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“Communication tension and stress of meeting for

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“Communication
is the essence of human life” stated Janice Light in 1997 (Janice, 1997).
Indeed, communication is present in our everyday life on many different levels
from simply talking with a family member to saying hello to the cashier in
Tesco. Because it is so widespread and exists in many different forms,
communication between two individuals can sometimes be quite complicated due to
language barriers or contrasting beliefs. Therefore, teamwork, defined as “the process
of working collaboratively with a group
of people in order
to achieve
a goal”
(Businessdictionary, n.d.) can potentially be tricky. During this first term of
university, I was assigned a group project on the future workforce. Throughout
this essay, I will be looking at what happened in the group, and how this
relates to the more broader theories of leadership and teams : Team Roles and
Motivation.

To
begin with, understanding what occurred within the group is vital in connecting
it to more extensive theories.

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Firstly,
our group project consisted in creating a short five-minute film depicting a
problem, challenge and solutions concerning the future workforce. The group was
composed of four girls : Anna, Ludovica, Julia and I, and of two boys : Armaan
and Joe.  The team got off to a bad start
with both boys being absent for the introductory meeting which took place after
our lecturer explained the project. Thus, Anna, Ludovica, Julia and I got to
know each other and bonded before meeting the rest of the team. Anna, from
Norway, boldly presented herself as being a person who is straightforward and
likes to plan everything. On the other hand, Julia, from China, barely talked,
however when she did, she was self-assured. Likewise, Ludovica, from Italy,
favoured listening, and only spoke when needed. I spoke confidently and made
sure to relieve the tension and stress of meeting for the first time through
humour. It seemed as if Anna was going to take the position of leader, whereas
the rest of girls would work with her to achieve our common goal. We started
choosing our topic, and created a Messenger group to reach out to the missing
boys.

From
then on, the group task of making the film took place in three processes : the
planning, making and editing of the film. Joe turned up to the second group
meeting, revealing himself as a reserved boy who preferred letting the girls do
the job. Still no sign of Armaan. Only a brief third meeting allowed us to see
Armaan, unveiling himself as extremely shy. The planning mainly took place
during the reading week by Ludovica and I as Joe barely talked and the others
were unable to attend the meeting. Ludovica and I distributed tasks for the
other team members to do in order to facilitate the making process. However,
when it was time to bring together everyone’s information, Joe and Armaan had both
not done it. This delayed the schedule we had all set ourselves and as a
result, Anna, Julia, Ludovica and I had to research their subjects. The film-making
itself took place at Anna’s flat. It was entirely done by the four girls. We
had told the two boys that they should come if they wanted to, as at that
moment Anna, Ludovica, Julia and I knew that they were not going to do anything
if they came. On hindsight, this was a mistake as it further separated the
girls and the boys in the group, leading to conflict.  Anyhow, us four girls worked really
efficiently and well together tin the making of the film. We each had a
separate task to do. Anna filmed, Ludovica drew on the whiteboard, Julia held
the whiteboard pens, and I wiped the board. We all collectively decided what
scene we were going to shoot and in which order the drawings were to be drawn
by Ludovica. This girl-sub-team had reached the stage of team forming where
there was not one team leader but just individuals linked together working as a
team. The editing was mainly done by Anna on her computer, whilst Julia and I
took turns in doing the voiceovers. The final report of the film was also entirely
done by the four girls even though for once the boys were present in the room.
A final viewing of the film was done by all of us and then was handed in.

What
I personally brought to the project was creativity, perfectionism and humour.
Indeed, because of the nature of the project, creativity was key. Anna had already
confessed that creativity was not her thing, therefore Ludovica and I stepped
forward. With Ludovica’s help, I designed the drawings that were to be used in
the film, as well as part of the script. Additionally, because I consider
myself as a perfectionist, I tried to make sure that each drawing was
impeccable, that the report was accurately written and that the overall project
was up to scratch. Anna helped by  informing
me when I had done enough perfecting, aiding me in not wasting my time going
too far. Another important point I feel I contributed to was the positive
atmosphere of the group. Through making jokes every so often, the stress in the
atmosphere diminished and work was done faster. In the end, I feel as though I
brought as much to the process as Anna, Ludovica and Julia.

