Team Collaboration Techniques Frank Houston SOC/110 February 25, 2010 Mark Mack Team Collaboration Techniques When working on a team, the importance of collaborating with one another is high. The lack of collaboration can affect a team and it is dynamic in a negative way. Many steps and techniques can aid collaboration. Technology and computer-meditated collaboration are some of the most commonly used; however, technology can, at times, be more of a challenge than an aid. Exploring all forms of collaboration is a good idea.
Collaboration will increase team success and help the experience maintain positive. Elements of a Collaborative Team A collaborative team is one in which team members’ work together to reach a predetermined goal. An effective collaborative team should schedule meetings on a regular basis. These meetings have five key elements. The elements of a collaborative team meeting are an agenda, roles of the team members, meeting content, team decisions, and note taking. Each of these elements is important to the success and collaboration of the team.
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An agenda is a list of ideas that need addressing at the team meeting. Usually, the team leader lists all the items or ideas that need discussing. “Time limits should be assigned to each item, so that there is a realistic expectation about what can be accomplished” (Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, 1999, p. unk). An agenda’s purpose is to keep the team on track so that the team can eventually reach its predetermined goal of completion. Each team member has a role in a collaborative team. The purpose of roles is to distribute evenly the work that needs to be accomplished.
For example, one team member is the leader. Another team member is the timekeeper. Each of these roles has a purpose and is necessary for the collaboration of the team. The meeting content is also important in a collaboration team. Meeting content is the “bread and butter” of the meeting. The content is the information that fills the meeting. For example, when attending a meeting about the previous month’s production and current month’s projected production, the team will discuss what worked for them in the previous month and what did not work for them.
This discussion is the meeting content and what each team member gains from the knowledge communicated. Team decisions are decisions that the team make and agree upon. Team decisions can be anything from when the next meeting is held to what the next steps for completion of the team project is. This element of the team meeting is important to fostering a good team environment and to ensure that all team members agree or are “on the same page. ” Note taking is another important element of the team meeting. Some teams have one specified note taker and other teams may want all team members to take notes.
The purpose of note taking is to record the team’s actions and to help keep the team on track. The notes taken are a good tool to refer bank to team decisions made in previous meetings. Techniques and Technology A group of people coming together as one to complete a project or accomplish a goal is always a challenge. The setting makes no difference; it can be at work, school, or even at home. One of the most common challenges is not being able to collaborate with one another. To overcome this challenge, applying techniques can facilitate collaboration. The first technique that should be applied is objectivity.
If everyone in the team knows from day one what the objectives are, team members can arrive at these objectives successfully. Organization is important because many people have different thoughts and ideas. Organizing the team by assigning different parts of the project to each member, scheduling team meetings and due dates will help to keep the team organized so that meetings run smoothly. Active listening is another technique that is crucial to the team environment. The reason for this is that people in a group need to know that everyone’s thoughts and ideas are up for consideration.
For example, if one team member is giving ideas and everyone else either doesn’t care or is just not listening; that team member may just stop offering his or her ideas, which ends up affecting the final goal or objective. Communication is also a common technique used to facilitate collaboration. “Mixed-motive conflict management functions that require negotiation, coordination, and collaboration are also best accomplished through face-to-face communication” (McGrath & Hollingshead, 1994). For groups who have to communicate virtually, technologies can help with collaboration.
E-mail is probably the most commonly used one. By using e-mail people can communicate from all over the world. Using a web cam to communicate is face-to-face communication; however it is still communicating by using a form of technology. Using a web cam to communicate can help collaboration because it allows people from the group to have verbal conversation over long distances. Web cams allow each team member to communicate nonverbally as well, by seeing each other’s facial expressions. Computer Mediated Collaboration
Another form of communicating is by using computer-mediated collaboration. Computer mediated communication occurs by instant messaging, text, video teleconferencing, and computer conferencing. With these methods of communicating, teams have the luxury of meeting classmates from the comfort of their home, library, coffee shop, or workplace. This eliminates the unnecessary need to meet up in a classroom away from one’s home and their family. This also eliminates the need to find a babysitter to watch the children so the team can meet up at a designated location to study and work together.
Team members from different states or even different countries can participate in computer-mediated collaboration. Another example of how computer-mediated collaboration enhances a team occurs when a military member is deploying into a combat zone; his time difference is, in most cases, much different, but he can still meet with team members living in the United States. This member still communicates with his own ideas and input so the team still obtains the best results necessary for the outcome. An added risk of computer-mediated collaboration is the ability of misunderstanding.
Team members are not able to read verbal expressions during computer mediated collaboration. Using contextualization, which is “contextual information to explain a core message reduces the absence of nonverbal communication” (Katz and Dov Te’eni, 2007). Technology Challenges Some challenges may arise when collaboration and teamwork involves technology. The new gadgets used in teamwork and collaboration consist of e-mail, instant messaging, webcams, mobile devices, and much more. These items are being used professionally and educationally.
One reason teams face challenges is because not everyone is up-to-date with technology; whether it is because they do not know how to operate or they do not have the items needed. Not everyone has the newest blackberry or smart phone that can send e-mails each day. That can cause a problem if teams attempt to stay in contact via e-mail throughout the day and a team member is not able to respond until he or she arrives home at night. They will be left out of the ideas the team has come up with during the day. Other challenges with e-mail; e-mail is not very private.
Most e-mail is very readable to anyone who comes into contact to it. Server issues are also a problem. The person, “who is receiving the e-mail, is he or she forwarding it on to inappropriate people, on purpose, or by accident” (Yudkowsky, 2001). Webcams are also an option to virtual teams. It does make it convenient because teammates can speak face-to-face, and in that case, both verbal and nonverbal communication is available. However, it may be challenging for someone to either come in contact with a webcam, or work it. This will cause challenges to other teammates that can “meet up” if someone is left out.
Not every team will have challenges concerning technology, but it is important for each person of the team to remember that technology can present challenges and even conflicts within teams if not acknowledged. Conclusion Teams must take steps to collaborate and overcome challenges. If not worked on, these challenges can cause conflict. Understanding the necessary steps needed to have an effective team meeting is important. Conducting a team meeting without collaboration will be an ineffective team meeting. Computer-mediated collaboration is also available to teams.
It gives members the ability to work with their team members in their own comfort zone. Along with computer-mediated techniques, there are also other techniques to take into consideration when collaborating with a team; however, teams must remember that technology can prove to be challenging at times. Collaboration and good teamwork will result in a good final project. Team members need to remember to keep open minds and to remember about the many tools available for team success. References Katz, Adi, and Dov Te’eni. “The contingent impact of contextualization on computer-mediated collaboration. Organization Science 18. 2 (2007): 261+. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Feb. 2010. http://find. galegroup. com/gtx/start. do? prodId=AONE&userGroupName=apollo Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education. (1999). Collaborative Teams Structures for Success. Retrieved from http://www. mcie. org/docs/publications/Collaborative%20teams. doc McGrath, J. E. , & Hollingshead, A. B. (1994). Groups interacting with technology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Yudkowsky, C. (2001). Email Challenges and Solutions. SmartPros. Retrieved from http://accounting. smartpros. com/x31248. xml