Section 2 Managing Teams

By Danielle Ellis,2014-05-27 12:46
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Section 2 Managing Teams


Managing a Team

    Managing a team

    Managing a team

    In this section we are going to look at managing teams. The radio station as a whole is a team, and within it, each structure, sub group, committee or department is a team.

    The ability to help a group of people to become a team that works well together, to achieve a task, is a key leadership skill.

By the end of this section you will be able to:

    ; Identify the characteristics of a good team

    ; Identify the different roles that people play within a team

    ; Recognise the stages of development of a team and

    ; Decide how a leader can help a group to develop quickly into a

    functioning team.


    Managing a team

    Activity 1: Reflecting on Teams

    Groups are not automatically teams. When a group of people come together to do work around a common aim, they are starting the journey towards becoming a team.

    In your radio stations, you probably have many groups.

    Individual work (15 min)

    List some of the groups you have at your station. What is the function of each group?

    Group Function

    Do you think that they all work well as teams? Why do you say that?


    Managing a team

    Group discussion (20 min):

    Discuss these questions in your groups. You will be asked to report back on

    these two questions:

    What is a team? Write up a definition of a team.

What makes a team effective?


    Managing a team

    What is a team?

    The work ‘team’ is used to mean a group of people who consciously depend on each other to achieve a task together. The basic work unit in most situations is a team, but many of us are also part of teams outside of the work situation. People in teams are inter-dependent. They need each other to achieve the task of the team.

    Not all teams have a formal leader. Where there is a leader, s/he depends on the group to get the task done.

For a group to become a team they need to agree on:

    ; The common purpose or task that they have

    ; Who the members are

    ; How long the team will last

The team members also need to understand that

    ; They depend on each other.

    ; They need to work together to reach their goal.


    Managing a team

    Activity 2: The squares game

    In the squares game, you looked at your own and other people’s contribution to the work of the team.

    ; What did this teach you about the way you operate in a team?

    ; In what way is the game like real life at the radio station?

    ; How could playing this game help to improve the team work at your



    Managing a team

    Every Team Member Is Important

    In the squares game the task was designed in such a way that you could only solve the puzzle when the team members worked together.

    In teamwork, people play many different roles.

    For example:

    ; Focusing on the task and the best ways to solve it

    ; Come up with creative ideas for others to try out

    ; Focusing on the people and making sure that they feel part of the group

    ; Looking around for resources that might help the group

    ; Doing the work and making sure that it is finished off well

    ; Co-ordinating the work of the people in the team

The contribution of each member is important. The mix of skills and

    personalities is what enriches the team.

    As a leader, it is important that you recognise what each individual brings to the group, and that your encourage them to contribute and to keep on developing their skills.


    Managing a team

    Activity 3: Group Development

    In the same way that people grow through different stages, groups go through stages too. To become a team, a group has to go through common stages of development:







    When a group is formed, people usually start off by meeting together and trying to work out what they are supposed to be doing. In the first few meetings, they spend a lot of time trying to understand the purpose of the group. They try to reach agreement about the work that the group will do and the structures that are needed. Sometimes, if there is no leader assigned to the group, the group needs to decide who the leaders are.

    This stage of development is completed when the people in the group start to think of themselves as part of the group. The group has a clearer idea of its goals and aims.

    A group of women’s organisations in Johannesburg decided to get together to

    challenge the way the media talked about women. The women had a number

    of criticisms. They felt that newspaper reports took men far more seriously

    than women. Stories about women seem to focus on what the women wore,

    and their looks and not on their achievements.

    They had noticed that newspapers often talked about rape in a way which

    showed the women as having caused the rape. They also noticed that many

    newspapers made a huge fuss when a white woman was raped, but that the

    rape of a black woman was not seen as newsworthy.

    When the group first met, there were many discussions about what the group

    should do. Should they target the media themselves? Or should they try to get

    the Commission for Gender Equality to focus on the media? Should they work

    with other media monitoring groups, or was it more important to get more

    women’s groups involved? Should they focus on the print media only, or


    Managing a team

    perhaps on radio?

    The first few meetings were very chaotic. Everyone spoke at the same time, and no one really seemed clear what they meetings were trying to achieve. There was a lot of shouting and arguing.

     After a while, a number of leaders started to emerge. Suraya was an older activist who was often quoted in the press when there were stories about sexual harassment. She had thought a lot about the issues, and was able to help steer the discussion and give direction. Baleka was a trainer at work, and she was very good at facilitating discussion. Although she seldom gave her

    own ideas, meetings were much more productive when she was there.


    This is a phase of intense interpersonal conflict in the group, with people

    resisting the limits that being part of the group impose on them. There are also

    conflicts about who will control the group. By the end of this phase, a clear

    hierarchy of leadership has usually emerged.

    While Suraya and Baleka were able to give leadership in different ways, there were other influential people in the group. Thembi came from a

    national women’s organisation and was able to inspire people and get them fired up. She wanted the group to picket the offices of newspapers and radio stations that had run unacceptable stories. She had some support, but some people resented her style: she would walk into a

    meeting late, make provocative statements and get everyone fired up, and then leave early because she was so busy. Even so, she was very influential. Suraya and Thembi often clashed, and Baleka tried to mediate between them. After a while people got tired of Thembi’s destructive approach. She was asked to either come to the whole meeting, or not to come at all. She left the group.

    The conflicts in the group were not just between strong individuals. After the group was formally launched, there were a number of embarrassing situations where members of the group gave public statements which contradicted each other. For example, one group of people felt strongly that pornography should be banned as it harmed women and children.

    Another group felt that it was important that we preserve freedom of expression in South Africa. There were a number of tense meetings with people blaming each other for things that were reported in the press.

    To resolve these problems, the group nominated a couple of

    spokespeople who were authorised to make public statements and they held a workshop to clarify some of the issues around which they clashed.


    Managing a team


    The members of the group develop close relationships and group cohesion develops. The group has a sense of unity and of working together. A clear structure emerges, and the group develops norms.

    Norms are standards of behaviour, which are accepted within the group. Each organisation and group develops its own norms.

    Norms develop in number of ways:

    1. When a group member suggests a norm (e.g. ‘Let’s switch off cellphones

    during meetings.”);

    2. As a result of a critical event in the group’s history (e.g. When a group

    has problems with a member making embarrassing statements to the

    press, then the group develops guidelines about talking to the press);

    3. As a result of behaviour patterns that are established when the group

    first starts meeting (e.g. in a class or group, you will see that people

    tend to sit in the same places that they chose the first day); and

    4. Norms that are carried over from previous situations. (Group members

    bring norms with them from past experiences.)

    Usually a group will only develop norms that are important to the group’s survival. Norms make it easier for the group members to know what to expect from each other. They are useful to stop conflicts. They often reflect the values of the group.


    Once the group has moved through the previous stages, it can focus on getting on with the task. All the group’s energy goes into working at the task and things

    proceed smoothly. There is far less fighting and arguing.

    These stages happen in all groups. Examples of groups include:

    ; A discussion group in a workshop

    ; A group of people organising a fund-raising event


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