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Individual reflective assignment
In his report, I will try to give you an overview of my experience of working within my group for this first term. This report is divided into three main parts, firstly the group itself, secondly my role in this group and thirdly the feedback.
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Our group is composed by seven students from different parts of the world: Asia, Africa and Europe. Its composition in term of Belbin Roles is the following: Members 1 and 2 Implementers, Member 3 and 4 are Monitor Evaluators, Member 5 is a Specialist and Members 6 and 7 (me) are Co-ordinators. As you can see, our group could have been more balanced. However, I feel that we have complementary roles for the assessments we were asked for and it seems we do not bother each other even if we are more than one in each role. Also, before going deeper into the analyse, as said D. A. Buchanan and A. A.Huczynski (2017), “organizations are not static” so we reach a certain point which I will try to describe and how we reach this point. Our analyse is based on two main modules Statistics and Organisational Management with some group works in them. In order to assess our group, I suggest focusing on two sets of outcomes from the PESTEL analysis which are the organizational effectiveness in one hand and the quality of working life in the other hand.
The organizational effectiveness is usually treated with the balance scorecard’s perspectives. However, since we are analysing a group of students, I decided to rely on the three aspects of group outcomes explained by J. BRATTON (2007), which are: task performance, decision making and conflict. In term of task performance, our productivity and efficiency seemed to be high directly at the beginning in particular regarding the statistics’ project. The 2 co-ordinators clarified goals, we shared the tasks, Monitor Evaluators and Implementer had a precise idea of how to do technically the project, everything was clear for everybody. This project consisted in 3 main parts: literature (research part), regression (technical IT part) and writing the report. At the end, before the writing part, we realized that we could have done something better through some additional/external research or if we had been more challenged. In this context, a Resource Investigator would have been helpful for some discussions and information taken from other groups. Also, a Shaper would have been useful, nobody in the group tried to challenge us with additional questions. Surprisingly, Member 6 started to react as a Resource Investigator sometime after and Member 1 as a Shaper. In term of decision making, we usually make it altogether with a common agreement. In our group it is not about which decision to make but more about when make it and between which choices. On that purpose, both Co-ordinators are useful, and I can feel that we need each other. Due to the high concentration of detailed oriented and technical skills profiles which are really useful in finance, sometimes, they can start to talk with each other in order to solve it but without a common discussion and in this case, it can be an asset to be two Co-ordinators. The last factor, conflict, has not occurred in our group and it does not seem to be a potentiality because our relation is based on communication. However, in the beginning we had a kind of “time lag” to “adjust” everybody. For example, in my case I had to accept (=be not frustrated) that sometime, it is important for some members to speak in their own county language for a short time when they try to figure an issue out. However, this norm tends to decrease.
The quality of working life seems to be good in all aspects. However, I would like to provide some assumptions about the potential explanations of why this works. According to the Tuckman’s model (1965) which refers on the different stages of a group life we seem to have quickly reached “Norming” which is where we start to rely on each other, to listen, where group identity is made and where everybody has his place within the group. Despite of our increasing mutual confidence and our constructive behavior, we are not yet in “Performing” because we still need time and trainings on different topics. Besides, according to Maznevski (1994) cited in I. Brook (1999), “teams need and require integration” which is more difficult in multicultural groups such as ours. Even though we come from completely different cultures, I recognized some similitudes between our group behavior and the factors which enable an integration (Arnold et al., 1998). I believe the factors we have in common with Arnold et al.’s model, are:
- “the ability to empathize and see things from others’ points of view”,
- “the motivation to communicate”,
- “the ability to negotiate and agree norms within the team”
These factors have been our main strengths from the beginning. A factor on which we should work is the “self-confidence of all group members” but I believe it takes time. Now, if we look at our management style, as we are 2 Co-ordinateurs, I would say we have “delegative/supporting” interactions with the group members. That style helps us to have effective relationships with our 2 Implementers, yet, I have to adapt a bit my style to a directing one with Member 5, the Specialist. Finally, if we refer to Handy (1993), the size of our group, between 5 and 8 members, is optimal to foster “its ability to be effective”.
To conclude this part, in my point of view our group worked well together and was effective for the above reasons. However, it can still improve on the efficiency of doing the work.
In general, my relationship with the group members is friendly, sometimes we have some dinks after the group works. I know that is not professional to include it in a report, yet, I strongly believe that helps regarding the future of the group. Indeed, when we change from a working environment to a friendly one, we can discover a new part of someone and that can provide tools to solve an eventual future conflict. In general, also, I can feel they rely on me to set up the meetings and write on our Whatsapp group the program of our daily work.
