Steps to follow:
Establish a team mission and group goals
Improve team communication
Assess team effectiveness
Encourage continuous team development
Create balanced team roles
Become a more effective team leader
Activities to enhance:
Balanced team roles
Clear objectives and goals
Support and trust
Cooperation and conflict
* Definition of Teams: Working in Teams
All teams are groups of individuals but not all groups of individuals necessarily demonstrate the cohesiveness of a team. Teams out perform individuals because teams generate a special energy. This energy develops as team members work together fusing their personal energies and talents to deliver tangible performance results. The quality of decisions resulting from effective teamwork are predicated on practices of cooperation, active listening, constructive (non-judgmental) feedback, sharing of ideas, resources and workload, etc., and valuing the interests and achievements of other team members.
Everyone can exhibit constructive and/or unproductive behaviors without even being aware of it. It is important to be aware of your own behaviors as well as those of others. It also doesn't hurt to have a sense of humor when working in a team. In fact, it might be the single most advantageous characteristic to possess (next to patience, maybe) whenever you have a vested interest in the outcome of a group's performance. The following are examples of characteristics which promote or sabotage effective teamwork:
GENERAL STRATEGIES --
Identify roles for team members. A team stands a better chance of being productive if individuals within the team assume specific roles. Different guides suggest different ways of organizing teams, but the tasks covered are similar. At a minimum, a team needs a facilitator, a note-taker, and a time-keeper at each meeting. The facilitator conducts meetings, follows the agenda, and summarizes discussions. The leader is also responsible for establishing a site for the meeting, convening the session, and establishing a time and place for the next session. These roles don't necessarily need to be assigned. they my evolve in individual groups.
In addition to the facilitator, a team needs a note-taker who keeps a record of what has been decided, is responsible for carrying out the tasks assigned during the meeting, and notes when the next meeting is scheduled and where it will be held. The note-taker should provide minutes from the meeting or an outline of what has been discussed upon the meeting's completion or at the start of the next meeting.
In order to keep a meeting running in an organized fashion, a group needs a time-keeper, someone who will make sure that the appropriate amount of time will be allocated for each time on the agenda and that team members progress expeditiously in keeping with the time allotted for each topic to be considered.
Finally, it may prove useful for a team to appoint a member who is responsible as a liason, i.e., reporting to other teams. This member summarizes the progress of her/his team so that the other teams are kept informed about the work done by her/his team.
It is possible, of course, to rotate positions within teams. It is also
perfectly possible to give alternative names to the positions here described.
Your team should decide at the outset how it wishes to allocate positions
of specific responsibility and evaluate how effective these decisions are
in light of the team's organizational strengths and weaknesses. The effectiveness
of a well-organized team will be reflected by its fulfillment of meeting
goals and its overall progress.
Develop guidelines for group meetings. The brevity of the quarter and the difficulty of coordinating schedules limit the number of times possible for groups to meet to discuss their plans and progress. Maximizing the effectiveness of these meetings is therefore of critical importance. While each group will develop its own meeting style, depending on the people involved and the tasks at hand, a number of guidelines are provided to help groups get the most out of their meetings from the beginning.
Discuss effective feedback techniques with team members. Another important component of successful teamwork is providing constructive feedback. The following points are presented to help ensure productive communication among team members:
Consensus is NOT a unanimous agreement or reached by a majority vote. The final decision may not be (and probably will not be ) your initial choice and it is likely that you will have to concede something for the good of the group. Consensus means that everyone in the group can live with the decision.
Disagreements are expected during team discussions when opinions of team members differ, and members are taking ownership and sharing their ideas honestly. The escalation of disagreements into conflicts is of concern, however, because collaboration among team members may be undermined. Conflicts may result from a mismatch of expectation among team members, unintentional miscommunication and misunderstandings among team members. Conflicts are usually a symptom that communication is not as open and complete as it should be.
The team is getting stuck in emotional disagreements and its attempts at reaching consensus are failing, the whole team should come in to see the instructor. Issues should be resolved early before they escalate and get out of control.
