Group Performance

During our recent group presentations, we covered negotiation, building teams, working in groups, managing conflict, effective meetings, facilitating team success, managing decisions and solving problems creatively (De Janasz, Wood, Gottschalk, Dowd, Schneider. 2006, pg 196-314).

Our team was given working in teams for success as a presentation topic. I believe we not only clarified the topic but managed to use the content to our own benefit and produce a successful presentation. This essay highlights our ability to work co-operatively in a team, initiate a successful presentation, and reveal what we can do next time to improve our work techniques.

“Negotiation is the process of two individuals or groups reaching a joint agreement about differing needs or ideas” (Saaty, Thomas L.1990). From the beginning of our group work the six of us negotiated an effective meeting time. Some were more lenient than others, but after a quick discussion we came to an agreement.

“Groups must be able to coordinate themselves in a flexible manner, and there must be commitment to group goals which both direct and motivate members” (Oliver, Jim R, 1996). We all wanted to help and cooperate as much as possible to give us the best chance of reaching our outcome. The outcome being a successful presentation. Our decision making process needed to assess, “which aims are more important than others? What is likely to take place?

What should we plan for and how do we bring it about? These and other questions demand a multicriteria logic” (Saaty, Thomas L. 1990). Three major sub goals were divided; technology (slide), speeches (information) and creativity (games and short films). “Identify the overall goal. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the main question? Identify subgoals of the overall goal, and identify criteria that must be satisfied to full fill the subgoals of the overall goals” (Donna L. Mcalister-Kizzier). Breaking down the work load was an extremely effective technique and I would not hesitate to use this technique during during future evaluations.

In 1996 Jim Oliver described negotiation as "negotiators jointly searching a multidimensional space and then agreeing to a single point in the space"(Oliver, Jim R, 31 July, 1996). We were to meet at a specific place and time, with some home research relevant to the task ahead. When it came to the meeting, one person was half an hour late, with no material, two more members with no material, two with relevant material, and one of the members with no written material but a slide show base created to fill with the relevant information.

“Groups require open communication, mutual supportiveness, effective conflict management, discussion of strategy, and the appropriate weighing of individual inputs into group decisions” (Barron's Answers.com, 2008). From then on we had to re-assess and communicate who was doing what work load, and make sure that each individual pulled their weight.

Despite the lack of input from some members the meeting did not fail. “The process of team building includes, (a) clarifying the goal, and building ownership across the team and (b)identifying the inhibitors to teamwork and removing or overcoming them”( Pages 1307-1325).

Our meeting established team building as we clearly had two leaders, two thinkers, and two followers, we overcame the shortcomings of those who did not contribute towards the initial material by discussing what we believed was still missing from our now forming presentation and dividing it between those three students. Together we brainstormed to create a fun activity to incorporate into the presentation as well as find a short film for the start of the presentation.

Tuckman’s terminology enables us to look for four stages throughout the teams development; if these four stages are recognizable we generally have a properly functioning group, one that will ultimately perform efficiently. These stages “are to form a cohesive social unit, to manage conflict that invariably occurs during periods of group storming to establish acceptable norms of behavior and goals for the group, and finally to problem-solve, make decisions, and take actions that allow the group to perform successfully” (Shaw and Barret-power., 2004 Pages 1307-1325).

Our group had already formed, but it was during the storming we found conflict. Two group members had come to me during the preparation time frame saying they felt as though they were being controlled. It was disappointing that these students felt constricted but after a private discussion their work load and their comfort with the tasks were sorted. This was achieved in a civil and friendly manner which brought a positive notion to the group.

“Female leaders elicit more negative nonverbal affect responses from other group members than male leaders offering the same initiatives”(Butler, Doré; Geis, Florence L. 1990, pg 48-59). “Women tend to use referent power to persuade, while men tend to use expert power” (Shaw and Barret-power. 2004 Pages 1307-1325). I did not see this as completely accurate framework in our group. Women are able to communicate well with others in work forces because of their approachability but that is defiantly something that may not have been noticed in our group. Our group consisted of five females and one male, (who was away for the presentation).

So the way in which our group prepared would be different to many of the others. Women are said to be descriptive during performances, rather than no descriptive details like males. This could have also been a flaw, as women can become unclear especially to a broad audience, whilst men would be straight to the point.

Working in groups increases creativity, problem solving, innovation, higher-quality decisions, improved processes, increased overall quality as well as enabling members to trust and respect others (De Janasz, Wood, Gottschalk, Dowd, Schneider. 2006, pg 196-314). “To have a good working relationship, you need trust, respect and a common purpose” (Closser, Stacey, 2000, pg 33).

Our group gained these values during our group process as we needed to trust each other to work as a group, we respected others opinions and held common goals. “Studies have shown that diverse work groups can be more creative and arrive at better quality decisions than homogeneous groups” (Shaw and Barret-power. 2004 Pages 1307-1325).

