Reflection On The Team Work Process And Discussion

I was part of Team 5 together with Sarah, Nancy, Ali, and Suguna; I was assigned to handle the case reading for the Organization Behavior department. At the end of our deliberation, we decided to choose Chris Pepper as the best-qualified candidate for the endowed chair position. We based our decision on the findings that Chris possessed a knack and solid interest in the consulting industry than the other two candidates, Lorey Weiss and Pat Stone.

Our team started with a brief discussion of expectations we hope to deliver and perform during the exercise. We employed a decision table to highlight and garner all of the information we pulled from the case reading. We believed a decision table would be a much easier approach to create a framework, which would ultimately help our team to make a decision. We first started with three criteria where all candidates shared commonalities with each other. Then, we added more and more as we delve deeper into each candidate’s qualities and contributions hoping this would steer us to the right path. Using our one-page note, each of us took turns to fill our tables and offered fine points we all thought significant on our selection. Later on, we recognized that each of us had a separate kind of case reading. Some kind of a twist version. It seemed as if we were not on the same page because some members had some details that others did not have and vice versa. At the time, the most common expression we all came to know was “Really, I don’t have that on my reading”. This phrase was mentioned numerous times throughout our team exercise. We later figured out that Professor Piderit assigned each member of our team with a different department within the business program.

After we’ve laid out all of our inputs and notes on our decision table, we switched gears from information gathering to the decision-making process to narrow down the important facts. Initially, we were using the inquiry approach to examine all of our options on the table while we continue to discuss which of the candidates is best suited for the coveted position. Looking at the decision table (attached for your perusal), we evaluated each candidate by looking through their contributions, academic excellence, peer’s comments, donor, research and administration’s experience to sample. We valued each of the unique information as new contributions to our discussion. We dived into a careful critical analysis as we showcase the candidate’s abilities, opportunities and their influences on the table to arrive at a final decision. We pieced the information together and highlighted the important details that stood out the most. We decided to use the voting approach to deliver our group decision. Majority votes would be the team’s chosen candidate. We then chose our own candidate along with a brief explanation to justify our choice. Chris Pepper won the majority vote. The team had settled for Chris while I chose to take a different route and picked Pat for the position. For the most part of our team’s reflection, we were using the advocacy method. We were definitely trying to sell our points from each other and debating as to why our voted candidate deserves the coveted position. We started with information gathering to decision-making and ended up challenging our opinions to lobby our decisions. We were all stating our case and making points of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

In the middle of our deliberation, we cast Lorey out of our options. We pondered little details about his contributions and competency. We thought eliminating him will help our team proceed to better choices. The consensus to dismiss Lorey wasn’t a wise decision to adopt as we paid little attention to his role. We were definitely partaking the role of a devil’s advocate as we failed to look at all sides of our candidates, more specifically to Lorey. He might seem weak as a candidate, but it was due to the great possibility that we might have missed a great number of details about his character. Our decision to outcast Lorey was governed by our collective judgment that his qualifications were not as appealing and parallel to those of Chris’ and Pat’s. As an outcome of our decision, we chose the wrong candidate to remove from our table list. Ironically, the candidate whom we got rid of turned out to be the most qualified for the endowed chair. We failed to think outside of the box as we were biased about Lorey and failed to compromise on the assumptions or possibilities that he was suitable. Frankly, I started questioning my team’s ability on their notes about the case reading. I think the team would agree if I were to state that we all were playing a biased role when we found out about the unique information known only to a single member. How would I know if my team took that valuable piece of information out and shared it with the team? What if one was missed or two? In contrast, how can the team trust my notes to contain valuable information needed to choose our candidate? T

