Monday, 11 January 2010

‘Opposites attract?!’

This is sometimes true in relationships....but what about in group work? The Belbin team role test identifies 8 different team roles with distinct characteristics:

· Shaper – highly motivated, outgoing, dynamic and competitive. Prone to irritation and impatience and a tendency to offend others.

· Plant – innovative, creative, problem-solving and original. Up in the clouds, inclined to disregard practical details.

· Co-ordinator – calm, self controlled and self confident. No pretensions as regards intellectual or creative ability.

· Monitor-evaluator – serious, prudent, critical thinker and analytical. Lack of inspiration or the ability to motivate others.

· Implementer – loyal, structured, reliable and dependable. Lack of flexibility, resistance to unproven ideas.

· Resource Investigator – good communicator, networker, negotiator and outgoing. Liable to lose interest once the initial fascination has passed.

· Team-worker – sociable, adaptable, calming influence and supportive. Indecision at moments of crisis and some failure to provide a clear lead to others.

· Completer-finisher – attention to detail, accurate, high standards and quality orientated. A tendency to worry about small things and a reluctance to ‘let go’

· Specialist – technical expert, high capability, driven by personal standards and has high knowledge. Contribute only on a narrow front.

With these team roles however there are weaknesses that need to be recognised shown in italics.

I felt looking at the team roles at the beginning of the group task that it was funny to find out how people came out however I didn’t initially see how they were helpful...but by the end of the task reflecting on them I can see a lot of the characteristics of my team within the roles.

Mr Do It is definitely a complete finisher and an implementer – efficient in his work, hard working and a team member who compliments my role and is pivotal to the group’s success.

Miss Sweetheart is a co-ordinator, has no prejudice and kept sight of the main objective.

Mr Laid Back is a team worker; he listens and helps the work get done.

Mr Talker is a resource investigator and his weakness was evident – once the task had been started he took the main role at the first meeting however as the task went on he lost interest and even missed meetings.

Miss Surprise was a team worker; she was perceptive and listened at group meetings.

My role within the group is that of Shaper – I thrive on pressure and am ready to challenge ineffectiveness. I work well with complete finishers as I need someone to channel my creativity and enthusiasm. Because we were a new team I feel my role was important as we needed a shaper to get started. Another thing I have learnt is that depending on the circumstances a leader needs to adapt their style to meet the needs of their team members. No-one reacts well to being shouted at...

It is important to note however that a team member can play more than one role in a group and personality traits and personal problems can overtake the role people take. Conflict occurs when there is more than one person with a strong team role such as that of shaper or plant with neither of them wanting to take another role. There will always be issues in a group in 1965 Tuckman (Kirby:2003:192) produced a model for group formation:

Forming – the group looks to a powerful leader for guidance.

Storming – now the group fragments, members stress their own needs and concerns and resist the influence of the group.

Norming – group cohesion develops –there is a conscious effort to avoid conflict situations.

Performing – Energy is channelled into the task.

Adjourning – The group is wound down.

Groups need to get past the storming phase otherwise they will fail at the task. One of the ways to do that is to place emphasis on building relationships and maintaining them. There needs to be an extra effort outside of the working environment to keep communication channels open, however the relationships have to kept professional, personal problems should be left at home. As a group we didn’t have any major problems because of the size of the team it meant tasks could be carried out without all members being present...if the situation would have been different and we were being marked on the task then I think there would have been more disagreements.

According to Clutterbuck in his book ‘Coaching the Team and Work’ the bigger the group – the lower the productivity and a greater propensity to experience ‘social loafing’ – personally I am glad there is an academic term for general lay abouts…those that expect others to take up the slack...the words I think of can’t be used. Luckily in this group there wasn’t too much social loafing but I have experienced it in other group work and it can be VERY irritating.

Clutterbuck, D. (2007) Coaching the Team and Work, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Kirby, DA., (2003) Entrepreneurship, Mcgraw Hill Education

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