Friday, June 1, 2007

Team dynamics - an experience

The team seemed to be able to operate as a cohesive whole even though it fractured into sub-groups after the first chat. Two members were very focused on creating something with an ESL direction while several others wanted a more general information literacy slant. Two members had very little contact at all. One was dealing with family issues but contacted another team member to let her know what was happening. The other member contacted no one for most of the project and, when she presented her contribution to the website, became offended when it was pointed out to her that it had little relevance to the topic.

These issues highlighted the importance of communication during the project. Because none of us knew each other, regular communication was vital to maintain smooth operation of the team.
It became obvious from very early on that most of the team members were used to being in control of projects yet, as the project progressed, it became equally obvious that none were willing to nominate as team leader. I believe this was because the moderator changed each week and that process disrupted the normal leadership development that occurs in teams.

Everyone in the team (those who were in regular contact) strived to tap into the strengths of each person and also to identify any individual weaknesses so that these could be catered for elsewhere in the team. There was an almost fevered focus on ensuring the team worked as well as it could for the project and, more, for each team member.

Everyone was scrupulously polite to each other. While this is necessary I found that by the end of the first week, this desire to not bruise other peoples’ egos actually inhibited the decision-making process and began to irritate me. There was a hesitance in suggestions for improvement that watered down the requests. I attempted to keep the focus on the project when criticisms and suggestions were made but other team members were still concerned about upsetting individual authors. At this level of study, there should be an ability to separate the personal from the professional. In team work, it is the project that is paramount. If people are precious about their own contributions, they should keep a copy of their original work so they can publish it without change elsewhere later.

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