The current management team has prepared this memo to assist you in your new position with the company. We understand that you have limited experience in group formation and communication, and these skills will prove vital in your new position. We would like to share some fundamental information on group learning and communication along with experiences we have encountered collectively. Combine this information with your own group learning experiences and you will increase your success with the organization. In our organization we work with others in teams to complete tasks and solve issues that might arise. On occasion it will be necessary to ask people to be part of the group or to form a new group to address topics and issues. This will help you in understanding how teams come together and work as one unit.
When people are asked to form a group, the first stage they experience is the forming stage. In this stage people come together and expectations and the purpose of the group is clouded in uncertainty. No one is really considered the leader of the group at this point. Behavior is greatly observed between team members to determine what is acceptable. This stage will be relatively short because soon the group will begin to function and devise ideas and suggestion for attacking the problem or task. Storming is the next stage the team will experience.
This stage does cause some conflict within the team because there is no real chosen leader. In this stage the members of the team will accept the group and start to function within the team. However, the members of the team will show some resistance because groups or teams limit individuality and require unity to work efficiently. Within a short period of time there will be a leadership established with in the group and the members of the team will follow the chosen spokesperson. The third subsequent step in the group development process is the norming stage when the group begins to solidify.
At this point the group will have established some acceptable standards of behaviors or “norms”. Once the group has established these norms, certain barriers can be eliminated. Groups can now focus more on collectively carrying out goals and less on establishing parameters for the group. These norms will now establish expectations of group behavior. At this point in the process, group structure has been established and accepted, and the group may begin focusing on performing which is the fourth step in group development. This is the point of action where organizational goals are carried out and performance is evaluated. From personal group experience we agree that during this stage it is imperative that groups have the tools necessary to complete their tasks. If teams are not distracted by trivial conflicts that can be easily remedied, then they will be able to maintain creativity and focus. The fifth and final step in group development is the adjourning stage.
Depending on the purpose of the group and time span of the group, this stage will vary. Some groups form for the purpose of completing short-term tasks, while others carry out long-term initiatives. Regardless of the time frame, groups should be commended on their areas of success and constructively identify areas that need improvement. It is our experience that different individuals can be grouped together on several different tasks. If the adjourning stage is handled properly, these individuals will carry a good attitude and level of camaraderie into their next group project. (Daynette’s part discussing barriers of communication insert here) As you can see there are many barriers that face group communication, however, there are always ways to overcome those barriers. One barrier that is easy to overcome is premature evaluation of ideas. We believe the best way of overcoming this is by using the nominal-group technique.
This technique does not utilize verbal idea sharing but rather every group member brainstorms and writes down their ideas, then goes around and shares them. By proceeding this way it stops anyone from ridiculing an idea and lets everyone’s ideas be heard so no one feels like they had a dumb idea and stops sharing with the group. You want to create a climate of freedom, by having more ideas in the open, the better chance you have of getting the best conclusion. Another barrier previously mentioned was poor physical surrounding. The best way to overcome this is to find a meeting location that works well for everyone. Make sure it is quiet like in a library, not in an apartment with noisy roommates or younger brothers and sisters. Make sure there are lots of lights, comfy chairs, and plenty of table space to work on the project.
If you are uncomfortable you will be thinking about that the whole time instead of focusing on the group problem at hand. A third barrier to group communication was there being too many people. By having too many people, this makes the group less creative by not having every group member able to share their ideas. This can also cause social loafing where some members sit back and let everyone else do the work while they still get the credit. A good way to overcome this is by splitting the larger group into smaller groups and by either giving them the same topic to see all the different ways each group comes up with or splitting the topics if there is a lot to get done. This works well because you can draw in group members who are less talkative or shy in large group settings, thus creating more ideas. Another barrier is always not having enough time.
No matter how far ahead you plan on any project there never seems like there is enough time to complete it. It is known that it takes a group a lot longer to work on a project than it does an individual because you have to comply with the group norms and rules. Here the only real thing you can do is to make sure you get down to business and split up the group work as soon as possible so that each member can get started. Also, make sure to finish everything a few days ahead so that way if someone is running behind you all have time to go back and fix any issues or to make sure it is all complete on time. Lastly, “stinking thinking” should try to be avoided when evaluating ideas.
Try not to jump on other people’s ideas when they come up with them and wait till they are all heard. Use positive enforcement like “great idea but let’s here all of the other ideas first then we can go back and look at each one.” With every barrier that comes up there is always a better way to overcome it so that it doesn’t offend another group member.
Remember teams only work well if all participants are on the same page. We have provided you with these tools and experiences for you to draw from when needed. When starting a new team or group it may be beneficial for all team members to review this memo prior to starting a new project. This will allow the team to start to understand why conflicts may arise and where to start in resolving these conflicts. We have great confidence in your ability to be a great leader and look forward to the success that your team will provide for our company in the future.
Courtney from Study Moose
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