The foundation of effective teamwork is the knowledge and skill of successful interpersonal communication, group dynamics, and conflict management. When people collaborate in teams, it is pivotal to maintain functional relationships that allow for multiplying the potential of individual members of the group in collaborative efforts for more significant results. The present paper is designed to introduce, reflect on, and analyze a case from my experience of teamwork. The case is approached from the perspective of learned lessons and the possible application of several techniques to improve the outcomes of similar situations in the future.
During my first year in college, my class was tasked to complete a team project that involved extensive research and a creative presentation. Each group consisted of six people, who were given a group assignment with a guideline to organize the cooperation in a way that allows for obtaining the best outcome. Thus, my peers and I not only had to complete the assignment by collaborative efforts but also to manage our team in terms of duties, deadlines, and the style of communication and cooperation. We were given one month to complete the project. During that month, we could not proceed much because there were leadership-related tensions between another member of the group and me. We insisted on different approaches to research and disagreed on the essential issues. While other members were less initiative, they remained reluctant to make decisions and take responsibility and blamed the project’s failure on us. As a result, we decided that each group member would do their own research, and during the final meeting, we would integrate the findings into one project. Inconsistency in our collaboration caused bad grades.
The described experience has left a negative impression on me; however, at the same time, it provided me with a valuable lesson to learn. Now that I can reflect on the situation from a distance of time, I understand that my own perspective of an eager leader was not sensitive to the intentions and ideas of others. I was stubborn to insist on my ideas without compromising because I believed that my approach would be the most effective. For the other person in the conflict who also wanted to take a leader’s position, stubbornness and inability to compromise were also a problem. This person failed to yield or negotiate to reach an agreement; thus, our dysfunctional communication in this conflict caused distress and limited opportunities for the others who did not initiate but were willing to participate on terms suggested by leaders. I understand that for the four participants, it must have been stressful because their grades relied on the outcomes of the conflict.
The presented case evidently illustrates the failure of the project due to the negative imbalance between the driving and restricting forces. According to the Force Field Analysis model, poor communication, self-interest, disagreement over the need and relevance of change, and the lack of understanding of the advantages of the changes proposed by the competing leaders might be identified as restricting forces (Tutor2u, 2016). These factors allow for understanding why my counterpart and I behaved in the manner we did. Such a strong resistance to change caused us failure and bad grades; moreover, the whole team suffered.
The analysis of the situation from the perspective of group dynamics and teams’ development helps to understand the reasons for the discussed project’s failure through the perspective of group process models. Tuckman’s forming, storming, norming, and performing team-development model suggests that there are four stages in group development (Chapman, 2016). The first stage, which is forming, is the most important and the most difficult one since it involves adjustment and dependence on the leader. When applied to the case under analysis, our group failed to complete the first stage of group development due to the dysfunctional leadership establishment.
Furthermore, interpersonal conflict and the inability to resolve it were also contributive to the failure of our team’s cooperation. While conflict is normal in any relationship, the utilization of unhealthy resolution approaches might escalate the negativity in a group. In the discussed case, my counterpart and I were involved in a conflict that was based on the impaired vision of teamwork, wrongful motivation to lead by individual goals, and concentration on the competition overpower. We did not control our emotions and did not address the conflict in a healthy manner, which led to our failure to move forward in the group’s development (Help Guide, n. d.). Therefore, the reasons for ineffective teamwork are based on the influence of restricting forces, dysfunctional group dynamics, unsuccessful communication, and unhealthy conflict.
Upon learning the theories and concepts of group dynamics and teams, I understand that the outcomes of the presented situation would have been different if I had this knowledge at that time. In the future, if a similar situation occurs, I will approach team interaction from the perspective of the particularities of the developmental stages to make relevant decisions with an awareness of the difficulties and opportunities of each phase (Chapman, 2016). Knowing the role of interpersonal communication in the group and timely conflict resolution, I will build stronger relationships.
Moreover, the Johari Window model allows for interpreting interpersonal relationships in a team. It involves the analysis of the ideas that a person knows about him- or herself and comparing them with the information that is known about one another (Leader Logic, 2018). In order to improve the relationships in a team for more effective cooperation, mutual understanding, and creativity, the members of the team should expand the arena by including more information in the list that is known to both the other people and themselves (Leader Logic, 2018). Asking for feedback allows for obtaining more input from others, and disclosing oneself and sharing more ensures that others are aware of what has been previously unknown. In such a manner, using these techniques, a team will be capable of building strong relationships that are based on effective interpersonal communication and understanding that ultimately contributes to more successful cooperation.
In summation, my struggling teamwork experience demonstrates how important interpersonal communication and conflict management are for the successful completion of a team project. The analysis of this situation helped me learn from my mistakes, which occurred due to the ineffective team development management, conflict resolution, and failure to find a balance between driving and restricting forces. To avoid similar problems in the future, I will apply the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of teamwork, interpersonal communication, and conflict management by means of the Force Field Analysis model, Tuckman’s forming, storming, norming, and performing team-development model, and the Johari Window model.
Chapman, A. (2016). Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 forming, storming, norming, performing team-development model. Business Balls. Web.
Help Guide (n. d.). Conflict resolution skills [Data set]. Web.
Leader Logic. (2018). Johari window example in 5 minutes [Video]. Web.
Tutor2u. (2016). Lewin’s force field analysis model [Video]. Web.