A Model for Explaining the Context and Process of Teamwork

A model for explaining the context and process of teamwork must operate on two plains. There is a group dynamic impacting the team process as a whole and a personal dynamic that tracks the phases and changes that the team members experience throughout the team process. After reviewing the University of Phoenix Team Life Cycle Model, reflecting on the course readings, and conferring with teammates, two tracks were identified that have application for University of Phoenix teams; and possibly, a broader representation for industry and not-for-profit organizations.

Team A concluded that Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 Team Development Model provides one of the best descriptions of group dynamics. It represents the typical group stages experienced by Team A members as they have participated on University of Phoenix teams. It also describes the typical evolution described by Team A members from their team activities at work and social activities. While the group dynamics evolve, changes also take place within the individuals who participate on teams. This is most clearly observed in University of Phoenix teams where individual team members only share a personal goal of achieving a degree.

They are not employed by the same company, members of a particular political or social organization, or share other ties. They come from varied backgrounds, countries, and socioeconomic experiences. When forced by the University to work as a team, the members evolve through a predictable process that mimics Tuckman’s Model. When these two evolutional models are displayed – Tuckman’s group dynamics and the observed individual evolution models – a template is formed that can be applied to a wide range of organizations in order to provide leadership a tangible direction, complete with benchmarks,

Group Dynamics – Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 Team Development Model Tuckman? s Team Development Model This section will summarize Tuckman? s contribution to the field of team development given his recognized validity and generalized applicability. A brief background review of his work will be followed by the extension of his theory, in 1977, by himself and Jensen, that added a fifth stage to the model. Finally, the implications of the theory will be briefly summarized as well as a starting point to the presentation of a unique team development model. Background

Tuckman reviewed, in 1965, 50 articles that were dealing by the time with stages in development of groups. Tuckman? s purpose was to review this literature and through evaluation and extrapolation of the general concepts, be able to suggest and formulate a general model applicable to most of group development cases (Tuckman, 1965). This author considered therapy groups, training groups, and laboratory groups as different settings. The goal of the author was to extract common concepts from these different settings and with them propose a new general model.

The output of his work was known as the four-stages model (forming-storming-norming-performing), which stages are succinctly described as follows. Forming This stage is one of testing in which group members identify the limits of interpersonal behaviors as well as those of task behaviors (Tuckman, 1965). As addressed by Fall and Wejnert (2005) in this stage “group members struggle to find their place in the group, and the primary feeling is one of uncertainty and anxiety” (p. 315). Storming

After the initial exploring stage, the second one is characterized by conflict, emotional reactions, interpersonal issues being exposed and a sense of resistance to the assignment and team work. Burn (as cited in Fall and Wejnert, 2004) captured very well the essence of this stage when possed the following question: “How long would it take before members of the groups drop their guard, censor their behavior less, get on one another? s nerves, and disagree about who should do what and how” (p. 166). Norming

In the third stage the cohesion between the members of the group flourishes. The tasks, assignments, roles and goals are defined. As described by Tuckman (1965) “Resistance is overcome in the third stage” (p. 396). Fall and Wejnert (2004) highlight that in this stage the group members experience both the acceptance of other members as well as the group itself. Performing In the last stage is when finally the interpersonal issues are solved, the group develops towards the achievement of goals, and the effort is guided into a common direction.

As stated by Tuckman (1965) the “structure can now become supportive of task performance” (p. 396). This stage allows the group to achieve high levels of work and output. Tuckman and Jensen? s Five-stages Model – Adjourning As noted by Fall and Wejnert (2004), when a group approaches the end of a task, a wide range of feelings appear within the group, and these feelings may be as disparate as hope and anxiety. The end of a project is a relatively unexplored area of project management (Theodore, 1971) and often leads to worry and frustration among team members.

Theodore (1971) recommends that individuals be reassigned based on their capabilities, interests, and a “programmed time basis” (p. 56). Tuckman and Jensen (as cited in Fall and Wejnert, 2004), then reviewed in 1977 the research done on the 1965 model and added a fifth stage that called “adjourning”. This stage relates to the end of life cycle of the group development. Tuckman? s model as starting point for new models The major contribution of Tuckman? s work was to provide a unified vision of the theme, through a model that explains most of the situations and represents in a general way every group development.

In words of Tuckman (1965), “the value of the proposed model is that it represents a framework of generic temporal change. ”(p. 398). Tuckman went further and added that “such quantitative explorations will undoubtedly lead to refinements and perhaps major modifications of such a model” (p. 398). However, as well addressed by Rickards and Moger (2000), the empirical observations provide evidence that specific teams complexities can not been properly explained by a sequence of stages.

In these cases is needed an extension or further step in order to provide enough and valid explanation of the phenomena. Individual Evolution National speaker Wendy Leebov credits empathy as being one of the most powerful tools to transform individuals into a cooperative team (Leebov, 2007). In discussions on the evolution and transformation of University of Phoenix teams, Team A members concur that empathy is a powerful force and that it often plays an important role in the transformation of individuals into teams.

As Tuckman’s model predicts the evolutionary team steps, a second model that predicts the evolution of individual psychological condition can also be described. Students participate on University of Phoenix teams for a personal goal – a degree. While they have no animosity for other students, they have few reasons to be concerned with the success or failure of other students. When required by the University to participate on a learning team, students begin the process as individually primarily interested in their own success. Course participation and team requirements are the only commonalities among team members.

While team members within organizations, businesses, and social or political organizations share some additional common goals, Team A believes that this self-centered individuality is common to people when they first begin to work on teams. This is not a condemnation of the individuals. It is generally believed that personal considerations are more important to an individual than group or team objectives. Sigmund Freud called this individuality, the Id. According to a leading psychology text book, “Freud believed that the id is based on our pleasure principle.

In other words, the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation. When a child is hungry, the id wants food, and therefore the child cries” (Psychology 101). While Freud goes on to describe the ego and superego, he believed that the Id remains the strongest element of a human’s personality. The ego and superego express an individual’s concern for other people and their environment. Empathy can be the driving force that mellows individuality (the id) and helps in the evolution of individuals to a team dynamic.

Leebov says that there are two prerequisites to empathy: getting to know a person and establishing a rapport (Leebov, 2007). Within University of Phoenix teams, this takes place through email communications. Individuals share facts about their lives, families, challenges, and goals. Within Team A, there is a member who lives in South America and speaks English as a second language, a member whose daughter recently had surgery, and a member who travels a great deal on business. These are facts that allows for empathy and convert an abstract email address into “real people.

Leebov says that it is “humanly impossible” (p. 4) to know the details of a person’s life and not experience empathy for the individual (Leebov, 2007). Within the team structure, Team A members propose that empathy changes individuals into a partners who share goals and provide communal support. This partnership becomes a unifying driver where individualism is replaced by team loyalty. Within team that work together for long periods of time, empathy has the potential to unify the group, replacing individuality with a group priority. The Template for a wide range of organizations.