Learning Team Charter Analysis – Business Communications COM/285 August 02, 2010 Learning Team Charter Analysis – Team A There are several key elements involved with establishing and maintaining effective communications in a group environment. Understanding the dynamics of group communication is essential at the outset of any project or endeavor that requires input from multiple team members. A great deal of thought should also be put into the process and ground rules for dispute resolution.
As with any solid plan, the effective application of fundamental communications strategies coupled with leveraging available technologies will go a long way toward ensuring project success. Group communication is the communication that takes place while an ensemble of people, working together towards a goal; focus on the informational, procedural, and interpersonal dimensions of achieving that goal. A group may communicate differently throughout the three individual stages; formation, coordination, and formalization, of their task.
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Effective group communication is the key to a group’s ability to optimally plan, organize, and conquer their goal or task. The dynamics of group communication differ considerably from that of the communication that takes place throughout individual communication. Group communication involves dialogue, verbal or written, that is coming from, and intended for, more than two people, while individual communication is the dialogue which takes place between two people. Communicating effectively involves understanding your audience.
In a group, this can pose as more of a challenge than with individual communication as there are likely different levels of understandings, thoughts, and communication styles amongst a group. When communicating in a group there is more opportunity for persons’ thoughts to go unsaid or unheard, while most individual conversations are reciprocal. In a group, it may be more difficult for some individuals to share their feelings of thoughts out loud and in front of a large group. Therefore, more efforts must be made to encourage participation. A goal in communication with another individual is that the dialog be a reciprocal.
To encourage reciprocal conversations individuals can remember three simple rules; stop, look and listen. When participation in a conversation with another individual it’s important, when the other person begins talking, to stop and actively listen to what they are saying. Nodding your head or an occasional “uh-huh” shows them you are listening and helps that person feel that they are being taken sincerely. The strategies that are used to promote effective group communication are similar to those used when communicating with one individual; however, additional efforts are made to encourage equal involvement amongst members.
Trust, cooperation, and productivity are all enhanced when a group practices effective communication. The communication within a group is most effective when all members contribute. A few strategies to promote participation are round robin, small group discussion, and brainstorming. Round robin is a method during which each member of a group is asked their thoughts on one specific topic, or question. Each team member then writes their responses down and all ideas and suggestions are then discussed openly. Small group discussion is a tool large groups can use to discuss intricate topics.
The large group breaks apart into smaller groups to discuss the same topic. Each smaller group records what is conversed, summarizes and report back for further discussion. (Leister, 1992) Avoiding group think and identifying and addressing issues within the group is vital to the group’s ability to further communicate. Some strategies to promote group communication are that each member of the group is given a chance to give their input and that all thoughts are received with respect and understanding.
A group strategy to overcome conflicts and challenges is that the group actively and openly listens to one another’s concerns and puts forth the effort to address and resolve them. University of Phoenix Learning Teams change with each new class. Team members could build a stronger Conflict Management section by modeling previous team charters where dispute guidelines are well developed. A sample charter reviewed by the Team had a statement that provided a good example for how disputes should be handled, “Active discussion, open-minded consideration, and mutual respect should support resolution of any conflicts” (Sample, 2010).
This statement could be inserted into the beginning of the Conflict Management section to set a positive tone for how disputes should be handled. University of Phoenix classes span a five week period. The class timeframe limits the amount of possible conflicts that may arise between learning team group members. The submitted Learning Team A Charter provides minimal information for dispute resolution. The Team identified one possible source of conflict within the group; agreeing on topic or main points. Other sources of conflict could include late submission parts from team members and differences in opinion.
The sample charter reviewed by Learning Team A listed non-participatory team members and misunderstandings as possible sources of conflict. By incorporating the additional four conflict sources into future charters, the Team names the five most common learning team problems. An effective Learning Team Charter should list specific strategies of dispute resolution for each conflict source. The charter for Learning Team A gave brief, but specific strategies for disagreements on topics and main points; team members could suggest option for topics and vote to settle the disagreement.
The Team charter also listed four other strategies for dispute resolution. Although no specific conflict source is listed for these strategies, it was assumed that they would be used for any other dispute or conflict that may arise. These strategies included addressing the individual, phone calls, using the team post if the issue is not resolved, and engaging the class instructor as a last resort. The strategies listed in the charter for Team A are a good foundation for dispute resolution. For future charters, the Team could strengthen these strategies by outlining which strategies would be used for specific conflict sources.
For example, the charter should list strategies for dealing with a non-participatory members as 1) addressing questions to the individuals to try and engage them in discussion, 2) calling the member who is not participating with the purpose of finding out if external influences have prevented them from participating, and if all else fails, 3) inform the instructor of the problem. By outlining the strategy details, the Team makes the charter a more effective as a resource tool for dispute resolution and governing document for team interaction. Communication is an exchange of information. It is a process of understanding on both the part of the receiver and the sender. ” (Schwartz 2005). Good Communication is not always easy and requires motivation. In the charter, the team had a goal of clear communication. Other goals were collaboration in all team assignments, support each team member and ask for help when needed. Clear communication, collaboration, support and assisting one another are ‘strategies for fostering good team communication. There can be barriers that exist when communicating in a group, especially online since body language dose not play a factor in helping get the message across. To prevent or minimize any conflicts that may arise, Team A has a goal of establishing that it is important that messages are communicated clearly by each team member because that is what the team will work off of. Clear personal communications elements such as “tone of voice, facial expressions, posture” (Schwartz, 2005) are not present in an online class so clear non verbal communication plays a huge role in the overall success of the team.
