1. Team roles include programmers, graphic designers and project managers. There were82 students (20 teams) completing this unit. The aim was to have students experience projectmanagement issues that occur when dealing with real clients in real projects and washeavily focused on teamwork and problem solving. The environment was based on thelearning principles of authenticity, self-regulation and reflection (Luca & Oliver, 2001).Features included student contracts, journals (for self/peer assessment & reflection),Conference Centre for problem solving, bulletin boards, time management tools, syllabusand assessment materials, lecture notes, legal/QA templates, relevant URLs, web sites andassignments developed by previous students and a student details database.Within this setting, two teams were selected for investigation. One team was highly successfulin developing a quality product, and collaborated in a highly successful manner. Another team,experienced severe team problems, which caused it to become dysfunctional and had to besplit. Data was collected on both of these teams from focus groups sessions, interviews andquestionnaires that were recorded and transcribed for analysis. A summary of the results isdiscussed below with reference to key attributes needed for successful teamwork as outlinedin Table 1.Table 1: Key attributes for successful teamworkKey Attributes DescriptorsCommitment toteam success andshared goals participants understand their purpose and share their goals the combination achievesmission (Francis & Young, 1979) members must share a strong common goal (Kets De Vries, 1999) groups provide each member of the team with prestige and recognition (Scarnati, 2001) successful teams are motivated to succeed (Bradley & Frederic, 1997) there is strong team commitment to succeed (Critchley & Casey, 1986) members have strong shared values and beliefs (Kets De Vries, 1999) engaged in and satisfied with their work (Wageman, 1997) creation of a team atmosphere that is informal, relaxed, comfortable and non-judgemental(Harris & Harris, 1996) promote group cohesion (Bradley & Frederic, 1997) people enjoy regular interaction with individuals who have similar interests and goals(Scarnati, 2001).Interdependence one cannot succeed unless the other members of the group succeed (Smith, 1996) together the group can deliver more than the individuals who compromise it could do inisolation (Francis & Young, 1979) team members must work together effectively to produce successful systems (Bradley &Frederic, 1997) team members interact to help each other accomplish the task and promote one anotherssuccess (Smith, 1996) team members build on the capabilities of their fellows the combinations energisedthrough synergy (Francis & Young, 1979) team members must take an interest in both the group and each individuals achievement(Harris & Harris, 1996) team members must never be fully self-directed or completely independent (Johnson,Heimann, & O’Neill, 2000) teams are often empowered to accomplish tasks not available to individuals (Scarnati, 2001) Individuals experience a wide range of new ideas and skills when interacting with teammembers (Scarnati, 2001) team members learn together so that they can subsequently perform better as individuals(Smith, 1996)
2. HERDSA 2002 ‘( PAGE 643Key Attributes DescriptorsInterpersonalskills people must care for each other (Critchley & Casey, 1986) members must protect and support each other (Kets De Vries, 1999) feelings cab be expressed freely; (Critchley & Casey, 1986) members must be respectful and supportive of one another, and realistic in mutualexpectations (Harris & Harris, 1996) there is a high level of trust (Critchley & Casey, 1986) members respect and trust each other (Kets De Vries, 1999) foster trust, confidence and commitment within the group (Harris & Harris, 1996)Opencommunicationand positivefeedback give and accept feedback in an non-defensive manner (Harris & Harris, 1996) ideal team should be highly diversified in the talents and knowledge each membercontributes, while maintaining open, non-threatening communication (Bradley & Frederic,1997) value effective listening and communications that serves group needs (Harris & Harris,1996) engage in open dialogue and communication (Kets De Vries, 1999) cultivate a team spirit of constructive criticism and authentic non-evaluative feedback(Harris & Harris, 1996) team members must be open and truthful (Critchley & Casey, 1986) enable members to express group feelings (Harris & Harris, 1996) listen to all ideas and feelings; (Critchley & Casey, 1986) face up to conflict and work through it (Critchley & Casey, 1986)Appropriateteamcomposition successful teams are a product of appropriate team composition (Bradley & Frederic, 1997) clarify member roles, relationships assignments and responsibilities (Harris & Harris, 1996) discuss differences in what each member has to contribute to the work (Wageman, 1997).Commitment toteam processes,leadership &accountability tolerate of ambiguity, uncertainty and seeming lack of structure (Harris & Harris, 1996) instil approaches that are goal-directed, divide labour fairly among members and synchronizeefforts (Harris & Harris, 1996) accept individual accountability/personal responsibility; (Smith, 1996) team members are accountable for their share of the work (Smith, 1996) members subscribe to distributed leadership (Kets De Vries, 1999) decisions are made by consensus (Critchley & Casey, 1986) effective leadership is needed (Bradley & Frederic, 1997) encourage group participants, consensus and decisions (Harris & Harris, 1996) experiment with new ways to work more effectively; (Wageman, 1997) seek best practice from other teams and other parts of the organizations; (Wageman, 1997) be open to change, innovation and creative, joint problem solving (Harris & Harris, 1996) take action to solve problems without waiting for direction (Wageman, 1997) monitor the teams progress (Johnson, Heimann, & O’Neill, 2000) perform post-project analyses to find out what worked and what didnt (Johnson, Heimann,& O’Neill, 2000)Successful TeamThis team of students was highly successful in developing a quality product, as well as beinghighly collaborative. Their journal entries continually reflected positive comments about otherteam members, and at no stage during the semester was there a request or requirement totransfer marks from one team member to another. Team meetings were always friendly, and atno stage were team issues discussed as being problematic. The team always focused on theproject and how the process of development could be improved by exploring expectations ofthe tutor, client and end users. An analysis of the data collected from this team indicated thatthey showed the attributes needed for successful teamwork. In almost all of their responses ininterviews, focus group meetings and questionnaires it was evident that this team wascommitted to: Commitment to team success and shared goals – the team was highly focused on deliveringa quality product, and not pre-occupied by personal issues that might have interrupted
