack team role balance affected overall team’s effectiveness (George, 2002, p.159). The following chart illustrates the significance of balanced team roles in a team.

Primarily, the personality type of individuals influenced how an individual interacted with others, methods of communication and choice of duties. Belbin, Meredith a management researcher reckons that each personality type has special characteristics that enable an individual to perform a specific role effectively (2010, p.26). Some personality types exhibited in the team include anxious extravert, stable extravert, anxious introvert and stable introvert. Understanding and respecting differences of various personality types generate cohesion in the team thus promoting team performance (Williams, 2004, p.369).

Further, multitasking, allocation of more than one duty to team members lowered the performance quality of an individual. Notably, multitasking wastes time duration switching from one duty to another and the number of tasks being done simultaneously and their complexity determines the amount of time lost (O’Rourke and Yarbrough, 2008, p.77). The graph below shows the amount of time wasted and costs of switching between several projects.

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Essentially, maintaining quality relationships in the team, team goals, time and personality of team members influenced the type of decision and actions taken. My primary aim was to recommend or make decisions that facilitate attainment of team objectives while at the same time respecting the team members. In deed the team members were allowed to develop their ways of performing their duties. Similarly, I employed various methods of conflict resolution depending on personality type of members involved in a conflict and nature of conflict.

In addition, the method employed in decision and problem solving were influenced by complexity of the problem, competency of available suggestions and the willingness of team members to implement a certain decision (American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Slipp,1982, p.159). Whenever, there is need for group decisions and there is no sufficient time, team ought to result to a majority vote rather than consensus to avoid time wastage. Basically, leaders can make decisions without the involvement of the team members if the issue is not complex, and if the leader has high influence among his team members (American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Slipp, 1982, p.159).

Alternative course action

In retrospect I could have been more assertive and more confident during decision making process and in conflict resolution. A leader with optimal level of assertiveness is able to express his ideas, feeling and opinions in a constructive manner. (Metusin et al., 2005, p.68). Assertiveness in leaders assists them to guide a team effectively. Moreover, maintaining balanced assertiveness is important since low and high assertiveness has counterproductive effects. By being more assertive some team members could have felt that I was domineering and controlling.

Besides assertiveness encourages clear communication and rational approach to problem solving (Levi, 2010, p.145). Furthermore, self-confident and optimist leaders are more likely to attain their goals compared with less confident and pessimistic leaders. However, it is paramount to maintain optimal self confidence and since over confidence and optimism can be toxic. By understanding weaknesses associated with my team roles I could have approached my roles in a more informed manner.

In addition I recognize that I could have communicated and listened in a better way. A good team leader assistant should be able to communicate effectively with the team leader and other team members. Through communication, the team leader is able to motivate and encourage the team members to attain the team goals. Moreover, team leaders ought to optimize communication flow within the team. Further poor communication among team members is cited as a common cause of team disintegration and a major inhibitor of effective team development (O’Rourke and Yarbrough, 2008, p.72).

Furthermore, I would have incorporated emotional intelligence in my role as a team leader assistant. Basically, emotional intelligence in a work team influences the success of the team (Nadler, 2010). If a leader utilizes emotional intelligence in his leadership style he is able to inspire or motivate his team members to work to their fullest (Metusin et al., 2005, p.68). Through leading with emotional intelligence a leader is able to promote constructive relationships and team cohesion. Additionally, self awareness promotes successful conflict resolution and the development of high quality relationships. Moreover, emotional intelligence enables team leader assistance to manage stress through establishing reasonable deadlines and priorities (Nadler, 2010).

Finally, I could have dealt with conflicts in a better manner; conflicts are healthy for a team if only they managed in an effective manner (Scannell, 2010, p. x). Through conflict resolution rather than avoidance the team is able to forge acceptance of others’ beliefs and/or change of beliefs or behaviour. Moreover, I would have prevented common contributors of conflict in the team i.e. encouraging mutual respect. Intrinsically, understanding vast perspectives and maintaining impartiality could have significantly improved the efficacy of conflict resolution.

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Learning

Through the team project I learnt the importance of having balanced team roles for a team to perform effectively (Belbin, 2010, p.26). Further, I recognized that overrepresentation of one team role can undermine the quality of a work team. In addition I learnt the strengths and the allowable weakness of each team role represented in our team. In deed, an individual can have multiple preferred team roles, with one being dominated. Therefore in a team consisting three to four members the team can have balanced team roles (West, 2004, p.33). Similarly, some combinations of team roles are more effective than others. Basically, personality types of individuals influence individuals’ preferred team roles, therefore it is paramount to allocate duties that match with an individual’s personality (West, 2004, p.33). Importantly, a team with majority extraverts is more likely to meet their goals compared with a team of introverts.