Effective teamwork demands that every member of the team feels valued and participates fully. Toward that end each team will assess itself regularly so that potential problems are identified early and resolved speedily. Each team member will evaluate him/herself and the performance of other team members. This evaluation will be presented to the instructor regularly (weekly or biweekly). The "results" of the evaluation must be processed through discussion in an open climate to provide the opportunity for improved group dynamics and accomplishment.
Teams have become the latest management obsession. They're the corporate equivalent of a Visa card: they're everywhere you want to be.
Trouble is that despite their ubiquity, teams rarely achieve breakthrough results. Instead, they sink to the level of the weakest performer and keep digging. The fault lies not with the team or its members, but with those who took a group of individuals, charged them with improbable goals, staffed them with uninspired leadership and expected them to function as a team. Such companies succeed only in putting the 'fun' back into dysfunctional.
Contrast that to a well-oiled and disciplined team, one in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Such groups allow members to achieve results far beyond their individual abilities. The irony is that when the needs of the group take priority, the needs of the individual actually are enhanced.
High performance teams do not result from spontaneous combustion. They are grown, nurtured and exercised. It takes a lot of hard work and skill to blend the different personalities, abilities, and agendas into a cohesive unit willing to work for a common goal. Behind every great team is strong and visionary leader. A leader whose job is not to control, but to teach, encourage, and organize when necessary. You are that leader. Following are some tips to get the most out of your team:
Building: Cultivation Peak Performance-
The art and science of team building.
*Avoid win/lose situations.
*"We are all angels with
only one wing; we can only fly while embracing one another."
Luciano de Crescanzo
These groups cannot be managed, only led in flight.
*"None of us is as smart as all of us." Warren Bennis
*In teachers we trust
*"Since I arrived, six
different hotel staff have greeted me or
asked if they could help. But did you see that waitress a moment
ago? She was the first one who meant it."
*In 1993 Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith released their ground-breaking book, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization.
Their definition of a team - A team is a small number of people with
complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance
goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Everyone has had a "best team" experience. The collective characteristics of such experiences can help us get a better grasp of this thing we call "team".
In our work we often use a Best Team exercise to kick off a teambuilding event. In that exercise we ask participants to think about the best team experience they have ever had and to record the key characteristics of that group of people. The responses are almost always the same:
Sense of accomplishment
Good, open communication
Desire to excel
What we have learned from this exercise is that its the focus on relationships, in combination with mutual high performance expectations, that turns any group of people (e.g. workgroup) into a team.
By the way, we also asked these people how often they have had a best team experience in their lives. The answer? - once or twice.
Find someone who participates in these activities regularly as a means of relaxation. Ask them to sign their name in the
appropriate boxes. Try to find a different person for each activity. Fill in the center with your favorite relaxation activity.
Students use a bingo sheet to go around the room and ask questions, first one with blackout wins.
Students introduce themselves to a partner, partners introduce each other to the whole group or a larger group of six.
Key questions to have students answer; who are they and why are they here? Add interest to this activity by giving each
pair a few unusual questions to answer about themselves or the topic. See Boundary Breaking Questions.
Two Lies and a Truth
In large or small groups students share two lies and a truth about themselves group members must decide which is the
This activity requires students to be broken up into groups of four of five. Students list aspects that team members have
in common. The goal is to come up with as may things in common as they can. If two students share a passion for skate
boarding then the word skater can be entered in the second column. Based on the points they have in common students
select a name for their team. Teams may then want to decorate folders with their team name and representative symbols.
-More icebreakers available from the University of Hawaii: Faculty Resource Page "First Day Section"
-Icebreakers from About.com- Ideas with links to handout pages.
-Icebreakers from the National Institute for Science Education
*Team Building Activities:
They Will Never Take Us Alive
Rank items from most important to least important.
Additional Team Building Exercises
*Team Work: Do's & Don'ts
Most groups go through four phases: Forming, Storming, Norming, and
Forming: During the initial stage of the group, structure is developed,
roles are assigned or
claimed (both implicitly and explicitly), status relations between members of the group are
established, norms begin to emerge, shared values are discovered, and general procedures
for decision-making and problem-solving are agreed upon.