1. Commitment to team success and shared goals – team members are committed to the success of the team and their shared goals for the project. Successful teams are motivated, engaged and aim to achieve at the highest level;
2. Interdependence – team members need to create an environment where together they can contribute far more than as individuals. A positive interdependent team environment brings out the best in each person enabling the team to achieve their goals at a far superior level (Johnson & Johnson, 1995, 1999). Individuals promote and encourage their fellow team members to achieve, contribute, and learn;
3. Interpersonal Skills includes the ability to discuss issues openly with team members, be honest, trustworthy, supportive and show respect and commitment to the team and to its individuals. Fostering a caring work environment is important including the ability to work effectively with other team members;
4. Open Communication and positive feedback – actively listening to the concerns and needs of team members and valuing their contribution and expressing this helps to create an effective work environment. Team members should be willing to give and receive constructive criticism and provide authentic feedback;
5. Appropriate team composition is essential in the creation of a successful team. Team members need to be fully aware of their specific team role and understand what is expected of them in terms of their contribution to the team and the project; and
6. Commitment to team processes, leadership & accountability – team members need to be accountable for their contribution to the team and the project. They need to be aware of team processes, best practice and new ideas. Effective leadership is essential for team success including shared decision-making and problem solving.
There are two teams of students working on projects. In the end, one team was successful in completing their project on time while the other was not.
This team of students was highly successful in developing a quality project, as well as being highly collaborative. Their journal entries continually reflected positive comments about other team members, and at no stage during the semester was there a request or requirement to transfer marks from one team member to another. Team meetings were always friendly, and at no stage were team issues discussed as being problematic. The team always focused on the project and how the process of development could be improved by exploring expectations of the tutor, client, and end users. An analysis of the data collected from this team indicated that they showed the attributes needed for successful teamwork. In almost all of their responses in interviews, focus group meetings and questionnaires, it was evident that this team was committed to:
Commitment to team success and shared goals – the team was highly focused on delivering a quality product, and not pre-occupied by personal issues that might have interrupted this objective. They facilitated and nurtured positive, cooperative-working relationships based upon the focus of developing a quality final product that would impress their client tutor, peers and end users. The whole team was strongly motivated to out-perform other teams and shared a strong common goal of wanting to develop a product that would support their chances of gaining employment at the end of the course. This was evident in almost all of their responses;
Interdependence the team members felt that they had a responsibility towards the other members of the team and that the success of the project was based upon each team members contribution. Team members were always happy to help peers when they were experiencing difficulties. The team would proactively brainstorm problems individuals team members were having and offer assistance if needed;
Interpersonal skills the team recognized that team members had different personalities and experienced problems at different stages. They showed consideration for each other, respected and supported others in difficult times;
Open communication and positive feedback the team recognised that it was a healthy thing to discuss problems or difficult issues and try to offer constructive help/criticism in trying to resolve these. They strongly valued open dialogue that enabled team members to express their concerns in a non-defensive manner. They were open and truthful about all aspects of the project;
Appropriate team composition this team was proactive in selecting their team members well in advance for this unit. They had carefully considered the skills needed for each team member, and also the type of personality for each team member. These were carefully discussed and considered by two team members four months before the unit commenced;
Commitment to team processes, leadership & accountability – team members were all aware of the importance of everyones role within the team and the process used by the team to plan and track the timing and quality of required tasks. The project manager was well respected by the team, and always consulted the team before making any major decisions. Also, the team had a number of quality assurance procedures which helped monitor activities as well as individual team members accountabilities.
Another team of students experienced severe team problems, which caused it to become dysfunctional and had to be split. At the first peer assessment session, marks were transferred between team members, as it was perceived that some team members were not contributing. Even though agreement was made at this meeting that marks should be transferred, and suggestions were made about how to improve the situation, resentment amongst team members escalated. This was clearly evident from the comments being made through the confidential on-line journal entries each week. The tutor had several meetings with the project manager and individuals to help try to resolve issues, but to no avail.
At one of the team meetings a serious disagreement occurred, in which one of the team members verbally berated another, from which point there was no reconciliation. After this altercation, team members felt they could no longer work together, so even though they would experience a heavier workload, they unanimously agreed to split and form two separate teams. An analysis of the responses given by the successful team indicated that this team had a strong awareness of the attributes needed for successful teamwork. Comparing responses from this team against the key attributes needed for successful teams shown in Table 1, it was evident that this team was not congruent with these criteria.
Review the descriptors in Table 1 that describe the successful team, then review the commentary about the unsuccessful team and create your own Table in which you change the descriptors to ones applicable to the unsuccessful team. Then, include paragraph descriptions of the six attributes as was done for the successful team above.
Last, address these final questions about the unsuccessful team:
How would you recommend the unsuccessful team resolve its conflicts?
What steps could you take to improve the teams performance?