BSBWOR203 – Contribute to Workgroup Activities Copy
Element 2: Contribute to Workgroup Activities
Performance Criteria Element 2
2.1 Provide support to team members to ensure workgroup goals are met
2.2 Contribute constructively to workgroup goals and tasks according to organisational requirements
2.3 Share information relevant to work with workgroup to ensure designated goals are met
2.4 Identify and plan strategies / opportunities for improvement of workgroup in liaison with workgroup.
Contribute to Workgroup Activities
Provide Support to Team Members to Ensure Workgroup Goals Are Met
In this second element, we will be examining the processes of working effectively with others in your team. Workgroups and teams are becoming more common in every workplace and they require a specific set of skills to ensure that you know how to work to the best of your abilities. The conventional wisdom of “winner takes all” is not necessarily true – it is now the people who work well with others who end up being the big winners in business.
There are a range of things that need to be achieved in order for an individual to work really well in a workplace. You need to understand these in order to be a strong team player.
1. Show others what needs to be done
When you are under pressure and need to get things done, it can be very tempting to find those who are under-performing and then simply take over their role, which can get to a point where you are doing everything. This sort of working environment is quite difficult to work in, as instead of being able to develop your skills, you are simply pushed aside and your role eliminated. If you think about this, it means that you will never get to learn anything new, or be given the opportunity to take on new responsibilities. A strong team player shows people how to do things, rather than doing everything themselves. If you take over doing everything for your team members, then they may also begin to rely on you to do everything rather than being willing to take on some of the tasks.
2. Give great feedback
We have already spent a number of pages discussing the importance of effective and strong feedback. It is critical to give good feedback if you are going to be a strong team player. Those within a team are more likely to be willing to listen to you if you are able to tell them ways that they can help themselves do better. Such suggestions are an excellent way of earning your place within a team environment.
3. Let them get on with their job
Unless someone comes to you specifically seeking advice and guidance, it is sometimes better to let them find things out for themselves.
4. Be Positive!
Someone with positive energy is likely to be a team player others want to associate themselves with. If you are excited about a given task, then others around you are likely to feel this and will also feel like they should be excited about it too.
Great team players are enthusiastic about everything they do, they motivate the team and provide the group with a reason for moving forward.
5. When making decisions, listen!
Group decision making and problem-solving can be difficult, especially when you are hearing ideas that may seem completely crazy! However, it is very important to remember that you should just sit and listen. The more that you are likely to discount ideas, the less strong your group is likely to become. Team members want to hear that their ideas are appreciated, not that they are stupid.
6. Be sensitive.
You should listen to everyone, regardless of their background and how ‘different’ they may seem to the rest of your team.
Contribute Constructively to Workgroup Goals and Tasks According to Organisational Requirements
Theory into Practice
The major outcomes of team work, and problem-solving in particular, are the recommendations that you make to solve problems. In a team situation these can often prove to be difficult situations, and being supportive can make this an easier situation. Let’s look at how this can be done. When considering your team’s recommendations, there are 2 aspects to consider:
1. The facts about the choice
2. How you feel about the future implied by the choice.
There are always logical, rational arguments for and against all recommendations. You must seek out facts from many sources, including experts, others who have similar problems, insightful persons, or whoever you think might have something to add. In a group situation this is simple; your group is likely to be made up of experts who are familiar with the processes currently in place and so will be able to provide comments on any proposed solution. You should consider your assets and resources (and limitations and disadvantages) that could be used to overcome the problem and the opposing forces. Also, you must decide if a certain course of action is keeping with, or conflicts with, your (or your organisation’s) values.
It is also essential that you consider your recommendations against the following criteria:
1. Time: Can the solution be implemented in the required time frame? It is vitally important that time frames are met. Your organisation asked for the solution to be ready within a specific time frame, and it is important that this is met.
2. Budget: Is the budget assigned to the problem enough for you to implement the solution?
3. Resources: Are enough human or physical resources available to you to ensure the solution can be implemented and managed appropriately?
4. Legislative requirements: Does the solution meet legislative requirements, are you breaking any laws (environmental, labour, human resources, health and safety, etc) in implementing your solution? If you are, you should look at whether the solution can be altered, or alternatively you should adopt a different solution.
These are the crucial overriding criteria which you should consider. If a recommendation (no matter how well it resolves the problem) does not meet these criteria, you may need to reconsider whether it is the best option.
Notice that we have stayed away from any personal reasons for dismissing an idea. These are always negative and counter-productive to the feelings and attitudes found in a team. It is vitally important that when you work within any team, that you make only positive contributions.
Asking questions, commenting on the bad aspects of an idea, and finding fault are all useful discussion tools, however they should be approached in a positive way. Look at the idea, not the person generating the idea. Let’s now look at some more ways in which you can make a positive contribution to your group. These are particularly relevant if you are leading a group, or are considered to be a senior individual within your workgroup, however the basic principles can be applied by anyone within a group.
