Written By: Mariam (Subcommittee)
Exclusively for WIB.
“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” – Henry Ford
Semester One has officially commenced, and yes…that means we’re going back to doing group assignments! Who doesn’t love group work?
I for one, appreciate student-based group work and that’s because I understand how integral it is to my learning and development. The purpose of this comprehensive approach to classroom learning is to facilitate learning and enhance the skills and attitudes that can be transferred to an organisational setting. Therefore, I have put together a simple guide that you and your team can use when forming a group.
Team building activities is an effective way to improve communication, productivity and decision-making. It allows group members to get to know each other, and learn about one’s strengths and weaknesses. There are many team-building exercises designed to understanding group dynamics, for example, how team members communicate, approach problem solving and decision making, their adaptability and planning strategies. Essentially, the activities are aimed to:
- Facilitate an open flow of communication within the group
- Encourage cohesion through exhibiting openness and support
- Encourage information-sharing and expectations between group members and,
- Allow group members to feel comfortable with sharing ideas, giving and receiving feedback.
Note: use the Tutor’s advice, especially those annoying “Icebreaker activity” as a start to facilitating interaction and communication between group members.
High performing teams work well by establishing the goals and the expectations of the group. It is important to have regular, productive and face-to-face meetings to reinforce the goals, and monitor performance. At each meeting it important to take the time to:
- Set and establish the team’s vision and purpose (What are you trying to achieve?)
- Communicate and confirm the goals and intended outcomes
- Identify and allocate tasks to members (Who is doing what?)
Note: The best way to determine how tasks should be distributed is by acknowledging each individual’s strengths and weakness. By determining the valuable heterogeneous mix of diverse skills, you can leverage these strengths as a strategy to effectively and efficiently produce and deliver high-quality work, which will set you apart from other teams.
Monitoring helps to ensure goals are being achieved, deadlines are being met and overall effective teamwork is taking place. Through the facilitation of face-to-face meetings, group members can assess and monitor individual and group performance.
Taking minutes and establishing a platform to share ideas and progress of work progress are two effective ways to managing group performance.
Taking minutes for each meeting helps a group:
- Provide structure and manage time
- Document critical discussions, decisions and ideas
- Record the responsibilities of each team members
- Provide the opportunity to give feedback and support and,
- Ensure goals and objectives are being met in agreement with the group’s expectations
Apart from taking minutes, it is important to establish a platform to monitor progress outside the face-to-face meetings, for example, using Google Docs to carefully follow the progression of tasks to ensure goals are being achieved on time. This is also effective as it aims to:
- Encourage open communication channels between group members
- Allows individuals to compare their progress and,
- Prevents conflict from arising when individuals are not pulling their weight or meeting deadlines
Note: If a conflict does arise, the best way to approach the situation is to come together as a group to identify actionable solutions to the problem.
Establishing a role structure
Part of the reason why group-work can be challenging and can often fail is because group members are unsure what role each individual plays within the group. Therefore, rather than roles emerging on their own, or are forced upon a group member, think about establishing generic and rotational positions at the beginning of each meeting. Some of the roles include a:
- Scribe (the person responsible for taking minutes)
- Devil’s advocate
- Team player
By rotating roles, each student has the chance to develop and enhance skills in each role and observe how other members perform their role. This is also a situation where you can provide feedback on the performance and encourage your peers.