Effective Team and Performance Management on the Everest

Introduction

This paper provides a reflective narration on a project that was carried out by our small team on its escapade to the peak of Mount Everest. Our self-managed team comprised of four members who actively participated in the project. In writing the report, I will employ Christopher Johns’ four-step model framework of guided reflection.

Before commencing the team’s task, some ground rules were set to govern the team’s relationships, as well as how the team will work. These guidelines included “basic courtesies, operating procedures, the decision-making process, commitment to open communication, and information sharing” (Butterfield, 2010, p.36). Similarly, the team comprised of members with different personalities and team roles. Thus, the team was able to exploit the benefits of a mixed (balanced) team (Williams & Leech, 2004, p.77).

Tuckman’s model of team development, which illustrates how teams change over time was evident in our group project. Tuckman’s model stages include forming, storming, norming, and performing (Singh, 2009, p.240). Team dynamics are the driving forces that exist in a team, which can hinder or propel the attainment of the team’s objectives (Eckes, 2003, p.6). Further, innovation and creativity were required to generate unstructured solutions for unstructured problems. Unstructured problems are those that do not have an algorithm to follow in order to obtain an optimal solution (Clelands, 1996, p.113).

Experience

Our experience from our project was good in spite of facing numerous challenges caused by inadequate leadership and differences in the personality traits of individual team members. Essentially, there was an overrepresentation of some team roles, which lead to some internal conflicts (Select Knowledge, 2000, P.34). Nevertheless, the group managed to coordinate, communicate effectively, thus we managed to meet some targets. However, some targets and goals were not attained or were attained after the set deadlines; this was attributed to a lack of proper guidance and leadership. Additionally, the decision-making process used in the team, in retrospect, contributed to delays and most conflicts.

Each member of the team was assigned a specific task, with other members assisting in the accomplishment of the task. The team’s duties were allocated with consideration of team roles and professional abilities. Importantly, the assigned task of taking the team to Mount Everest was attained but with numerous challenges. Indeed, some plans failed to materialize, and in such instances, we were compelled to initiate new approaches to handling the failed plan.

Thus, the team was very flexible, hence innovative in order to accommodate developing uncertainties that were not planned for (Anderson, 2002, p.278). Notably, the team, through its leadership, created an environment that promoted innovation and flexibility. Several members had difficulties with working within the set work schedule, resulting in delays. Therefore, considering the nature of the task, time management was essential in the success of the team.

Similarly, performance evaluation occurred at the end of each day where every member had to give his or her day’s report. Performance evaluation was subject to the prevailing condition members were facing when performing their duties (Hope, 2009, p.8). The members gave account of their assigned tasks, and the rest to the team members gave evaluation of the task. Moreover, the members were informed of their duties and the team’s expectations and advised on how to implement various techniques in order to meet their goals. The figure below demonstrates the level of effectiveness in a team in relation to performance impact.

High-perfomance team
Source: Knowledge Resources Center.

From the above graph, it is evident that team performance and effectiveness depends on the level of cohesion among the team members, with high performance teams occurring when members become more committed to their achievements and the needs of the business.

This mode of evaluation brought about tension, as each member tried to defend his or her failure to meet targets. In these instances, the team had to be very sensitive to personality and social differences between the members. Indeed, understanding of personality and learning differences of the members would have led to better cohesion and understanding in the team. Moreover, personality traits influence style of communication, and choice of tasks and duties. Similarly, the group members displayed various team roles in the course of the team exercise (Chong, 2007, p.2). However, there was constant role overlap resulting in strife and conflicts. For instance, the team management did not define duties appropriately. Nevertheless, the quality of relationships in the team was fairly good as most members were able to get along well.

Importantly, all members were involved in making key decision affecting the teams or individual performance. In so doing, there was a sense of ownership of the group project and motivation. Thus, there was open dialogue and suggestions on how to improve the team’s performance. However, consensus decision-making process was very difficult, resulting to time wasting (Lewis, 2004, p.111). Moreover, a few members in the team were not open-minded, hence they were unwilling to listen and adapt to new ideas.