Storming: Conflicts in values, perspectives, goals, power, and information
and foregrounded, and progress toward resolution is begun. This is often a creative stage
and shouldn't be avoided.
Norming: As conflicts are discovered and resolved, the group's approach
and problem-solving, for better or worse, is more firmly established.
Performing: Having established roles, personalities, and norms, the group's
and energy is increasingly directed at the group task and decreasingly concerned with group
maintenance, procedural questions, or personalities.
These phases are not to be moved through as rapidly as possible. Problems
may often be traced back to insufficient storming and norming, for instance. Group
discussion, while storming out some controversies, may return to issues involved in forming,
redistributing responsibilities, rediscovering common values, and modifying procedures.
Similarly, a group having difficulty in performing may either implicitly or explicitly, need to
redefine some norms. During the first meeting, in particular, you need to lay a lot of
groundwork and get a firm foundation. Your group's success depends upon it.
Be prepared for a long first meeting. If possible, schedule it to last
two to three hours. A
common and predictable pattern for groups is to spend seven weeks in confused milling
around, followed by two weeks of frantic work, finally producing a finished but ill-conceived
project in the tenth week. A thorough organizational meeting at the outset can work wonders
in preventing this pattern.
The first task of the group is to get itself together. Even before you
begin to tackle the
assignment, you need to make some decisions about group organization. These first few
decisions are crucial, since they will be difficult to undo. Moreover, the way that you reach
these decisions is also important while the group may explicitly decide upon certain rules of
procedure which will be followed throughout the life of the group, the group will also
develop tacit, implicit norms as it proceeds. Thus, if the group appears initially lackadaisical
and indifferent, if some members of the group remain silent or unengaged, if some members
of the group begin to dominate the others, these are the first problems that you have to
solve. And we mean you. Take the initiative. Don't expect these problems to solve
themselves. Time heals nothing. It's incumbent that you take responsibility to change this
behavior or attitude at the very beginning. Silence, far from being meaningless, is a sign of
approval. If you remain quiet, you will have given tacit assent to this behavior and a highly
undesirable, unproductive, and potentially destructive norm begins to take root in the group.
Use the following agenda in order to make your first meeting effective and productive.
1. Get acquainted: Inventory your resources (Forming)
2. Discuss group structure / leadership. (Forming)
3. Explore your understanding of the task/proiect (probably the most frequently
step). Don't jump into discussion of solutions until you've surveyed all members about the
problem. (Forming and storming)
4. Discuss possible approaches/solutions/ methods. Brainstorm. Capitalize
on any resources
you identified earlier in the meeting. (Storming and Norming)
5. Assign tasks. Create the agenda for next meeting. (Performing,)
First, sit down in a circle and get acquainted. Give everybody a minute
of airtime. Each
person should tell the group his or her name, interests related to the project, background
related to the project, other courses taken appropriate to the project and so on. Nobody
should be interrupted. Take a thorough inventory of the group's resources
Second, establish a structure by appointing a coordinator and recorder.
Then, under the gentle direction of the coordinator, and with the recorder
notes, work on defining the problem that the group faces. Again, go around the circle and let
everybody have a chance to define the task that faces the group. Remember that the focus
here is the identification and definition of the problem, not the solution. First, let everybody
have a say on the problem definition, and then begin discussion that will lead to a consensus
on the definition. Don't let discussion start until after everybody has had a chance for
Next, brainstorm for solutions to the problem. First brainstorn freely,
and then go around the
circle, giving everyone a chance to make suggestions. Then discuss the solutions to the
problem in order to reach a consensus.
Finally, break the solution down into its parts. What will have to be done
in order to
accomplish the goal of the group? Assign tasks and deadlines. Create an agenda for the next
meeting. Establish a time and date for the next meeting.
Each of these agenda items are discussed in considerably more detail below.