            Furthermore, the leadership in the
group was fairly stable since the beginning, and I have realized, thanks to
previous experiences, that each group is different. Leadership is defined as “the
act of leading.” (MerriamWebster, n.d.) From the initial group meeting and
onward, Anna always took the role of leader, telling the rest of us who had to
do what and for when, as well as deciding the date of our next meetings. The
style of her leadership changed over time from a more bossy leader to a more
cooperative leader. This format of group with Anna leading worked well as it
allowed us to work fast and efficiently. This contrasted to the group I was in
for a Marketing project due at around roughly the same time of the year. In the
Marketing team, there were five girls and one boy. From the beginning, there
was no communication between the whole team, only between two or three
individuals at a time. Nobody knew who was doing what, and two girls constantly
disagreed with each other. In this case, the lack of leadership and the
differing personalities created a tense atmosphere within the group. Another
group project I had to complete in France further reinforced John Adair’s
theory that “groups resemble individuals in that … they are always unique.” (Adair,
2006) It was a project where you could choose who you wanted to work with
instead of being randomly assigned. Therefore, by picking people I knew would
work well together and I could trust, the assignment flowed naturally. In this
group there was no need to get to know each other and discover everyone’s
strengths and weaknesses compared to the ones cited above. Each group is thus
composed of different personalities, cultures, beliefs, making them all unique.

 

            Now that the basics of the group
dynamics have been laid, it is possible to bring them together with more
general concepts of what leadership and teams are. The theories linked to team
roles and motivation bear similarities with my group experience.

            Because teams have existed for so
many centuries, multiple researchers have focused on the aspects that are
common to each and every teamwork. One of these people was researcher Raymond
Meredith Belbin. His theory, entitled Belbin’s Team Role Theory, explained that
in each group, there were nine different team roles, each making “it’s own,
distinctive contribution to the performance of the team.” (Buchanan, &
Huczynski, 2017) The nine defined team roles are the following : the Shaper,
Implementer and Completer-Finisher which are Action Roles, the Coordinator,
Teamworker, and Resource investigator which are Social Roles, and the Plant,
Specialist and Monitor-Evaluator which are Thinking Roles. In 1996, Belbin
argued that an individual generally took up more than one role. (Buchanan, &
Huczynski, 2017) When compared to my group, this made sense. If the boys are
excluded from this analysis, then each of the girls naturally adopted one, two,
or more roles. Anna was more of an Implementer, Co-ordinator and Shaper meaning
that she told the rest of the group more simplistic, realistic ways of
accomplishing the task as well as informing us which part of the assignment we
had to do. Ludovica was mainly a Plant and Teamworker in that she helped bring
creativity to the project and cooperated with what Anna said. As for Julia, her
main role was Teamworker, adding vital workforce to the completion of the task.
I was a Completer-Finisher, Monitor-Evaluator and Plant due to my perfectionism
and creativity.

However,
if we include the boys into the group, Belbin’s nine roles do not work. Because
Armaan and Joe were rarely present and made little, if no effort at all to do
research and complete the task, there are no roles which define them. Moreover,
in most teams I have been in, there has always been an individual who lacked
commitment to the task. Therefore, I believe that Belbin should have added a
tenth role called Ghost, which would symbolise the person who contributed
nothing and was usually absent. Even though Belbin’s team role theory is about
roles with contribution to the common project, there is often a disruptive
member who should be taken into account. Belbin’s theory is more relevant to
teams in a professional context as the people in the group are being paid to do
a job and must accomplish their tasks. It is less adapted to groupwork in
schools and universities as some students don’t feel obliged to participate in
teamwork. Thus, for education-level group work, a tenth role to Belbin’s team
role theory should be added : the Ghost.

My
group also defies the general role stereotypes defined by Emma Osmundsen in Women and Leadership. (Osmundsen,
n.d.)
Emma states that each gender has different desirable qualities. Women are
portrayed as being more affectionate, soft-spoken and sensitive whereas men as
more forceful, aggressive and confident. In this particular case, however, both
boys in our group had neither of the stereotyped qualities assigned to their
gender. Instead, the attributes of each gender were reversed, with the girls
taking control and being dominant in the task in contradiction to the boys who
stayed more reserved. The leadership in a group is therefore not always male
dominant, especially when there is superiority in the number of girls and the
equal opportunity for everyone to potentially become the leader.

