INTRODUCTION “Talent wins games

INTRODUCTION

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”
-Michael Jordan
Source : https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-to-inspire-great-team-work.html

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Team building is the action or process of causing a group of people to work together effectively as a team, especially by means of activities and events designed to increase motivation and promote cooperation.

Reasons why team building is important:
1 Facilitates better communication.
2 Motivates members.
3 Promotes creativity.
4 Develops problem-solving skills.
5 Breaks the barrier.

This essay is organized in the following manner: Part 1 provides the reader with brief information about the Belbin Team Roles, Part 2 states about Tuckman Stages of Group Development, Part 3 mentions on the activities conducted, and Part 4 highlights the author’s personal and professional reflections/goals.
BELBIN’S RESEARCH ON TEAM ROLES:
The research of Dr Meredith Belbin in the 1970’S lead to the development of Belbin Team
Roles, nine clusters of behaviour that individuals adopt when participating in a team. During
extensive experiments at Henley Management College it became clear that teams comprising
a balanced mix of Team Roles outperformed unbalanced teams.

The original research involved painstaking and laborious observation using Bales analysis to identify a person’s natural team roles. Today the process takes a few minutes by using the
Belbin Interplace computer system to process the results of the Belbin Self Perception
Inventory, Observer Assessments and Job Assessments.

Today, the Belbin Team Role model is used by over 40 percent of the top 100 companies in the UK, the United Nations, the World Bank and thousands of organisations throughout the world to enhance individual and team performance.

Definition of Team Role:
A Team Role is defined as “A tendency to behave, contribute and
interrelate with others in a particular way.”- Dr Meredith Belbin.

How did the concept originate?

The concept was derived from a study of successful and unsuccessful teams competing in
Business Games at Henley Management College, England. Managers taking part in the exercise were given a battery of psychometric tests and put into teams of varying composition. As time progressed different clusters of behaviour were identified as underlying the success of the teams.

These successful clusters of behaviour were then given names.

Hence the emergence of nine Team Roles:

Belbin Team Roles
PLANT (PL)

Characteristics
Plants are innovators and inventors and can be highly creative. They provide
the source of original ideas to support innovation. They are independent, and usually regarded as being clever as a result of their original and radical perspective.

Function
The main use of a PL is to challenge conventional and established ways of doing
things and provide suggested solutions for solving complex problems. PLs have usually made their mark as founders of companies or as originators of new products.

RESOURCE INVESTIGATOR (RI)

Characteristics
Resource Investigators are usually enthusiastic extroverts. They are natural
negotiators and are adept at exploring new opportunities and developing contacts. RIs have a strong inquisitive sense and a readiness to see the possibilities in anything new.

Function
RIs are good at exploring and reporting back on ideas, developments or resources
outside their immediate group. They are the natural people to set up external contacts and to carry out any subsequent negotiations.

CO-ORDINATOR (CO)

Characteristics
The distinguishing feature of Co-ordinators is their propensity for helping
others to work towards shared goals. Mature, trusting and confident, they delegate readily. In interpersonal relations they are quick to spot individual talents and to use them in pursuit of group objectives.

Function
COs are well placed when put in charge of a team of people with diverse skills and
personal characteristics. Their motto might well be “consultation with control” and they usually believe in tackling problems calmly.

SHAPER (SH)

Characteristics
Shapers are highly goal and oriented people with great drive and energy. They
push themselves and others and tend to overcome obstacles by sheer determination. They
tend to be highly assertive and have very directive management styles.

Function
SHs are generally perceived as ideal managers because they generate action and
thrive under pressure. They come into their own when quick and decisive action is called for to overcome threats and difficulties or when progress towards goals and objectives is
unacceptably slow.

MONITOR EVALUATOR (ME)

Characteristics
Monitor Evaluators are serious-minded, prudent individuals with a built-in
immunity for being over-enthusiastic. They are likely to be slow in making decisions preferring to carefully think things over. Usually they have a high critical thinking ability.

Function
MEs are best suited to analysing problems and evaluating ideas and suggestions.
In a managerial position their ability to make high quality decisions consistently is likely to make them highly regarded.

IMPLEMENTER (IMP)

Characteristics
Implementers are characterised by their practical approach and possess higher
than normal levels of self-control and discipline. They are prepared to work hard to ensure
things are done as prescribed in a systematic way.

