Group as a System
In any group related project what should be taken into consideration is the fact that any attempt to complete a project should be done in a systematized an orderly fashion in order for it to be completed efficiently and correctly. A project cannot simply be finished on the spot or at random but rather requires planning and organizing in order for it be accomplished. During the initial stages of the project this is the mindset that some members of the group had, particularly me and Team Member 1.
We thought that in order to accomplish anything of relevance what was needed was to organize the group into such a way that everyone had their own role to accomplish which contributed to the completion of the project. In this particular case the group acted in a way similar to a system wherein each member acted as an integral part of the system in order to get the project underway and completed.
During the initial stages I quickly realized that for a group to act as a proper system each individuals role should be properly set and instructed in order for few problems to occur. Any overlapping of tasks should be minimized in order to reduce confusion, the reason I say this is due to the fact that initially Team Member 1 and Team Member 2 had overlapping tasks which created initial problems in the group acting as a system. It was only when roles were properly clarified that the group was able to act as a cohesive whole in order to accomplish the project.
Synergy refers to the way in which two or more people work together towards a particular goal that normally would not be achievable had they tried to work on it by themselves. It refers to the inherent characteristic of people within a group having the ability to work together as a team towards a particular goal. Based on my experiences during the project I can say that proper synergy is the key in being able to get anything done since if two people cannot synergize towards completing a particular goal then it is unlikely that the goal can be completed within a given time frame. I say this because during the project Team Member A and Team Member B needed to work together in order accomplish the task they were assigned to.
Yet, from the very start they kept on arguing and bickering as to how to properly accomplish the task they were given. From this, it seems that proper synergy in task completion cannot be achieved by merely sticking two people to work together on a particular aspect of the project but it appears that a proper working relationship needs to be established as well in order for the people concerned to be actually able to work together. This working relationship, as I observed, requires the use of open channels of communication, cooperation and the desire to actually get something completed. Once these factors have been established then it actually becomes a simple matter to finish a project together.
From this aspect of the project I came to understand that in most collaborative works what needs to be established from the beginning is a proper working relationship, initially we did not take this into account and left each member of the group to his won activity, not only did this result in confusion due to a lack of communication but it resulted in the project being delayed more so than what was necessary. As such, my creating methods necessary to communicate and collaborate effectively from the beginning members of a team can properly synergize on particular aspects of a project in order to complete it quickly and efficiently. I only wish we knew of this sooner rather than later since our project was plagued by an apparent lack of synergy between two of our members.
During the project on yard cleaners that the 4 of us participated in we were introduced to the concept of team working. While I have had experience in working with other team related experiences in the past this was the first time that it has been emphasized that we should work together as a team. What this particular activity made me realize was that team work doesn’t necessarily involve every person merely doing their assigned tasks but rather it involves those involved in the activity to genuinely work together towards a particular goal.
In fact it because obvious that proper communication between members was a key element in this activity since Team Member A and Team Member B who were assigned to a particular activity that required them to work together quickly resulted in bickering and arguments which slowed down the activity as a whole. Not only that, I noticed that some people worked harder than others while some were just plain lazy, from this I came to the realization that in order for an activity to be considered efficient, all members must communicate properly and work at the same pace in order for something relevant to actually be accomplish.
With people working at different rates some of the more productive members of the group finished faster than others which caused not only a bit of arguing but it further delayed us from actually getting the work done properly. It was based on this particular aspect of the project that I came to the conclusion that what is necessary in teamwork is not just to call a group of people a team but rather what is needed is for people to actively communicate with one another, help each other in the work that needs to be completed and work towards a team rather than an individual goal. I suspect that if we had followed such a method from the start we would have finished our project a lot faster than we did.
Group Development Norms
Group development norms come in the form of how the team develops as a group, this can come in the form of being able to develop ideas as a group, give feedback, assist in particular tasks and an assortment of other similar instances. Based on the project I came to realize that group development is an essential concept in being able to accomplish a project since initially not all members of the group were willing to work together.
At the start of the project, while I was friendly with Team Member A the other members believed that individual performance was better than collaborative work. In fact they believed that their own ideas rather than ideas created through a group consensus would work better. The problem with their notion was that not only did it result in us bickering endlessly but nothing really got done.
A project of this size could not be accomplished by a single person and as such this required all of us to contribute in some way towards accomplishing the goal of the project. Based on my experience, it was only when all of us realized that working as individuals would not get anything done that we finally started working together as a group. As such, I have come to develop the notion that group development comes as a direct result of people seeing the necessity of working towards a particular goal and working together as a direct result of it.
