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Working in diverse teams
Working in diverse teams

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1 How effective is your team?

Having an understanding of how effective your team is at any point can help indicate which stage of development you are at and also the communication skills that you may need to focus on to improve team functioning.

Last week you considered some of the things you might need to do in order to enable your team to move effectively from one stage to the next. The stage that probably stands out to you at this point is the Storming stage and it should be relatively easy for you to be clear on the kind of skills that you may need to develop in order to successfully pass through this difficult stage.

Before you take a look at how to develop skills in feedback, conflict management and decision making, it will be helpful for you to reflect on a team that you have had experience of or are part of now and consider how effectively your team is functioning. Understanding where the issues lie within your team communication can be a helpful starting point to know where you need to direct your focus at certain times.

Activity 1 Assessing a team you are familiar with

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

The checklist below is from Levin and Kent (2001) and asks you to assess whether you are working as a team or not. Type in Yes or No next to the statements that accurately represent a team you are currently part of, or one you have had experience of previously.

Then reflect on the statements that you have added No to and consider what kind of skill you may need to develop in order to improve this. Some communication skills you may want to consider are ice-breaking activities; feedback skills; conflict resolution skills and decision-making skills.

Table 1 Team-working skills
StatementYes/No
We all show equal commitment to our objective.
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We all take part in deciding how work should be allocated.
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We are committed to helping each other learn.
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We acknowledge good contributions from team members.
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We handle disagreements and conflicts constructively within the team.
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We are able to give constructive criticism to one another and to accept it ourselves.
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We all turn up to meetings and stay to the end.
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We are good at making sure that everyone knows what’s going on.
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When one of us is under pressure, others offer to help him or her.
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We trust each other.
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We remain united even when we disagree.
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We support each other to outsiders.
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We feel comfortable and relaxed with one another. 
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Answer

You may be surprised at how many of these depend on the ability of the team to provide effective feedback. If one member of the team is failing to show commitment or not pulling their weight, then it is essential that you feel confident in tackling this. While it may feel easier to avoid the issue, what you are really avoiding is conflict within the team and although no one enjoys conflict, it can be necessary for a team to progress effectively.

If you have time, have a look at this quiz on the MindTools [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website to assess how good your communication skills are.

Next you will look at how effective feedback can enhance team performance and tips for how to deliver it.