Function
IMPS succeed because they are efficient and because they have a sense of what is feasible and relevant. While many people might stray favouring the tasks they like to do and neglect things they find not to be to their liking an IMP is more likely to do what needs to be done in a systematic and relentless way.
TEAMWORKER (TW)

Characteristics.

Team workers possess a mild and sociable disposition and are generally
supportive and concerned about others. They have a great capacity for flexibility and adapting to different situations and people. TWs are perceptive, diplomatic and caring and tend to be good listeners.

Function

Because of their ability to be able to resolve interpersonal problems TW’s come into their own when situations are tense and people feel uncared for and not appreciated. They can rise to senior positions because they have few enemies and the fact that they are ready to listen to the views and suggestions of others.

COMPLETER-FINISHER (CF)

Characteristics

Completer Finishers have a great capacity for the attention to detail. The CF can be trusted to do work to the highest standard and to complete it on time.
The combination of striving for perfection and meeting deadlines often creates anxiety though and CFs are likely to be reluctant to trust others to do work to their own high standards.

Function

The standards they set make them well suited to situations where precision and high standards are essential. CFs will also demand the same high standards from people around them and therefore create their own micro culture where the only standard acceptable is perfection.

SPECIALIST (SP)

Characteristics

Their main distinguishing feature is their love of learning. They see learning and the accumulation of knowledge as the main reason for their existence and their single minded and resolute pursuit of this end is their main motivation.

Function
While SPs may not be regarded as natural team players teams will be wise to engage
the SP as a means of providing in depth research. As managers, they command respect
because of their in-depth knowledge and they can be used to mentor others to raise their
technical expertise.

Tuckman Stages of Group Development

Figure 2: Tuckman’s Team and Group Development Model diagram
Source: https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com/get-your-team-performing-beautifully-with-this-powerful-group-development-model

Tuckman stages of group development – Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjoining.
The stages are explained in details as follows:

Stage 1: Forming:

In this stage, there are mixed feelings among the group members like some are excited about the activities to be performed while some are nervous. Others are calm and composed. In this stage, team members try to get to know each other and are unaware of their roles and responsibilities.

Stage 2: Storming:

Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members’ natural working styles. People may work in different ways for all sorts of reasons but, if differing working styles cause unanticipated problems, they may become frustrated. Some members can also doubt the team’s goals and may also resist on taking tasks. This is the most vital stage of group development as team is most likely to fall apart.

Stage 3: Norming:

After the storming stage of the Tuckman stages of group development, the team moves gradually in the norming stage. In this stage, members of the team start to resolve differences, appreciate fellow team member’s positive points and cooperate on establishing rules, values, standards and methods. There is often a prolonged overlap between storming and norming, because, as new tasks come up, the team may lapse back into behaviour from the storming stage.

Stage 4: Performing:

During the performing stage, the team functions as a unit and the energy of the group will benefit the task. All team members know exactly what is expected of them and they work together towards goals and objectives. The team functions excellently and is capable of making decisions independently and autonomously without having to confer with the team leader.

Stage 5: Adjourning:

The final stage where the team dissolves, particularly if it was built up to achieve an objective or for a fixed period. Team members who like routine, or who have developed close working relationships with colleagues, may find this stage difficult, particularly if their future now looks uncertain

Team Building Exercise
After the presentation on Tuckman’ stages of group development, Kathy Kirwan carried out the following activities in the team building session. The activities were –
• Speed Friendship
• Stick Balancing
• Blindfolded Puzzle
• Behavioural Test

Speed Friendship
In this activity, we were made to form two concentric circles with the participants in the inner circle facing their counterparts in the outer one. Every person in the inner circle was asked to interact with the one in the outer circle for a time limit of 1 minute after which the latter moved forward in a clockwise direction. As this activity is named, Kathy asked us to have a conversation with our counterpart just to get to know each other and if possible also share some facts or secrets with them. I was standing in the outer circle and got to interact with this all the participants in the inner circle. I personally loved this activity since being an International student it is important to talk to people belonging from other culture and also get to know about the lesser known facts from them. Previously, I attended the Speed friendship activities organised by UCC International Society where I got a chance to interact with students from multiple country such as France, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Austria, China, Slovakia and many more. This activity was based on similar grounds but the only difference here was that I interacted with students from my class. This activity helped boost my confidence and I made some new friends. It was an amazing experience talking to people and learning about their hobbies, experiences and some facts about them. Moreover, this activity can be useful for people who are introvert and can help them overcome their shyness.

