Being the first course of our program, it was also the first time we were meeting one another. The first half of the week therefore involved a significant amount of “brainstorming”, where we would spend time voicing questions and discussing thoughts and ideas. I believe this is a natural way for any group to begin as it:
1. Allowed us to get to knowone another. By listening to others express their opinions, ask questions and, as means of example often describe his/her past experiences, we were able to discover each others’ personality. This was very important as it creates the foundation for group coordination and efficiency. Furthermore, as we are spending the upcoming year together, will most likely have the opportunity to work with oneanother again.
2. Allowed us to gain a better understanding of the task at hand. When any project is given it always takes a certain time to understand exactly what is expected and obtain a clearer idea of the strategy required/chosen to achieve that task. By voicing our concerns, listening to answers or simply hearing someone else’s approach on the subject, we were able to make progress andclarify things more effectively than if we had remained on our own. I believe this was especially valuable for our group as none of us had previous experience in Food & Beverage / Restaurant Operations and many aspects were unclear.
Unfortunately, brainstorming also has a drawback: it is very time consuming and progress was therefore very slow at first. However, this can be considered as anunavoidable process and investment towards attaining better efficiency in the future.
How did this evolve?
I am very happy with the way our group evolved. Everyone had good team-spirit and tried to do their best, even though we may not have had the skills and competences of some other members of our program. As everyone was very open and non-judgmental, we were rapidly comfortable around oneanother and I believe this is a key criteria to progress making. As one thought leads to another, it is very important for everyone to participate – there are no wrong ideas or stupid questions. We all understood that and as time went by group communication kept on improving.
Furthermore, individual strengths and weaknesses started to become apparent. We tried to utilize these differences inorder to complement one another and strengthen our group as a unit. Again, I feel this was even more important in our case as we were all relatively new to the material and could be stronger as a group than as individuals. However, the ways by which we exploited these differences evolved over time. At the beginning, when uncertainties dominated and the objective was to submit The Marketing Plan, wespent all our time working together as a group. The harvesting of our differences was therefore focused on the discussions themselves: to whom particular questions tended to be addressed and whos’ opinion carried the most weight. However, by the last day we had gained understanding and confidence and the task at hand was of a different nature that allowed for the distribution of work. We thereforeutilized our different strengths to divide tasks according to individual skills.
Finally, I believe that another important foundation for effective group work is trust. First of all, trust that you can speak freely without judgment and that your opinion and input matters and is appreciated. As I previously mentioned, participation is a key criteria in progress-making which will be severelyimpeded by a lack of trust and respect, no matter of the individual competences.
Secondly, trust in your team-members motivation. At the end of the day we all want to (at least we should!) do well. The difficulty in group work is that the result is not solely representative of your personal competences and efforts. Ideally, the final grade should be equal, if not better (“two heads are better...