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PostSubject: Team Dynamics    Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:13 pm

To help us work better as a large group I will be posting articles I find eye opening and helpful for all of us to read. As our group grows our dynamics of the relationships we have will change and hopefully for the good. Most conflicts start by misunderstanding or miscommunications and hurt feelings. Lets keep things open and be aware HOW your behavior may Effect someone else. Or if your having a bad day how that can snowball down the wrong path. Doing this may help everyone understand the different communication styles of each different person so we can better understand not to take things personally but look at things more logically.

Team Dynamics

Team Dynamics are the unseen forces that operate in a team between different people or groups. Team Dynamics can strongly influence how a team reacts, behaves or performs, and the effects of team dynamics are often very complex. This page considers what team dynamics are and the impact they have on the team.
Team Dynamics

Suppose in a small team of six people working in one office there are two people who have a particularly strong friendship. This friendship is a "natural force" that may have an influence on the rest of the team, and can be manifest in various ways, either positively or negatively.

Other factors can also play an influence. For example, if a wall of cupboards were to be placed across the middle of the office, this would also form a 'natural force' that influences the communication flow and may separate the group into two further sub-groups.

Sometimes, an "absence" of a natural force can also be a team dynamic. For example, if the leader or manager is permanently removed from the office, the group may be drawn into a change of behaviour.
How do you recognise team dynamics?
You can recognise team dynamics by looking for the forces that influence team behaviour. These forces might include:

Personality styles (eg: including or excluding people)
Team Roles (eg: see MTR-i team dynamics)
Office layout (eg: cupboards dividing teams into two)
Tools and technology (eg: email, bulletin board, information pool enabling hidden communication).
Organisational culture (eg: company cars acting as status symbols to separate groups of employees)
Processes/methodologies/procedures (eg: problem-solving methodology)
etc.

You can identify personality-based dynamics by completing our online Team Dynamics Assessment.
How can team dynamics be managed constructively?
You need to:

look for the team dynamics - the 'natural forces' at play
determine whether they are acting for good or ill,
make interventions to make the effect of those dynamics more positive.

For example, if a wall of cupboards is inhibiting communication within a group, that wall can be repositioned and the room layout designed to encourage communication (without making the environment too uncomfortable for those who value their privacy when working on individual tasks).
Example: The impact of a friendship

The positive effect of a strong friendship in a team might be:

the friends communicate a lot together...
...which naturally results in other members being drawn into the discussion
...which results in a good 'social' feel to the group
...which makes people enjoy being in the group
...which improves motivation and commitment


The negative effect of a strong friendship might be:

to cause the other four people to feel excluded...
...which means they are less likely to include the two friends in decision making
...which means that there are likely to be two sub-groups
...which means that information may not flow across the whole group, but only within the subgroups
...which means that miscommunication may lead to misunderstanding and poor collective performance


This friendship has an impact on the group's performance, and is therefore a team dynamic. Whether it is good or bad depends on other factors. In the first, positive, example, there is a natural force of "inclusion" which results in people being drawn into productive discussions. In the second, negative example, there is a natural force of "exclusion" which results in communication between groups being stifled.

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PostSubject: Leadership Tips   Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:29 pm

Here are some leadership Tips..

Are leaders born or made?

Well, leaders are born, but only in la la land!!! You can be born with the traits of a leader but the right encouragement is a must for developing leadership skills.

While developing leadership skills at an early stage has its advantages, it’s never too late to start if you haven’t yet discovered the leader in you! And that’s not a whole load of motivational hogwash.

In this piece, let’s take a look at the why and how of developing leadership skills.

Successful management requires more than just assigning tasks to the team. It calls for a leader who can inspire team members to achieve their full potential. People want to be guided by a person they respect, someone who has a clear sense of direction. To be that person, there are certain things that you must BE, KNOW and DO. And that’s what developing leadership skills is all about.

Robert K. Greenleaf
”The only test of leadership is that somebody follows.”

If you want to set an example for others to follow, may we suggest the following check-list?

1. Test the waters: find out what people think about your style of management. This could be a real eye opener, and the key to making changes to your leadership style. Employ a 360 degree approach wherein you receive feedback from your team members and peers. Let your team in on the objective behind the survey. A relaxed and open environment will help draw out their honest opinion.

2. Listen hard: when your team members speak to you about all their work related worries, hear them out. You could convey empathy, suggest alternatives and create harmony within the team. GREAT LEADERS ARE GREAT LISTENERS!!!!!

3. Connect: take complete responsibility for how you are heard. Always rephrase your message to make it sound positive. Effective communication is a fine art.