- Forming: Getting Acquainted
- Forming: Structure, Group Maintenance Roles and Task Roles
- Planning for Implementation
*Be a Good Listener
Avoid the bad habits of listening, most of which are the result of putting your own concerns before those of the group:
1) Pseudo listening: Your body language keeps saying that you're listening,
but your mind is
really in Tahiti.
2) Silent arguing: As another group member speaks, you begin to prepare
your list of
objections Try to play the "believing game" more actively. (See page 12.)
3) Premature replying: You interrupt the speaker before he is finished.
4) Misplaced focus: Rather than trying to understand the fundamental idea
of the speaker,
you start nitpicking on minor details to which you object.
5) Defensive listening: You hear the speaker arguing with you even when
the speaker is
elaborating on your idea, asking you to elaborate on it, or fundamentally agreeing with you.
You relate all the speaker's ideas only to your own, instead of considering them in their own
6) Forcing meaning: You read more into the speakers words than could reasonably
Meetings only need to have three defined roles, facilitator, recorder and group members to be effective. These can be rotated at each time the group meets or stay the same.
The following are descriptions of Facilitator, Recorder and Group Member roles:
Roles of a Facilitator:
*Principles of a Successful Meeting
1. Shared Responsibility - everyone in the meeting should play an active role in making the meeting a success.
2. Collaborative Attitude - It is the mind-set that guides individuals to act in a cooperative manner. It is the realization that it is important to take time to get everyone on board - going slow to go fast.
3. Strategic Thinking - The process of selecting an appropriate course of action, during a meeting. By asking the following questions and building on small agreements groups navigate their way to a successful outcome.
Groups ask themselves:
Rate your group on each characteristic. Use a five point scale, with five indicating the strongest agreement with the statement.
|First Week||Mid-Quarter||Group Growth - Evaluation Form|
|1.||I am treated fairly, as a member of this group.|
|2.||I feel close to members of this group.|
|3.||This group displays cooperation and teamwork.|
|4.||I have trust and confidence in members of this group.|
|5.||Members of this group demonstrate supportive behavior.|
|6.||I derive satisfaction from membership in this group.|
|7.||I get a sense of accomplishment form my membership in this group.|
|8.||I am honest in responding to this evaluation.|
|9.||I am willing to share information with other members of the group.|
|10.||I feel free to disagree with members of the group.|
|11.||I am oriented more toward group goals than personal goals.|
|12.||This group uses integrative, constructive methods in problem solving, rather than a competitive approach.|
|13.||I am able to deal promptly with important problems of the group.|
|14.||The activities of the group reflects the integration of everyone's needs.|
|15.||My needs and desires are reflected in the activities of the group.|
|16.||This group has a sense of responsibility for getting the job done.|
|17.||I don't feel manipulated by the group.|
|18.||The group shares responsibilities equally and fairly.|
Hand out index cards to everyone in the group, ask members to use a
Likert scale to rate how they feel about the idea on
10 - they think it is the best idea ever -Collect the cards confidentially, average them and let the group know their average. This can be done several times during the process of consensus. A similar scale can be used to rate members feelings about the group. These types of observations are best made by the instructor or someone outside the group.
1 - it is the worst idea they hate it.
|*Group Activity||Come to a consensus on the top three problems that are usually encountered at school.|
|Time limit||20 minutes|
|General Meeting Guidelines||Guidelines for this Activity|
||Have groups brainstorm as many problems as they can. Set
a time limit of 10 minutes.
Make sure groups have appointed a Facilitator and a Recorder.
||The Facilitator should read through the list of ideas, if some ideas are not clear ask the person who shared the idea to restate it for the group.|
||The Facilitator should ask the group to suggest ways ideas might be combined. The recorder should record the combined ideas on newsprint.|
||The Facilitator may or may not vote during this stage.
The Recorder should clearly mark the top ideas by circling them or highlighting
| Natural Cut:
||After each stage of the process facilitators can take anegative
poll to help maintain consensus. A negative poll is a question asked each
member to find out who doesn't agree or who can't move on to the next stage
in reaching an agreement. A negative poll invites those who disagree to
voice their opinion.