here were a lot of stakes to consider especially not knowing what piece of information they have that I don’t. It doesn’t give us much certainty to trust that person’s notes or to even move forward knowing that we were all carrying an unshared piece of information known only to our eye. At the time, I only trusted the notes that I had and some partially shared information that the other members had shared. Though they were lots of uncertainty, we kept going and trust played our key role to go with the flow. We trusted that our team took their side of notes well and strong enough to share and decide out of it. We kept the status quo despite what we discovered. We raised more questions about our choices and we grew curious about what unique information did the rest of the team have on their case reading. Part of me thought that if all members of the team came prepared, we would have had a much engaging and methodically discussion and in return we might find the connections through our reading. However, the other part of me thought it was probably meant for us not to choose Lorey because no one from the other teams chose him either, so making assumptions on what we could have done would not make a significant change. One of the norms we developed as a team was when we each contributed a unique information about our case reading. We started with one member then we all took turns. Though there weren’t any particular order of who goes first and last, we kept the conversation going by letting members express their inputs. This became our norm at the time because we wanted to know what unique and valuable piece of information each person has that can be useful to compose our team decision. Although there were some differences among the team (some members didn’t have their one-page note with them), we didn’t leave them astray. We made sure that their voices were heard and mattered to us. Just because they failed to provide their notes to share, it does not mean they cannot be part of our discussion. They were members of our team and we will fully honor and respect their ideas shared to us. When almost everyone had shared their opinion on the table, Sarah reached out to Ali to make sure he was still with us. Then, Ali immediately jumped in to offer his input. This soon became the norm on our team.

We wanted to keep the interaction going especially to those members who were embarrassed to speak up because they didn’t have their notes with them. We didn’t let them feel alienated or outcast about the current situation, but instead, we made sure they felt comfortable to express their thoughts in our team discussion. If we criticize them for not completing the homework, then we won’t be able to reach our consensus. This again became our norm that no matter what happened we have to be respectful even if they didn’t have that much to contribute at the time. We didn’t let that become a big issue nor delay our discussion. We just kept going. Nancy offered to be the recorder and the timekeeper. She documented our ideas and inputs on the board for everybody to see and internalize. She kept us aware of the time, which was good because we didn’t want to fell behind. Though Nancy showed good intentions, she wasn’t as ready nor active to participate in the discussion because she didn’t have her one-page notes with her. As a result, she failed to contribute as much to her reading role as the Finance. Sarah, Suguna and I portrayed a fair balance of task and maintenance roles. We all came prepared and ready to dive into our discussion. Sarah’s notes were convincing and organized. Her tables gave us a lot of insights of each candidate’s role and contributions. Her table was worth mentioning as she did an outstanding job on it. Even the team were also pleased to see Sarah’s table and amazed by her work and effort put in. There was a time when Suguna played the role of a disciplinarian and standard setter for Nancy. During that time, Nancy was so eager to refer back to her reading but Suguna had stopped her before she could get to it. Suguna reminded Nancy about the instructions of how we weren’t supposed to use the case reading as part of the discussion and that we can only refer to our notes as our guide. I think Suguna’s intention was good as she was trying to keep a fair and clean discussion by not letting a member of our team disrupt the flow of our learning process. As for Nancy, I understood why she committed that behavior as she was just trying to help contribute as much information about her role. Personally, both Suguna and Nancy meant no harm for the team as they both had the best interest. After that incident, we came right back to our discussion and added no fuel to the fire. Just like Nancy, Ali claimed to have read the article but could not complete the one-page note required of us. Though he failed to participate as much on the discussion, he contributed some inputs he could recall and stood out to him. In my perspective, there wasn’t an adequate balance between the task and maintenance roles. The rest of us were more vocal on the approach and active on the discussion. It wasn’t as balanced and fair discussion to start with as some of us came prepared and ready to tackle in while others failed to fulfill their roles. Regardless of that, the team did a good job and was able to deliver a decision. During the team’s evaluation, we all shared our inputs to each other. We highlighted our roles, contributions and what could have been done to be more effective and prepared for class discussions. I think I have engaged in two leadership practices. For the most part, I was challenging the process. And if I can speak for the team, we were all challenging the process. Majority of the team chose Chris for the endowed chair position and I have chosen Pat. The team provided a convincing approach on why they chose Chris, but I wasn’t buying it. In the beginning, I was challenging and asking myself if I can turn the table and hope to sway the team’s decision. Maybe the team might have missed an important detail about Pat’s qualification that was worth mentioning and fighting for. However, every time I put a strong emphasis on Pat’s skills and contributions, the team would state a rebuttal and I would fail to counteract their argument to prove my side. Then again, it was difficult to influence a team once they have reached a conclusion. Despite that long disagreement, I had to rest my case and surrender making any more points as Chris had won the majority vote.

