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.
I was interactive in a group of seven students from 4 different colleges with varying marketplace skills, unknown to each other till then, to
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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 Structure Our 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.