Contributing and sharing job-related and personal information: It is vital to ensure that all your fellow team members are willing to contribute to the team and are willing to share their information (regardless of whether this may be job or personally related). By contributing and sharing resources, you are ensuring that the full resources of the team can be used. Ensure that you try to include every member in your discussions, do not just let a few members give their opinions without allowing other, quieter team members to give theirs. Without everyone’s input, you aren’t taking full advantage of having a team and wasting resources.
Furthering understanding about individual jobs and responsibilities: You should allow all team members to state their own job positions, and why they believe they can contribute to the team at the initial stages of the team building process. This ensures your team members are aware of what each member of the team is able to do. This should enable the team to assign roles to those who are best able to complete certain tasks.
Reviewing and refining team objectives: Team objectives are not set in stone. They can be varied if required. At regular stages throughout the process of attempting to meet the objectives set for you, you should go back and re-evaluate your objectives, and try to ensure that the team members are not becoming overly optimistic about the tasks they are undertaking. This is sometimes difficult to detect, especially because optimistic enthusiasm is exactly the type of thing that you want your team to feel. You may find, however, that team members may bite off more than they can chew in the interests of trying to please you and making the team look good. The danger is that unrealistic objectives set your team up for failure. Make sure that someone objectively monitors the objectives and outcomes, if some of the objectives seem unrealistic, it may be time to refine or alter them so they do not require superhuman effort to achieve. This may even involve altering the team objectives so that they become smaller in nature – in the form of sub-goals, which are easier to achieve and keep the team motivated along the way.
Considering problems and formulating joint decisions: There is a real art to group problem-solving and decision making, and it is one of the key processes which you will use with the team in order to achieve your team’s goals. Considering the problem is a 9-step process.
1. Make a general description of the problem condition as the group sees it.
2. Describe what the defined condition would be like in an ideal but reachable state.
3. Identify the specific discrepancies that exist between the present view of reality and the ideal state.
4. Analyse the nature of the condition more thoroughly.
5. Redefine the problem as clearly and briefly as possible.
6. Generate as many alternatives as possible.
7. Screen the various alternatives by changing them into specific objectives that by their nature suggest direction and quantity, and where and when they will occur.
8. Consider the consequences – the price to be paid – the impact on individuals, groups, or the organisation if each of the selected alternatives were to be implemented.
9. Monitor and develop appropriate support systems to ensure the stabilising of the implemented alternative.
It is vitally important that as a team, you consider the problem together, and come to a conclusion or decision together.
We have discussed, in the previous section, the basic principles of making positive contributions to work. You will remember that one major contribution is the sharing of relevant information. In this section, we will examine how this can be accomplished in the team meeting.
Share Information Relevant to Work with Workgroup to Ensure Designated Goals are Met
For the most part, team meetings are held to solve problems. Whether they are new projects, reporting on progress of existing projects, or looking at improving systems used previously, effective team meeting preparation is crucial to successful problem-solving. If the problem-solving process is to be effective, all participants have to know what is expected of them, what they will be doing, and have time to prepare for the meeting. Some important points to consider when preparing for a team meeting, and being ready to make a positive contribution are:
• Be informed. Before attending and participating in the meeting, be sure that you understand the tasks to be addressed during the meeting as this will assist you in the preparation process.
• Start preparing as soon as possible. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the meeting. It is much easier and less stressful to gather materials and your thoughts in advance rather than at the last minute.
• Verify the accessibility of the meeting. Verify the date, time, and location of the meeting. Make all participants aware of this information. If any of the details do not fit with their individual schedules, ask them to contact you immediately.
• Be organised. Keep a folder with the latest reports and correspondence related to the task. The folder should be clearly labelled for easy reference. File prior reports and paperwork in a separate location, such as a file box or cabinet. Do not throw away any old documents.
• Review pertinent documents. Using the meeting agenda as your guide, review the documents that will be pertinent to the meeting and highlight the information that will be most helpful to the discussion. Be prepared for information that may be brought up during the meeting that might hinder your progress on an issue.
• Create a ‘thought outline’. Create a list of issues that you want to be sure are addressed at the meeting. Check your list before the meeting ends to make sure everything was covered.
• Mentally prepare yourself. For those meetings that you anticipate will be stressful or where you anticipate resistance, try to mentally prepare yourself before the meeting to reduce your anxiety. Go into the meeting with a positive attitude and keep an open mind.
Every organisational team or work-group has certain productivity requirements. These productivity requirements can be used as a means of judging whether the team has been successful or not. The team’s attempts to achieve its productivity requirements constitute its performance level.
Performance is measured in different ways, depending on the situation and the particular team. Measurement can also depend on who is doing the measuring. Some groups, especially those that are more informal, will tend to measure their own performance, using their own standards. Occasionally, the standards of a group may even be different from the standards of the organisation as a whole, which can create conflict.
