an ECMT+ module designed by Evelyne Lefèvre (Université de Lyon), Kajia Sankila (Karelia University of Applied Science) and Delphine Van Iseghem (VIVES University of Applied Sciences) and Ann Vandenbroucke (VIVES University of Applied Sciences)
This module has been designed for teams working together for the first time, from a distance or not.
The module focuses mainly on teamwork. The aim is to provide a basis for self-reflection about teamwork and foster good team communication and team dynamics.
How this works:
We will take you through a series of questions that will encourage your reflection on teamwork. We will also provide some material to help you understand the aspects that we are refering to. It is important that you answer the questions individually and according to what you think.
For each step, produce a short memo in a reflective diary (1 - 2 paragraphs per step).
Step 1: OUR IDEA OF TEAMWORK
TEAMWORK VS GROUPWORK
What is your conception of teamwork? For you, in what way is teamwork different from groupwork?
Find out more about teams and groups here:
- Expectations - based on your prior experiences...
What are your expectations when working in a team?
How do you expect to communicate with other members?
What do you consider as most important when working as a team? What do you expect from the other team members? (list at least 5 elements)
What do you expect from you? from the others? from you and the others as a team?
What do you like doing? What are you good at?
What don't you like doing? What are you not good at?
Start your reflective diary here: write a couple of paragraphs or more to answer the questions above.
Step 2: GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF AND THE OTHERS
Understanding what is important for you and for the others – how you perceive your environment and how you like to communicate
- Have you heard of Belbin?
Meredith Belbin is a British researcher and management theorist best known for his work on managing teams. Belbin's 1981 book Management Teams presented conclusions from his work studying how members of teams interacted during business games run at Henley Management College. Amongst his key conclusions was the idea that an effective team has members that cover eight (later nine) key roles in managing the team and how it carries out its work. This may be separate from the role each team member has in carrying out the work of the team.
Find out more here:
- What is your most natural role in a team according to the Belbin profiling tool?
- What was the result of your test in terms of natural roles / roles you can manage and roles you should avoid? Do you agree with these results and if so, which roles do you think fit you and which don’t fit you? Write 1 or 2 of paragraphs regarding this test and your results in your reflective diary. (video)
Who is in your team?
If you have been allocated a team, make a list of the names, countries and email addresses of your team members.
Get in touch with them and agree on the channels you are going to use to communicate. You need to be able to chat / exchange emails, share documents. Here are a few suggestions:
- Skype for video conferencing
- Dropbox, Google Drive for file and data sharing
- Facebook, Slack (www.slack.com) for communication
- Hangouts, WhatsApp group for instant messaging for example.
Step 3 : THE CHALLENGE OF BECOMING A TEAM
Becoming a team is a real challenge. It is not always possible or even desirable. But whether you are working in a group or a team, it is crucial that you become aware of the challenges that await you and have a few keys to better understand and manage those challenges. This section is about the various aspects that will have an impact on your team whenever you work in an international team.
4D TEAM (DIVERSE, DISPERSE, DIGITAL, DYNAMIC TEAMS) AND ITS CHALLENGE:
THE CULTURAL CHALLENGE
Basics of intercultural communication
In our global world, cross cultural communication skills have become crucial to find a job. If, as Pellegrino Riccardi claims in his TEDx video, "culture is what is accepted and familiar", no wonder it is so difficult to be aware of our own cultural idiosyncrasies and not use our cultural filters when we interact with others. Our culture shapes our expectations and perception. Becoming aware of what culture is and how it shapes us gives us the key to better understand and communicate with people from other cultures. (video )
What culture is and why it is important
Before looking at great thinkers who have given us some keys to understand cultures, here is an introduction to culture and how it can affect communication: (add someting about culture - definition)
- Watch Pellegrino Riccardi's TEDx talk in Bergen:
Understanding cultural dimensions : an introduction to Gert Hofstede's theory
Gert Hofstede (born 2 October 1928) is a Dutch social psychologist well-known for his pioneering research on cross-cultural groups and organizations.
He is most famous for his cultural dimensions theory in which he describes national cultures along six dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism, Uncertainty avoidance, Masculinity, Long Term Orientation, and Indulgence vs. restraint.
Find out more about Gert Hofstede's theory :
- Look up Gert Hofstede's definition of culture
- Here is an overview of Gert Hostede's theory:
Now that you know a bit more about Gert Hofstede's dimensions, compare the cultural dimensions of your team mates' countries. Keep a copy of these dimensions in your reflective diary and analyse your findings: which aspects do people in your team share? Which aspects differ the most? Write a paragraph in your reflective diary.