Reflection

My team role was that of a team worker, the role was not allocated to me by the rest of the team. Being the team worker, I had to work in conjunction with the team leader and other team members to ensure that team cohesion and good relationship between team members. This can be attested by the willingness of members to confide in me their difficulties and conflicts. My main goal was to ensure that the team attained cohesion. Additionally, my role also included settling differences and conflicts arising from the team. Essentially, conflicts occurred due to lack of appreciation of different work cultures, working methods, roles overlap, and break down in communication. Therefore, I had to put more effort on my leadership roles given that, according to Meredith Belbin, a management theorists (2010, p.47), “team leadership affects the team performance.”

The relationship between team roles and team performance
Source: Belbin Team Roles—Hard Science for “Soft Skills”

The graph above illustrates the relationship between team roles and team performance.

Moreover, I acted as a link between the team and the leadership through offering valuable inputs on how to improve the performance, assisting in conflict solving and making decisions. Additionally, I supported the team members by motivating and encouraging them. Essentially, I had to familiarize myself with factors that were likely to influence the behavior of individual team members. Further, I had the task of letting the members understand that their behavior and actions would affect the team performance and the team members.

By understanding of my team role’s strengths, I was able to capitalize on my skills of listening to others and averting conflicts (Select Knowledge, 2000, P.33). The team leader was too focused on operation of the project, thus he neglected the task of managing relationships in the team. Therefore, I stepped in this role and played the duty of enhancing team cohesion and resolving conflicts that arose.

Additionally, I performed the role of a team worker since I understood the significance of unity and cohesion of a team to its performance. Similarly, I have attributes that enabled me to be an effective team worker. These attributes include good listening skills, impartiality, and competency in conflict resolution. Being sensitive to teams’ dynamics, I was better placed to handle issues related to team cohesiveness.

Besides, the team lacked clarity of roles, resulting to conflicts and gaps, while some members did not understand the boundaries of their duties, leading to roles overlap (Holbeche, 2009, p.374). Roles overlap threatened the success of the team, thus the team leader had to step in and clarify individual responsibilities, role boundaries, and accountability. Further, since the duties in this project were interlinking, it would have been beneficial to create a cross-boundary team.

The factors that influenced my course of actions include personality of individual, the team’s objectives, and importance of cooperation (Holbeche, 2009). The method I employed in handling conflicts largely depended on nature of the conflict and the personality of the parties involved. Additionally, personality of individuals influenced behavior or conduct; hence, I was able to recognize the best approach to work with each member. Similarly, the actions I undertook were primarily geared at enforcing and promoting the attainment of team’s objectives. Further, the result of any course of action helped to create team cohesion through good relationships between individuals in the team.

Alternative course action

By understanding the allowable weakness in my team role, I would have prepared adequately or have taken alternative actions. Essentially, I was not firm, hence easily influenced by other members (Woodall & Winstanley, 1998, p.124). In my quest for harmony, I deferred my opinions in favor of others despite that my opinion would have been more constructive. In doing so, the team lacked my valuable contribution in the project. Besides, the essence of a team is to promote innovation through contribution of various ideas, hence promote the success of a team. Indeed, in future, I will be more assertive especially during decision-making and conflict resolution. Assertiveness is a skill that enables us to prevent and resolve problems that may be interfering with the achievement of your goals.

Additionally, I would be more decisive especially in crucial moments, given the fact that the ability to make sound decisions especially in crucial moment is a fundamental attribute. Besides, indecisiveness affects time taken in decision-making and motivation of other team members. Moreover, indecisiveness affects the quality of the project and can lead to missed opportunities (LeClair, 2010).

The size of the team compelled members to take up more than one role simultaneously; therefore, the members were compelled to multitask (Bannister & Remenyi, 2009, p.2). In future, I will discourage multitasking, as it lengthens the overall time required for completion of a task. According to James O’Rourke and Bonnie Yarbrough, authors of the book titled “Leading Groups and Teams,” team members waste a lot of time when switching from one task to another (O’Rourke & Yarbrough 2008, 77).

