The assignment is according to the situation and study from lectures and team work during the course of human resource management. At the beginning of my assignment, it is essential to introduce our team. Our group consists of 1 Ukrainian, 1 Indian, 1 Angolan and 4 Chinese (include me). In this assignment, these team members will be referred to as A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The first part of the essay is focused on the team roles and personal characters. The second part of the essay investigates leadership observed in our team.
Team roles and personalities in our group Cole (2002) defines a role as “the set of expectations held by the individuals concerned and those about them concerning how a job or task is to be performed”. Belbin (1993, 2001) has researched into team roles originally, and he identified 9 team roles. The team members play some roles which are described as follows.
The specialist: In our team, I (person A) played the role as a specialist. Belbin (op.cit.) represents the specialist as “strength lies in being a dedicated and focused individual who likes to learn and constantly build his or her knowledge. The specialist likes to dig deep and is therefore a good resource who can contribute information and knowledge in a team situation”.
Usually I would like to give my colleagues’ opinions. Also during a discussion of our team, I was single minded and self-starting. When our team could not conclude or reach a decision to a task given I often gave my distinctive idea without considering other members’ notions. My social knowledge and work experience seemed to be my strength. However, I could only contribute to our team in a narrow way and may not have seen whole things. This was my weakness could be discovered during our team work.
The shaper Member B in our team performed the role of shaper. Belbin (op.cit.) represents the shaper as “their strength lies in being goal directed. The shaper is a dynamic individual who badly challenges others during discussion, can handle work pressures and has the courage to overcome obstacles”. Nevertheless, shaper is provocative and hurt other members’ feeling. Member B always started to get the team discussed and often said “first like …”, “let’s start with …” or “Okay, so what should we do is …” when no one else spoke. His performance was consistent with Belbin’s (op.cit.) representation of a shaper who guides and encourages team members to overcome difficulties. Belbin (op.cit.) also convinces us that shaper can be a good manager. The manager/shaper role was really needed in our team.
Team worker Members C, D and E in our team performed the roles of team worker. As Belbin (op.cit.) describes the team worker “They often listen and support other members, they give suggestion and improve communication”. However, their own ideas easily be influenced by other members. Members C and D would always keep silence at the beginning of a discussion. Meanwhile, they often listened to other different opinions and took these ideas into their consideration. Then they evaluated in a diplomatic way. On the other hand, member E did not contribute much to our team. She often kept silence during a whole group meeting and avoided conflict.
Plant Member F played the role of plant in our team. Belbin (op.cit.) describes the plant as “creative members of the group, they introduce new ideas and strategies to the discussion, especially regarding important issues”. However, they do not regard of details and etiquette. Person F often interrupted other members’ conversation and pointed out directly who was right and who was wrong, though he always put forward innovative ideas. But sometimes, we were suddenly enlightened by his innovative opinions.
Monitor evaluator Member G performed of monitor evaluator in our team. As Belbin (op.cit.) defines it “discernment, constructive criticism, strategic thinking”. Person G was a logical thinker. He always analyzed problems, opinions and suggestions. He would like collect different points of view and help or team to make balanced decision. Yet he liked to criticize other members. Therefore, he did not give encouragement to colleagues.
Summary of our team roles Because our team only had seven members, not every role could be performed. As a matter of fact, some of us had to play two roles or three or more occasionally. According to Adair (1986), no matter which role who performs, individual contributions can be seen. Overall strengths of team and areas of weakness have been embodied in group work adequately. Unfortunately, due to less group members, 4 roles described by Belbin such as resource investigator, co-ordinator, implementer and completer finisher have not been well reflected.
Appendix1: Belbin’s Team roles
Conflict in our team Conflict is defined by Wilmot and Hocker (2007, p9) as “an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals”. Many people try their best to avoid conflict, but conflict is an unavoidable factor in team work. The main causes of conflict in our team might have been the different cultures and personal attitudes. For example, the teacher required all students to have a meeting at a weekend in order to prepare for a performance. Most of our members did their best to discuss and practise outside the class, but one member D did not come. To solve the conflict was not easy due to the teacher did not force us to do so and we did not work at a company. Person D would not be punished by the teacher or the manager.
A feasible solution was communication. We exchanged our views and asked individual favorite hobbies. As a result, we built a strong relationship between all the members. Otherwise, we did our performance very well. Therefore, according to the conflict mode instrument of Thomas and Kilmann (1974), we made use of “collaborating” method which is defined as “an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns which means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals”. We could not do our performance well if we did not solve the conflict.