In fact it was the potential threat of not being able to finish the project at all that caused our individual ideas to come together to formulate a proper plan for the project and actually get things done. What I would like to point out is that through this experience I have learned that by setting problem to be accomplished at the forefront of any argument it is more likely that people will work together to solve it rather than try to solve it by themselves.
Team Working Agreement Norms
For a group of individuals working together on a single project it is important to establish clear lines of agreement in being able to work together otherwise the project will devolve in to petty bickering and arguing. This was actually what happened at the start of our project wherein during the initial stages the entire group wasn’t able to come to an appropriate enough agreement in order to work together peacefully and properly.
There was Team Member A who wanted to be the leader of the group, Team Member B who was obviously the better choice, then there was Team Member C who really didn’t seem like he wanted to do the activity in the first place and then there was me who just wanted to get things over and done with. For me, the problem we had was the fact that we couldn’t agree on our roles within the team, how we should proceed and who we should listen to.
In fact it came to a point that a large amount of time had gone by with little work actually being done. What I realized from this was that team working agreements work as a way of ensuring cooperation despite feelings that are the complete opposite of what that person wants. Team agreements, from what I saw, enable individuals to work together despite differing backgrounds and opinions in order to accomplish the goal of the project. It was based on this that I came to the conclusion that before any planning is done for a project it is important to first set the ground rules of team working agreements so as to facilitate a more efficient and faster method of planning rather than experience the bickering that was a part of our initial planning session.
The process of leadership, as I found out, is a long and difficult road with the concept of responsibility being the main cause of concern for leaders. During the project, it was often the leader that everybody looked to when encountering a problem, it was the leaders responsibility to come up with a solution and often it was the leader that was blamed when an idea did not turn out as we had expected.
While others such as Team Member A thought that being leader was a desirable role I for one thought that it placed too much pressure on a person. When a person becomes a leader they quite literally hold the future of the group in their hands, if their ideas are successful they are often praised and thought of in a very good way, if the group were to fail they are often the first to be blamed and ridiculed. For me, such as situation does not seem as desirable as Team Member B makes it out to be.
Being a follower entails less responsibility since you only have to do what is asked of you, there is no direct blame placed on you should something go wrong and you can even rest once your talk is complete. The same cannot be said for people in leadership roles, I noticed that it is a position that entails you organize everyone from start to finish, that you need to make things are going the way they should, that if problems do occur you have to resolve them immediately and should members of the group fight it is the responsibility of the leader to mediate the problems.
As Team Member A found out, being the leader of our group “ground keepers” was not as fun as it had initially seemed and in fact by the end of the activity it seemed that he was happy that it had finally ended because he didn’t need to be the leader anymore. It is based on this that I can state with certainty that while leadership roles are important in any group, it is a position that is to be taken when one desires to make a project successful not because a person thinks it should be fun, people who take such a position lightly find out rather quickly that it involves dedication and a desire to accomplish something and not just the notion that it seems “fun”.
Making the Group Think
Coming up with ideas is not as simple as it would appear to be, in any group activity a single person cannot be held responsible for coming up with all the ideas to be done, rather, every member of the group needs to cooperate and communicate their ideas in order to come up with an effective plan in completing a project. In the case of the yard cleaner project I noticed that one of the best ways of making the group think as a whole was to create an open platform to voice out ideas and have each member comment on the worth of the idea, whether there were some problems with it, or if there were a few ways in which the idea could be improved.
Before we utilized this particular method we initially tried to just remain silent and come up with ideas on our own. Unfortunately, it did not work as well as expected since each of us had an idea yet all of them lacked a certain degree of workability to actually be applied in the project. In the case of an open platform ideas were presented and commented on by each member of the group thus facilitating cooperation and communication which actually encouraged each member to think outside of the box and contribute.
It is based on this experience that I have come to the conclusion that making a group think does not necessarily mean giving them a problem and having each member come up with their own solution, rather, what is needed is for each member to contribute to the ideas of other members in order to enhance and improve it.
While individual solutions and thinking are good methods of problem solving the fact remains that an open platform of communication is a far more effective means of resolving an issue since it isn’t just one person thinking but rather several individuals looking at a problem from different angles in order to find a solution. In the end by using this method that group was able to come up with several effective ideas, improve on them using each person’s comments and as a result we were able to come up with an effective plan for the project.
When starting the activity I came to understand that the inherent group climate of any team related project plays an important role in enabling team members to communicate and cooperate properly. Being an all male group, each of us had our own dominant personalities to contend with when the yard cleaners project. This resulted in each member believing that their views were either better or more correct than those being presented by other members of the group.