The length of time wasted depends on the degree of varying complexity and familiarity. Instead, I will advocate for a program that allows each member to focus on one task at a time, as it yields more success. Additionally, focus on a single task improves team communication by eliminating external interference (O’Rourke & Yarbrough, 2008, p.77). By eliminating multitasking, the team would have saved time and other resources. Moreover, the quality of work done with minimal multitasking is higher than work I did while multitasking.

Further, I will restructure the method of problem solving that was used to include all team members. Even if group problem solving takes considerably longer time, the method is appropriate when multiple decisions are required, when decisions must be accepted by all members and when there is sufficient time (Fox, 2002, p.xii). Subsequently, I recognize that I would deal with conflicts in a better manner. Firstly, I would have informed the members the importance of respecting personality differences. Moreover, I would have encouraged more communication to avoid defensive avoidance in resolving conflicts as it hurts the team performance later. Essentially, I would have worked on building trust with my team members in order to win their confidence as a mediator during conflicts.

Finally, I would promote team cohesion through encouraging mutual respect between members, facilitation of clear communication, motivation and expressing the importance of continuity of practices.

Learning

During the exercise, I learned valuable skills and information that promote effective team and performance management. Fundamentally, I learned the importance of a balanced team. Indeed, overrepresentation of one team role causes internal conflicts. Thus, there is need to balance the team roles in order to exploit the benefits of all team roles. Specifically, I learned the significance of team worker team role and building team cohesion through promoting solving conflicts. Moreover, I also learned the allowable limitations of my team roles, which include indecisiveness in crucial moment and being easily influenced. Thus, in future, I will ensure that my team role’s limitations do not interfere with my performance and team performance.

Furthermore, I also learned the importance of cohesion in teams, as it influences team performance. Cohesion can be attained by promoting mutual respect between members, facilitation of clear communication, motivation and expressing the importance of continuity of practices (Forsyth, 2009, p.128). Similarly, I was able to hone my communication and listening skills. Further, I learnt the significance of being more assertive, hence avoid being easily influenced. I also recognized that successful conflict resolution creates increased understanding on how to achieve goals; it promotes group cohesion; and improves self-knowledge. In contrary, conflicts that are not resolve successfully can result in breakdown of teamwork.

Additionally, I learned that multitasking has dire consequences on individual and team performance (Burg, 2009, p.20). Essentially, multitasking lengthens the time spent in completing a task and lowers the quality of a given task. In the future, I will avoid instances where I will be compelled to perform two duties at the same time.

Through the exercise, my approach to interacting with people has changed. Primarily, I have learned to appreciate personality differences and to desist from compelling other people to embracing my views and concepts.

Conclusion

Teams need to formulate guidelines during the forming stage, which will guide them in carrying out the team’s tasks. Effective teams have a balance of all team roles since the overrepresentation of one team-role results in conflicts (Partington & Harris, 1999, p.3). Similarly, personality differences should be accounted for when assigning duties and relating to one another. Thus, all team members should be flexible and able to adapt to new ideas and concepts. The team was able to attain its core goal irrespective of many challenges.

The team structure did not have a clear-cut clarity of duties, which was a constant source of internal conflicts. In addition, the team leadership was not effective enough. Subsequently, the team comprised of few members that influenced the team leader to allocate the members more than one task concurrently. Thus, the team lost much time and compromised individual and team performance through multitasking.

Moreover, I was a team working in the team project; mainly, I had to possess good listening skills and skillful in conflict resolution. I learned the need for assertiveness in decision-making and resolving team conflicts. Primarily, conflicts occurred due to a lack of appreciation of different work cultures, working methods, roles overlap, and breakdown in communication. Indeed, conflicts are inevitable, however, successful conflict resolution helps to promote team cohesion and increase understanding among the team members.

In conclusion, the team members were accountable to the team members; each member had to give their progress reports after a stipulated duration. The team was then required to give an assessment of the performance and suggest techniques for improving performance. In performance evaluation exercise, some members were very critical or defensive, hence devaluing the exercise. Nevertheless, the team managed to get the benefits of team evaluation.

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