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Book Review: Creating Effective Teams Essay

Creating Effective Teams: a Guide for Members and Leaders is a book by Wheelan (2013) designed to do as the title states; guiding members and leaders to create effective teams. Wheelan (2013) begins the book by highlighting the reasons that groups are important. Wheelan (2013) states that throughout history, “Groups have played a major role in both the survival of human beings and the development of human culture” (p. 1). The majority of the book is based on 4 stages that create a group of individuals into an effective team. The first stage is called dependency and inclusion.

According to Wheelan (2013), the first stage of the group is characterized by group members becoming dependent upon the group leader. During this first stage, members must learn to trust each other. Wheelan (2013) highlights three goals that should come out of the first stage. The first goal is to have group members begin to develop a sense of belonging as well as recognize predictable patterns of interaction. The next goal is to develop loyalty to the group. The final goal is to create a safe environment for members in order for them to share and contribute ideas and suggestions.

The second stage is called counterdependency and flight (Wheelan, 2013). This stage is the natural transition from reaching the goals of stage 1; members will begin to feel that they don’t need to be dependent upon the leader, which results in group members fighting amongst themselves. This is an inescapable part of the process and is actually healthy for the group if managed properly. With the proper management, Wheelan (2013) identifies one goal for stage 2: creating a cohesive set of goals, values and operational procedures. According to Wheelan (2013), the third stage is called trust and structure.

If the group is able to work through the conflicts and is abiding by the goals set in stage 2, then group members begin to trust each other, become more committed to the group and cooperation greatly increases. There are two goals identified by Wheelan (2013). The first goal of stage three is to solidify positive relationships between members. The second goal is to engage in more mature negotiations about group roles and organizational procedures. Once the three are stages are worked through the n the fourth stage, Work (Wheelan, 2013), can be accomplished.

Wheelan (2013) identifies the fourth stage as a time of intense team productivity and effectiveness. This is the stage that is the result of creating the effective team. Once the four stages have been identified and understood, Wheelan (2013) goes on to elaborate on how a group leader can keep the team effective. Wheelan (2013) speaks of 10 keys to productivity (goals, roles, interdependence, leadership, communication and feedback, [discussion, decision making and planning], implementation and evaluation, norms and individual differences, structure, cooperation and conflict management).

Wheelan (2013) also shares the ways that group members become effective team members (don’t blame others, support the leader, promote effective problem-solving, etc…) as well as how a leader can be an effective team leader (be direct and confident, involve members in leadership, adjust your leadership style to the group, etc…). Finally, Wheelan (2013) highlights effective organizational support for teams, which includes an organization support checklist. Concrete Response There really wasn’t a video roll that played in my head, but I can apply this concept to my job.

Currently, I am a supervisor for a wellness center that works with people living with a mental illness. I see the group that I work with as a team because we are working toward one goal. This goal is to help the members living with a mental illness learn to gain independence, work on social skills and work on personal goals that they would like to establish. I feel as if my job is to create and effective team, first with my co-workers and then next with the members of the wellness center. As I was reading the four stages of a group, I can definitely see how that works out.

When I first started there, I was definitely in the first stage with my co-workers and the members. Eventually stage two did happen and conflicts began because as a new supervisor, I had changed some rules and regulations that were received poorly at first. Eventually we were all able to work through the new changes and developed trust, stage 3. Once trust was developed, then we were able to get to the task at hand, which was achieving the goals set by each member and are now in the working stage of the team. It was interesting to read the text and apply to my personal life.

The one thing that I did notice is that I’ve been there for almost a year and I can confidently say that it took a few months of hard work to be where I am not with the members and my co-workers. Reflection I really enjoyed the book and I can definitely see how a team can become effective when each stage is performed properly. The questions that I had with reading the book were; what happens if I am not able to complete a stage? What happens if the group members are not cooperative? And how do you handle a group that is there voluntarily versus involuntarily?

While the book offers great advice and ideas, there didn’t seem to be much room for error. Even when it came to the four checklists (team performance, effective member, effective leader and organization support) there were grades, but there was no explanation or tips on how to turn your poor grade into a positive grade. This book is a great conceptual book and a good book for advice but I feel as if Wheelan (2013) designed the book to be used as a resource that should be worked with other books and your own personal viewpoint.

I don’t think that I am trying to outsmart Wheelan (2013); but for me as a reader, my assumptions of the book based on the title were not what I had expected. I was partially correct that this was a how-to book, but what I did not expect was that there wouldn’t really be anything about how to correct problems. This is almost like a user’s manual for group leaders; it tells you what to do, but not what to do when you make a mistake. I would use this book with another resource. Action So what am I going to do about it? How will I take this book and apply it to my life? What is a 3 step action plan that I can take?

There are a lot of different steps that I can take with this book, but what hit me the most is the chapter on how I can be an effective team leader. So the first step that I would like to do is learn how to apply the leadership skills applied for each stage. According the Wheelan (2013), during the first stage I need to learn to me a directive and confident leader. During the second stage, I need to understand that when members begin to demand more participation in running the group, I must slowly begin to empower them to have it.

During the third stage I need to be able to involve members in the leadership of he group. Finally, during stage four, I must be able to participate as an expert member of the team. Being able to master those skills will greatly help me when it comes to team leadership. The second action plan that I will do is to take those checklist and actually fill them out and see if I need to change in the areas of team performance, effective membership, effective leadership and organizational support. I feel as if what I will do what the checklists are to make copies of them or look for them online and pass it out to my team members and the wellness center members also.

Finally, what I would like to do is to audit the productivity of the team based on the 10 factors highlighted by Wheelan (2013); (goals, roles, interdependence, leadership, communication and feedback, [discussion, decision making and planning], implementation and evaluation, norms and individual differences, structure, cooperation and conflict management). As stated in the section above, I will be using this book as an additional resource to really help improve my leadership abilities; especially at work, but also in other aspects of my life.


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