Reflection - Blog post
Salas (2005) and Kay et al (2006) characterise the 'Big 5' of teamwork as:
- 'Team leadership' - to direct and co-ordinate the team, to assess and develop team performance, to motivate team members, team building by fostering a positive atmosphere.
- Mutual performance monitoring - ability to develop mutual environment of the team environment, and develop appropriate strategies to monitor team performance.
- Back-up behaviour - ability to anticipate other team member's needs though accurate knowledge; can involve shifting workload between team members to achieve workload balance during project.
- Adaptibility - ability to adjust strategies based on information gathered from the environment; altering the team strategy in response to changing conditions.
- Team orientation - ability to take others' behaviour into account; belief in team over individual goals.
Of these the issue of 'team leadership' is surely a very important one, but not just from the point of view of leadership in directing the project, assigning tasks and assessing performance. Instead the sign of a really successful team leader is how s/he motivates and encourages a sense of common purpose in the team. To be a really successful team leader would seem to involve at least some element of performance monitoring. The term itself is unfortunate as it seem to stress sanctions for any individuals found not to be up to scratch'. However, the summary given by Kay (2005) seems to suggest this task should be an important part of developing both the team as a whole and individuals within that team, so that the overall project aim might be achieved more successfully.
The importance of team leadership as involving both direction and motivation of the team is something which is very much borne out by my personal experience - often as much by the lack of such qualities as by their presence. I am a school governor for a primary school, and it is very obvious that the success of this school is very much due to the head-teacher's abilities not just in directing but in establishing a positive atmosphere and motivating her staff. My own workplace proves the value of successful team leadership qualities, if only because they are on the whole so totally lacking within those who are supposed to be 'team leaders'.
The 3 'co-ordinating mechanisms' are:
Shared mental models - 'An organizing knowledge structure of the relationships among the tasks the team is engaged in and how the team members will interact'
Mutual trust - shared belief that team members will fulfil their allotted tasks and guard the interests of their whole team.
Closed-loop communication - exchange of information between team members 'irrespective of the medium.'
In terms of how such mechanisms might be useful within the context of MAODE there are some possible issues. I am not quite sure I understand the idea of 'shared mental models'. When first reading the idea it seemed obvious that this must apply. However, what is meant by an 'organizing structure' is something which individual team members, particularly when they are not well known to each other (as in case of MAODE students) must be problematic, and individual competencies and interests must be actually quite diverse. However, the idea of 'mutual trust should hopefully have been fostered by engagement with course forums earlier in the module (though it might have been somewhat interrupted by Block 2). Closed loop communication must be seen as important, though the issue of 'mediums' of communication when studying online, with students presumably widely dispersed in terms of physical location and whose other commitments mean it might make it difficult to communicate in a timely fashion.