This is a reflective report on a Mount Everest critical experience of our small team. The report structure is based on Christopher Johns’ four step model/ framework of guided reflection (experience, influencing factors, reflection, learning, and alternative cause of action).
The team is comprised of fifteen members with team task of developing a response on how we would take our small team to the peak of Mount Everest successfully. The team composition highly influenced the team performance, i.e. the team lacked all rounded skills needed for the team task. In addition, the team was a self-managing team whose performance was determined by the quality of its members i.e. team roles, professional skills and interpersonal skills (Douglas, 1976, p.12). Additionally, other factors that influenced the attainment of the team’s goals include quality of the team, i.e. cohesiveness, structure and communication, also quality of relationship with the members and the quality of the given task. Roles were allocated to the members depending on their professions and also in consideration of their team roles and learning skills.
In order to accomplish our task successfully, we ensured that we had a common collaborative process, which defined the team process. In addition, we defined the team relationship, an outline of the way the team would work together (Payne, 2001, p.53). This common, collaborative approach entailed communication, respecting differences, methods of solving problems and conflicts, building trusts and methods of executing tasks.
My team experience was somewhat good since we only experienced a few problems, but they did not affect our project adversely. Indeed, the problems we encountered could have been identified before the project and measures to deal with them were put in place. Primarily the team lacked task driven leadership; additionally, other factors that affect the dynamic of a team play a role in occurrence of the problem. Further, the inability to solve problems effectively as they occurred could have derailed the attainment of the team’s goal. The team was fairly flexible and able to adapt and incorporate new ideas, techniques of implementing the team’s goals. This was attributed to the fact that the team had planned for innovation (Adair, 2007, p.8).
The team project worked as we expected to some extent, however, some aspects of the project did not go according to plan. In the instances where circumstances did not go according plan, we had to device alternative methods to handle the situation. Through constant performance management, all the team members were informed of expectations, and suggestions of how to improve performance were given (Bacal, 1999, p.3).
Factors that contributed to the experience include personal and social attributes of the members in the team. The influence of personality type of individuals comprising the team influenced the overall team performance. Importantly duties and activities were allocated with consideration of the personality of the individual. Therefore the team was able to maximize the ability of all members hence improve team effectiveness. By understanding the differences in the personality types, of the team members we able to relate well with minimal conflicts. The personality type influenced the perspectives and choices of the team members (Berens, Ernsts, & Smith, 2004, p.3).
Further, the team members were flexible enough to consider the perspectives of each individual in the team. Moreover, in trying to understand the dynamic of the team and its members contributed in the experience. The socialization of individual members influenced their mode of information sharing among the members of the team which affected the quality of the team. Minimal understanding of different team member’s team roles and learning styles demonstrated by various members of the team was a source of conflict (Williams, 2004, p.9).
Mainly, I was the team leader of the team, in charge of ensuring the team attained its goal; indeed, the members of the team chose me to be their leader. Thus, being the leader of the team, I was tasked with the role of inspiring my members, establishing shared values, and offering guidance when setting stretch goals. Additionally, I was involved in establishing essential team cooperation between the members in order to get desired results. I was tasked to ensure that the team was functioning according to the set out structure. Importantly, I monitored the progress of the team, offered feedback to the members, and gave recommendations of necessary changes. In addition to my professional contribution to the team, I had my team role as an implementer.
The understanding of strengths and permitted weaknesses of my team role enhanced communication and cooperation in the team (Belbin, 2010, p.169). The allocation of duties to each member was not only determined by their professional capabilities but also team roles. However, the team participated in shared goals and supported each member in their specific duty (Payne, 2001, p.53). All the members participated in allocation of duties, and there was liberty of choosing a specific role that one felt they would accomplish successfully. Some members did not have clarity of their specific roles leading to overlapping.
As such, the leader of the group I was sensitive to, and vigilant about, the unfolding dynamics of the group. The team members were assigned specific tasks to oversee i.e. the members with the best abilities of map reading was in charge of direction. There was constant overlapping of roles among the members which resulted in some conflicts. Posses a common inter disciplinary appreciation of differences in culture, working methods, roles, and responsibilities, promoted collaboration, team effectiveness and cohesion of the team.
I performed the role of a leader because I possess leadership characteristics and skills. These skills and qualities include effective communicators, motivator, and commitment. Moreover, I have consistency and fairness when evaluating or appraising the performance of all the members, therefore, I had stable relationship with all the members. However, I did not resolve conflict in our team effectively since I lacked high assertiveness attributes.
Factors that influenced decisions and the actions we engaged in during the activity include the wellbeing of the members, significance of the tasks and the resources available. Knowledge of the fact that team members are bound to embrace any changes or new approach and improve their motivation if they are involved in the decision making influenced the team’s decision making process (Levi, 2010, p.148). Thus, the knowledge enabled me to involve the whole team in constant evaluation and team’s goal setting. Being the leader I gave the members liberty to express their suggestions that could help improve the team performance. Subsequently, the team had to select the best approach from the all suggestions through voting.
Time factor were a key component that influenced the type of action we undertook. Using a time schedule we set out each days target depending on the circumstances of the terrain we were in. thus we were able to reach the peak of the mountain in the scheduled time. However, we used a flexible schedule to avoid stressing the team members.
Further, the knowledge of the importance of empowerment of team members to the overall performance of the team influenced our actions and decisions. Gondal and Khan have identified that there is a correlation between team empowerment and overall team performance (Gondal & Khan, 2008).
