Part 1: Group Development
The five-stage group-development model consists of: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. (Robbins 275)
1. Forming stage. In this first stage, the team is getting to know each other, their backgrounds, work experience, and learning about their strengths and weaknesses. Informal leaders may start to emerge during this stage, and it’s important for management to recognize them. They are getting oriented with their surroundings as well as details about the task at hand. Management should be setting the stage for success by setting roles and responsibilities, providing instruction, guidance, expectations and structure. (Gervais 2014) 2. Storming stage. At this stage, personalities start to come out (good and bad), group norms and/or cliques begin to form, and conflict between one or more of the members occurs. Management must address deviant behavior(s), misunderstandings, gossip/backtalk, etc and encourage communication, trust, and respect for each other.
3. Norming stage. At this point, team members are conforming, getting along, supporting each other, and behaving in line with accepted and established group norms (such as showing up on time, contributing to the group effort, not speaking over each other, etc). 4. Performing stage. At this stage, the team members’ efforts should be synchronized, cohesive and should be functioning well while performing their project tasks. Management’s goal is to keep them motivated, committed, and adaptable to change – encouraging an optimal environment of cooperation and collaboration. Hopefully, the group is making effective and informed decisions, and moving towards successful planning and execution of the project.
5. Adjourning stage. In this last stage of group development, the team members are have either successfully completed their task(s) or the end of project has been reached (as defined by the customer or management). Hopefully they feel satisfied about their accomplishments, and they can walk away with new professional/personal friendships. Management need to capture any lessons learned, record new processes, and complete all close out actions. In the case study, the group is still stuck in the FORMING stage. Candidates for the development team have been submitted and there’s no indication in the case study that any decision has been made.
These three (3) large organizations have a common goal and willing to put forth a lot of effort and resources but are faced with obstacles: 1) Washington D.C. public school system consisting of educational administrators and teachers who want to “ensure the new jobs will be unionized and will operate in a way consistent with current school board policies. They are very concerned that if Woodson assumes too dominant a role, the school board won’t be able to control the operations of the new system.” (Robbins 629)
2) Woodson Foundation, the large non-profit social service agency who prides themselves on their focus on using hard data to measure performance for all their initiatives (which is not at all consistent with the school district culture). (Robbins 629) 3) National Coalition for Parental Involvement in Education (NCPIE) who are “acting on behalf of the PTA” and “driven by a mission to increase parental control.” They are “strongly committed to celebrating diversity along racial, gender, ethnic, and disability status categories. Its members are most interested in the process by which changes are made, ensuring everyone has the ability to weigh in.” (Robbins 629-630)
Although the issues have been identified and the objective is clear, it doesn’t appear that any of the recommended personnel from those above-listed organizations have been selected for assignment:
1) To create an experimental after-school program that will operating plan for improving school performance.
2) To be financially self-sufficient, drawing on resources from the Foundation (logistical support, program development and measurement staff) and the school district (classrooms and teaching staff).
The HR reps from each of the vested organizations need to be conscious of how to put together a highly effective team. When considering personnel from their candidate pool, they must research and evaluate their skills, knowledge, experience and personalities. The HR reps should be searching for team members who want to be part of this effort, have great intellect, and have successful experience working serving customers in a diverse environment. Along with technical knowledge, the team members must have leadership traits such as trustworthiness, communication, good interpersonal/people skills, know how to use resources wisely, be able to problem-solve as well as be decisive. They should also be conscientious of how the other members, open-minded and flexible in case the team has to adjust their course of action due to unforeseen changes. (Robbins 325)
By understanding each of the development stages, the HR reps would spend their time and efforts finding the right person for this complicated and high visibility task. It’s imperative that the management choose the right folks who will work well together, maintain a positive attitude, make valuable contributions to the project, and be committed to accomplishing the team’s goals while balancing the expectations of each of their parent organizations. They must be able to actively collaborate and work together with minimal conflict. (Robbins 325) Part 2: Problem Identification
One of the key problems in this case study is a struggle for power because of competing interests. Below describes the individual organization interests: 1) The school district wants unionization of all new positions plus operational control of how the after-school program is run in order to remain standardized with current School Board policies even during after-school hours. They are already strapped for funds and don’t want any existing jobs in other school districts to be reallocated to this effort. 2) The Woodson Foundation methodology is based on collecting hard data when measuring performance.
Unless the school district can be persuaded that this way of measuring success is the most optimal and objective method, it is sure to be a point of contention. Another problem is perceptions. Because they are predominantly caucasian-staffed, the perception is that they aren’t aware or won’t be sensitive to the demographic concerns of that area. 3) The NCPIE’s makeup matches the student demographic, and its #1 mission is to increase parental control of educational methods. They want a more active role in seeing that diversity is embedded into this new program.
Identify what the organization should have understood about individual membership in teams in order to have built group processes that were supportive of her groups’ goals. As stated earlier, finding the right persons for the to be part of a cohesive and effective team takes research, skill and foresight. Candidates need to be evaluated not only for their technical skills and knowledge but also for their experience working on high visibility projects, interpersonal skills, and professional attitude. Potential team members should want to be part of this effort, have great intellect, and have successful experience working serving customers in a diverse environment.