Reflecting on the cultural make up of the group – this is very likely to have led a significant effect on how we managed conflict issues. Hofstede (1980) in his major research describes “determines the identity of a human group in the same way as personality determines the identity of an individual” (p.26). Due to the society is composed of different nations and cultures, it is normal for people to have conflict. Because of the conflict, people can have chances to exchange, understand and learn from each other which can help us solve many problems and promote human civilization. In other words, these different nations and cultures are managing our world.
What is leadership? Leadership has been written about by many people, but it is complicated to define. It can be defined as several important features and specific abilities of a person who has some followers to guide a team successfully towards a task (Adair, 1987:116). Leader is a people who always pay attention to the result for meeting the ultimate demand and organizes all the followers or members to work as a group (Hooper & Potter, 1997:79). According to Mintzberg (1973), leadership may not be confined to one people, but it can be shared with other members. The leader always exercises influence on members and the team.
Leadership in our team At the beginning, there was no fixed leader in our team, but each member had the chance to be a leader. Generally, every member contributed their own ideas and the leader made the final decision. However, we were not satisfied with different leader during every meeting or group work, due to different people has different ideas and visions of a same event. As mentioned above, a leader should influence the team towards the group goals (Adair, 1987). Therefore, a good leader should not have his own supposition. Moreover, we did not need different guide lines and styles for each team work. It is a waste of time adapting to different leaders.
What should leaders do? Based on the mentioned above and my experience in the team work, leaders should have particular distinction to make them powerful and drive the whole team. It is essential for a leader to know what exactly the goal is (Hooper & Potter 1997:83). Members are not agreeable to follow a person who does not realize the guide lines. If a team faces a complex problem and the leader spent a lot of time on thinking hesitantly about how to do, that leader gave a vague way to the team and absolutely could not have time to understand what the goal is. Satisfactory outcomes could be made by the leaders who have positive characteristics (Adair, 1987:117). Citing an example, if the leaders were enthusiastic, the followers would know the aim clearly and could realize what they should do firstly. However, every leader has their areas of expertise, but not all areas. Consequently, leader should know the awareness of themselves including the team’s. Meanwhile, good communication and co-ordination skill is required (Goleman, D. 1998). That is the reason our team need a fixed leader.
What should leaders not do? Leaders and teams need to avoid some elements as well (Adair, 1987:122). Firstly, leaders should not be tyrannical and overbearing which can make members feel fear and submission. The leader in our team who often ignored other members’ opinions made members unwilling to share their ideas. Secondly, leaders should not commission other workers instead of team. Such leaders often doubt members’ ability which can cause the team to be disunited and less efficient.
What makes effective team work? An effective team work includes good communication, trust and understanding each other and less conflict. First of all, team members should prepare for reverse cultural shock during teamwork. Before members can organise a team they must understand the differences between each other, as well as introduce themselves and communicate to avoid misconception. It requires a point of view to understand another culture (Gibson, J. L., Ivancevich, J. M., & Donnelly, J. H., Jr.1997). Besides, a team needs a system of honest communication, open and trust. Team members should feel free and express their opinions in a relaxed way during their discussion, whereas there are some language barriers.
In addition, only by overcoming cultural problems can we build relationship with each other. The different cultures should not be the barrier of team communication. Team members can expand relationship not only during teamwork but also outside the team work. The common goal is to concern about similarities rather than the problem of differences (Kreitner, R., and Kinicki, A. 1998). I encountered a misunderstanding which was caused by cultural differences and realized that I should be aware of other people particularly their cultures to overcome the issue. A team uses different ways to build relationship among team members which could make a team more effective and smooth.
Conclusion Last term, I have leant great knowledge from human resource management, not only in theory but also in practice. Firstly, from the beginning, we did not have a fixed leader, later we had a satisfactory leader. It is well known to us that all the team need a proper leader who has clear objectives and distinctive characteristics, can motivate members and run the whole team efficiently. Secondly, understanding of cultural differences and personality and avoiding misunderstanding become our consensus.
To conclude, a lot of work could not be accomplished by individual, but could be via team work, particularly highly efficient team work. There are several interesting problems remained to be solved - how can a group become an efficient team, how do the leaders guide the team, communicate and coordinate the team members. Consequently, human resource management will be researched and discussed continually.