Running Head: OMD GEESE
ORGANIZATIONAL MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT
GEESE GROUP #97
October 14, 1999
Lessons about teamwork can be learned from geese. As each goose flaps its wings it creates”uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. When a goose falls out of formation, it immediately feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position. While flying in formation, geese honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. They launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock (Lessons on Teamwork from Geese, 1999).
Bluefield College has a unique flock of geese that meet every Thursday night in the Science building on the second floor in room # 222. These particular geese “honk” in every class and are attempting to become a team. OMD #97 members are a prime example of how group intervention can be transformed into a team. Team building creates a culture that enables communication, trust and commitment. Critical skills for team success are factors such as communication and appreciating differences.
Communication and appreciating differences
When a group of people becomes truly effective and perform to their potential, each one should possess a built-in confidence for each other. Understanding how goals can be served by a group effort is important. During transition from a group to a team, communication skills need to be developed. Talking and listening are crucial forms of communication. The weakness in our group is not talking. Our geese “honk” about homework, papers and tests. They fall out of formation when they do not listen or try to understand what is occurring and become upset when questioned about their presentations. The group is affected when particular members: engage in distractions (writing, reading, leafing through books, slamming book covers, zipping and unzipping notebooks); verbally attack personalities; do not participate in team decisions; do not take the process seriously; and offer putdowns at every opportunity. These actions weaken the team. Listening of others ideas and opinions are beneficial to learning and growth. Open communication helps a team to nurture and build self-awareness for individual team members. Many of the team members have “opened” his or her lines of communication and begun progress toward the team goals. Learning to communicate and appreciating team members are continuous struggles for everyone. Group members are not aware they are “interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and have a unique arrangement of gifts, talents and resources” (LOTFG, 1999). If these members had any “goose sense”, they would realize by staying in team formation, they can learn from one another. When team members share common goals, they reach their destination quicker by traveling on the momentum of one another.
Working together within the team has a large impact on performance. Improving relationships between members enables the team to achieve their goals. Each member has their own strength and weaknesses but it is up to the team to develop the positive traits and transform the negatives traits into positive ones. Attempting to understand the strengths and qualities of each group member takes time and patience. Questioning other members about their values, beliefs and projects also encourage team growth. It is important for all team members to have a voice in what is accomplished each week.
Everyone has unique contributions to the team and members should acknowledge that diversity is valuable. “Diversity helps to make a team strong and flexible” (Teamworks Module, 1999). Variety in OMD #97 is portrayed through skills of a secretary, clerk, safety manager, block builder, physical therapist, purchasing agent, two self-employed workers and two bankers. We are different, yet similar in our goals and objectives. Effective teams build on the experience of others and challenge members to change their behaviors. Groups often have a difficult time acknowledging and resolving conflicts. The better the relations among group members, the greater the pressure to avoid or minimize conflict. Personality conflicts are apparent in our geese. Certain members want to be in control and not work as a group. They only care about voicing their ideas and beliefs. Some struggle to be unbeatable and criticize others for having better grades. Grades are a big factor in this class and they should not be. Everyone should help one another instead of trying to outdo the other. Even the lead goose in formation rotates back into the “V” and gives another goose a chance to be in charge. In OMD #97, several members do not want to give up the lead. The goals of the group should be building on one another instead of working against each other.
Interaction within the team gives everyone a chance to voice his or her opinions. Differences of opinion often create opportunities for the group to make sure that nothing important has been overlooked. Appropriate behavior for team members is allowing a number of different people to have a voice in what is accomplished. It is also important to respect a fellow team member in what they have to say. Respect and trust are effective types of communication vital to team building; without these forms, a team is neither strong nor effective. Geese communicate, interact and know that by traveling together, they reach their destination.
One of the keys to building effective teams is to understand the strengths, skills, and motivations each individual brings to the team. Successful teams are interdependent and recognize joint contributions of team members will generate better solutions than individual contributions could. Group members committed to common goals need to understand their team members’ positions. An effective team is one that accepts the strengths and weaknesses of its members and seeks to capitalize on each member’s strengths. It takes ownership of the project and sees that each member’s ideas are accepted into the process.
OMD #97 has changed from a group to a team but continuously needs work on team building skills. The group was progressing as a team, but one “squawky gander” has become a nuisance. It is apparent that this bird is out of formation and is not willing to accept help to get back on track. Several solutions to this problem are to overlook the “squawk” or address the issues. The goose solution would be to help the gander catch up with the flock. The consensus of the team is to shoot the bird and get it over with.
Lessons on Teamwork from Geese, 1999. Available http://www.tpa.org/geese.htm.
Teamworks Module, 1999. Preparing to Join a Team, 1999. Available: http://www.vta.spcomm.uiuc.edu/TBG/tbgt1-ov.html.
Teamworks Module, 1999. Team Building. Available http://www.vta.spcomm.uicu.edu/TBG/tbg-ov.html.