I also learnt that multitasking affects performance of individuals in a team. In addition, I learnt that multitasking wastes time during switching from one task to another. The amount of time wasted depends on the number of tasks and the complexity of each task. In deed, multitasking should be avoided at all costs as it lowers overall team performance.

Similarly, I learned the value of integrating emotional intelligence in my leadership. Essentially emotional intelligence helps a leader to manage interpersonal and intrapersonal attributes in the team. Moreover, emotional intelligence promotes self-awareness and thus team cohesion. In fact team cohesion determines whether a team will obtain its desired goals. Primarily, emotional leadership helps to motivate team members to work to their fullest potential. In addition I also learnt the assertive leaders are able to manage teams for effectively and create more team cohesion (Metusin et al., 2005, p.68. In deed, self-confidence and optimism are necessary attributes of successful team leaders.

Moreover, I learnt that conflicts can help to shape and promote cohesion in the team if handled effectively. Effective conflict resolution should encourage respect for other people perspectives and beliefs or change of behavior (Scannell, 2010, p. x). Fundamentally, a team should not result in conflict avoidance since it has counterproductive consequences. Similarly, persons who help in conflict resolution should be impartial and good listeners. Furthermore, I learnt the value of using different conflict-resolution techniques depending on the nature of conflicts and the personality type of individuals involved in conflict.

Furthermore, I learnt techniques of problem solving and decision making process. I recognized the advantages and disadvantages of each technique. Similarly, I learnt which technique is more suitable in some specific conditions i.e. urgency of the matter. In deed decision-making process applied in a team can affect the efficacy of team performance. Moreover, the types of decisions made are influenced by the amount and quality of information a member can access (O’Rourke and Yarbrough, 2008, p.71).

Conclusion

Our self managed team comprised of four members with different personalities and team roles. The team tasked was to develop a response on how to take the team Mount Everest successfully. However, the team was not able to meet the team goals within the scheduled duration, due to lack of task-oriented leadership. The team faced several challenges during the storming and norming phases of team development. Generally, the team was unable to handle structured problems due to a lack of flexibility and lacked innovation. Similarly, the team lacked a balance of team roles thus, the team quality was compromised. Additionally, the quality of the team and was influenced by; cohesiveness and quality of relationships between members, communication, and the team structure.

Team members were allocated duties and roles in consideration of their professional qualifications and personalities. Nevertheless, there was roles overlap due to lack of clarity of boundaries of different roles. My team role was that of a coordinator which involved being the team leader assistant.

In addition I learned how the personalities of individuals influence their communication styles and preferred team roles. Basically, conflicts were mainly as a result of differences in personality type. Therefore, understanding and respecting individual uniqueness could have helped to reduce unnecessary conflicts. Essentially, quality of relationships in the team, goals, time and personality of team members influenced the type of decision and actions.

References

American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Slipp, S., (1982).Curative factors in dynamic psychotherapy. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.

Belbin, R., 2010. Management Teams: Why They Succeed Or Fail. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Brown, Roger, (2010). Multitasking get you there later.

Burke, R. & Cooper, C., (2003). Leading in Turbulent Times: Managing in the New World of Work. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

George, M., (2002). Lean Six Sigma: combining Six Sigma quality with lean speed. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Hanlan, M., (2004). High performance teams: how to make them work. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Levi, D., (2010). Group Dynamics in Teams. California: SAGE.

Lewis, P., (2004). Team-Based Project Management. Washington DC: Beard Books.

Metusin, A., OOi, K., & ASEAN-EC Management Centre, (2005). HRD for developing states and companies: proceedings of the 2005 Brunei Darussalam AEMC Convention. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Nadler, S. (2010). Leading with Emotional Intelligence: Hands-On Strategies for Building Confident and Collaborative Star Performers. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

O’Rourke, J. & Yarbrough, B., (2008). Leading Teams and Groups. OH: Cengage Learning.

Ozok, A. and Zaphiris, P., (2009).Online Communities and Social Computing: Third International Conference, OCSC 2009, Held as Part of HCI International 2009, San Diego, CA, USA, 2009, Proceedings. NY:Springer.

Realin, J., (2003). Creating leaderful organizations: how to bring out leadership in everyone. Montgomery: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Scannell, T., (2010). Conflict Resolution Games: Quick, Effective Activities to Improve Communication, Trust and Empathy. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Williams, K., (2004). High – performance teams: How to make them work. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

West, M., (2004). Effective teamwork: practical lessons from organizational research. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Xenergies, (n.d.). Belbin Team Roles – Leadership. Web.

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