Initially, this resulted in a relatively hostile climate in the group which made me realize that a team’s inherent group climate dictates the willingness of each member of the group to actually work together. There were instances where the insistence of certain ideas resulted in delays, arguments and bickering with few sides willing to give up. In fact Team Member A, Team Member B and Team Member C constantly argued stating that their idea should be used because it was better.
From the standpoint of an individual that didn’t really care which idea should be implemented but rather one should be chosen immediately to speed up the process I noticed that a relatively hostile group climate prevented effective communication, made members less likely to cooperate and even resulted in the project being delayed as well.
It was only once that respective personalities over certain members within the group started to cool down when they noticed that time was running out that we were able to select a set of ideas and put them into action. It was based on this experience that I learned that a team’s inherent group climate dictates whether members would be willing to cooperate and if they would be able to communicate in a polite manner. From this, I can assume that if our group had a relatively nice group climate from the start we would have been able to cooperate and communicate a lot more effectively and quickly as compared to the length of time it took us to actually get started.
Power on Group Working
The concept of power in a group setting comes from the fact that there should be a leadership role in all groups wherein someone has to take charge in order to make sure that all tasks accomplished by the group are done properly. In the case of our group Team Member A took charge and we accorded him the necessary amount of power in order to help get the task completed. What must be understood was that initially all of us wanted to do things our way resulting in a very chaotic situation where ideas were presented with no clear goal, with every single person claiming that the path they suggested is the best path to take.
In fact when observing our behavior it was clear that all of us were, in some way, unguided and in fact lacked any specific form of authority figure in order to help give order to the chaos that was our method of doing things. It was only once Team Member B took charge told us how things should be done that we were actually able to get anything done in the first place. It was through this particular action in the project that I came to realize that power plays an important role in any group activity since it enables a dominating path to guide all members of the group towards a set goal.
Based on this perspective I would have to say that if Team Member C did not take charge at the time it is likely that we would not have been able to complete the project on time. As such, I have come to believe that when applied properly power becomes a necessary factor in cooperation and communication which helps to create order out of the chaos of thoughts and ideas presented by members in a team and helps to accomplish the tasks that the team set out to accomplish.
In developing and presenting ideas to a group it is important to take note of whether or not the person or people being spoken to actually understand the contents of what you are speaking about. This is a lesson I learned during the group activity wherein during a part where I was instructed to accomplish a certain task I just nodded my head while barely understanding all of what was being said.
At the time my perception was divided between what was being said and the ideas that were in my head at the time and as such this resulted in me committing a few errors in my task which delayed the project. From this experience I can state that in any group project it is important to check whether the instructions being given to the various members of the group have been perceived in the way they should be. In fact during the project Team Member A also made a few mistakes of his own, it was only after the mistakes were corrected that we found out that what was said to him and what he actually understood were slightly different and this was the cause of his mistake.
As such, in order to prevent this from happening in the future it is important for group leaders and planners to ensure that the instructions they give are understood in the way that they are meant to be understood. This can be done by either asking questions or verifying instructions, an action which me unfortunately neglected to do during this project which resulted in numerous mistakes being made here and there that could have been avoided if only we had verified that the instructions were perceived correctly.
Listening on Group and Communication
Listening skills are an important aspect in any group project since they determine how a person interprets information and applies it as necessary. During the project planning session I learned this lesson the hard way when trying to explain a particular method of doing things to Team Member A during which he apparently seemed to be listening. Unfortunately when it came to the project implementation stage not only did he obviously not listen but it was due to this actions that the project got delayed even more as a direct result of having to correct some mistakes and having to explain how to do things all over again.
What must be understood is that listening is an important aspect of communication since it enables a person to know what is happening, what must be done and what is expected of them. Being part of a group project without listening to the person that is explaining and important matter not only can delay the project due to errors but it can actually result in the project failing as a direct result of instructions that were not followed. It was based on this exercise that I learned that when it comes to communication and speaking it is important to take note of two things: that the person you are talking to is actually listening and if they understood what you just said.
The reason I mention this is due to the fact that while a person may seem like they are listening sometimes they are not, and if they seem that they understand it is better to confirm and be reassured rather than presume and watch problems unfold in front of you. In communication it is important to make sure that the person you are talking to actually hears and understands what you’re talking about since the essence of communication is the flow of ideas from one person to another. This flow is disrupted if either the person you are talking to isn’t listening or doesn’t understand which results in a failure to effectively communicate.
Culture Influences on Communication
From the perspective of an individual that is a part of the Muslim culture I have to say that culture definitely influences methods of communication and actually results in differing opinions regarding particular subjects. Even in situations where all of us are part of the same religion each individual has inherited unique aspects of culture and customs from their regions and as such this results in a diverse setting in which people try to communicate their ideas.
