The Situation
Gordon University is a medium-sized public college on the East Coast. The students at Gordon University are remarkably diverse. Some of them have come to college directly from high school, while others have been in junior college before starting at G.U. Other students are older. They are coming back to school after being in the workforce for several years.
Each semester, the Management Department at Gordon University offers a class called “Teams and Teamwork.” This class requires students to work in groups to complete four case studies over the course of a sixteen-week semester. The purpose of the case studies is to help students learn to analyze business situations, but also to improve their interpersonal skills; especially communication, planning, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and decision making. Cases are graded on three areas: 1) quality of analysis, 2) quality of solutions and 3) team process. Team process grades are based on individual group member feedback about other group members. Students are also given multiple-choice tests of their individual knowledge of theories.
Students tend to have one of two reactions to “Teams and Teamwork.” If they have been working for a while, they know about the kinds of team and communication problems they have encountered in the workplace and are eager to learn new skills for dealing with them. These students want to focus on the case studies and spend a good deal of time analyzing the team for their team evaluation grade. Younger students often see the class as “common sense” and they view it as just one more requirement they must complete before graduation. These students are typically less interested in doing group work, thinking that if they can just pass the tests, it will be enough to get a decent grade in the class.
It is now three-quarters of the way through the semester, and Team “Sparkle” has a large case (worth one-quarter of their grade) due next week.
The Students
Valerie Lee is a 20-year-old student who came to G.U. straight from high school. She is majoring in Accounting. She has had great success for the past four years at George State University, and currently maintains an ‘A’ average. From Valerie’s perspective, as long as the case gets written correctly, nothing else matters. Valerie is taking five other classes in addition to “Teams and Teamwork.” This constitutes a very heavy workload, and as a result, she doesn’t want to spend any more time than she has to on the class. The easiest and fastest way for Valerie to get her work done is to do it herself. She often volunteers to type the final draft of a case study, because that way she feels that she can control the quality of the work. Valerie doesn’t like conflict and will often deny that there is a problem instead of addressing it.
Samantha Sobel is 35 years old and is returning to G.U. to complete a degree that she started 18 years ago. After high school, Samantha started college but was soon offered a high-paying sales position. Having just gotten married, Samantha didn’t feel like she could turn the job down. Now, after 16 years on the job, she has realized that she needs a degree to advance in the company. Samantha believes that there is nothing more important than building a good team, and she wants to spend time talking about how the team is doing things and just getting the job done. At the beginning of the semester, she noticed that Valerie and Steve, another team member, were good friends outside of class. Valerie and Steve often sat together in class (often apart from the rest of the group) and they have left the last two group meetings early. Samantha is concerned because she sees their behavior as an indication that they are withdrawing from the team.
Steve Eggers is 25. He worked for a few years after high school at a fast-food restaurant, and then went to junior college for two years. When he first arrived at G.U. he met Valerie in his Accounting class. He has tried to take as many classes as he can with Valerie ever since then because the two of them work well on their accounting homework. Steve is a natural communicator – he gets along well with most people, and always finds something funny to say when he thinks a situation is getting too tense. He likes both Valerie and Samantha, but he feels like he knows Valerie better because he has been spending more time with her.
Today the group is meeting to discuss their final case study. Their final case is due in two weeks’ time, and they need to decide how they are going to write it.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
What stage is this team in now? Forming, Norming, Storming or Performing?
What conflict underlies team interactions?
What role did Samantha play during the team meeting? How effective was she at helping the team to work together?
What role did Valerie play during the team meeting? How effective was she at helping the team to work together?
What role did Steve play during the team meeting? How effective was he at helping the team to work together?
If Samantha were to assume the role of team leader, what should she do to help the team move forward at this stage in their development?
Helpful Notes:Team Development
Research suggests that teams tend to develop through a series of four stagesThe forming stage allows members to become acquainted with one another and begin to see themselves as an integrated and cohesive unit.Typical behaviors during early forming are silence, self-consciousness, dependence, and superficiality.The primary objective of this stage is helping team members become comfortable with one another on an interpersonal level.The norming stage involves developing a structure for getting work done and a clear set of norms and expectations about how people behave on the team.Typical behaviors during early norming are cooperativeness, conformity to expectations, interpersonal attraction, and ignoring disagreements.The primary objective of this stage is the definition of roles and responsibilities, participation, and decision-making processes.Groupthink is a danger during norming; it is an artificial consensus reached through pressure, rationalization, or keeping silent.To prevent groupthink, teams should have critical evaluators, open discussions, and a willingness to rethink decisions.The storming stage involves expressing differences and disagreements and learning to confront conflict productively.Typical behaviors during early storming are the formation of coalitions, competition among members, and challenging others’ points of view.The primary objective of this stage is learning to manage conflict, legitimize individuality, and foster a consensus-building process.The performing stage involves becoming a team that produces work effectively and efficiently.Typical behaviors during performing are mutual trust, commitment to the team, mutual training and development, and innovation.The primary objective of this stage is creating performance that is above the ordinary.
Team Membership
Team members can play two advantageous roles in the team.The task-facilitating role includes direction-giving, urging, and monitoring to help the team carry out and achieve its tasks.The relationship-building role includes supporting, harmonizing, energizing, consensus building, and empathizing to help build team cohesion.Team members also sometimes play an unproductive blocking role, which includes dominating, stalling, passivity, pulling rank, resisting, and deflecting, etc.
"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Get Expert Help at an Amazing Discount!"
Looking for a Similar Assignment? Our Experts can help. Use the coupon code SAVE30 to get your first order at 30% off!