4. Be a people’s person: an integral part of developing leadership skills is to learn to respect your team’s capabilities. Let the team members take decisions on certain issues. Trust them with their work; don’t be a watchdog.

5. Lead by example: your team must believe in your integrity, and that you really mean what you say. Be prepared to put your money where your mouth is. It works like a charm!

6. Share leadership: distribute tasks among group members depending on the situation and individual strengths. You become a better leader by involving more people in the leadership process.

7. Evaluate your success in tandem with that of the team: your prime responsibility is to ensure success and development of the team. Focus on building their skills as this will enhance motivation and team performance. Remember, their success is yours too!

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PostSubject: Re: Team Dynamics    Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:43 pm

That is a good article and very true Boots!
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PostSubject: Re: Team Dynamics    Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:36 pm

Managing Groups and Teams/Group Dynamics
< Managing Groups and Teams

1 Introduction
2 What is a Team?
3 Create positive group dynamics
4 Problems that hinder good group dynamics
5 Conclusion
6 References

Introduction

Developing a group or team is a useful approach to accomplishing a task. During this discussion the term “group” and "team" are used interchangeably. When developed and run effectively a team can be used to pool the ideas and experiences of its members in search for a collective outcome. Organizations of all types can benefit from the work of teams. An effective team should be able to share experiences and provide each other feedback. By sharing experiences, teams can generate insight and become effective problem solvers through a collaborated effort. Developing a successful team requires understanding group dynamics and planning for those dynamics is an important step for building positive group dymanics. The first section of this chapter focused on Tuckman’s model1. His model gives a good idea of how teams are formed and some of the dynamics that develop as the team progresses. This section will focus on what is a team, what you can you do to foster good group dynamics and what are some problems to look for.
[edit] What is a Team?

A team is “two or more people who share a common definition and evaluation of themselves and behave in accordance with such a definition.”2. A team is any group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet a specific need, by accomplishing a purpose and goals. Teams are created for both long term and short term interaction. A Team can also be defined as a collection of people who act in response to a common goal or outcome. The team is only as good as its members and how they interact with other. How many members should be on a team is largely dependant on the reason the team was established. According to Sharpening the Team Mind3, when deciding the number of members to have on a team consider the “uneven communication problem.” The theory states, only a handful of team members do all the talking. For example a team of six, three people do 86% of all the talking.


[edit] Create positive group dynamics

Important aspects of a group that works well together, is how individuals interact with each other and how individuals react with the group. Positive relationships are important in a group, and understanding them is equally important. In order to develop good group dynamics, you must first develop good relationships.

According to LaFasto and Larson in “When Teams Work Best,”4 there are four aspects of a good relationship: constructive, productive, mutual understanding and self-corrective. These four aspects are the basis for LaFasto and Larson’s Connect model (Table 1), which can be used to develop good relationships.

A constructive relationship can also be between a person and the team. “Good relationships are constructive for both people.”4 In order to have a constructive relationship, there must be trust and mutual understanding between both parties. Constructive relationships do not happen overnight, it takes time to develop trust and to be open with others. Productive relationships are important because if the relationship between two individuals on a team is not productive, the team may not be productive. Productive relationships also, “allow us to focus on real issues –the ones that matter– and to do so in a way that makes a difference.”4 Mutual understanding is critical because, “they encourage us to focus on and understand the other person’s perspective, and they offer us the satisfaction of being understood.”4 Not only is it important to validate other person’s point of view, it is important for us to be validated. It goes back to trust and building a constructive relationship, in order to be understood, you have to be able to understand others. Good relationships are self-corrective. It is like a marriage, each part is committed to improving the relationship. By continuing to work on improving a relationship you are developing trust and mutual understanding between the parties.

Table #1

The Connect Model (Summarized) 1993 Frank M. J. LaFasto, Ph.D. and Carl E. Larson, Ph.D.

Comment to a Relationship
Optimize Safety
Narrow to One Issue
Neutralize Defensiveness
Explain and Echo
Change one Behavior Each
Track It!