Stick Balancing Act
This activity is a pure reflection of teamwork. In this activity, we were divided into three teams of eight people each. All members of the teams were asked to stand in two parallel lines facing each other and each team was given a stick to balance between them. Each member had to balance the stick on their index finger and aim was to slowly lower the stick to the ground without any person losing contact with it. If any member did so, the team had to start over. Our team started exceptionally well with keeping in mind to make sure to balance the stick on their index fingers. Gradually, we started lowering the stick to the ground with each person contributing to the act. One of our group members suggested to observe the index finger of the person standing opposite to one. This suggestion proved to be very helpful for performing the activity and we successfully lowered the stick to the ground. Our team consisted of jolly members with all of them smiling and enjoying the activity which in turn proved to be a wonderful experience for me.

Behavioural Test
In this activity, we were asked to complete a behavioural test form. There were different sections within the test and we needed to assign the maximum points based on how we would respond in particular circumstances. This form was something totally new to me as it was something about oneself and one has to answer each question sincerely to get proper results. Thus, this test was one of the most vital part of the team building exercise. My two highest scores were Motivator/Elevator and Team worker. I found this obvious because I am that kind of person who likes to motivate people and also wants to work in a team and believes that everyone should work as a team. I scored the lowest in the role of Shaper which I accept with full heart since I am not a highly goal-oriented person. Shapers are those people who aim certain goals and objectives in their life and strive hard to achieve those with full enthusiasm.

Blindfolded Puzzle
The final activity was the most interesting part of the team building exercise. Kathy divided the participants into four teams of six with each asked to complete a jigsaw puzzle. However, there were a few rules that the participants had to follow. Only two individuals wearing the provided blindfolds were allowed to arrange the jigsaw blocks, with the rest of the team allowed to guide them. Our team members listened to the instructions and rules very carefully and decided to collect and stack all the puzzle blocks in the centre. Our team quickly decided the candidates who will be blindfolded and others were divided into two sub teams giving instructions to the two candidates.
Kathy Kirwan waved the flag and all the teams started the task in full swing. The blindfolded members quickly started searching for puzzle blocks with help provided by the other team members. They quickly joined two puzzle blocks and then used the strategy to sort out the puzzle blocks by keeping them apart from each other. This strategy worked successfully as the blindfolded members were able to locate the puzzle blocks comfortably. After one of the blindfolded members joined three puzzle blocks decided to give the other team member a chance to work on this activity showing team work, better understanding while the person accepting to perform the task showing responsibility and respect. Thus, in this way the team members were guiding the blindfolded persons to solve the jigsaw puzzle in a concrete approach and safe manner. All of the team members were having a good time and enjoying the activity. Kathy Kirwan made an observation about our team that we didn’t view this activity as some kind of competition but just an opportunity to complete the assigned task and celebrate on completion. This showed that we had chosen to adopt the role of either Team worker or Co-Ordinator at the first hand.

