There are obvious challenges to form and lead a functioning team, even if the team is collocate physically within a training room or office throughout the whole process of training. Moreover the training involves distant learning mode that individualistic or individual behavior towards the whole proceeding come into play that could affect the performance of the entire team. To lead a team has little understanding on the member’s background is an uphill task for the leader. Advanced communication technology will not guarantee the team is working except the individual that participate in the training stretch and contribute within the context of the training that makes this a successful training experience.
Participants Background Assessments for Genuine Purpose
Understanding the participant background is one of the crucial steps to form a team as if the participant can or will go through the process as required by the program. The participant need to go through an assessment if he is qualified academically or professionally for the program or not, the participant need to be assessed if he is intentionally or psychologically ready for this or what is the genuine purpose behind the participation. The participant needs to share to the team or provide this information to the program manager as well as the program facilitator as he/she will continue all the way until the completion. The assessment is very much psychological to assess if the participant has the compelling desire to go for the program or he/she was asked to do so as he/she was sponsored for the program or he/she has the ability to overcome barrier that is blocking the journey.
One of the tools that can be use is stakeholder analysis for the participant to be in the program, who and who in his/her life will be negatively or positively affected before, during and after the program. How this can be supported by the team and how the participant himself/herself can support and inspire the team based on the assessment and information provided.
The program should request the participant to write a short assessment about him or her about work and life as well as successful and failure in professional as well as personal life. The participant need to describe how was it handled. This will provide an avenue for the program manager and program facilitator to understand what is important in the participant’s personal and career life. To have this in depth understanding of the participant is in fact for the participant to build trust and better understanding on each other which each and everyone can rely on for the purpose of the program if the common vision and value is shared and understood even if the cultural, geographical and ethnographic background are different among the participant. This serve as starting point to from a trusting, supportive, functioning and performing team that diverse in background, upbringing, value system, cultural, geographical as well as ethnographical.
However, diverse background of the participant does not always give a negative implication or impact to the team. As said earlier, the program can serves as a platform for knowledge sharing; the challenge is how to hold the participant together as a team to move forward. The answer lies within the participants themselves as if they are ready for it or not.
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument– also known as the TKI can also serve as a tool to assess the personality or characteristics of the participant as which of the character; Competing, Accommodating, Avoiding, Collaborating or Compromising is more significant. Program manager can use or exploit the character from TKI assessment to resolve conflicts as well as drive the team forward. In other words, the assessment is to find out if the participant is in the stage of development readiness for the program and how the readiness can be enhanced or motivated along the process together with the natural or intuitive character or reaction as assessed by TKI.
Distance learning or virtual team has its advantages as it will help to save cost as well as having the distributed team to share the workload. Apart from understanding the background of each and every participant, effective communications play a crucial role in making the team functioning and performing as a team.
Effective communication is not only referring to team communication after the forming stage, this has to be started as early as the program was introduced to the intended participant to help the participant to have the understanding on the requirement of the program and be prepared for it. This is to set the expectation right at the beginning what to expect in the next six months to better planned his/her schedule ahead for the program. With the requirement in mind, the participant will then plan his schedule, communicate this with various stake holders that could be benefited or affected by participating in the program for the coming 6 months and then sign up for it. This is also a way to pave the foundation for the participant for the program that needs intense participation from time to time apart from work and personal schedule and also setting the pace for work and personal life for throughout the program including incidental and accidental occasion that could take place in the next 6 months. To certain extend, this resembles to risk and chance evaluation on the participation of the program and how to take care of the incident that affect the progress. Apart from teaming with the team in the program, there is also a great deal of teaming which is not in the program, such as support from home or at work for the program.
Having said with individual participation preparedness for the program, as to communicate on the program requirements as to pave the foundation for the program as well as subsequent teaming, there is also great deal of effort to deal with team communications.
Leaders are made not born, some may think otherwise. Leadership skill and experience can be trained if the participant constantly experiencing uncertainty and stretchy situation. As long as the participant can weather through uncertainties comfortably is an indication of enhancement of tolerance as well as leadership skill. Leadership is the core for the team development and success of the program. Leadership can also be developed along the program with necessary coaching, guiding as well as challenges or assignments from the facilitator as well as team member.
While taking the advantage of distant learning and virtual teaming of the program, the team also has to embrace the challenges arise from distance. There is no single leadership style that can best fit to manage the team. Intuitively, there were participants that can demonstrate leadership style which is exemplary as needed based on the commitment in as stipulated in the team agreement as well as assignment. This is the basic discipline or professionalism as a participant to demonstrate based on the guidance of the trainer, program manager as well as team agreement.
However, throughout the progress of the team development, the situation may derail due very much to the readiness of the participant fro development as well as other commitments that interferes the progress. Leader need to demonstrate leadership style as and when is needed that best fit the situation as well as personality and character of the participant for further progress. Whenever is needed, the program lead will exercise the right which entrusted to him in the team agreement for the betterment of the team progress.
Situational leadership has great relevance to the various stages of the teaming model as in Tuckman model. As described earlier, during the forming stage, leader is to give direction or instruction on how to proceed, and subsequently storming, norming and performing stage, different leadership style has to be demonstrated appropriately as per the stage of the team. However, as the team progress to next stage of the teaming, there could be conflicts that lead to re-forming, re-storming and re-norming of the team for a performing team. This lead to unnecessary time and effort spent to re-organize all the task and assignments for the entire team. Self starters with clear intention and self awareness on the needs toward the program will be advantages for teaming and team development.