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5.2.1 Providing evaluative feedback

One of the roles of a leader is to provide group members with feedback on their performance. This is often an uncomfortable process for both the leader and the recipient. The main reason for this is a failure by both parties adequately to distinguish between the individual and what is being evaluated. When criticism is carelessly given, it is easy for the recipient to take it as an attack on his or her self-esteem. The result is that the recipient resists the feedback and responds in a defens
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5.1 The leader's role

This reading is concerned with the relationship between the leader and his or her subordinates and the effectiveness of different approaches to this relationship.

First I will examine the leader's role, in an attempt to answer the question of why we need leaders. Then I will examine the issue of authority, and the tensions and potential conflicts that relate to this issue. Next, I will consider some of the theories that have been put forward about leadership. What makes a leader? What m
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4.5 Conclusions

  1. There are many different types of projects; all have specific objectives, constraints (such as budgets and schedules) and a group or team responsible for the completion of the project.

  2. Project teams are effective when both task and relationship behaviours are competently handled. The main task-oriented behaviours are:

     

    • estimating and planning;

    • assembling a team;


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4.4.2 Relationship-oriented behaviours

Managing and coordinating work

Once the project work begins, the project manager's job is to manage the work, and coordinate the efforts of different team members and different bodies within the organisation, in order to achieve the project's objectives.

Managing change

Few projects, if any, work out exactly as they were initially planned. Problems arise that require changes to plans. These may be short term (e.g. delaying a particular task because a necess
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4.4 What does a project manager do?

So what is project management and what does a project manager do? Project management involves managing teams of people from different disciplines to achieve unique project objectives. For example, a new product development team may never develop exactly the same product again. However, the competences used in product development may be transferable to other projects.

Project management usually takes place within a constrained environment. Typical factors which impinge on project managem
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4.3.2 Setting goals and objectives

Whatever the structure and culture of an organisation and the range of people involved, goals and objectives are usually seen as a valuable management tool. This is as relevant to a project team as it is to a whole organisation. What I will focus on here are some of the tensions and ambiguities surrounding the management of goals, especially in the context of team development. To be effective in clarifying and achieving the team task, we need to take account of the variety of (often conflicti
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4.3.1 ‘Players in the game’

A surprisingly large number of people in addition to the project manager and project team members can be involved in one way or another with projects. All of these people are important to some degree either because they are affected by the outcome of the project, or because they can affect its outcome, favourably or adversely. These various ‘players’ in the project ‘game’ may only be involved peripherally. It is important to be aware of who all the players are and what role they play
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4.2 Project life cycles

Earlier I said that a project is: ‘a unique venture with a beginning and an end’ (Boddy and Buchanan, 1992, p. 8). But it must have a middle, too. We say that a project has a ‘life cycle’. This is based on an analogy with living things which are born, live for a period of time, doing things like consuming food and water, breathing, moving, etc., and then finally end (die). There is much discussion about whether there is only one ‘true’ model of a project life cycle or many, and wh
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4.1 Types of projects

Formal projects are a familiar part of nearly all work situations and are often a staple part of some organisations. Because of this it is worth looking at some of the features of formal projects and their management, as they have some different characteristics from other ongoing activities.

To write about projects, we have to define what they are and describe how they arise. Projects and project work are often contrasted with process: ‘process’, in this sense, describes the normal
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3.3 Conclusions

The main points made in this reading have been:

  1. Groups cannot be understood simply in terms of the interactions between individual members because:

     

    • individuals have contracts with the group as a whole and this is distinct from their relationships with other members of the group on a one-to-one basis;

    • people behave differently in groups;

    • there are simply too many poss
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3.2.6 The creative cycle

The creative cycle refers to the cycle of development that takes place within a single meeting of a group, as opposed to the longer-term cycle just described which may occur over many meetings. As in the case of the longer-term cycle, the creative cycle can be thought of as occurring in four phases: nurturing, energising, peak activity and relaxing (Author(s): The Open University

3.2.5 Group development

Next on the list of priorities in the functioning of groups is the process of group development. One popular conception of the way in which groups ‘gel’ and become effective was first suggested by Tuckman (1965) and then extended by Tuckman and Jensen (1977). Tuckman originally identified four stages in this development process, which he named ‘forming’, ‘storming’, ‘norming’ and ‘performing’. These stages (see Author(s): The Open University

3.2.4 Functional and team roles

When individuals are being selected for membership of a team, the choice is usually made on the basis of task-related issues, such as their prior skills, knowledge, and experience. However, team effectiveness is equally dependent on the personal qualities and attributes of individual team members. It is just as important to select for these as well.

When we work with other people in a group or team we each bring two types of role to that relationship. The first, and more obvious, is our
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3.2.2 Group size

Another significant feature of a work group is its size. To be effective it should be neither too large nor too small. As membership increases there is a trade-off between increased collective expertise and decreased involvement and satisfaction of individual members. A very small group may not have the range of skills it requires to function well. The optimum size depends partly on the group's purpose. A group for information sharing or decision making may need to be larger than one for prob
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3.2.1 Group context

Probably the two most important features of a formal work group are the task or objectives assigned to it and the environment in which it has to carry that task out. It is important that a work group be given a realistic task and access to the resources required to complete it, and that the people in the group feel that the task is worth accomplishing, i.e. that it has some importance.

When a group fails to make headway, one common cause is that its brief covers several tasks, some of w
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3.1 Belonging to a group

Because work groups are of central significance in the functioning of an organisation they have been studied intensively, and much has been written about group processes. In this reading it would be inappropriate to attempt to review this vast literature, which covers an enormous range of topics and aspects of groups. Instead, I focus attention here on two particular aspects of groups. First, I examine the nature of the contracts within a group: what it is that people gain from belonging to a
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2.3.5 Mixed structures

Teams often have mixed structures:

  • some members may be employed to work full time on the project and be fully responsible to the project manager. Project managers themselves are usually employed full time.

  • others may work part time, and be responsible to the project manager only during their time on the project. For example, internal staff may well work on several projects at the same time. Alternatively, an external consultant workin
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2.3.4 The contract team

The contract team is brought in from outside in order to do the project work. Here, the responsibility to deliver the project rests very firmly with the project manager. The client will find such a team harder to control directly. On the other hand, it is the client who will judge the success of the project, so the project manager has to keep an eye constantly on the physical outcomes of the project. A variant of this is the so-called ‘outsourced supply team’, which simply means that the
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2.3 Types of teams

Different organisations or organisational settings lead to different types of team. The type of team affects how that team is managed, what the communication needs of the team are and, where appropriate, what aspects of the project the project manager needs to emphasise. A work group or team may be permanent, forming part of the organisation's structure, such as a top management team, or temporary, such as a task force assembled to see through a particular project. Members may work as a group
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1 Unit outline

The focus of this unit is on relating to groups of other people rather than one-to-one relationships. Reading 1 develops some general concepts about ‘groups’ and ‘teams’, not just those at work. The later readings look at groups from particular perspectives or contexts, with the aim of discovering ideas about how to make them function more effectively.

This is, in fact, the main aim of this unit: to help you understand how you might function more effectively in a group by improv
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