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In this report, I reflect upon small group experiences on Mt. Everest’s critical event. The small group is made up of four members. The report will follow Christopher Johns’ model. This is a guided structure for personal reflection aimed at uncovering useful information for use by small teams for improved team outcomes. It covers four critical cue issues. They are a concise description of the team experience, a reflection of the experience and influencing for the outcomes, and learned lessons from the experience (John 2004).
The group member team is mandated with the responsibility of developing a report based on the question “How to Take the Group to the Peak of Mt Everest Successfully.” Our team is made up of members gifted with different abilities. The team underwent the experience against the background of a variety of influential factors. Among the most influencing factors included the knowledge the team had on group communication. Moreover, each individual performance affected the overall team performance (Felps, Mitchell and Byington 2006; Belbin 2010a). The team had to also to go through a series of conflicts generated by the complex nature of the experience as well as the member’s personal differences (Finkelstein and Hambrick 1990). Competition amongst group members also hindered the group’s performance. At some point, I noticed that there was a lack of a shared vision amongst group members. Each of the group members did not clearly understand the team as well as individual goals. All these portrayed a lack of cohesiveness in the team (Armstrong 2009). The team had to overcome these challenges by developing a series of alternative actions.
In the attainment of the team’s overall task, the team had to go through a series of trying experiences. Contrary to the expectation the team did not project the task as expected. The team went through a series of challenges. There were a lot of disagreements between members on several issues. When undertaking each group task each member seemed to have a different idea from the rest. Members were also not willing to bend a little and accommodate each other. Furthermore, each of the members did not want to be questioned and held accountable for their actions. Each member also seemed to want to stand out. As such there was a lot of competition between members. Furthermore, every team member did not seem aware of how their individual roles affected the group. Poor knowledge and information management was another bad experience. Members were not willing to talk to each other and when they did they were just passing on instructions. No knowledge or valuable; information was passed from one member to another. this the group was denied the chance to utilize such knowledge. There were also a lot of personality differences that went unrecognized. The team’s inexperience was evident from the word go. Due to the naiveté and the inexperience of the team for such an experience the team did not identify and plan well for the task ahead (Armstrong 2009). As such the team overlooked major challenges that lay on its way.
A number of factors influenced the experiences mentioned above. The team did not identify a conflict resolution mechanism and as such conflict was poorly managed in the team (Belbin 2010b). Furthermore, there was a very poor attitude towards group tasks. This was reinforced by the fate that each of the group members had prior bad experiences at the group level. Furthermore, most of the individuals came from societies that did not reinforce teamwork. Thus there was no collaboration at all amongst group members. Most importantly the group did not portray any element of a shared vision as well as goals and objectives. Poor knowledge and information management were influenced by the team’s poor communication strategies. Team members did not value the power of information sharing as well as the need to create an effective communication platform that would enable easy decision making (Bonner 2010; Kayes, Kayes, and Kolb 2005). Competition within the group was fueled by a very negative attitude between members about collaboration (Felps, Mitchell, and Byington 2006).
The problems that the group experienced were largely unstructured and as such the group had to adopt creative ways to overcome these problems (By Lee and. Kleiner 2011). Despite the enormous challenges experienced by the group, each of the members was determined to accomplish the task. As such the group had to adopt a variety of alternative actions that helped it survive this experience. These negative experiences were brought about by the team’s naiveté and inexperience. However, the most important factor that motivated the team to progress was the flexibility of each member to learn and correct mistakes (Belbin 2010a).
My role as s team analyst was chosen by the group leaders because of several factors. To begin with, I possess a critical mind, objectivity as well as logical analytical skills. The team leaders explained that the position needed a goal-focused person and thus I was fit for this position (Belbin 2010). The position entailed a number of functions. These functions included a gathering of valuable information and analyzing it into useful data. I thus had to ensure that this information was presented to each of the members in a language and manner that they could understand. The team analyst also involved weighing the team goals-against achievement and making sure that that team progress was in line with desired results. Furthermore, I had to ensure that the needs of the group as well as individual members and making sure that those needs were met. Therefore this role involved working as closely with the other three team members as possible. This was intended to ensure that other than ensuring that I gather as much information as possible, I also had to pass a lot of that information at the group level and at the individual level. Thus I had to establish a combination channel that ensured effective passage of information. Furthermore, I had to help the group in redesigning its goals and objective in line with the new realities (Allen 2009).
This role, in a way overlapped with the team leader’s role. This means that I had to perform a number of roles similar to the team leader. These include team building as I had to establish collaboration as part of strategies for progress as part of decision making and problem-solving strategies. Other roles shared with the team leader included meeting with individual members, the analysis of the team’s progress and performance., creating and encouraging positive relationships amongst members as well as convening meetings ( Hass, Horst and Ziemski 2007). These roles would ensure a more cohesive team.
To achieve group objectives the group had to consider a number of external factors (Belbin 2010b). Communication was the most crucial of all factors necessary for the team to function properly. As such as the team analyst I had to ensure that there was an established communication strategy for effective information passage. Furthermore part of effective communication strategy involved using clear and concise statements that left no doubt as to what was being said. As such there were very few clarifications needed (Belbin 2010b). Another valuable factor that influenced the decisions made was the inevitability of conflict in the group due to the diverse nature of member’s personalities, skills, and abilities.
