Learning Groups and Membership Experience

Introduction

In our day to day lives, we are, in one way or another, involved in a certain activity where we are required to work as a group or a team in order to learn from each other hence realizing the goals of our teams. In some activities, different individuals are required to come together and work as a team in order to realize goals that could have been difficult to realize individually. However, the realization of these goals is determined by the ability of the team members to work effectively with each other.

It is important to note that there is a significant difference between a team and a group. In organizations, not every group can be a team, but all the teams make a group. The major difference between a team and a group is that while the team is determined to ensure that there is interdependence among the members, the group members may not have such a relationship. In other words, the team members are interdependent in their effort to promote their performance. However, groups can become teams if their members work together by helping each other in order to realize their goals effectively.

Based on my past experience, I strongly believe that every individual achieves more when working as a team than when working individually. Therefore, teamwork is encouraged in both the Large Learning Group (LLG) and Peer Learning Group (PLG). However, the ability of the team is significantly determined by the ability of the team leaders to lead effectively as well as the ability of the team members to relate effectively with each other. From my past experience, I have also realized that the team members have a pivotal role in transforming groups into top-performing teams.

Description

Over the past years, I have been involved in two types of teams, i.e. Peer learning group (PLG) as well as Large Learning Group (LLG). From these two incidences, I have learned a lot on the best practices that promote the success of a certain team.

One of these incidences took place while I was still in high school. In this case, we were organized into two teams to cover a certain topic in our syllabus on our own. Each of the group had a leader who played a major role in directing the team members. However, the two leaders differed to some extent. In our team, the members were determined to work together with each other in all stages of the group work.

Contrary to this, the other team was characterized by unnecessary disagreement on the team leadership and the appropriate time for discussions, the fact that undermined its performance significantly. Its leader was not able to rule with authority as expected. For instance, he never rose up to converse with authority on the best time of the day to hold discussions. As a result, such minor discussions took an unnecessarily long time. I strongly believe that this was one of the root causes of the team’s failure.

As already noted, our team displayed a significant difference in the way they approached different activities. Our team members observed punctuality in attendance of discussions. Every member ensured that they were already at the discussion venue on time. Contrary to this, the majority of the members of the other group did not observe punctuality. The team, therefore, sometimes missed the contribution of some of its bright members.

The participation of the members in both groups also varied significantly. Very few members were active while others just accepted the suggestions by a few active members, naively. In such a team, the leaders are expected to be very busy promoting strategies to change the behaviour of the group members. However, this leader never took time to convince the members of the need to cooperate.

I once heard some members of the other group utter some words that revealed that they were somehow dissatisfied with their previous teams. Most of their previous teams had failed, and therefore they had the fear that the then teams would also lead to failure.

At the end of the project duration, the two teams yielded very divergent results. To begin with, one of the groups had not completed its assignment. The members were seen rushing during the final days towards the deadline. On the other hand, my group managed to complete our project a week earlier.

After the project, we were all supposed to sit for an exam covering the topic on which the project was based. After the exam, the results of the two groups reflected a significant difference. Our group managed to produce the highest score between the two groups. My group’s average score was also higher by ten points.

Another incidence of teamwork that has improved on my understanding of large team learning took place in my workplace. The main aim of this team was to improve on the skills of the team members through learning from each other in order to achieve their goals effectively. In particular, the team aimed at improving the quality of the services provided to the clients by encouraging group learning. The team members were supposed to attend to all the quality issues that had been raised by the clients. In order to achieve maximum results, we formed a team where the members could debate on critical matters concerning the issue at hand. A trainer was then assigned to us; he was to provide guidance.

The team was very effective in addressing the security issues that affected the quality of the services. The team members managed to discuss on various issues in every meeting where proposed views were passed at the end of every meeting.

There are several aspects that contributed to the success of this team. To start with, the team goals were clearly defined. I strongly believe that this is one of the basic components of research. Every group member must be aware of the team’s goals. This ensured that all the members are working towards the realization of similar goals.

In this team, members frequently communicated with each other. There were frequent consultations among the team members. This is another factor that contributed to the success of this team. Through interactions, the team members can exchange ideas with each other hence promoting their success.

Deductions from the Incidences

From these two incidences, I noticed that the way in which a certain team conducts its activities plays a significant role in determining its outcome. In our group, we managed our time well in such a way that we always gave a certain topic enough time to discuss. Our team leader also ensured that everybody got an opportunity to contribute their ideas to every meeting. In case somebody showed any objection at any point, my group leader was very keen to take the details on why somebody is opposing the idea. This triggered the generation and contribution of ideas by the team members. This played a significant role in promoting the performance of my team.