The most obvious measure of performance is by objective measures. Success is determined by the existence of a particular objective. Often an organisation that commissions a team to perform a task will judge the team’s success solely on the basis of whether it has accomplished that task. This type of performance standard is easy to apply, put simply, either they have done it or they have not.
Another, more subtle measure of performance is subjective. This measure is often applied to the group itself. The characteristics judged by subjective standards are not always easily quantifiable. They include such things as the extent to which members develop through discussion, the extent to which their sensitivity increases, their respect for each other, and the extent to which their communication skills as a team have increased. The measurement of these characteristics is usually left up to the team members themselves.
Outside pressures such as the organisational requirements, have little to do with the achievement of these subjective successes. A team may be judged successful by some objective criteria (e.g. they finished the report on time) but as a team they may be judged as a failure (the report was written but no one in the team will now talk to one another). Team achievement is usually a combination of these two factors and can be used to judge both the team itself, and the systems in place, to ensure just how well a team was formed.
Identify and Plan Strategies/Opportunities for Improvement of Workgroup in Liaison with Workgroup
There are 5 key areas which should be addressed when evaluating team building in an organisation, these are:
1. Reward system: This deals with the ways in which behaviour was rewarded and punished by the team. Does the team reward its members fairly? Are punishments handed out equitably? Do all members participate equally in establishing and implementing such systems? If the answer is ‘yes’ to each of these questions, then you can be assured that the team dealt with this effectively. If there are any ‘no’ answers, you may need to recommend formal changes to how a reward system is set up, as this is an important aspect of ensuring that all team members are valued by the team.
2. Interpersonal attraction: Group members who report that they like each other are showing a level of interpersonal attraction. It is natural to prefer to work with people whom we like. Group members are more likely to be satisfied with a team of people they enjoy working with than a team they do not. This all comes about during the ‘forming’ stage of team formation, and if it is found that most of the team members do not like each other, more emphasis may need to be placed on forming, and perhaps better procedures for selecting team members recommended so that the team members are more likely to work well together.
3. Decision making systems: You need to analyse how the team came to make its decisions. Most people will prefer to belong to a team that allows them to participate in the decision making process. If all team decisions are made without consulting all the members, you would expect the team members to become disenchanted with the whole team process. If decisions were not being made by the team as a whole, you will need to establish why this happened, and recommend that future teams use more democratic decision making procedures.
4. Communication systems: Most team members prefer to belong to a team that encourages communication to, and by, all team members, not just by a select few members of the team. When evaluating the team as a whole, look at the communication patterns that exist. Did they encourage all team members’ opinions? Were there any threats that stopped open and honest communication from taking place? Each member of a team should be allowed to have an opportunity to take part in the communication process, and any problems seen in a team should be analysed and addressed so that the same problems do not happen in the future.
5. Task: The appropriateness of a particular task depends on the preferences of the individuals in the team. Most of us will feel most comfortable when we believe we can actually accomplish a task. Was the group of people that were brought together a good mix that would allow the task to be completed? Or were there deficiencies in the skills of the team that meant difficulties arose? If so, recommendations regarding the selection of team members can be made to improve this.
A review of what the team managed to accomplish, and how they worked together as a whole, can allow you to find any problems, and make recommendations which will allow future teams to work more smoothly and efficiently together.
Reviewing the delegation process is also an important task that needs to be completed after the team has achieved its major objectives. During the team building processes, certain tasks would have been delegated to individual members of the team (as often an individual is able to better achieve a small task than a committee). Upon completion of the task as a whole, it is important to go back and analyse the effect that this delegation had on the task as a whole. Some of the important questions that need answering are:
1. Were the individuals comfortable being delegated tasks?
2. Did they achieve their aims on time?
3. Did delays caused by an individual member cause problems for the overall team?
4. Was the best person for the job selected?
5. Were people comfortable working alone?
6. Was enough guidance and support given?
7. Were the individuals who were delegated tasks given enough information to achieve their aim?
A full-scale evaluation of the team is something that may be seen as a complete waste of time. After all, the task has been completed successfully, why go back and look at what was done? It is important because each team can be treated as a learning exercise, and with more and more feedback, the formation and use of teams in an organisation can be improved significantly.
• In order to contribute effectively to your work-group you should:
○ Don’t demonstrate
○ Provide constructive criticism
○ Back off
○ Try to be positive
○ Value your group’s ideas
○ Show cultural and gender sensitivity.
• Effective meeting preparation is crucial to successful problem-solving meetings. All participants have to know what is expected of them, what they will be doing, and have time to prepare for the meeting.
• When evaluating how well a team worked together, you should look at:
○ Rewards and punishments given by the team
○ The level of attraction between team members
○ The decision making systems that were in place
○ The communication systems used and the tasks that were given.