Let’s do it together!

23 May

When I first read that we have an assignment on group work this week, I thought this must be pretty simple because We all have been doing group work for all my life. It starts in kindergarten when you first learn to be in a group with other children of your age and goes on in school and also un university. In every field of our daily lives we imply group work not only for educational purposes. Nobody is perfect, so we try to gather information from all different kinds of sources to come as close to perfection as possible and what group work also means is that you are dividing work between many people so that not one person is doing everything but everyone is doing part of it. That’s what I have always thought of group work, it’s a nice way to get to know other people’s opinion and to see a problem from a different angle and maybe get inspired by it and think further.

Problems with group work:

My problem with group work always was, especially at school, that when a tasked was to be performed in a team and in the end the whole group would get a grade for it then I would rather do the major part of the work on my own to make sure that everything is well prepared when I knew before that some of my group members wouldn’t put that much effort in it anyway because they didn’t care so much about their grades as I did. And so in this case I didn’t see group work as much effective if not everyone is working for the same goal. Now, that I’m in University I experienced that group work can be a very helpful tool when everyone is as much into it as oneself and I learned that even talking with others about a problem I have or just about different issues of life. It is always enriching to listen to other people opinion even if they are not the same as my own but I know that I can always learn from them.

What I can learn from my group members:

Now that I have learned how important group work can be, I asked one of my group members from “Hit the nail on the top” to tell me about her experiences with group work and what she thinks about it:

“For me team work is very important in our daily lives. People have to be team-minded in every field of life not only at work, at school or in university but also for example in your free time if you want to organize and plan a trip or your next vacation with your friends, everyone can be assigned to a different task so that everything becomes much easier for the whole group and all people involved can contribute to it and are involved in decision making. But the most important thing is that all team members are reliable, willing to compromise, and committed to the task.” Sabrina

Sabrina’s opinion gave me a great new point of view on this topic because before I hadn’t thought about team work during me free time with my friend but I think she is totally right that sharing tasks when planning group activities is very important and nobody will be left behind. But Sabrina also agreed that your team members have to be reliable with you want to work together successfully.

But how to work together successfully?

I thought when team work is so important in our lives there must be a way or maybe some kind of recipe how teams can work successfully and I found the answer in the case study Ch.19. There they explain how one can make a team work together successfully and effectively:

There are 3 important rules that the people working a team should consider:

  •        define roles, establish norms, set clear goals
  •        clear defined size and role of the team
  •       diversity of team in terms of knowledge and skills also in terms of gender and race

The success of the a team is based on 3 major outcomes:

  • productive output
  • personal satisfaction
  • capacity to adept and learn

All of the points mentioned above are illustrated in this chart of the effectiveness of teams from the case study:

So what I learned here is that it wasn’t bad that in some cases at school I rather wanted to do the group work by myself and it didn’t mean that I’m not able to work in a team. It just meant that my team wasn’t effective because we didn’t have the same goals and nobody defined clear purposes or outcomes.

But what I have also learned from the case study that instead of just doing all the work by myself I could have been a much better team leader for my group because team leaders play a very important role in shaping team effectiveness. For example I could have defined the outcomes of the group work clearly enough for everyone to understand and to follow.

The characteristics of good leaders:

There are three ways in which leaders can contribute to team success:

1.)    articulate a clear compelling purpose and direction

  • Result: ensures that everyone is moving in the same direction

2.)    embrace teamwork in deeds as well as words (sharing power, information, and responsibility), faith that team members will take good decisions

  • Result: everyone feels responsible and want to contribute something

3.)    not being afraid to admit ignorance, ask for help, and being willing to learn from others

  • Result: everyone feels responsible and want to contribute something

This shows that a good leadership of a team is almost as much important as having a clear defined goal and the willingness of all other group members to work and that group work must be very well structured ahead before even starting to work together. If I had known all that about group work already in school I would have acted differently in different kinds of group tasks but like I said in the beginning nobody is perfect and we can always learn each other and mostly by simply communicating.

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2 Responses to “Let’s do it together!”

  1. rosepanama May 26, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Julia!
    I really like your post about teamwork! When I read that you rather do the major part of the work by your own in order to assure a better grade, I thought about my high school experiences. I think this is what is so different about school and about university. In school most students are not really interested in working hard, they rather have more spare time. Now being in university and especially in our course, we are all very ambitious to get good grades. And I really can feel the difference. I enjoy working with you guys together, since we all accomplish our tasks on time.
    Great post!

    • Alexandra May 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      Hey Julia, your post caught my attention not only because of the topic, but because I used the same image ( the first one) for the “progress” page of blog or die tryin. So I was really interested in seeing if we had more in common than just the picture concerning our view of teamwork. And I have to say, I made the same experiences you did: Teamwork in school usually wasn’t fun, I too did most of the work and the others got the good grades. I really liked that you asked for Sabrinas opinion, because this shows that you are trying to aplly the things we learned about succesful teams. Also it is great that you don’t only talk about your experiences and opinion, but that you also give neutral information on how you can improve your team’s work, no matter if you like teamwork or not.
      Well done!

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