From these incidences, I realized that dull teams are also a factor that contributes to poor performance. The dull team acts by discouraging the members. Individuals lose motivation when working in a team that is not vibrant in conducting its activities. From this incidence, I learnt that I could significantly contribute to the performance of my team by making it more vibrant. Contrary to this, a top-performing team is characterized by a high desire to achieve great things together.

From these incidences, I noticed that teams have a higher level of flexibility on how they can use their resources. This is because a large number of people can easily raise the necessary tangible and intangible resources.

I also noticed that large groups are better off than the smaller ones. For instance, the larger groups are more diversified compared to the smaller ones. There is a wider range of skills in a larger team, and therefore the members can exchange a wider range of skills. Larger teams also have more member resources on which they can draw in carrying out their work (Wilfley 2000). On the other hand, small teams are only exposed to a limited number of skills, and therefore its members do not benefit from the diversity of the skills.

From the above incidences, I have discovered that most of the teams perform poorly because of the wrong focus by their leaders while designing the team’s functions or while supporting them. If the team leaders fail to come up with appropriate measures to support their teams, then there are high chances of these teams to fail. A team leader has the responsibility of providing a favourable environment for the group members to perform.

Discussion

From these incidences, I believe that through teamwork, it is easier to realize both collective and individual goals. I noticed that teams are exposed to more resources than when people are working individually. Teams also have diversified resources. Therefore, teams are able to realize their goals more effectively than individual performers. Consequently, I think the major issue for the team leaders is to optimize interdependence among the team members.

I think that putting like-minded people in the same teams is also dangerous to the performance of teamwork. It is advisable for the team leaders to integrate people in order to facilitate a diversity of opinions. When members in a certain group have diverse skills, they can easily exchange ideas with one another. This can also encourage group learning.

I believe that teams can significantly maintain a high level of performance if their leaders manage to perform their roles. From my point of view, teams can maintain a high level of performance if they concentrate on sustaining their respective teams. I should also emphasize the fact that leaders should refrain from continuously managing the member’s behaviour; they should rather focus on making adjustments that will help their teams to succeed.

I believe that it is an important aspect for the team leaders to also consider objections raised by the team members. Team leaders must consider the objections from the members as an opportunity rather than a factor to threaten the performance of the team. As a team leader, I believe that I should raise the issue to the group members so that they can debate on the best way forward. By so doing, the team members will have an opportunity to share some of their burning issues with the team members. As a team leader, I should follow the team members keenly with objections. This will help me to retrieve important information from such members by understanding why they raise objections and their suggestions.

From this observation, I can infer that the teams that work harmoniously with each other perform better than those teams that are in perpetual disagreements on minor issues that do not contribute to the group learning. This is because such teams do not waste time in unnecessary arguments. Therefore, team members can significantly help to improve the performance of an organization by ensuring that there is harmony among the group members.

Although teams can significantly improve their performance by working together harmoniously, it is also important to note that this can also be harmful to a team. For instance, when a team member does something good together, they will tend to feel satisfied and may fail to concentrate more on what they have not yet achieved. Therefore, it is always advisable for the team leaders to ensure that they pose challenges to the team members in order to ensure that the team members always remain vigilant in achieving their goals.

Analysis of Theoretical Concepts and Planning

There are several approaches that can be adopted in learning. One of the approaches that I think is very important to team learning is the Gestalt. The Gestalt group process integrates the principles as well as the practices of Gestalt therapy and group dynamics (Kepner 2011). This is a kind of group whose leaders pay more attention to the development of individuals in the group. The leaders are also equally determined to achieve the development of a group as a social system. In this system, an individual undergoes through a development process as they interact with others in the group. The processes in which different activities are conducted in an organization play a significant role in determining how people feel about themselves.

As people continue to participate in group activities over time, they develop a relationship and a social system that determines how they feel about each other in the group. Therapists or the leaders in this case have a major role in developing the group leaders in such a way that they learn from each other effectively. However, the emphasis is put on helping the members to know how they can take care of group and individuals.

This approach puts more emphasis on self development. By so doing, a team is able to meet the long term goals. Every individual in the system is treated in the same manner according to this system. This method also emphasizes personal growth and development. The participants receive feedback from one another. Therefore, there is a very good opportunity for the members to learn from one another.

Development refers to the process where the team leaders help the group members to develop their skills in performing a certain task. In this case, the main aim of the group leader is to facilitate learning among the group members.

The Tarvistock approach is a process to training or learning that emphasizes on learning of a small group. In this approach, more emphasis is put on the authority and leadership. Just like in the case of Gestalt group process, Tavi aims at promoting the performance of each member hence promoting the realization of organizational goals.

