Working in groups and teams
Working in groups and teams

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Working in groups and teams

8 Modern forms of groups and teams

Please note that this section, along with the activity contained within, is optional.

This section sets out a number of approaches a manager or team leader can use for ongoing review and final evaluation. Sections 3, 4 and 5 inform the content of the checklists and questionnaires presented in Section 7. You will need to select one or more approaches for Activity 3, so it would be a good idea to assess their usefulness as you read.

You will need to read this section if the group or team you want to focus on in the final activity is a virtual or multicultural group or team. It covers the particular needs created when the primary means of communication is via ICT and when there is cultural diversity.

Activity 4 Group or team issue

Timing: Allow 3 hours for this activity.

Your task in Activity 4 is to identify a current group or team problem or area for improvement, analyse it and set out your recommendations for addressing it. If the team is one you lead or manage, you may be able to implement your proposed solution immediately, thus improving the effectiveness of the group or team. If you are basing the activity on a group or team you led or participated in during the recent past, then your proposed solution should enable you to consider how you might revise your group and team work and management practices.

Your work on Activities 2 and 3 should have helped you to identify a number of potential problems or areas for improvement. Select what you consider to be the most important. This is likely to be something that has the greatest impact on team effectiveness, such as conflict in the group or team.

Use the forms below to guide you through the activity and as a template for your response. If you find that you cannot resolve the problem for some reason, say how it might have been avoided.

Problem identification and brief description

What is the issue or the problem?

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Problem analysis

What are the ‘symptoms’ of this problem?

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What are the different aspects to it?

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How do these relate to team inputs, throughputs and outputs?

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What information do you have to hand about the issue?

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What extra information do you need?

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Who do you need to talk to?

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What assumptions do you need to make?

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Conclusion

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Recommendations

What are the options for addressing the issue or problem? Note here that your choices are likely to depend on the degree of influence you have, but do not restrict yourself too much: you may be in a position to influence others.

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How could these options address the problem or areas for improvement that you identified?

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Which appeals to you most and why?

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Which would you be reluctant to use and why?

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Who else do you need to work with or influence?

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Select one or more options (if more than one solution needs to be put in place) and set it or them out as a set of SMART recommendations. State any assumptions you have had to make. Say how you will monitor, review or evaluate the success of the solution(s).

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Strengths, weaknesses and implications

Consider these carefully. When working with groups and teams, implementing solutions can sometimes be complex if all group or team members need to be involved. Implications can mean that a solution is unworkable if it requires, for example, additional resourcing which you are unable to secure.

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Activity 4

Discussion

Unless the problem you identified was relatively small, internal to the group and did not involve an input problem, such as a mismatch between the group or team and task, then you are likely to have found it more difficult to identify a solution than to identify the problem. Indeed, it may be the case that a solution seemed impossible and you may have resorted to how the problem might have been avoided. Although you will have no solution to implement, you will be able to draw lessons to inform your current and future management practices.

Working at a physical distance from colleagues, managers, partners and clients is becoming a feature of the way we work. More and more members of teams are not physically located in the same workplace. Such teams are often referred to as ‘virtual teams’. The reasons for this change in working practices include:

  • organisation-wide initiatives that reach across national boundaries
  • changes to organisational structures due to mergers, acquisitions and/or downsizing
  • entering new markets
  • offering possibilities for homeworking
  • the need to reduce costs
  • reducing the time taken for a product or service to reach its intended market.

In such situations, co-location of team members in the same workplace may not be possible, and it may not be possible for team members to travel regularly to meet face to face.

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