The purpose of this report is to reflect upon and evaluate my experiences, working as a team member at the UHI residential weekend in Inverness and then as a Virtual Team member back in my home College. The group was comprised of seven individuals from diverse workplace backgrounds, from which stemmed positive and negative outcomes for the team. This report examines and analysis both the operational issues throughout the team exercise and my part in the process and my individual characteristics which enhanced or inhibited the working towards team objectives.
The report summarises the evaluation with a critique of the theories in application and concludes that there is a significant set of differences in both individual and team behaviour patterns dependant on direct (face to face) or indirect (virtual) communication. We accomplished the given residential task and the subsequent report, but on reflection it has become clear to me that theory does not translate directly into practice and unexpected personal, individual and practical factors must be taken into account, especially the need for a clear leadership role in a virtual team. 1. Introduction 1. 1 Background.
I was interactive in a group of seven students from 4 different colleges with varying marketplace skills, unknown to each other till then, to attend UHI CMI Diploma residential consisting of an evening and one and a half days in Inverness. We then as a Virtual team had to produce a report based on both our residential task and our reporting of it. 1. 2 Purpose The purpose of the weekend was a team building exercise in order to experience and apply theories and practices previously taught in a group class situation and to evaluate the importance and validity of theories in a practical group task context.The purpose of the Virtual Team report was to experience the practicalities of working from different locations and the problems associated.
1. 3 Context and Process Using theories taught and relating to the personal experience, the team had to write a report on how we interacted with each other in producing the presentation on the residential weekend and then reporting on the theory versus practicalities of producing a report working as a Virtual Team. 2. Process and Process Evaluation 2. 1 Group StructureOur team did not have an obvious leader Belbin style, as it appeared we were team workers, willing to achieve an end product to our task and meet our performance criteria.
There was a certain unwillingness to take the first step in the report production with most team members emailing the team with the same format “we need to make a start” Appendix (i). After I produced an initial report layout and drafted a SWOT it was evident that Belbin primary roles no longer displayed themselves. The shaper volunteered to take the SWOT and draw a box around it and compile the report references, pragmatist traits Appendix (ii).The Co-ordinater and the Implementer volunteered to write the executive summary and expand on my already written draft conclusion, again pragmatist traits.. Appendix (iii). 2. 2 Leadership and Influence It was evident that there was an imbalance in the group composition with a number of shapers and co-workers but no individual charismatic leader (Weber 1947) in the form of a Chairman or Completer/Finisher.
Subsequently leadership evolved in an organic manner from participatory and democratic discussion within the group (Pettinger). Decision-making was based on collective will.This consensus based format resulted in tasks taking longer than desired given the limited time frame but ensured agreement between all members with each having ownership of the outcome, resulting in group cohesion. Clear recognition of the objectives, timetable and outcome resulted in decision making and discussion being accelerated in reflection of reduced timescale. These factors outlined above manifested themselves in the operation of the virtual team after the weekend. Group development was again a consequence of negotiation, discussion but limited participation. 2. 3 The Individual and Group Dynamics / BehaviourTeam roles describe a pattern of behaviour that characterises one person’s behaviour in relationship to another in facilitating the progress of a team (Belbin).
According to the Belbin principle individuals behaviour in a team will depend on what characteristics that person possesses. Our team was made up of mixture of: (a) Creative or plants in Belbin’s principle. These people had the ability to solve complex problems. This caused the virtual team no problems as the report that the team was developing had a basis produced by myself which was agreed to by everyone either by positive comment or silent assent. b) Dynamic or shapers in Belbin’s principle. These people seemed to enjoy the pressure that was imposed on the team and actually just got on with producing their assigned section of the report (c) Conservative or implementers in Belbin’s principle who turned the teams ideas into practical actions. This was limited in the virtual team by the fact that we knew the outcome so the need for ideas converted into actions was limited.
Some of the team seemed to change from their stated Belbin role when working in the virtual environment, happy to sit back whilst others produced work, then volunteering to finish that work.Email was the favoured communication media with certain sub group pairings who had telephone contact and this seemed to be based on a social and geographic basis. The two from Lewis had regular telephone and face to face as did the two members from Lochaber During the virtual team period the behaviour of the team followed a trend. An idea would be produced by one of the plants, the idea would be discussed via email among the shapers in the team who would try to develop the idea and most of the time the idea would be decided on with only positive additions or silent assent as mentioned previously.There was very little conflict in the team, possibly due to the constraints of email and during the whole virtual period and the team progressed steadily towards the report submission target. 2. 4 Decision making and Problem Solving Process| Issues Affecting Progress| Summary| Decision Making| Problem Solving| I produced draft report, team charter, swot and draft conclusions. I suggested other team member as leader| lack of consensus –self imposed time constraint + lack of familiarity with teamwork – Reluctance to negotiate -Task objective awareness +Timeframe awareness +| Progress made due to known scope of task.
Brainstorming| Tuning in| | | | | Objectives – known| | | | | Success Measures – known| Identified through suggestion and volunteering that the report be divided into sections each allocated to one team member. | Lack of consensus -time constraint awareness increasing + Improved team working +lack of familiarity with teamwork -|Balanced Positive and negative progress factors. Slight overall progress.
| Evaluation and Selection | Information gathering| Each member had specific task to complete| consensus +time constraint wareness +team cohesion + | Group cohesion from increased time awareness. Positive progress| | Decision Making| Aware of format, timescales, each member able to plan section completion | productive + | | | Planning| Presentation| Consensus +| | Implementation| Action| Presentation Review| m | | Review| Review| On reflection it has become clear that the virtual task objective basically followed the Problem Solving process TOSIDPAR (Francis) and that although we as a Group did not follow the theoretical process consequentially in the residential weekend we did in the virtual period.It can also be seen that the five steps to decision making (Evans) were intertwined within the process as a whole.
Essentially evaluation and selection can be taken to be the core processes in both problem solving and decision-making. 3. SWOT Analysis Personal SWOT Analysis Strengths ? Varying market places experience and skills.? High humour factor.? High Technical skills.? Conscientious.? Calm.? Protective.
? Approachable? Excellent problem solving capabilities | Weaknesses ? Unfamiliar with structured report writing.? Poor Communicator.? Impatient.? Poor motivator.? Focus on minutia.
A = Opportunities on reflection I should have takenB = Opportunities I took ? A. Nominated myself as leader.? B.
Created report format? B. Created Team charter? B. Wrote basic conclusion? B. Suggested deadlines | Threats ? Lack of decisions? Lack of team working.
? | 4. Conclusions and Recommendations As a result of functioning as a team through this exercise I now have a clearer understanding of the complexities of Group Dynamics and the importance of having a clear understanding of not only the task but of the ways in which a group of individuals who make up the group, can work towards accomplishing the objectives.I have examined and analysed the ways in which theory may inform practice, albeit tailored to the specific context, and therefore be variable. To work successfully in a Virtual Team environment, it is necessary to have the benefit of initial face-to-face collaboration to establish team roles and objectives as a basis for the Team Charter. To maintain an effective alliance between team members, the group would ideally need to have all of the Belbin roles contained within in it.In future, were I to choose my own team, I would all take into account the necessary structure of teams and individual roles and the difficulties and practicalities of Virtual Team dynamics. Also upon reflection it may have been advantageous to force the issue of strong leadership in order to achieve the objective in a more structured and timely way.