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According to the founder of JC Penny, James Cash Penny, “growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together”. Teamwork can be facilitated or hindered by personal ethics of an individual. Personal ethics depend on belief systems, virtues, and personal experiences. An individual’s personal ethics help justify his or her actions and choices that might render peace or acceptance to oneself. In my experiences and circumstances, I have realized that my personal ethics have changed over time.
My ethics involving teamwork have evolved over time as a result of numerous experiences in the classroom, workforce, and other situations.
My personal ethics keep changing, as I witness different circumstances and observe different principles constantly. My values originate from my upbringing, my interactions with others, and my educational experiences. As I was raised as a Hindu in this country, my ethics are a concoction of my experiences as an American student and my religious background of being a Hindu.
Initially, due to the belief of my family, I believed that success is given solely due to an individual’s hard work. However, since I entered high school, I was involved in activities and projects that emphasize the value of teamwork. This background of mine influenced my method in working with others, in terms of helping other group members improve their weaknesses, as well as acknowledging and appreciating others.
During my undergraduate studies, I have constantly participated in group projects. In fact, I had once taken a business ethics class that required a major group paper and a presentation.
However, two of my group members came to the United States recently. Therefore, English became a second language for them, in which they both struggle with. Due to the fact two of the members struggled in speaking and writing English properly, it was difficult for the group to write a paper that will flow. Consequently, after I have finished my part, I have taken the time to explain to them the basic grammar and sentence structure. As I can tell they were still struggling, I proofread their sections of the project and helped them communicate their thoughts and ideas in a more professional manner. Fortunately, my group and I have received an A on the project, as we all put in effort and helped each other complete our tasks.
During this project, I realized having a form of leadership and having the passion and drive also encourages other individuals to work harder. Due to my ambition of getting my message across, I have inputted and organized everyone’s ideas and suggestions in a chart, which we later presented to our class. I was better at explaining different theories and reasons relating to our topic, which included the discrimination of women in the workforce, whereas another individual was better at formulating the clear statistics needed to support our position. Therefore, in order to diversify the team and our ideas, my group split in two different sections, one working on arguments and other working on evidence to support the arguments.
As I have collaborated on similar projects that essentially have a broad topic such as gender equality, ethics, leadership, etc., the most frequent method of gaining ideas that I have used in the past was brainstorming. This usually happens in the early stages of the projects. Brainstorming was extremely effective in my project in my Leadership class, which I took during my undergraduate studies. Our topic was “power” in the workplace. My groupmates and I were eager to stand out from the rest of the class, who mainly utilized historical figures as examples of different powerful figures. In order to enhance creativity, we wanted to use the topic of power and analyze a popular fiction movie.
Initially, we have chosen the Lion King as our subject of power. We came up with idea that the character of Scar unethically gained power over the lion tribe after murdering Mufusa. Unfortunately, the different elements of power were not applicable to many of the characters in the movie. This attempt of utilizing a Disney movie facilitated the process of gaining a new movie idea. As we wanted to use an animated movie, we realized that Monster’s Inc was more applicable to the subject of the project.
The agreement of scraping the original idea and moving on to a new idea was surprisingly agreed upon by all the members of the group. Although we were aware that we had to start from the beginning, we ultimately decided that it is better to utilize a new idea for the project, rather than waste our time and energy to keep trying to develop the original one. Due to the fact that we thought about the examples of the elements of power used in Monsters Inc before scraping our original idea, starting from the beginning seemed less daunting than anticipated. Once we brainstormed about different examples by openly expressing any idea or characteristics from the movie that demonstrated power of the characters, we felt more relief and motivation to finish our project on time.
In contrast to all team members collaborating on a project or an assignment, I have faced experiences when a team member’s motivation or work ethic did not align with those of the other members. This was evident in a group project during my undergraduate studies during which we had to establish a human resources management system for a company. I took the initiative to start the word document and PowerPoint, in which we all input information. During this project, one member had failed to complete his part on time. I consequently had to generate new ideas and do extensive research to back up my ideas. Due to the fact that the group was lacking time to complete the project, I did not have an opportunity to consult with the group. I utilized the conflict style of avoiding and forcing and I eventually decided the outcome of that specific part individually.
However, I have faced a situation where a team member did not contribute as much effort as the rest of the team, but where different approach was decided upon. In my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class, we were assigned a group project, where my group had to invent our own business. One individual in our group failed to do her part accurately. The rest of the group and I were not satisfied with the effort she put in. The following day, I realized that she appeared to be extremely tired and exhausted. I felt extremely sorry for her, as her appearance was disheveled, and she seemed to be crying. I concluded that something unpleasant might have happened.
Due to facing an unexpected situation and feeling empathy for her, I decided to use the collaborative style and the accommodative style of conflict management. The collaborative style was extremely effective as the individual was apologetic and was prepared to correct the mistakes she had made. I also used the accommodative style of leadership by staying up late to help her complete her part.
Although an ideal situation of team work and collaboration may be anticipated, it is essential to realize that may not be the reality for every situation. Therefore, it is necessary to react quickly, adjust to a new situation, and make an alternative plan to sustain the goals or the current status quo of a group.
In my past experiences, I realized that I usually wait until a situation or a crisis occurs and react accordingly to each circumstance. However, if I were to encounter similar setbacks in different situations, I should become more aware of the patterns, such as lack of response from a group member, underdevelopment of an idea, etc. I believe that recognizing these patterns beforehand will eliminate the element of surprise at an unfortunate moment and give me the indication to formulate new or improved ideas at a more convenient time.
Ethics do allow me to cultivate peace about my choices and actions. They give me a method to rationalize my behavior in certain situations. The situations that I experience are also influencing factors in my personal ethics. Conclusively, ethics enable me to justify my actions, learn from experiences, and help me to keep moving forward.
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