Personal Essay Assignment # 1
One of core skills, which is critical for a person, who would like to get a notion about the way to work effectively is teamwork. According to D. Torrington, L. Hall, and S.Taylor (2005), teamwork is most often perceived as a tool of empowering employees and facilitating the development of their potential, aimed at enhancing organizational performance (279).. People, who work in team can not only develop more comprehensive and multidimensional ideas, but help each others to implement them in real projects. However, teamwork is not always fruitful due to the fact that team members’ inability to distribute the roles, be engaged in the performance of the team and resolving dispute effectively and quickly. To avoid such a situation, each person, who appreciates becoming able to work in a team, should be aware of the way he/she acts within the team. Therefore, this essay will address different dimensions of my team memberships, putting special emphasis on my strengths, preferences, abilities and personality traits. I will use my personal team membership experiences to exemplify my statements. Furthermore, before starting the analysis itself, I will make an insight into theoretical concepts under study. Among them I would like to stress such important theoretical notions as learning style, dominant conflict management style, preferred style of leadership and the role in terms of the group. The last part of the essay will be dedicated to the implications of abovementioned peculiarities of my perception of teamwork related to its effectiveness. Concluding I will summarize key points of my analysis and reflect on the lessons I learnt from it.
This section of my essay will be dedicated to the analysis of different dimensions of my team membership: my strengths, preferences, abilities and personality traits. The subsections will address my learning style, dominant conflict management style and reactions to possible dissonances, the leadership style I prefer and the role I tend to play within the group. My personal teamwork experiences will be used to exemplify the statements I will make.
Different learning styles can be researched into with the help of The Kolb Learning style Inventory. This assessment consists of 12 questions, which are aimed at addressing the ways we learn best and the tools we prefer by learning. The inventory has such options as learning from concrete experience (feeling), reflective observation (watching), abstract conceptualization (thinking) and active experimentation (doing). Despite the fact that each person has his/her dominant learning style, majority of people learns from combining different learning styles. After having completed the assessment, I found out that my dominant learning style refers to learning from concrete experiences and active doing. According to the definitions, provided by Kolb (2007), concrete experiences refer to learning from some specific experiences related to perceiving feelings of other people, whereas active experimentation is connected with doing something by yourself and the ability to get things done, take some risks and exert an influence on both people and events through action. The combination of the learning styles I use is quite a wide-spread one. It is often called accommodating learning style. As it is mentioned in Kolb (2007), accommodating learning style is connected with such preferences as usage of intuition, goal setting, field work and applying different methods to the task.
The best example to prove that I really use accommodating learning style stems from my school experience. It was always easier for me to understand different chemical reactions if I worked in the lab, conducting I, than if I read about it in the book. Moreover, it was always more beneficial for me to work in a group to be able to discuss different approaches to the task.
Dominant conflict management style
Teamwork can hardly be imagined without any conflicts. Absence of conflicts can sometimes be associated with some negative factors, such as team members’ ignorance with respect to the topic. According to John R. Schermerhorn (2011), there are five basic conflict management styles, which are namely accommodation (smoothing), collaboration (problem-solving), avoidance (withdrawal), competition (authoritative command) and compromise (353). The avoidance style refers to ignoring or even denying issues; a person, who uses accommodation style, tries to play down the conflict and help the parties reconcile; collaboration is mostly about looking for a solution; competitions is connected with applying efforts to impose one’s will to another party. Finally, compromise is associated with bargaining for gains and losses for each of the parties.
After having speculated on my teamwork experience, I found out that my dominant conflict management styles is the accommodation. There are two bright manifestations of my smoothing conflict management style. First of all, if there is a conflict within the group, I always try to communicate both parties and bring them closer to negotiations and elaborating on a decision, which will satisfy both. Secondly, if I know that my opinion is highly different from the opinions, which are spread within the group, and is not likely to be appreciated by other members of the team, I always try to avoid expressing it and follow the way the group considers to be the right one.
I would like to mention that I realize that sometimes it is not good enough not to express one’s point of view, so, if the issue is critical for me, I always make an attempt to address it. When I am addressing such kind of issues, I try to avoid stiffness and use as many arguments as I can to substantiate my concern.