Motivation
is another theoretical concept which ties in perfectly to my group activity. The
success of a group is in part due to motivation. The Oxford Dictionary defines
motivation as the “desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm.” (Motivation,
n.d.) It was a big source of conflict in our group as the boys did not feel
concerned by the task and thus failed to contribute to it whereas the girls
were motivated and ready to complete it. Patrick Lencioni’s document The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni
, n.d.)
describes the five main categories of dysfunction within a team which are:
Inattention to results, Avoidance of accountability, Lack of commitment, Fear
of conflict, and Absence of trust.  Two
sub-groups within our team effectively took place due to the lack of commitment
of the boys. This lack of commitment and inattention to results in turn formed
a sense of distrust by the girls towards the boys. The conflict within the team
due to this slowed down the process as the girls had to do more research and
spend more time achieving the end goal. Motivation was thus the key issue in
our group, as we were not all committed to the project.

 

This
experience working as a group has helped me realize that each group is unique and
needs to be approached differently each time. Indeed, every individual has
distinct personalities, which are not always compatible, making the initial
stage of discovering each person’s strengths and weaknesses nonpareil each
time. In every group, there will be people who are less concerned with the
pending task than others, potentially creating conflict within the team. If
there are any perturbing elements present, I have learnt that the best way to
deal with them is not to focus on their lack of motivation, but instead to try
and entice them to join in with the work, or in the worse scenario, forget
about them and move on with the committed part of the team. This experience has
also made me aware of the fact that if one person does not contribute to the
final project, it brings a lot more work and stress upon the other team
members.

The
whole experience of working as a group was a great challenge from start to
finish. Despite our group’s multicultural background with people coming from
five different countries, our personalities (especially the girls) really
clicked and we all got along very well. The work was facilitated by the fact
that all of us were interested in the subject assigned. Good communication
between four of the members in the team allowed us to finish the project on
time and our strong work ethic further facilitated this. However, some elements
got in the way of a well-functioning united team. As stated above, the lack of
commitment and motivation from the boys led to the separation of the group, and
their absence of motivation created conflict from the girls getting irritated
at them. Even so, we managed to overcome these difficulties by focusing on the
end goal and not paying attention to those who would ultimately bring us down.

Hence,
this group project has really taught me valuable lessons when it comes to
working with groups and team in the future. I would suggest making the first
meeting obligatory in order to get to know everyone from the beginning instead
of having a fraction of the group getting to know each other before everyone
else. This would reduce the risk of potential conflict because everyone would
have met each other already. Furthermore, I would go about assigning people to
their respective roles following Belbin’s theory through understanding each
individual’s personality, strengths and weaknesses and figuring out who would
be most adapted to each task. Moreover, having a detailed plan of what should
be achieved each week really helped us a lot during this last assignment by
staying on target and completing the project on time. Therefore, I would
definitely repeat this in future group and individual tasks to come.

In
conclusion, the group project I was assigned to do at the beginning of the year
has made me realize that there are similarities between each group and recurring
team roles that can be attributed to each member. This life experience has
allowed me to better understand how to deal with problematic and unmotivated people.
Overall, I really enjoyed it and will try and bring what I have learned into
future projects with other unique groups and teams.

 

Word
Count : 2534

 

 

 

Bibliography

·       Adair,
J. (2006). Leadership and Motivation: The Fifty-Fifty Rule and the Eight Key
Principles (P9). Kogan Page.
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Gb83AAAAQBAJ&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=groups
resemble individuals in that they are always
unique&source=bl&ots=LRVmAnIGD-&sig=W5sAoJm_NyVRi0si4QBwP05BhRs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwig4cyzn9PYAhXPKFAKHV0VCOYQ6AEIMTAB#v=onepage&q=groups%20resemble%20individuals%20in%20that%20they%20are%20always%20unique&f=false

 

·      
Buchanan, D. A., & Huczynski, A. (2017). Organizational
behaviour. Harlow: Pearson.

                
p362-363

 

·      
Lencioni , P. (n.d.). The Five Dysfunctions of a
Team PDF.

http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/835348/mod_resource/content/1/Five%20Dysfunctions%20of%20a%20Team.pdf

 

·       Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leadership

 

·       Light,
J. (1997, June). Communication is the essence of human life’: Reflections on
communicative competence. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230852751_Communication_is_the_essence_of_human_life%27_Reflections_on_communicative_competence

 

·       Motivation
| Definition of motivation in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved
January 14, 2018, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/motivation

 

·      
Osmundsen, E. (n.d.). Women and Leadeship
PDF.

http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/1034713/mod_resource/content/1/Leadership%2024.11.2017.pdf

 

·       Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leadership

 

·       Teamwork.
(n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/teamwork.html

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