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Although we are 7 in our group, I am able to distinguish 4 different types of relationship and communication I have with others. Member 2 and I are really close, we built a confident relationship until the point where there are “socially constructed” norms (D.A. Buchanan; A. A. Huczynski, 2017). We have physical contacts (we play judo sometime, I used to practice it), we have nicknames and we kindly make fun of each other. We have mutual trust and we rely on each other, for example, one day in the beginning of the term he asked me if we could speak to the group about the contribution of each members because he was working hard for the group with Members 1 and 3. Actually, the problem was more about being on time and do not leave before we all finish. Another example: the following week, I was a bit upset because we were not really efficient talking about details and on country languages so, he stand by me and started the analysis which entice the others to join us. Members 1,3, 4 and I have a mutual “explanation communication” which means I suggest them some ways to reach our goals and they explain me that sometimes we cannot do it in the process. Indeed, they have IT skills that Member 6 and I do not have. We try to listen and communicate with each other a lot. For example, we usually use a blackboard to explain things. It is a such interactive group that sometime when we are facing a problem, they start to speak with each other and it is hard to bring everybody back. Now, when that happens, I intercept Member 3 who are a kind of leader for this group of 3 members (1,4 and 5) within our group. The relationship with Member 5, the specialist, was a bit strange at the beginning because from my point of view, 1/he was not involved in group works especially for literature research purposes and 2/ for all IT work he was too much focus on details so that we were really slow. My reaction to this situation was not appropriate, I was a bit upset against him because I felt he was making us slow and I thought he did not have any team spirit. However, after 4 meetings we came to him and had a discussion about his contribution on literature research. The result of this was in 2 points: first, since he missed the first meeting, he was a bit lost and second, he was a kind of shy to announce he was lost and that he would have prefer an IT task. Also, I did not know at this time that specialists sometimes “contribute on a narrow front and tends to dwell on the technicalities” (Belbin Team Roles). In the end, we delegated him more IT work, where details are important, and Member 6 and I did more literature research. Also, when we exchange our Belbin team role results, I then understood. This situation and misunderstanding affected my vision of him, I struggled a bit to get along with him before I knew that, but finally he is a real asset in our group. The relationship with Member 6 is nice because surprisingly there is no competition, in the group work we help each other a lot, we try to find the best way to reach the goal and we do not have any problem to accept his or my suggestion. However, there is always a kind of “distance” between us even when we make jokes. Surprisingly, I think the group work made us closer than that would happen in real life without it.
Concerning my strengths and weaknesses, I totally agree with Belbin role’s report. As strengths, it states that I am likely to “maintain a broad overview while leaving the details to others and be able to give confidence and direction to others and to facilitate people towards common objectives.” I think my behavior affected positively the group because most of the other profiles where good on details, so we were complementary in working. Also, according to the MBTI’s report, I am ESTP so “flexible, adaptable, practical and realistic, likely to make decisions based on logical analysis and reasoning, also usually seen by the others as gregarious, fun-loving and spontaneous.” With this I can be confident in saying that I am able to understand well and being understood well by my group members and that strength is really useful to gather people toward a same goal. Besides, I was always pushing the group to meet up and I thought I was annoying them. One week I did not send any message then, some members came to me just asking when the next meeting was. At this point I felt the group wanted me to keep putting dynamic. As weaknesses, Belbin role’s report states that I am “inclined to organize others without adopting a systematic approach to my own work and that I am inclined to overlook practical matters and avoid painstaking work”. Again, I completely agree with this, so in some ways I work less that the others, I produce less. One day, we had to rebuild the statistical model and each of us was responsible of one part. I did mine, but I was so long that they helped me.
From this experience I learnt to organize my thoughts on others’ behavior. Indeed, I was in sport center and in a boarding school for 5 years since I was 14 years old, so I unconsciously I knew some role characteristics, but I did not think about it. For example, if we go back to Member 5’s example who is a specialist and prefers IT work. In the future, firstly, if I face a difficulty with a group member, I would refer to his Belbin Team role description (if available or I will guess his type of role) in order to have more information and figure out what could be the explanation. In this example, I could have seen he tends to dwell on technicalities and allocate his work on a purpose which needs detail-oriented skills. Secondly, in doing the first point I will not be upset against him so instead of waiting 4 meetings before speaking to the person, I will directly ask for a discussion. Also, it was my mistake to do not give him a feedback on the second meeting in order to introduce him more easily to the group work. In knowing there MBTI’s and Belbin’s role I was more open minded than before. Indeed, the fact that we know our group members’ role characteristics while we are working with them, it can help us a lot to understand their behavior. In this context also, nobody tries to lie or hide his behavior we just have to step back and try to analyse it. From this experience, I learnt about how and why a group can be efficient or not, about the others but also about me. Nobody was upset against me about my work in this group but in another one I had an issue about that and now I realise that part of this problem was on me because I tried to delegate too much. I am still wondering which job would best suit me, but at least now, I have a more precise idea. Something like project leader or sales.
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