From my experience, I strongly believe that I have a major role to play in determining the success of any team. As the team leader, I have the power to maintain the identity of my team as a team and also to make it fall to the level of a group.

As a team leader, I believe that I have a critical role to promote continued existence of the team while preventing the tendency of the team to become complacent. This poses a major challenge because the two tends to oppose each other. Although team work is usually characterized by high level of innovation and inventions, it is important to note that the innovativeness of the team may deteriorate with time.

When the team members stay within a team for a long time, they become more familiar with each other (West 2004). Consequently, the team members will tend to accept each others’ faults naively. As a result, the level of performance of the team will eventually fall immensely. This raises a major challenge to the team leaders. The team leaders must be in a position to come up with measures to avoid monotony within their teams. For instance, they may consider group rotation where the members in various groups in a team are interchanged randomly. This will ensure a highly innovative team hence promoting the ability of the team to meet its goals.

I think for a team to eliminate homogeneity, it is necessary to have a deviant or a person who will stand out to challenge every course of action that raises concerns. Such environment will encourage creativity and learning among the members. Deviant members in the team open new ideas consequently giving other members an opportunity to contribute to the debate. However, this can only be achieved if the team leaders invite such opposition among the group members. Views of every member must therefore be considered in order to encourage them to raise them freely. Team leaders must develop positive attitude towards the contributions by the team members.

As a team leader, I can influence the team’s dynamics by reaping the benefits of coaching. I believe that the group’s coaching must be focused on the group’s processes. In connection to this, the group leader must be able to launch meeting in such a way that the team members become focused on what functions well and what does not in the team. Through coaching, the team leader can encourage the team members to develop a culture of always turning back and reflecting on the work that has been completed. I should analyze what has been done well and what has been done poorly.

This provides important information on how to improve the performance in the future. As a team leader, I am obliged with the responsibility of creating an environment where the team members will be motivated to work and helping each other in achieving their goals.

As a team leader, I can improve the performance of my team members by promoting communication. According to West (2004), communication is one of the main factors that play an important role in a team. I can achieve effective communication among the team members by providing a clear structure on how and when the team member needs consultation or clarification with other members. As a team leader, I am supposed to eliminate all barriers to communication that may threaten the success of the communication process.

Another tactic I would use to improve the performance of my team as the team leader is by clarifying the big picture or the major goal of the team. When the team members are aware of the team goals that they intend to fulfil, they will be more determined to realize these goals. This will promote the performance of the whole group. This is opposed to when the team members are working to realize their individual goals.

I also feel that it is important for me as a team leader to form a team with a common goal. As observed from the past case in a Peer Learning Group, some of the students were discouraged from the past cases where their teams had failed. Therefore, it is necessary to critically assess the potential members in order to project on possible reject.

I also conclude that the performance of a certain team is as well determined by its level of dynamism. In this case, the behavioural style of the team leader is the major factor that critically determines the performance of a team. I infer that it is necessary for a team leader to be authoritative rather than democratic. By being authoritative, he or she will be able to drive changes in a group in time, without necessarily wasting time. I believe that challenges are also an important aspect for any team to perform. When a team is faced with a challenge, members will be motivated and determined to work hard in order to meet these goals. Contrary to this, members who are not faced with challenges will have no incentive to contribute to create new ideas.

A top performing team should also have the quality of a Go Team; this is a team that is ever determined to achieve its success. In order to promote this aspect within their teams, I believe that the team leaders must have great communication skills. It is always necessary for the team leader to conduct homework in advance before attending any meetings with their team members. This will help the team leader to remain vibrant in these meetings hence promoting their performance. It is necessary to consider communicating individually with various stakeholders. By so doing, a team leader will be in a position to lead the team towards the achievement of organizational goals.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this discussion has clearly revealed that teams play a significant role in determining the performance of individual members. An effective team is the one whose members are ready to share with each other in order to realize their goals. In this case, the team leaders have a major role to play in order to achieve these goals. Group leaders must be in a position to lead with authority in order to influence the group members to direct their efforts towards the realization of organizational goals. The only secret of a top performing team lies on the ability of its members to learn from each other. I believe that any team can realize its goals by ensuring that it promotes interdependence among the members. This will result in an effective learning process.

Reference List

Kepner, E., 2011. Gestalt Group Process. Web.

West, M.A., 2004. Effective Teamwork: Practical Lessons from Organizational Research. Malden, Wiley-Blackwell.

Wilfley, D.E., 2000. Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Group. New York, Basic Books.