WR6 Facilitating Effective Workgroups

 

Objective -  By the end of the lesson given instructions and reading assignment, scholars will:

 

Assignment Description

We've all been part of a group or team effort at sometime in our lives.  Was yours one of those unenviable groups that was a nightmare or did you have a positive and productive team effort?

Many situations can result in unsuccessful group results.  In some cases groups assign tasks to individuals who complete those tasks independently.  Then the group presents a series of individual reports rather than a cohesive, integrated group presentation.  Failure to communicate can result in the group failing to produce the requisite work.  An anal-retentive or obsessive-compulsive personality may do all the work out of fear of failure.  Often when this occurs, this same individual will complain that he or she had to do all the work when in reality others were willing, but not given the chance to help.  Two or more alpha personalities may compete for the dominant leadership role causing group factions that are at odds.  These are only a few of the scenarios that can undermine group performance, interfere with productivity, and culminate in an unpleasant group experience. 

A productive and enjoyable group experience is one in which each individual is delegated responsibility based on an assessment of strengths and weaknesses.  When this happens, members often feel others did the "hard work" while they had the "easy" job, because they were playing to their strong suit.  Productive groups establish a common goal and work towards that goal.  They offer a support structure that finds solutions to problems rather than assign blame.  Effective groups produce a cohesive, professional product that represents each members contribution.  Most importantly, these groups have a positive experience from being part of a team effort.

In "The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams" Kenneth Blanchard et al. discusses the four phases through which all groups matriculate.  Some groups move rapidly through all four phases quickly becoming a high performing team.  Other groups become stuck in one of the phases never reaching their potential.  Like individuals as discussed in Situational Leadership, groups may not matriculate through the 4 phases in a straight line.  They may take a step backward if a problem arises.  Each phase faces its own issues and requires specific direction and assistance from a facilitator.  The role of the educator is to effectively provide the guidance and support each group needs to move from one phase to the next until members become an integrated, high performing team.

Read "The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams" Kenneth Blanchard et al.  Divide your students into four groups to accomplish a skill or task and observer their behavior.  Discuss how the interaction in each group is influences by the age (adolescent or adult) of your students.  For example, in the dissatisfaction stage adolescents would react differently that adults.  Discuss how for all four stages.   If you are not yet teaching, consider four different groups of which you were a part and how they responded based on their age.  Then develop and implement a pedagogical or andragogical KISS action plan to facilitate each workgroup through all four stages of development. Design your plan to promote student acquisition of teamwork, positive problem solving attitudes, cooperative work ethics, respect for safety, and professional standards appropriate for your course.  Describe specifically how you will facilitate student learning and provide the appropriate supervision and guidance for each of the four stages of group interaction.  Conclude your action plan with a description of how this will ultimately increase student learning and decrease instructor work-load.

Your writing skills hopefully are improving throughout this course.  I hope it is also getting easier for you.  Remember, do not summarize the book, just reference it as you discuss your conclusions.  Be specific, but succinct.  Your report should be 1 to 2 pages.  Send your report to the class-at-large by the due date and participate in the on-line discussion if you strive for an "A" on the assignment.

 

Grading Criteria

This assignment is worth 10% of your grade. 

Reports meeting the following criteria will receive an "A." 

Participation in the on-line discussion via e-mail 1 point

Extra Credit (1 point)

Describe a group project in which you had an unpleasant experience.  Then discuss how the principles in "The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams" could have been applied to make the same experience a positive and productive one.

 

References

Blanchard, K. (2000).  The one minute manager builds high performance teams.  New York, NY:  William Morrow and Company.