Understanding cultural dimensions: an introduction to Edward T Hall's theory
Edward T. Hall, Jr. (May 16, 1914 – July 20, 2009) was an American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher. He is remembered for his definition of culture as an iceberg (iceberg model) and his work on how space (proxemics) , time (monochronic & polychronic societies) and context (high and low context) are perceived differently in different cultures.
The iceberg model
Culture is like an iceberg: what we can see is only a very small part of that culture...
For E T Hall, proxemics is "the interrelated observations and theories of humans use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture".
In The Hidden Dimension, Hall emphasized the impact of proxemic behavior (the use of space) on interpersonal communication.
The study of proxemics is valuable in understanding how people interact with others in daily life and also "the organization of space in [their] houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of [their] towns".
Proxemics is a hidden component of interpersonal communication that is uncovered through observation and is strongly influenced by culture.
Perception of time: Chronemics (monochronic and polychronic cultures)
Perception and use of time differ according to cultures... understanding how people perceive time may help you understand why your teammates have a different perception of deadlines, timeframe, use of time...
Importance of context: high-context and low-context cultures
How much you say and how much clarification you need is shaped by your culture. Find out about the differences between high and low context cultures in this video by Erin Meyer...
For a quick overview of the concept:
Now that you know a bit more about Edward T Hall theory,explain how you perceive space, time and whether they are from a low or high context culture:
How close do you feel comfortable when you are with new people?
Are you usually early, on time or late for appointments ? In terms of being late, how long is acceptable without giving notice?
Are you from a high or low context culture? Give 2 examples.
Share your answers with the other team members. Identify the common grounds and differences.
In your reflective diary, identify the cultural challenges that you may have to face: According to you, what does that mean for you and your team? What should you keep in mind when working together or what should you expect, do, or not do? Write a paragraph or two in your diary.
Step 4: TEAMBUILDING
Before you start working together, it is crucial that you get to know each other a little bit better.
Explain what teambuilding is - elements + connections + togetherness + knowing each other - stronger
Teambuilding is the first step towards working together and research has shown that it helps build better teams. Find out more about that in this interesting article on teambuilding in the Harvard Business Review.
If you are working as a team for the first time, it could be helpful to try some team building activities to get to know each other a bit better.
Build your team
If you are working in a team with people who are not in the same place as you, you can still try out some teambuilding activities. Here is an example of how you could do that online: start a collaborative blog on the platform of your choice to share your answers.
Find out about blogs here,or create a Facebook group, or use Slack, Google site (using sharing option) or other platforms and follow these steps:
- Day 1 Task1 That's us
Post a photo of you with at least 4 facts about yourself
- Day 2 Task2 Something special
Post a photo of an object that has a special meaning for you. Write a short text to explain what is special about it.
- Day 3 Task 3 Where we are
Use a map and pinpoint the city where you live. Insert a photo of yourself and write ‘(name) live there” To make it a bit more visual, add a photo of your city. Post your map.
Then take a bigger map (Europe or the world depending on where you live) and put your team on it following the same guidelines.
- Day 4 Task 4 Two truths and a lie
Write down two things about yourself that are true and one thing that is a lie. The lie should be believable (something like “I have superpowers” isn’t acceptable).
- Day 5 Task 5
Read the three statements each member has written down and tell them which one you think is a lie.
- Day 6 Task 6
Tell the others which statements are true a give them a bit more details.
- Day 7 Task 7 – and every week from now… Chit chat time
Keep in touch and get to know each other: every week, share one thing about your week (thoughts, what you did, saw, tasted, listened to, tried….) or post a photo you have taken with a comment...
Step 5: WORKING TOGETHER
In order to work together more smoothly, negotiate your team rules and work on your team contract. Revisit the entry of your reflective diary where you defined your expectations and write out your team contract together. Include the name of each team member, contact details and items such as:
- Timeframe when replying to chat, emails
- Meeting deadlines
- Reporting problem, difficulties, obstacles, workload issues, etc.
- Asking for help
- What we do when we disagree
- Decision making process
... and anything else you feel is important to you. For effective, collaborative writing, use google docs or other collaborative tools that enable you to write this contract together. Once you all agree on it, publish it on your blog or your team site.
To do list
As a team, you have been given a project to manage. Find out as much as possible about what is expected from you. Individually summarise what you think your output should be and compare it with the others. Agree on one vision.
Brainstorm everything that you will need to do for the task. For online collaborative brainstorming tools, have a look at this site on collaborative brainstorming or use a google doc.
Tasks allocation and deadlines
Use your brainstorm to organise your tasks in clusters and agree on Who will do What, When and How.
You could use a spreedsheet in google to design the task matrix or use a task management app (such as Trello for example - more about these apps here)