Alternative courses of action
From the experience I have learnt that leadership role highly determine the team motivation, efficacy and the overall team performance (Emmerling, Shanwal & Mandal, 2008, p.46). There are alternative course of actions that I would employ in future, whenever given the same position. Firstly, being the leader of the team being a little more assertive would have helped in managing the group and the task. This attribute is fundamental as it promotes clear communication, coherent technique to resolving conflicts and challenges (Levi, 2010, p.145).
Through assertive leadership styles most problems and conflicts would be solved easily and fast hence optimize the team’s outcomes and develop the team (Savage, 1998, para.5). Importantly assertive leadership can limit the amount of process loss by ensuring the team focus on the key task. The relationship between the leader and the group can get strained if high assertiveness is employed. According to Savage (1998), assertive leadership can facilitate to improving the efficacy of the team and its members.
Members of the groups can feel that the leader is too autocratic and repel against the leader. On the other hand being assertive will facilitate self reflection which helps in improving leadership skills.
Secondly, I required higher emotional intelligence in order to handle challenging circumstances while trying to accomplish the task. Emotional intelligence defined as the ‘ability to perceive, assimilate and express emotions in thoughts, understand and reason with emotions and regulate emotions in self and others’ (Cherniss & Goleman, 2001, p.3). Primarily, the behavior of members in a team is influenced by emotions. Therefore team leadership must understand how handle emotions to influence behaviors that will profit the team. The emotional leadership qualities of a leader impact the team performance since a leader can affect the behavior of his team. By promoting emotional intelligence of each team member, the team benefits from improved team functionality.
On the hand, the members of the team benefit from improved emotional well-being. Moreover, emotional intelligence will give developing leaders a competitive edge. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are straightforward and posses composure. These attributes helps the leader whenever they are handling crisis thus they are able return calm and harmony (Center for Creative Leadership, 2003). Through emotional intelligence I would have managed the relationship with other members in a better manner. Moreover, I would have minimized stress by being more self aware. Finally, the skills would assist in formulating and implementation of effective change management techniques.
Thirdly, I recognize that I should have handled conflicts in a better way. Since conflicts are inevitable in any team, understanding their sources and how to deal with them effectively is important. Conflict solving should have been done with appreciation of differences of personality styles within the team members. Ideally defensive avoidance of dealing with conflicts when they occur can hurt the team in future (Levi, 2010, p.113). Moreover, it is necessary to reevaluate agreement made to solve a relationship conflict.
These checks are geared to verify whether the agreement is working and make reviews if need be. In spite of collaboration conflict solving technique being time consuming and difficult it is one of the best approach of handling conflict. Alternatively, negotiation or mediation techniques can be used. Acquiring of good conflict resolution skills will improve the relationship of the team members and hence the overall quality of the team. To be able to resolve conflict I will need to establish trust with all parties and be impartial.
Through the experience, I have acquired valuable knowledge and skills that I will employ in future. I have learnt the importance of the role of a team leader. The person who plays this duty is significant as they determine whether the teams goals are attained and in the correct time frame. Besides, I recognized characteristics and skills which a successful team leader requires. It is paramount for any team leader to posses high emotional intelligence, have ability to resolve conflicts effectives and be an assertive leader. Moreover, I understood other factors that affect the dynamic of a team performance i.e. quality of a team and quality of relationships in the team. The style of leadership used is determined by the level of commitment and competency, team roles and learning styles (Williams, 2004, p.9). Additionally communication and accountability are needed to evaluate the performance of the team.
High performance teams need to have these attributes; alignment, clear goals, competent leadership, effective team processes, quality relationship among the members and good communication (Waddell, 2008). In allocation roles and duties the members should be consulted and support from other members is required so as to accomplish a task successfully. Further team members need constant motivation and empowerment from their leader and colleague. On the other hand task group members should be given substantial autonomy for deciding about how they do the work. Overlapping of roles can cause conflicts or tasks can be neglected. The key roles that have to be assigned to members of a team are budgeting, coordinating, planning and liaising (Skyrm, 1999, p.154).
Besides, team roles of team members should be considered when allocating tasks. Moreover, all individuals have differing personalities which have to be understood for quality relationship in the team. Flexibility allows an individual to accommodate other people’s ideas, and appreciate their methods of doing their task.
I have learned to appreciate other people’s personality hence improve interactions with other members. The differences in personality of team members should be utilized to promote the team (Williams, 2004, p.9). Importantly I will desist from compelling other people to perceive matters like I do. Through the experience, I developed good communication skills and listening skills. Further, I had an opportunity to practice the leadership skills. Thus, I identified areas where improvement is required i.e. emotional intelligence, assertiveness and conflict resolution.
Team performance is influenced by quality of the team, communication, the type of task being handled. Importantly, leadership of any term affects the performance quality. Emotional intelligence of each team member, the team benefits from improved team functionality. Factors that influenced decisions taken in the team are complexity of the task, time available, allowable resources and the wellbeing of the team members. Team members need empowerment so that they can get commitment to attaining the goals of the term. In order to develop high performance, team’s leaders have to consider the following cohesiveness of the team, clarity of goals and expectations and provisions of necessary support to the team.
The interpersonal traits of persons comprising the team should be considered as they can hinder attainment of goals. Further in allocation of roles and duties the professional qualification, team roles and learning styles should be considered.
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