Their leadership traits (i.e. trustworthiness, communication, good people and problem-solving skills, wise use of resources, and decisiveness) are ultra important, and they should also be focused, patient, open-minded and adaptable to change. (Robbins 325) Implementing changes and getting full buy-in from the senior leaders of all three large organizations will be very challenging so it’s important that those leaders provide clear, understandable, and achievable goals and objectives. Milestones and measures of success should be established and published.
Having spearheaded the effort, Ms. Adams should be assigned the team leader and given management’s support (i.e. resources). Given the latitude to choose her best cross-functional team, she should look at each member’s past experience but evaluate them on their potential to work together effectively and efficiently. Being aware of how her team members will interact while progressing through the stages of group development, will help deal with any issues or conflicts, keep them focused on the task(s), and ensure that they accomplish their mission.
Part 3: Retrospective Evaluation
Since I have no back ground in creating, reformatting and/or even administrating educational programs, I believe that the two possible solutions refer to the types of teams that Ms. Adams should put together are 1) problem-solving team, or a 2) cross-functional team: 1) Problem-Solving team. These types of teams are typically used to discuss ways of improving quality, efficiency, and the work environment. (Robbins 310). We know that the purpose of Ms. Adams’ team isn’t to implement anything but to come up with a plan to create an after-school program that will address each of the following problems: truancy, low student performance, crime, high staff/teacher turnover due to teacher burnout.
Unless each of those large organizations are willing to dedicate the candidates’ time and salaries away to this project 100% of the time, it’s realistic that the development team members can only work on their plan a few hours per week. Pros: 1) focused effort on addressing each of those above-mentioned problems; 2) team members don’t lose much time away from their normal paying jobs; and 3) team members aren’t overwhelmed by complexity of the problems and can address each in manageable ‘chunks’. Cons: 1) since there isn’t total dedication to this effort, it will take a long time to achieve end result; and 2) increased opportunity for distractions. (Robbins 311)
2) Cross-Functional team. Ms. Adams selects team members who are at the same hierarchal level in their respective organizations who are trained and skilled in the various areas needed for this project. As mentioned previously, selectees should be intelligent, professional, decisive, and know how to work as a team. Pros due to wide range of combined experience: 1) increased information sharing; 2) possible more ‘out of the box’ thinkers to brainstorm; 3) lessons learned from team members who have worked on other complex projects. Cons: 1) longer time spent getting to know each other in the FORMING stage with a great chance of conflicts in the STORMING stage; 2) takes longer to build trust and teamwork in one another. (Robbins 311-312)
Personally, I would choose the cross-functional team format but add some ‘virtual-ness’ to the group. I have worked on many cross-functional teams and they’ve all been successful. As long as there is one designated leader (designated by senior leadership) there should be no power struggle. Senior management’s vision, mission, goals and objectives should already be set, but the team can decide on milestone/product deliverable due dates to management for preview or approval. Selecting fellow department leads who had experience working in groups on large projects resulted in motivated team players with lots of experience to share and lessons learned to build upon. They were mostly supervisors, foremen and/or leads in their sections, and each were the best in their shops/departments. Senior management made sure that we knew and understood their vision for where we needed to end up and what they expected our final deliverable to be. They even went back to their departments and enlisted fellow employees to accomplish congruent tasks associated with our project – resulting in us saving time, shared resources and effort.
Admittedly, we wasted time and brain cells during the STORMING stage because of personality conflicts, egos and an ensuing power struggle. Not until our Site Manager stepped in to give our group leader 100% support did those egotistical managers cease micromanaging and leave the task to their rightly assigned designees.
Part 4: Reflection
What would you advise as a strategy for managing diversity issues for program leaders? In this worldwide global marketplace where the sky is no longer the limit, managing diversity in the workplace is not always as easy as it seems. With many eyes watching and evaluating a leader’s works, mannerisms, behavior, language, sensitivities (or lack thereof), etc we really need to ‘think before we act.’ There is no cookie-cutter way of treating others. We cannot safely interact with others (professionally or personally) based upon stereotypes. Treat everyone fairly, don’t make hasty judgements without all the facts, ask for people’s opinions, and definitely watch your english (many meanings for the same english word) because the person on the other end may misunderstand you.
There’s an old adage: “Treat others like you want to be treated.” Not everyone is like me…everyone is different…no two people are alike. Thus, my challenge to all is: “Treat others like they want to be treated.” Leaders must get to know the other members of their teams – up and down and across the ladder. How else will they know how THEY want to be treated?
Robbins, Stephen P., Timothy Judge. Organizational Behavior, 15th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 01/2012. VitalBook file.
Gervais, Marie, PhD., CTDP (Dec 14, 2014), “5 Stages in Successfully Managing Team Development” Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ 20141204051716-43882159-5-stages-in-successfully-managing-team-development? trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A850054271426902734546%2CVSRPtargetId