An example of how these strategies can be used is clear communication has been being used throughout the class. Team members have communicated with one another about deadlines for assignment Team A is ensuring that by practicing clear communication the team has a better chance of “improved productivity, better problem solving, fewer problems within the team, enhanced efficiency, better relationships and greater personal satisfaction. ” (Schwartz, 2005). An example of clear communication being used in Team A is in week four Team A set Saturday as the day for rough drafts of the paper to be due.
Asking for helping can be a challenge to do, sometimes. People do not want to admit they need help or they may feel like they do not want to bother their team members. The member in need of help may feel uncomfortable asking for help because they may feel that it is their responsibility to complete their portion of the assignment on their own. It is acceptable and welcomed for team members to ask one another for help with assignment, if they are struggling or overwhelmed.
Team A works towards a goal that if a team member needs help or assistance with any team work throughout the class that that person will ask for help in a timely manner, giving the rest of the team time to respond back before the assignment is due. Asking for help can reduce the level of stress one team member is feeling. It is often a better outcome when a person is unsure to ask for help rather than to continue on not really being sure about what they are doing. Team A has it in the charter that we will take a vote and agree if an issue is to arise. For that to happen, the team has to use the strategies.
Historically groups communicated through face to face meetings. Many of us have come to dread these group meetings due to a lack of focus or direction. This kind of thinking sends us into this environment with a mental block and group settings often become unproductive and a waste of time. Throughout the years our advances in technology have provided us many avenues to facilitate group meeting and mass communication. The most common forums used for meetings and group communication are face to face meetings, through telephone, and through the use of electronic mail.
There are advantages and disadvantages of each; the group’s purpose and setting should determine the most effective method. Meeting in person is the most intimate of the above mentioned techniques and allows the member to truly get a feel for one another. Brainstorming is at a premium in this environment. Members are allowed to feed off of each other’s ideas and develop concepts that they would not have thought about if each member worked in an isolated location. When the members are all together, they are also able to lay out a common direction and thought path.
All their energy can be aimed in certain direction to achieve the common goal. The most detrimental and common problems of face to face meetings is groupthink. Many groups have dominating members and personalities. People are also so focused on agree that members will go along with the idea just to keep peace. (Locker, K; Kienzler, D, 2008) When this happens, the groups work runs the risk of becoming inferior or less than desired. Groupthink can be created by another issue of this type of group communication, the length of meetings.
To avoid two and three hour processes, the members will suppress their comments and allow others to run ideas in the wrong direction. Sidebar conversations also take away from this setting. (Heathfield, 2010) Without total participation, meetings become unproductive and frustrating. Members often find themselves talking about work schedules, personal lives, and a host of other topics unrelated to the reason of the meeting. Another technology that can facilitate group meetings and mass communication is through email. The biggest advantage of email is the convenience of getting an idea out to many people at once.
All the members of one team can get the same information simultaneously despite their location or time zone. Each member is also allowed to begin work immediately on their specific portion. Emails are date and time stamped which also enables the messages delivery to be verified. Some networks allow the sender to know when the receiver reads the message as well. Emails can be referred to and referenced at any time. When a members needs clarification on a thought they have the option to revisit the message and omit whatever part does not concern them.
The sender of an email can also attached files that may assist other members with the work; all members can share and view the same information. The major disadvantage of an email is its dependence on the internet. Without a connection an email cannot be access and therefore rendered useless. Emails are also extremely impersonal and cold. It is very difficult to send emotion through email and members may become offended and shut themselves off from the process. Another major disadvantage the email is the possibility of a virus.
Many messages have virus unintentionally attached to them that can crash a mailbox or the computer all together. Telephones can also be used to facilitate group communication. Telephones are the quickest way for group members to meet and pass ideas. This technique is less personal then face to face but offers a more personal feel than the email. If the member does not understand the information being given they can ask for clarification immediately and without the fear of backlash from other members. The top disadvantage of the telephone is the time zone consideration.
Many teams are not locally assembled and are not available at the same time. This removes the opportunity for a teleconference and face to face meetings, leaving only email or individual phone calls to communicate. Many phones can distort or even delete frequencies due to quality. (Bowman, 2002) This is becoming more and more common with the use of cellular phones as opposed to landlines. People are more distracted with driving, family issues, and even television shows during phone conversation that again thoughts are not given complete thought.
It’s clear to see that there can be many challenges associated with group communications. These challenges can also be intensified in an online working environment. This does not mean, however that effective communication cannot take place. Through the use and understanding of group dynamics, conflict resolution, proper planning strategies and available technology, it can be fairly easy to establish an effective communications plan. When a group of people recognize the important role that communication plays in the process of achieving their goals, they are well served to plan accordingly.
References Leister, M. (1992). North Dakota State University. “Leadership Development within Groups – Communicating Effectively. ” Retrieved July 30, 2010 from, http://www. ag. ndsu. edu/pubs/yf/leaddev/he499w. htm Gioia, C. (2010). “How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends. ” Retrieved July 31, 2010 from, http://www. helium. com/items/537319 Schwartz, A. E. (July 26 2005). Clear Communication. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles. com/? clear-communication Communication is an exchange of information.
It is a process of understanding on both the part of the receiver and the sender. Locker, K, & Kienzler, D. (2008). Business and administrative communication. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies. Heathfield, Susan. (2010). Meeting management: deal with competing conversations . TIPS for working with people at work, Retrieved from http//:humanresources. about. com Bowman, Joel. (2002, August 24). Managing information and relationships. Business Communication, Retrieved from http://homepages. wmich. edu/~bowman/phone. html