Personal Reflections/Goals

The activities carried out on the Team Building session were well suited to for me to get to know about those qualities which I wasn’t aware of. I had never really thought about the theoretical aspect of Team Roles until the exercises and group activities were only conscious about different individuals preferring to play different Roles. I wasn’t astonished at scoring the highest marks for role of Motivator/Evaluator and Team Worker. This is because I knew about these roles of mine from the previous experiences in graduate college and professional life. During my professional career, I was working with a Mexican multinational company named Grupo Bimbo on an ETL project. We were a total of 6 people like a team of mixed experienced personalities. I joined the project as a Junior member with only 9 months of Information Technology experience under my belt. We had three members who had 5/6 years of total IT experience while the other two members had 2/3 years. The project was undergoing tense situations with escalations to the client over bad process deliveries and communication problems. I quickly understood the situation and decided to wear the hat of the motivator/Evaluator in the team by firstly understanding the process flow of different tasks and working properly in a pedantic manner to make sure to avoid any future escalations and complains. Our Team Lead played the different roles under the three different categories such as Implementer under Action-oriented, Co-ordinator under People-oriented and Plant under Thinking-oriented. For a fresher like me, my team leader became an inspiration for me not only for the work that he did but also for the way in which he led the team in difficult situations. This proved to be a lifetime experience for me and I turned out to be a more matured person while working on this project. This project was not only about learning technical part but also about the different aspects of roles that one can play in his/her day to day life. Hence performing the roles of Motivator/Evaluator and Team Worker are more like inborn qualities that I have which I would also like to use them for my future assignments.
Coming back to the Team building session where I was astonished on scoring 2nd highest marks for the role of IMP(Implementer). On digging deep, I believe the Motivator/Evaluator and Team Worker roles play to my natural strengths of thinking logically and dealing in facts while considering options. Moreover, Communication skills, extroverted personality, over-enthusiastic add to my key strengths.

Thus, after taking the Belbin test, I would like to concentrate on the role of Implementer (IMP). After going through the characteristics of this role, I reckon that I possess higher than normal level of self-control and discipline. Moreover, I am also a firm believer that whatever tasks are been assigned to me/team should be done in a systematic manner and follow a practical approach wherever possible.

Other activities such as Stick Balancing and Blindfold puzzle taught me about teamwork, communication, coordination, leadership, focus on goals and objectives, reliability and positive attitude. The absence of any of them can lead to inexorable breakdown and can also cause failure to achieve planned goals/objectives. Constructive criticism holds equal importance to review the performances of each team members after completion of tasks.
Moreover, events like success parties are vital for boosting the morale of Team members and their importance should never be under-estimated.

Professional Reflections/Goals
The team building activities carried out at Connolly building was an experience of a lifetime for me as I had never participated in blindfold puzzle nor stick balancing activity ever before.
The stick balancing activity taught me that Team work plays a vital role in any assignment or task that we take in our professional/personal life. Team work is basically a composition of the following qualities such as Flexibility, Active listening, showing respect, Ready to help, being Reliable, showing Responsibility, Genuine Commitment. Being a Motivator/Evaluator and Team worker, I would like to take these qualities with me in my professional career. Possessing these qualities would help me succeed in my professional life and also achieve what I aim for. However, I believe that one should focus more on one’s weak areas and try to improve them rather than focusing on their strengths.

I scored the third highest in the role of Implementer and hence I would be focussing more on this role as Implementers are those people who are well disciplined and have practical approach towards life and activities/tasks that they perform. Becoming an implementer would not only make me work hard to ensure that job is completed but also ensure that it is done in a systematic manner. Implementers succeed because they are efficient and they have a sense of what is feasible and relevant. I would like to achieve this by taking down things one at a time and truly understanding the meaning of the word “efficient”. Moreover, getting the job done in a systematic manner also involves being careful and meticulous and hence I would like to imbibe these qualities in me.

The other areas where I would like to improve are of Shaper and Resource Integrator.
Shapers are defined as people with great drive and energy. Moreover, they push themselves and others and tend to overcome obstacles by sheer determination. I would like to bring these qualities in me with the help of assignments and normal work that we all do in daily life. Moreover, absorbing these qualities in me will also help me during my association with some multinational firm that I might aim for to get in. My aim in life is to become a successful manager in the Information Technology field and before aiming for that I need to fit for the role of Shaper.
Resource Integrators are usually enthusiastic extroverts and natural communicators. Moreover, they are born negotiators and are proficient at exploring new opportunities and developing contacts. I believe that I am good at making contacts with people and hence to bring out the Resource Integrator in me, I have joined few UCC societies and fun groups. Socialising and Networking is very important in order to develop ideas, get to meet people from different background and society.

Thus, at the end of the session, one of the best things that Kathy Kirwan asked our batch is to write down the take-away points that you would have learnt in the session and try and implement them in your day to day life. Following were the take away points that I noted down:
• Importance of team co-ordination.
• Concrete and concise plan: Planning things in a proper manner.
• Appreciate team members in ways that one thinks is best with.
• Patience is the key in difficult and tense situations.
• Understanding the roles, responsibilities, objectives and goals.
• Celebrations on achieving team goals.

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