From the setting of the project I gained the understanding that when people communicate their ideas and habits are often influenced by the cultural setting in which they’ve come from. In the past I have experienced setting where I have been in a group with an Asian, American and fellow Arabs and in each of these settings each individual voiced opinions that were clearly set from their own cultural perspectives. During the project exercise it was also clear that the cultural influence of individual members played distinct roles in influencing opinions and as such I believe that in any group setting cultural influences should be taken into consideration as a method of determining appropriate responses during periods of communication.
The reason I mention this is due to the fact that during the project planning stage cultural influences definitely played a distinct role in influencing the opinions of each group member. I myself am guilty of basing my own opinions on matters based on my own cultural inheritance and as such for any effective idea to be communicated and understood correctly I would advice to phrase it in such a way so as to conform to the cultural influences of the person that you are speaking to.
Gender Influences on Communication
While most people may think that an all male group may have no problems whatsoever in communicating ideas due to the similarity of genders and interests what they think and what I actually experienced during the project were entirely opposite. For one thing, you have to take note of the fact that men on average have a tendency to have a dominating personality, in fact if you were to listen in on the conversations we had during the project planning stage you would notice immediately that each of us tried to be as dominating as possible in communicating our ideas.
In the past where I’ve been groups composed of male and female members it was always the case that females tended to be less dominating about the way in which they communicated and wanted a more level method of communication among members of the team, on the other hand males wanted to put forth their ideas more and wanted a form of structure on the team with the leader being on top with the followers at the bottom.
While I’m not sure how this would work today since it has been sometime since I’ve been with female group members, the fact is the members of my team, especially Team Member A and Team Member B showed just how dominating men can be in trying to communicate ideas. Unfortunately, I didn’t back down from presenting my idea and neither did the other members choose to back down on theirs.
This resulted in all of us arguing constantly over what idea to use and in the end we came to an agreement out of sheer frustration and the fact that we host a lot of time. Based on this experience as well as experiences I’ve had in the past I can say with certainty that gender does play an influential role in communication, especially in cases where male dominating personalities clash resulting in little work getting done due to neither individual willing to back down.
Competence Influences on Communication
From this exercise I realized that not all groups are created equal, in fact each member of the group has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to contributing to the success of a project. It must also be noted that this extends to differences in their overall competence in being able to communicate ideas effectively as well as being able to understand and accomplish tasks correctly. While I am not trying to actively portray some of my teammates in a negative light I would like to point out that Team Member A did have some problems understanding the way in which the project plan should be implemented and as such this resulted in problems during the actual project completion stage itself.
What I learned was that when there are differences of individual competencies within a group one person communicating an idea should not immediately assume everyone knows what they’re talking about. In fact in most cases a person should assume that few people actually know what they’re talking about and adjust accordingly. It must be noted that competence affects a person’s ability to communicate and interpret information and as such in any group activity I believe it is important to take note of each member’s individual competencies and adjust accordingly.
The reason behind this is rather simple, as I noticed during the project completion stage the group leader Team Member A thought that everyone immediately understood what he was talking about when in fact not all of us completely understood just what it was he planning and talking about. This resulted in mistakes that could have been avoided if the leader from the onset communicated ideas in such a way that despite differences in competences everyone would have understood the idea in the same way. It is based on this experience that I have come to realize the importance of properly judging individual competences and adjusting accordingly in order to avoid similar problems in the future.
Emotions on Communication
As I found out early on during the start of the project emotions can either play a distinct role in facilitating proper communication between team members results in an efficient partnership towards completing assigned tasks or it can bring about in-fighting, bickering and certain degree of stubbornness when it comes to working together towards a set goal. From the start both me and Team Member A had a good working relationship since from an emotional standpoint we had neither any grudges and were rather happy to work together on the other hand Team Member B and Team Member C showed a rather chaotic attitude towards work.
One didn’t want to work as much due to the project being boring while the other showed aggressive tendencies in getting his point across. This led to clashes where a conflict of emotions ensued between anger, indifference and a general sense of just getting the job over with. It was based on this experience that I came to realize that a person’s emotional state dictates the manner in which they will communicate.
People who are emotionally calm and collected show the same mannerisms in the way they communicate with other people while individuals who are inherently aggressive and angry had the tendency to reflect a similar attitude in the way in which they address ideas and people. From my point of view, emotions act as either a positive or negative force in any group activity that involves extensive communication since the emotionally negative responses in one person may travel to the person that they are communicating with.
I saw this happen time and again within the group wherein one person’s anger transferred to the rest of us resulting in the in-fighting and bickering that caused the project to be delayed. While it may be true that were able to get it done in the end, it would have been completed faster if only we entered into the project with all members having a relatively peaceful emotional state.