In the end, I had learned to accept and respect the team’s vote to move forward with Chris for the endowed chair position. During the time, I tried to look for opportunities to convince the team of my findings; however, it was me against four people, and I stood no chance to convince the team, or even at least one. I have also employed the enable others to act behavior – to engage other members of the team to share their input on the case. Some members weren’t participating as much in the discussion as they didn’t have the notes prepared to participate effectively. Despite that behavior, we have to implement an effective and engaging discussion and not to highlight their weakness point for not coming as prepared as others. I know they already felt bad and apologetic for not having their notes at the time but putting them on the spotlight would not help us reach an effective discussion. Instead, I ensured that their voices were heard. When Sarah asked Ali if he was still with us, I told Ali that it was okay not to have his notes as long as he continues to show interest and participate in his role then that’s almost the same as having his notes with him. I wanted him to know that he was part of the circle and that participating was a way to redeem and compensate himself. Sometimes people just need someone to push them, to ensure that they feel valued and respected despite what happened. I think I was showing him good intentions as I didn’t want him to feel outcast or to think that we weren’t letting him speak his mind. I encouraged him to speak so he wouldn’t feel as bad for not having his notes with him. Had I’d known that I possess a valued piece of information that others did not have, I could have taken better notes to have carried out more thoroughly and thought-provoking discussion. I just thought that this would have made a big difference as we would have been more organized, and our notes would contain much information than to our initial notes. Also, it would have been better if we have applied the intellectual watchdog approach to facilitate even roles.

During our discussion, there was some overlap between the task and maintenance roles and no one was appointed to be the leader or the intellectual watchdog to initiate and spark the conversation. We all acted as a norm and we all took the initiative to state our case. We were all the spokesperson. As a team, we could have enhanced our team’s effectiveness by implementing much of the inquiry approach, but instead, we engaged more deeply on the advocacy method. We immersed ourselves in debating and advocating on our choice of candidates we all assumed to be best suited for the position. Because of that, we failed to incorporate the inquiry approach, to evaluate each candidate thoroughly, without eliminating what we thought was the weakest candidate, but instead explore on what makes this person different among the other two. We could have challenged Lorey’s qualifications or made assumptions or dared to ask meaningful questions. Asking questions would have been beneficial. What if he was the best candidate and that we were just missing to put the missing puzzle together to connect the dots? There were no objections when the team arrived at a conclusion to eliminate Lorey. We all decided as a team and later realized we eliminated the best candidate for the position. We could have looked at all sides of the options and perceived everyone as a fair choice before we exclude any candidates out of our options. However, due to our strong confidence, we were blinded to the fact that each of us chose the weak candidates for the endowed chair.

To simply put, our reliance to our options made us unaware that we were not exploring as many possibilities. Despite the team’s consensus for a majority vote, there was a moment where the outcome may seem like a contest, composed of a winner and a loser. I definitely lost my side of the case while the other party won the discussion over. As a team, we could have taken more time to really look at the situation – to really engross ourselves to the purpose of this learning activity. Prior to the exercise, we were introduced to two distinctive methods of the decision-making process: advocacy and inquiry. It was interesting how we overlooked the case and failed to apply what we learned amid the opportunity of this exercise to positively generate an engaging discussion. Instead of using much of the advocacy, we could have challenged the inquiry approach in a more exhaustive process. With the inquiry approach, we could have pay careful attention to all the pros and cons of the candidates. We could have been open to possibilities, assumptions, and other views before we called out our choices for the endowed chair. Really trying to understand the situation, reflecting thoroughly on each candidate and asking questions would have resulted in a fair, open and balanced discussion. Losing is a normal part of a discussion but losing on the fact that the team failed to incorporate a proper decision-making then that would be more terrible than losing by and large.

11 February 2020
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