“ Coming together is a beginning Keeping together is progress working together is success.”
This report describes the successful application of reflective learning to promote critical self-awareness and improve both individual and team performance, in a group project work assessment for MSc in International Business Management at LJMU.
Boyd and Fales (1983) defined reflection as:
“The process of internally examining and exploring an issue of concern, triggered by an experience ,which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self and which results in a changed conceptual perspective.”
According to the suggestions of Kolb learning cycle, i.e.
- Reflective observation (watching)
- Abstract conceptualization (thinking)
- Active experimentation (doing)
- Concrete experience (feeling)
The team members engaged themselves in reflective practice of “Assimilating, Organizing, Implementing and Executing” the assessment on Burberry case study. (Jennifer Annoon, 2000)
GROUP WORK ANALYSIS:
Many professional bodies and educational quality institutions now require that students have proven “experience of working in groups or teams” (Blease, 2006 in Kelly 2007).
Hence forth we formed a group to invigilate the challenges and issues that the Trafford group was confronting. To compliment this, catholic youth council (1980) also stated that ‘when examining the relative success and failure amongst group works, the selection process may be a key variable in establishing criteria for successful group work’.
1. GROUP FORMATION:
For this particular assessment, the group was christened by choice and acceptance i.e. students were given the liberty to select a peer and later on were clubbed with another team to form a clique. A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others. Initially group was formed with low level of conflicts and high level of group cohesion.
The presentation was due in 3 weeks; the roles were assigned, norms were laid and work was divided as a part of group contract. Scheduled meetings were altered at regular intervals considering team members availability and preferences. The members in the group had 4 attributes namely activist, reflector, pragmatist and theorist. Honey and Mumford linked Kolb’s learning cycle with the personal attributes.
- A(reflector)- reviewing and observation
- B(theorist)- developed thought process and conclusion
- C(pragmatist)- applied theory in practice with the existing ideas
- D(activist)- application through action in a new circumstance with new ideas.
2. GROUP DEVELOPMENT
Effective teamwork plays a vital role in group development. The key factors which effect the group are conflict management, personality traits, individual performance and time management
Shaw and Barrett Power (1998) explained group development and the creation of a productive working /learning with the help of a model showing the effect of diversity and small group processes on performance. The model reflects that a successful group work requires open communication, symbiosis, effective conflict management discussion of strategy and the appropriate weighing of individual inputs into decisions.
Bruce Tuckman (1965) developed a four stage model of group development. He labeled the stages forming, storming, norming, performing and ten years later added a fifth stage called adjourning.
In the first week, our group was in the forming stage. Initially all members were confused and uncertain in assessing the assigned work. We did the ‘Big Five Locater’ (Kelly) personality test to assess the personality trait clusters of each individual in the team. This helped each member to analyze each other. Group contract helped us to overcome these barriers by defining the goals, establishing rules and getting acquainted to the task in hand. During the first week of discussion, time consensus was a big issue, as couple of members had their vocations. There was constant atoning of the schedule, which had spilled the beans for a conflict. However according to Maddux R.B., (1998) conflict is healthy when it causes the group to explore new ideas, test their standards and beliefs and stretch their imagination. When conflict is dealt constructively, people can be stimulated to great creativity, which will lead to a wider choice of action and better results. Another important aspect was that the group was more into planning than execution (Schon, 1983). In the later part of the second week the group progressed well by understanding each other and got settled down as an appeased group.
A whole brained approach for development and execution is an essential constituent to stimulated long term productivity (Eales-White,2005). This approach was taken by the group members by applying a variety of different learning abilities towards common objectives which was more focused and integrated, which helped in enhancing the Burberry case study. With a combination of formal and informal practices group gained a potential competitive advantage while performing.
3. CRITICAL EVALUATION AND REFLECTIONS:
Group conflict is essential for a group’s cohesion. It helps groups identify areas of common values; provides group stability through shared beliefs, helps to balance the difference between extreme ideologies and helps to clarify roles and structures frequently.
“If managed constructively, conflict can be a strong indicator of the group’s effectiveness”
—(Mary Holz-Clause, 1996)
- Time Consensus:
One of the serious hurdle faced by the members during the discussions were meeting the time requirement. Although all had opined to meet on an agreed time. The attendance was really an impeding factor. There was constant atoning of the schedule which resulted in frequent feuds between the members giving rise to clouds of disharmony amid group.
- Cold war:
“The transmission of information and exchange of meaning between two or more people is communication” and lack of which can lead to ambiguous situations, where people may differ in the reception of intended meanings (Buchanan and Huczynski ).
We were initially distracted by the pall of uncertainty that was prevailing due to profuse interpersonal misconceptions. The group was deprived of amiable and cordial environment as none were gelling together.
The varied attributes and behavioural differences among the members of the group proved to be significance for the meetings but at the same time, differences in ideologies and perceptions lead to clashes.
- Personal Commitments:
Another persistent worry was the prior commitment of the members. Couple of them were employed and we found it really challenging to have their presence in the meeting during the initial stages of the discussions. They had irregular shifts which aggravated the situation furthermore.
- Lack of Acceptance:
Members were too much into there own findings that they gave less importance to others work.
The recurring issues had to be solved and the garbage can model (Cohen, March and Olsen, 1972) was used which suggests a scenario where decisions have a random element to them. For an effective decision to be reached, the problems and solutions had to come together. Bringing them together was a challenge. Developing the ability to identify relevant problems and seeking radical solutions by bringing the right people together at the right time. In order for them to reach the sometimes radical decisions that will be needed in often turbulent environment (Ian Brooks, 1999).
- BROOKS, Ian and Cohen etal.(1999).Decision making.Organisational behaviour-individuals, groups and the organisation,Pearson Education.edi.5.p.32
- BUCHANAN, David and HUCZYNSKI, Andrzej(2004).chapter6Communication.Organisational communication- commitment and propaganda,Pearson Education.p.207
- CLAUSE Mary Holz.(1996), http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c6- 55.html, date accessed 23/03/08