Team Communication in the Educational Settings

Background

Available scholarship demonstrates that institutions of learning can attain higher levels of effectiveness if individuals demonstrate an adequate understanding of team dynamics, identify how they can contribute their full potential to their teams, and also show sufficient understanding of the leadership culture within which teams operate (Coleman & Glover, 2010). In educational settings, working in teams has been known to create synergies that not only benefit students but also ensure the effective administration of scarce resources (Sparks, 2013). The main focus of this paper is to describe and discuss the experience and communication that occurred within an education team with the view to developing an in-depth understanding of the concepts associated with teams.

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Team formation

The team in question was formed when departmental leaders were chosen by the senior administrators of the educational institution to work together under the auspices of Deans Mandatory Meeting and Training. In line with Tuckman and Jensen’s model of team development, the initial phase of team formation (forming) was typified by incidences of uncertainty and anxiety as the ten team members selected barely knew each other. However, this phase was also punctuated by marked cooperation as members were more concerned about gathering impressions and avoiding controversy (Coleman & Glover, 2010). Within a few works of working together, the team entered the storming phase, which was typified by competition, conflict, and internal dissent as members attempted to organize for the task and as opinions, values, and attitudes of members became increasingly polarized (Levi, 2013).

The team progressed to the norming phase, which was typified by the development of cohesion and satisfaction as members became engaged in proactive acknowledgment of the contributions made by all members and demonstrated a willingness to change their preconceived notions, attitudes, and opinions on the basis of facts and issues presented by other members (Coleman & Glover, 2010). The next stage (performing) entailed team members working productively in subgroups and with a sense of purpose targeted at achieving the aim and objectives of the team, while the last stage (adjourning) revolved around reflecting on what the team had been able to achieve as per the mandate provided. Since the adjourning phase marked the termination of task behaviors as well as disentanglement from personal relations among the ten team members, the leader took the initiative to recognize members for their participation and achievement (Levi, 2013).

Role Assignments and Selection Process

According to Cooper and Sutter (2011), team success is largely dependent on how team members are assigned to the right roles, responsibilities, or activities. Drawing from this elucidation, the qualifications and experience of team members were considered during the assignment of the various roles and responsibilities that were instrumental in the attainment of the team’s main aim and objectives. Three Head school department deans, the head university dean, and the associate school dean were considered for selection into the team due to their expansive knowledge and experience on administration and student-related issues. During the selection process of the other five members of the team, the main project task was analyzed and broken down into its component steps to identify each of the work skills necessary to complete the tasks. The work skills identified were then used to select the other five members based on their skills, competencies, and personalities (Levi, 2013).

Conflict

Available literature demonstrates that cognitive and affective sources of conflict have the capacity to negatively affect team performance and member satisfaction (Behfar & Peterson, 2008). In the described case, cognitive-based conflict was prevalent during the storming phase due to different policy opinions and ideas held and/or proposed by team members. Similarly, affective-based conflict was noted in terms of differing personalities, emotions, and value systems demonstrated by team members who had not worked together previously. In resolving the two typologies of conflict, the team leader used his competency in listening to the issues raised by members and instilling in them a problem-solving mentality (Coleman & Glover, 2010). Additionally, the team leader used effective communication skills and demonstrated an adequate understanding of the different policy opinions taken by members with the view to showing them how they could respect and accommodate each other’s differences of opinions. Lastly, open communication, constant discussions, compromise, and consensus were all used to address the conflict emanating from members during the early phases of group formation. Research is consistent that open communication, compromise, and consensus have the capacity to ensure that team members become aware of each other’s concerns and act in a manner that will alleviate member grandstanding by stimulating inclusivity and accommodation (Behfar & Peterson, 2008).

Communication Practices

To spur the performance of teams and reinforce the satisfaction of members, it is important for leaders to support different communication practices that take into account the personality types of team members (Levi, 2013). In the context of the described case scenario, it was clear that the team was composed of culturally diverse members who were either extroverts or introverts according to Myers-Briggs categorization of personality types (McIntosh, Davis, & Luecke, 2008). Since extroverts like to interact and socialize with others, face-to-face, verbal communication practices were used with the view to providing team members with this personality typology the opportunity to interact with others at a more personal level. Similarly, since introverts like to work in isolation and focus on one task at a time, emails and written reports were used to ensure that members with an introverted personality type did not feel left out.

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Verbal communication practices were effective in terms of ensuring that the group members received instantaneous feedback from their exchanges, enhancing collaborative efforts, and facilitating group cohesiveness. Likewise, written communication practices were effective in terms of reaching many group members at one time since a single message or report could be relayed to all members using the established protocols (Behfar & Peterson, 2008). Effectiveness could have been enhanced by ensuring that the two typologies complemented each other in supporting the work effort, asking questions in areas that were not properly understood, stimulating collaboration, speaking the right language, and learning to show appreciation (McIntosh et al., 2008).

Conclusion

This paper has discussed the experience and communication that occurred within an education team in order to develop an in-depth understanding of the concepts associated with teams. Overall, it is evident that the team concepts and dynamics discussed are of immense importance in ensuring that teams become effective channels in addressing various issues affecting the education sector.

References

Behfar, K.J., & Peterson, R.S. (2008). The critical role of conflict resolution in teams: A close look at the links between conflict type, conflict management strategies, and team outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 170-178. Web.

Coleman, M., & Glover, D. (2010). Educational leadership and management: Developing insights and skills. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill Education.

Cooper, D.J., & Sutter, M. (2011). Role selection and team performance. Web.

Levi, D.J. (2013). Group dynamics for teams (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

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McIntosh, P., Davis, J.H., & Luecke, R. (2008). Interpersonal communication skills in the workplace. New York, NY: AMA Self-Study.

Sparks, D. (2016). Strong teams, strong schools. Learning Forward, 34, 28-30. Web.

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