It is also evident that “homogenous groups can make decisions more quickly and easily than can a more diverse group” (De Janasz, Wood, Gottschalk, Dowd, Schneider. 2006, pg 196-314). Our group proves this as it consisted of six Australian citizens between the ages 18-24, with possibly similar schooling and home environments, and our presentation still consisted of creative and individual ideas.

“Studies of work teams in a variety of organizational settings have shown that team effectiveness is enabled by structural features such as a well-designed team task, appropriate team composition, and a context that ensures the availability of information, resources, and rewards” (Edmonson, Amy, 1999). This purpose was to complete to the best of our ability a presentation in the time and with the resources available and we were rewarded by the satisfaction of achievement, learning and constant recognition of support from our fellow team members.

“Use of effective communication channels between one another, e.g. using email, viral communication, group meetings and so on, enables team members of the group to work together and achieve the team’s purpose and goals” (Severin, Werner J., Tankard, James W., Jr, 1999, pg 29-37). This was evident in our group due to all our schedules, and the fact that we now had the body of the work done.

We all communicated via text and email, which not only suited our lifestyles but was also very effective. Although working in teams is usually praised there are also potential limitations of group work, such as ‘groupthink’, social loafing, quality concerns and timeliness (De Janasz, Wood, Gottschalk, Dowd, Schneider. 2006, pg 196-314). Timeliness were visible as it took longer than a simple thought to make decisions as well as a time lapse in sharing information, for example through email.

Our group worked effectively through preparation, despite any set back and gave an appropriate presentation, but the actual delivery of the presentation may have been delivered at a higher standard. We should have been “sure to practice our presentation, because the more you practice, the more comfortable you will be” (Dare, Julie, 2007).

Due to a lack of practice as a group, (we only had one run through, and little time to know the content off by heart as individuals) it was not surprising to see that in our feedback we scored quite low on our ability to work without notes in comparison to the rest of our marks. Although we had little rehearsal time as a group we received full marks for group cohesion, in addition to full marks for audience interaction.

I believe our audience interaction suffered as our speech was delivered directly from palm cards, with little eye contact. Humour and games attained our audience’s attention, as it actively involved them in the presentation, and as “jokes are a popular starter” (McClatchy, Jamie Herzlich. 2008). Our short film was a success and gave moments of laughter. Our feedback also stated that our slides were too in depth., If I were to re-do this presentation the slides would be simpler, in the form of short dot points.

Our tutor seemed impressed by the presentation, because of our information, layout and ability to stay within the time limits. Our peers reacted positively and with questions that were positive and we were able to satisfactorily give answers to. Our group feedback proved that we “expressed ideas very well, supported by relevant literature” and contained “good development of theme throughout presentation.” If this task was to be done again our group could have maximised our marks by not relying heavily on our notes and perhaps more than one gathered rehearsal.

Bibliography

Amy Edmonson, 1999 ‘Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams.’ Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 44, pg 216-218

Answers.com 13 May. 2008. ‘Teamwork.’ WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. http://www.answers.com/topic/teamwork

Barron's Answers.com 13 May. 2008. ‘team building.’ Educational Series, Inc, 2000. Dictionary of Business Terms. http://www.answers.com/topic/team-building

Butler, Doré; Geis, Florence L. 1990 Jan ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.’ 1990 Jan Vol 58(1) 48-59

Closser, Stacey, jan 14, 2000. ‘Group dynamix aims for meeting of minds.’ Dallas business journal, vol 23 (21) pg 33

Dare, Julie, 2007. ‘ Women’s atrategic communication practices.’ Australian journal of communication, vol 34 (3)

De Janasz, Wood, Gottschalk, Dowd, Schneider. 2006. ‘Interpersonal Skills in Organisations.’ McGraw-Hill companies, pg 196-314

Donna L. Mcalister-Kizzier. Business encyclopedia – Answers.com premium partner. http://www.answers.com/negotiation&r=67 Edmonson, Amy, 1999 ‘Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams.’ Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 44, Ford, J.D. & Ford L.W. 1995. ‘The role of conversation in producing intentional change in organisations’. Academy of management review, 20 (3), pg 542-570

McClatchy, Jamie Herzlich. 14 Jan 2008, ‘Tribune business news.’ Washington

Oliver, Jim R, 31 July. 1996, ‘A machine learning approach to automated negotiation & prospects for electoral commerce.’ http://opim.wharton.upenn.edu/-oliver27/papers/jmis.ps.

Saaty, Thomas L. 1990 ‘Multicriteria decision making : the analytic hierarchy process : planning, priority setting resource allocation.’ Pittsburgh, Pa. United States

Severin, Werner J., Tankard, James W., Jr, 1999. ‘Communication theories.’ Origins, Methods, Uses. New York: Hastings House, pg 29-37

Shaw and Barret-power. November 08, 2004 ‘The Effects of Diversity on Small Work Group Processes and Performance’. Journal Human Relations. Springer Netherlands. Volume 51, Pages 1307-1325