As you are working on developing good relationships another way to foster good group dynamics is to identify strengths and weaknesses and assign group roles. For a new team that has not worked together, assigning roles can also help surface individual strengths and weaknesses. By simply assigning roles at the beginning of the project a team can quickly focus on the tasks. Everyone should be responsible for brain storming, problem solving and providing their experience and knowledge, but some roles are more generic and may or may not vary by task. Here are four roles that no team should be without:

A Leader – In the event there is no clear chain of command, a team must be prepared to assign the role of leader. A leader can keep the team focused, mediate conflicts and ensure that individuals are held accountable.
A note taker or scribe – again, a simple idea, but documenting every meeting is an important step in developing a productive team. A scribe can quickly get a team up to date with past notes so little time is wasted remembering where you left off. By documenting and distributing notes from each meeting, all members of the team will be equally informed.
Lessons Learned tracker – Identify one person to track both positive and negative outcomes of meetings and projects. This individual can solicit input from other members. By documenting what everyone things went well and why and what did not go well and why, can keep a team productive by not repeating past mistakes.
Devil’s Advocate – Teams need to embrace conflict and different points of view. By assigning a devil’s advocate, this person can freely bring up alternatives or objections, making the team more objective.

[edit] Problems that hinder good group dynamics

There are many problems that hinder good group dynamics. We don’t usually have the luxury of picking who we are going to work with on a team; dealing with different personalities and personal agendas are common challenges in working within a team. Other commons challenges like, poor leadership, bad communications, and lack of focus can be helped or eliminated by establishing team roles as mentioned above.

The first challenge that hinders good group dynamics is poor leadership. There are a few things an individual can do if the poor team leadership is your boss or someone with authoritative power is in charge of your team. First, be supportive, if your boss trusts you and you are supportive, you may be able to influence decisions by suggesting alternatives. If the poor leader did not assign a devil’s advocate, suggest it during a team meeting and why you think it would be beneficial. Once the devil’s advocate is in place, coach him or her to bring up alternatives. Once alternatives are out in the open and debated, the poor leader may see that the new idea is better.

Bad communications is a quick way for a team to be unproductive and ineffective. By using a scribe and lessons learned tracker to document team meetings and activities a team can easily be kept up to date and in the loop. An effective team leader can assign tasks and hold people accountable for their contributions, which can prevent social loafing and incentives good communications.

Lack of focus can make a team just a group of individuals. Keeping the team focused takes constant effort. A good leader can keep teams focused and on task by assigning roles and enforcing accountability. A good method to keep teams focused is by using an agenda and distributing it prior to the meeting. An agenda can get people on the same page and will encourage them to prepare based on the topics under discussion.

Groupthink, dominate personalities and social loafing are all challenges you will face when working with a team. The key to combating these challenges is to be able to identify when they are taking place.

- Groupthink is simply going along with the team on a decision because that seems to be the consensus and they want to avoid conflict. Having a strong devil’s advocate will help reduce the chances of groupthink.

- Dominate personalities are difficult to deal with, sticking to an agenda, establishing protocols during meetings, and having an effective leader can be used to combat strong personalities.

- Social loafing is someone that is putting forth less effort as a member of a group than they would as and individual. Again, leadership and holding people accountable is a great tool to deal with social loafing.
[edit] Conclusion

When the team process is executed effectively a team can be used to pool the ideas and experiences of its members in search for a collective outcome. Team can help organizations of all types be more efficient in problem solving by pooling experienced employees to work together. A key to an effective team is to understand group dynamics. Good group dynamics begin with good relationships, both on an individual basis and the relationships of individuals with the team. LaFasto and Larson developed the Connect Model to assist individuals develop good relationships. The Connect Model was built around the four most important aspects of a good relationship, constructive, productive, mutual understanding and self-corrective. Once you have established good relationships, assigning positions in the team will give a team the opportunity to be successful. Buy identifying possible pitfalls that my hinder good team dynamics team members can combat the effects and develop a more productive and successful.

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PostSubject: Re: Team Dynamics    Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:37 pm

Groupthink
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Psychology



Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people. It is the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. Antecedent factors such as group cohesiveness, structural faults, and situational context play into the likelihood of whether or not groupthink will impact the decision-making process.

The primary socially negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking. While this often causes groupthink to be portrayed in a negative light, because it can suppress independent thought, groupthink under certain contexts can also help expedite decisions and improve efficiency.[citation needed] As a social science model, groupthink has an enormous reach and influences literature in the fields of communications, political science, social psychology, management, organizational theory, and information technology.[1]

The majority of the initial research on groupthink was performed by Irving Janis, a research psychologist from Yale University. His original definition of the term was, “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive ingroup, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action” (Janis, 1972).[2] Since Janis’s work, other studies have attempted to reformulate his groupthink model. 'T Hart (1998) [3] developed a concept of groupthink as “collective optimism and collective avoidance,” while McCauley (1989) [4] pointed to the impact of conformity and compliance pressures on groupthink decisions.

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