Tag: Teams

In the blink of an eye, my group was writing its final paper for Organizational Behavior – where does the time go?! Seven weeks ago, we were talking about this paper and accompanying video project like they would never happen and, before we knew it, we were submitting a five page write up to Professor Paese.

One of the questions that we had to answer was what we would recommend for other teams about to embark on their first project together. I figured some of you could learn from our mistakes experience.

  • Book rooms in advance – Olin is a great place for group meetings since the rooms are equipped with projection capabilities: throw your paper on the TV and everyone can edit together. However, there are only a few rooms to go around between undergrads, full time MBAs and PMBAs so, to prevent from getting kicked out of a room or not having anywhere to meet altogether, book in advance. (I’m looking at you, single person who kicked five people out of BH202)
  • Google Docs are the answer – Not everyone will be present at group meetings and sometimes, you’ll need to work on parts of a project individually and reconvene later. Google Docs are a great tool for everyone to edit the same document. Not only do you prevent multiple versions from flying around over email, you can see everyone’s work as you all edit the same, most current file.
  • Spend time with each other outside of group meetings – The PMBA program has a very convenient happy hour, appropriately named After Dark, that begins after class every Thursday. Take advantage of that and get to know your teammates and other PMBA classmates in a casual setting (#freebeer). You’ll actually begin to look forward to those group meetings once you think of your teammates as friends.

Couple these with some can-do attitude (plus a hundred other tips that I’m leaving out for brevity) and you’ll be set. Sure, you’ll learn the more highbrow advice (a.k.a. trust, communication, flexibility etc.) if you read Group 3’s final paper but true group wisdom will come from personal experience. There’s no better way to see what your group is made of than throwing yourself out of a figurative plane and trusting they packed the parachute correctly. I’m happy to report that Group 3 is alive and well. Onward to our next frontier!

Sidebar: Since this blog encourages participation, tell us in the comments your advice on working in groups. Any particular challenges you’ve faced? How do you manage to juggle everyone’s commitments?

Image: Group at table with Calisto 620, plantronicsgermany, FLickr Creative Commons

Wow!  Olin’s faculty members are doing some amazing research.

At our first Praxis luncheon this year, Professor Andrew Knight presented his research on how to effectively lead teams with diverse values.

Most of us think of diversity in terms of demographics, or skill sets.  Professor Knight and his team found that we really need to be thinking about diversity of values – because teams with similar values need to be managed much differently than teams with differing values, in order to maximize team performance.

When team members’ values differ, there is a high risk of conflict.  Managers of these teams can either provide structured, task based leadership, or they can provide person-focused leadership.  Professor Knight found that when managers provided task-focused leadership, teams with a high values variance vastly outperformed (and with less conflict) similar teams receiving person-focused leadership.

When team members’ values were similar, both leadership styles resulted in good performance, although the person-focused managers had slightly better outcomes.

This research is truly relevant to business, across all industries and functions, and certainly has changed the way I look at diversity in teams!

Murray Weidenbaum, Richard Mahoney, and Andrew Knight

Murray Weidenbaum, Richard Mahoney, and Andrew Knight

The Praxis luncheon series was designed to help put the relevant, cutting-edge research of Olin’s faculty in the hands of business leaders who can apply its findings to benefit their own organizations.

Sponsored by Olin’s Distinguished Executive in Residence, Richard J. Mahoney, the luncheon series is part of a broader effort to foster meaningful, mutually beneficial interaction between Olin’s faculty and the corporate community.

Praxis 2013 cover


Read a summary of Prof. Knight’s research paper in the new issue of Praxis: Research that Impacts Business.