7.1 Observing group processes
Another method for reviewing and evaluating team processes is through observation. A method suggested by Boddy (2005) is that one team member observes the team for an hour and keeps a careful record of what members say or do. They also note how other members react and how that affects the performance of the team. Suggestions on what to observe are listed in Box 10.
Box 10 Reflecting on group interaction – some questions to consider
How were the roles allocated?
How were decisions reached?
What stated or unstated rules were being used?
What was the climate (or atmosphere) in the group like?
How did you personally feel during the activity?
An observer who may or may not be the team leader or manager could look out for unhelpful personal behaviours. Sometimes it is difficult to see whether a particular action is a maintenance-oriented or a self-oriented behaviour: that is, whether it is intended to maintain harmony in the group or to satisfy personal needs. Some examples of self-oriented behaviours, as described by Kakabadse et al. (1988), are given in Table 5.
Table 5 Self-oriented behaviours
|Attacking/defending||Attacking or rejecting others’ positions or defensively strengthening one’s own position|
|Blocking/stating difficulties||Placing blocks or difficulties in the path of others’ proposals or ideas without offering an alternative proposal or giving a reasoned argument|
|Diverting||Moving the discussion away from areas in which you feel your position is threatened or weak|
|Seeking sympathy/recognition||Attempting to make others sorry for you, and therefore willing to support you, or actively attempting to gain positive feedback on the value of your contribution to the group process|
|Withdrawing||Refusing to make a contribution|
|Point scoring||Winning petty triumphs over other members to enhance your status|
|Overcontributing||Monopolising discussion in the group; using the group process to satisfy individual power and control needs|
|Trivialising/diluting||Picking on minor faults in others’ proposals or contributions in order to undermine their position|
Identifying and discussing such behaviours (and providing evidence to support your claims) can be constructive. The questions set out in Box 11 relating to how comfortable individuals feel in the team could be incorporated into such a discussion.
Box 11 Satisfaction with team social processes
Does the team provide adequate levels of social support for its members?
Does the team have constructive and healthy approaches to conflict resolution?
Does the team have a generally warm and positive social climate?
Does the team provide adequate support for skill development, training and the personal development of all its members?