For assured good performance, the team had to adopt an operational model for an effective process. The most appropriate model for adoption was the Tuckman Model that describes the sequential group development stages (Fritz, Boren and Egger 2005). This model helped the team handle conflict well (Halverson and Tirmizi 2009). The figure below shows Tuckman’s models description of the stages of team development
The figure below describes strategies adopted by an effective team
The group had a variety of personalities and as such a heightened level of varied opinions. As a team analyst, I am ISTP type personality. This means I am able to handle team conflict as well as establish personal relationships amongst team members. The group leader was an ESFP type personality which means that he was able to build strong relationships amongst the group’s members as well as provide motivation to members. The other type of personality visible in the group was the INTP present (Berens, Ernst and Smith 2004). The Myer Briggs Type Indicator explosion that the above-mentioned personality type is part of what makes up the group dynamics and defines them as follows. ISTP is the Intuitive, sensing, Thinking, perceptive persons. ESFP is the extroversion, sensing, feeling perceiving person while the INTP is the introverted, intuitive, and thinking perceiving person (Buffinton, Jablokow and Martin 2002).
Alternative courses of action
The progress of the group was affected by the inexperience as well as naiveté. This was due to the fate that it was the last time the group was handling an experience of such magnitude. As such there were alternative choices of actions that the group would have taken to ensure quick progress as well as better outcomes. The fast alternative cause of action the group would have taken was to establish a basic communication plan from the onset. This plan would have ensured effective combination and as such would have addressed the following areas. To begin with, gathering and analyzing information is the preliminary stage of effective communication. As a team analyst, I should have analyzed the information and organized it into manageable and understandable bits.
The next face of the information management plan would have been to identify what messages would have been relayed at what time (Hanlan 2004; Goleman 2000). I should have ensured that information management would have been member specific and as such identity which member needed what information. Initially, I thought that just putting the message across was a sufficient way to communicate. However, I should have ensured that I establish the best approach in relaying that information. In this group setting the best approach would have been to approach the member that I intended to communicate with and have a one none conversation. This would have given them a chance to seek clarification if need be. Furthermore is should have organized brainstorming sessions to give members a chance to air and discuss varied opinions (Hanlan 2004; Bonner 2010; Goleman 2000).
This cause of action would have had an effect on me, the entire group, and also on the other individual group members. It would have enabled me to be a more effective team, analyst as I would have been able to relay information effectively thus empower the group to make more informed decisions. On the individual group member, better communication strategies would have ensured that each individual was better placed to contribute their opinions and as such help me in my team analysis role. Furthermore better communication would have ensured that team cohesiveness, as well as goal sharedness, was realized (Amstrong 2009; Emmitt and Gorse 2006).
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I should also have used proper behaviors to reinforce the message I was relaying across. As such I should have used more assertive behavior such as asking a direct question in a firm tone and using straightforward words. My body posture should also have affirmed my firm mindedness without being a bully (Maurer 1996).
This experience has yielded valuable insight into teamwork, individual roles, team leadership as well as the roles of a team analyst. Mt Everest’s critical experience has given me valuable insights into how a team works. I have learned that the positions of a team analyst are akin to being the overall team leader. Furthermore, I have learned that being a team analyst involves more than just helping the team to analyst its goals. One of the key functions of this role involves diligent management of information (Allen 2009). When information is well-managed teams can accurately make future plans. Furthermore, I learned that I needed to identify which information needed to be relayed to who and at what time in the best possible approach. Body language should have been used effectively to reinforce what I said verbally (Belbin 2010b).
Other than information management, the other key lesson I learned about this role is that it involves a lot of consultation. This means that effective team analysts have to consult both at the individual level as well as group level. The purpose of consultation, I learned is to gather as much information as possible (Allen 2009).
One of the key team management functions is communication. Effective team managers have realized the multiple roles that proper communication strategy plays in team management. Communication helps a lot in establishing team cohesiveness as proper communication channels ensure that only the right information is passed to the intended recipients. Furthermore, the right communication strategies minimize conflict in the team. This is due to the fact that when team members are cohesive individual as well as personality differences are subordinated to team spirit. Moreover, the right communication strategy helps the team in managing any conflict that arises in the team. As such conflicts are kept at a manageable level (Belbin 2010b; Goleman 2000).
The experiences taught me that effective leadership involves understanding the various leadership styles as well as knowing when to employ each of them. As much as effective leaders encourage dialogue and accommodate team member’s opinions, they have to ensure that when necessary they employ coercive leadership especially when critical decisions have to be made. As such combining participatory leadership methods should be combined with coercive leadership skills. However, these leadership methods should be employed at appropriate times (Goleman 2000).
Other than employing the right leadership skills, team leaders ought to ensure that there is cohesiveness in the team. The progress of any team largely depends on how cohesive team members are (Emmitt and Gorse 2006). Cohesiveness ensures that the team easily overcomes many of the challenges and unnecessary conflicts associated with noncohesive teams (Goleman 2000). Thus in future leadership roles, I will adopt and use the acquired knowledge to ensure better outcomes.
The Mt Everest critical team experience was very useful in avoiding valuable information about team management. The tea had to go through problems associated with new teams. This is because the group did not use the right model of management such as the Tuckman model. Lessons learned will be useful for my future leadership roles. Among the most important lesson I learned was the power of having in place the right communication strategy. Communication becomes the bedrock for effective team management. Furthermore, it is important for team members to take team tasks according to their personality types. All these factors ensure effective team outcomes.
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