Student Team’s Structure and Work Process

Introduction

Throughout my academic life, I have come to acknowledge that two heads are better than one. At school or even in life, one cannot succeed or survive alone. There are times when situations require us to work together in order to attain our goals. As such, the importance of teamwork cannot be emphasized enough. However, there are various challenges that may hinder a team from realizing its full potential. It should be noted that human beings have different opinions, approaches and attitudes towards certain things. As such, working together may be challenging due to such differences.

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With these undertones, I believe that members of a given team should come up with procedures that facilitate their ability to work together and find viable solutions to a common problem in an efficient manner. Failure to do so may compromise the team’s ability to achieve its goals as desired. This paper shall discuss the process and structure of a group we formed in order to do a group assignment. The strengths and weaknesses of the group shall be addressed in regard to its type, complexity and synergy. This shall be done by applying group process concepts from various credible sources.

Overview of the situation

In my tutorial class, the tutor formed groups of students to prepare a presentation, which would be presented at a later date. The tutor instructed us that we would have to do a presentation after analyzing the assigned case study. As a result, my group members and I decided that everyone should read the case study, the required reading and do some further research in order to gather information on what should be included in the presentation.

To ensure that each member participated in the presentation, we agreed that each member would get a section of the speech and present it during the presentation day. In my group, members wanted to achieve a high mark (HD) on this assignment. As such, we selected a group leader and agreed to meet on a regular basis in order to ensure that we were all at the same page. According to Webne-Behrman (2008), group process refers to the procedural measures used by team members in order to come up with efficient solutions to common problems. Establishing a group structure, meeting schedule and support system were among the group processes used to facilitate efficiency in our group.

Factors that influenced our team’s effectiveness

According to Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas (1992) the effectiveness of a team relies on the team building strategies used to improve team operations and processes. With this in mind, my team and I decided to improve our operations and processes by clarifying the roles of each member, building trust and interpersonal relationships and setting the goals that we all wanted to achieve in this group. These interventions enabled us to understand each other, avoid conflicts and work together efficiently towards achieving the set goals. In order to facilitate team building, the team used the problem-solving approach discussed by Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas (1992).

According to Schneider et al. (2008), this approach enables team members to identify the problem, generate information, develop an action plan and implement it to solve the problem. This approach was extremely helpful in facilitating effective group processes because each member knew what we were up against, and what needed to be done to achieve the set goals. Below are some of the factors that led to the success of our team.

Work structure

According to Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas (1992) a team can use different approaches to accomplish its goals. For example, members of a team can be assigned particular tasks, or interchange their roles with other member based on their skills and experience. In my group, each member was assigned a role depending on his/her presentation abilities. I was assigned the role of presenting the introduction and conclusion sections of the speech. This was attributed to the fact that I was not as good in memorizing long speeches as compared to my team mates. Other members got different sections depending on their understanding of the case and their presentation abilities.

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All members of the team were asked to analyze the case study individually and then during the meetings we would discuss our views on the information that should be included in the presentation. During the meetings, each member had a chance to present his/her progress and the team members would discuss and improve each section accordingly. In regard to the communication structure, we elected a team leader who was responsible for communicating the progress, update and decisions of the team. The team leader was tasked with the duty of organizing the meeting schedule, and reminding all members about the meetings’ time and place. This structure enabled team members to communicate their views and remain updated throughout the assignment period.

According to Adair (2009), communication in a group setting presents numerous challenges because there is no absolute technique that can be used to solve all the issues affecting a team’s performance. Greene and Burleson (2003), state that it is essential to develop communication channels that are appropriate, and facilitate smooth and efficient communication. For example, I missed the first two meetings because there was a misunderstanding regarding when the meetings should start.

The initial agreement was changed and no notice was given. By the time I realized that the group had rescheduled the meetings, I had already missed the first two meetings. Similarly, some team members took their time in submitting their contact information. So, there was no way of informing them of a change in schedule.

This mishap would have been avoided if all members submitted their contact details as soon as the group was formed. Such issues affected the effectiveness of the group because they led to the establishment of subgroups within the group. Other members paired up in order to exclude members that were not serious or committed to the task. Members encouraged constructive criticism during the meetings in a bid to release tension and exchange ideas. This contributed significantly to the success of the task as well as team operations.

Team processes

Hankin (2008) defines team processes as the actions and interactions that help a team transform the resources into a final product. Effective team processes depend on the structures used to solve conflicts, make decisions, foster coordination, and address problems. In our team, we focused on open communication in order to improve our team processes. Members were encouraged to air their views before making any decision. Members formed sub-teams in order to help each other produce the best results in the tasks given. This ensured that decisions were unanimous, and conflicts were resolved in an appropriate manner.

Team characteristics

All team members acknowledged the importance of working as a single unit. We were motivated by the fact that we wanted a satisfactory grade in this assignment. As such, we tried to work cohesively in order to achieve this aim. As such, each member ensured that he/she completed the assigned task on time, made the recommended revisions on time and participated in all team endeavors. According to Schneider et al. (2008), team effectiveness can be decreased if members are reluctant to participate or coordinate with each other.

Considering that conflicts were bound to occur during the group meetings, we all tried to avoid and address these issues appropriately in order to foster a sense of homogeneity and cohesion within the team. These team characteristics helped us achieve our aim because each member was honest, open and committed to the team.

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Impact of group process issues to the performance of the group

Despite the fact that we achieved our aim as a group, there were some issues that threatened that success. One of the issues was that some team members wanted to dominate the group and center the discussions on their own issues or interests. According to Kolin (2009), group process is about exchanging ideas and finding solutions that best address the issues. It is not about domination or taking over. As a result of this tendency, the group suffered because most discussions were characterized by aggressive and territorial behaviors. This derailed the team from dealing with important issues, and a lot of time was wasted.

On the same note, some team members were declining to participate in the discussions or execution of tasks. This was exceedingly discouraging because it seemed as though they were taking advantage of the efforts of the other dedicated team members. Refusal to participate was hurtful since it denied other team members an opportunity to learn from each other. These two issues affected the structure and processes of our team and I will ensure that I address them in any future team.

Conclusion

From the reflection presented throughout this paper, it is evident that a team’s success depends on the willingness of team members to create an effective team culture, and relationship bond. The factors that contributed to the success of my team have been discussed and those that threatened that success highlighted. Arguably, understanding team dynamics may help a team improve its operational effectiveness by avoiding various attributes that may lead to failure.

References

Adair, J 2009, Effective Communication: The Most Important Management Skill of All, Pan Macmillan, New York.

Greene, O & Burleson, R 2003, Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills, Routledge, New York.

Hankin, H 2005, The new workforce: Five sweeping trends that will shape your company’s future. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, New Jersey.

Kolin, C 2009, Successful Writing at Work, Cengage Learning, New York.

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Schneider, M, Corey, G & Corey, C 2008, Groups: process and practice, Cengage Learning, New York.

Tannenbaum, S, Beard, R & Salas, E 1992, Team building and its influence on team effectiveness: An examination of conceptual and empirical developments, Elsevier Science, North Holland.

Webne-Behrman, H 2008, The Practice of Facilitation: Managing Group Process and Solving Problems, IAP, New York.

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