I am exactly halfway through my first semester as full-time business school student and needless to say the last 8 weeks have gone by at a rapid pace. Hours blend into days, days blend into weeks and weeks turn into a distant memory. Despite how quickly the semester is moving I am learning a ton and enjoying my time both in and out of the classroom. One topic that has been top-of-mind for me recently is the group dynamic.
In business school, much like many professional settings, you are forced into groups or teams where you are assigned projects through out the year and expected to produce a high quality product and function at a very high level. Sounds easy, right? You get five or six really smart people in a room and everything gets done in a smooth and timely manner . . . if it were only that simple.
We have all been on teams or worked in groups, some good, some bad and some we would just rather forget. I would like to address two key components of the group dynamic that have helped my team and me develop and function better than when we first started the semester.
The first component is communication. This sounds like a no-brainer. Everyone knows how to communicate – talk, write emails, give presentations. Sure, everyone knows how to communicate, but does everyone know how to communicate effectively and with purpose?
As a new group is formed it is imperative that everyone understands what the goals of the group are and why they are a part of that group. A lot of groups struggle at the onset because everyone does not fully understand the goals of the group.
The cause of this issue can be eliminated through effective communication, early and often. If you are not sure why the group has been formed or why you are a part of that group, speak up. Chances are you are not the only one who is uncertain or needs clarification.
The second component is what I’ll refer to as “shared learning.” I have been a big fan of this component since the start of the semester because this has allowed me to learn directly from my peers. The great thing about business school is that everyone has done something different in their professional lives and they bring these experiences to the classroom and to the group.
What we can learn from each other’s experience can prove to be invaluable when it comes to something that we, individually, may know little about. Another important piece of this component is the idea of leading and being led. If you are a natural leader, you can gain so much from stepping out of that leadership position and becoming a role player and vice versa. By stepping outside of your normal role you gain a new perspective that can help to enhance your leadership and role player capabilities.
There is no doubt that there are many other components that contribute to the group dynamic but these two, communication and shared learning, have been top-of-mind for me recently. I hope you can take some of these ideas and apply them to your teams or groups moving forward.
Until next time.