Dominant reactions of dissonance
Dissonance is a term, which was borrowed from music by a variety of scientific disciplines. The source of dissonance is most often associated with the mismatch in expectations. Dissonances are most often associated with people’s being unpleased with the roles they play within the group as they expected that they will get other roles. In management in general and in teamwork studies specifically we can find the background for two major styles of reaction to dissonance. There are the dependence and fight-flight style. The dependence style is characteristic for people, who tend to blame other members in the group for the dissonance they experience. In case of fight-flight style, the “fight” part means that the dissonance results in a real conflict in the group, whereas the “flight” party means that people do not try to communicate issues and resolve the dispute, but try to avoid it. Sometimes people also apply pairing style, which means that several team members create small subgroups to complete the tasks.
The manifestation of my tendency towards dependence became apparent at school. If we had to answer all together I always waited for my classmates to say something even if I was aware about the answer. If we discussed something, I did not express my opinion, but waited for the group to form some opinion and supported it afterwards.
Preferred leadership style
There are lots of theories related to leadership and related styles. The style the leader chooses is dependent on personal traits of the leader, his/her experiences and the relationships between the leader and the group. Most often four basic styles are singled out. They are directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. The directing style is associated with providing group members with the task and basic directions, and waiting for the group to complete the task; the coaching style is about high task and high level of relationships between the leader and the group; supporting style is about focusing on the relationships rather than high tasks, and the delegation is most often connected with delegating not sophisticated tasks to other people without providing them with guidance.
Despite the have that I have never led a group, I am confident that my leadership style is supportive. This statement can be supported by the fact that I always emphasize relationships and try to help other people, who are completing some tasks. For instance, I always helped the members of my group to complete their tasks if we lacked time before the deadline to submit some papers.
View of the role within the group
One of most important features, which help the group to differ from just a set of individuals, is cooperation. Cooperation is most often a benefit, except for cases, when only one person expresses his/her point of view, whereas other people prefer to stay silent. Cooperation, which turns into over-conformity, is likely to exert negative influence on decision-making within the group.
My role in the group is cooperative. I always try to join my team members in their work and support them. For instance, in case we have some group activities in the classroom, we prepare the presentation altogether and take turns to present our ideas.
After having analyzed my strengths, preferences, abilities and personality traits against the background of team membership, emphasizing my learning style, dominant reactions to dissonance, preferred leadership style and my perception of my role within the group, and reflected on my previous teamwork-related experiences, I came to a conclusion that my main strength in the context of teamwork relates to being able to cooperate with my group members, support them and help them to avoid conflicts or address misunderstanding, which cannot be avoided. Moreover, after having assessed my learning style with the help of Kolb Learning Style Inventory, I understood that I have another important strength, which refers to the fact that I am able to work together with others to get the task completed. To my mind, such a feature is valuable in terms of teamwork.
Despite the fact that I already have some important strengths, which are likely to be of great use for me in my future teamwork, I cannot help mentioning some things I can do to enhance my teamwork skills. First of all, I need to become more cooperative and get rid of a habit of waiting for group members to say something, so that I can just agree. Moreover, I should avoid being silent while the tasks are being allocated to team members by the team leader to get the tasks I really want to do instead of the ones I tend to get after all the interesting and exciting things are already allocated to other members of the group. Doing all the abovementioned things will help me feel more active and involved into the activities of the group. In addition I feel that I should have more trust to my team, so that I do not feel afraid of sharing my opinions and concerns with them.
Concluding, I would like to state that the assignment helped me to learn new things about my personal teamwork-related peculiarities through studying theoretical data and reflecting on my personal experiences. From the assignment I learnt that I learn using concrete experiences and experimenting, prefer to accommodate in case a conflict arises, my dominant reaction to dissonance is dependence, my preferred leadership style is supportive, and my role in the team is cooperative.
The most important lesson I learnt from the assignment is related to the fact that I still should apply efforts to enhance my teamwork skills, despite the fact that I am a cooperative, accommodating and supportive group member. I hope that I will be able to succeed in taking steps to better teamwork.
Kolb, D. A. (2007). Kolb learning style inventory.(3.1 ed.).Hay Group Transforming Learning.
Schermerhorn, J. R. (2011). Exploring management. NY: John Wiley&Sons
Torrington, D., Hall, L., Taylor, S. (2005). Human Resource Management. Harlow: Pearson Education