Example: Is there anyone who couldn't support one of the top ideas.
Positive poll: Does everyone agree?
| Build Up /Eliminate:
||The Facilitator should restate the top ideas and make sure everyone is in agreement. The Recorder should clearly mark the top ideas.|
| Discuss and Agree
||The Facilitator should ask each individual to verbalize
their agreement or disagreement. Discuss the top ideas until everyone can
support the ideas.
The Facilitator should state what will be done next, who will be responsible for the action and set-up the next meeting.
The process by which we reflect on an experience and come to conclusions based on that experience is called closure or debriefing. This is when much of the learning takes place.
This process involves asking questions which allow members of the group to think through an experience from beginning to end. It is another way of helping students make observations about group processes and helping them apply what they have learned to new situations.
Stage 1. The Experience; the meeting, seminar, group activity
Stage 2. Describe
In this stage participants share their personal insights and reactions of the experience.
After the participants share their ideas and reactions. It is important to help individuals see and evaluate trends and dynamics that they may be emerging in the group.
In this stage the group determines whether what went on during the experience was unique or if it happens often in many different situations. Participants are asked to focus on other situations in their lives that are similar to the activity. The task is to identify similarities and state principles that can apply to other situations. Generalizing helps participants transfer their personal learning from the experience to the rest of the world.
Participants decide on a course of action for the future.
*Managing Team Conflict
Some tips to keep in mind when confronted with team conflict:
Allow every member to state his or her opinion. Excluding a member's ideas, even if they are unpopular, will lead to resentment and will sacrifice group cohesion.
Don't come to consensus too quickly. Especially when teams are in the "forming" stage, members are so afraid of conflict that they come to consensus on a particular point that is inappropriate or incorrect. This "dumbing down" process hurts the quality of the team's performance and causes members to believe they could do better on their own.
Don't attack a member personally. Members should learn to separate incorrect or implausible ideas or conclusions from the person who states them. Criticisms should focus on task-oriented issues and not on personal attributes. This keeps arguments on a professional level, instead of degenerating into immature name calling, etc.
Summarize the conflict. What starts as a small difference of opinion can soon appear to be a large conflict. Sometimes it is useful to summarize and list what both sides agree about and disagree about. By acknowledging the common ground, factions are better able to compromise.
Switch sides. Blinded by their own ideas, sometimes people fail to see obvious virtues of another person's ideas. As a way to force members to really consider the other side of a conflict, students can try to argue the opposing viewpoint. Though it may be difficult at first, it can bring to light a solution that had not earlier been considered.
Tell a joke. When the team atmosphere is tense due to extended conflict, it helps for someone to "lighten up" by adding some humor to the situation. Such brief "tension breakers" can put the conflict into perspective.
Take a break. Sometimes, despite every constructive effort, members cannot resolve a conflict. In this case, the best thing to do is take a break (with the intention of coming back to the issue): move on to another agenda item or get away from one another for a time.
Involve an unbiased third party. A class intern can provide an unbiased opinion in a dispute or help mediate a problem. The team should involve the course instructor only as a last result because it could end up causing more harm than good.
*Self-fulfilling prophecy: Key Principles
The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy can be summarized in these key principles:
Does it work?
A convincing body of behavioral research says it does.
In 1971 Robert Rosenthal, a professor of social psychology at Harvard, described an experiment in which he told a group of students that he had developed a strain of super-intelligent rats that could run mazes quickly. He then passed out perfectly normal rats at random, telling half of the students that they had the new "maze-bright" rats and the other half that they got "maze-dull" rats.
The rats believed to be bright improved daily in running the maze they ran faster and more accurately. The "dull" rats refused to budge from the starting point 29% of the time, while the "bright" rats refused only 11% of the time.
How teachers communicate expectations
Motivation Theory- Self-fulfilling prophecy- The Pygmalion Effect at Work
*Team Meetings Scheduling Form
*Team Harmony pledge