a piece, or pieces of communication from the real world (past or present)
b) a team or teams you have been in or observed closely
For either a) or b) you should use the team and communications models, theories, ideas and concepts from the week to analyse the team or the communication.
note: use not less than 4 theorise.
TALKING TO TEAMS
Talking To Teams
Over the past few days, several teams and communication models, theories, concepts, and ideas have been covered in the course, helping enlighten us on what constitutes a good team and effective communication. Notably, based on the course materials, it has become clear that there are critical elements that constitute proper communication, such as emotional intelligence and listening. Also, a few group activities have been conducted to demonstrate some of the different Belbin team types that exist in a real-world scenario. With regard to the content covered in the course, this paper will address the Tuckman’s 5 stage model, Radcliffe’s team energy model, Lencioni, and Simon Sinek team models in the context of the United States men’s ice hockey team, and will argue that a functional group leads to better performance; psychological safety may have both positive and negative results on a team; and sometimes, team development may not occur sequentially through the orthodox model of development.
Context of Chosen Team
The team used to demonstrate the different team models is the United States men’s ice hockey team in the film “Miracle”. The sports-based movie, which is based on a true story, portrays a hockey team that works its way from an underdog group to being champions of the 1980 winter Olympics gold medal. Notably, the U.S. hockey team competes against the Soviets, which had, for years, been champions in the game. Through the help of their new coach and assistant coach, Herb Brooks and Patrick, the team develops a new strategy that helps them defeat the Soviets. While there are underlying political factors associated with the hockey game, the movie mainly appears to enlighten viewers about different team models that exist in institutions such as sports.
Application of Team Model
The most relevant team model in the hockey team is Tuckman’s 5 stage model (Tuckman, 1965). Notably, in his development theory, Tuckman hypothesized that teams undergo four stages of development- forming, storming, norming, and performing (Zoltan & Vancea, 2016; Jones, 2019). Further development of the theory over the years has led to the addition of a fifth stage, adjourning.
Each of the stages in the model is dynamic in terms of efficiency and performance. Notably, Tuckman suggested that the first stage, forming, marks the first step in group formation, whereby there may exist some confusion and uncertainty in the group, and the team may require a leader to advise on the way forward (Zoltan & Vancea, 2016). At this stage, the team’s level of efficiency and performance is likely to be low, as team members are uncertain about their roles and ultimate goal.
After the forming stage, teams move to the storming stage, which is the most unstable phase. Notably, Tuckman suggested that the storming stage is a period of intense conflict, whereby each team member attempts to occupy a particular position in the group (Zoltan & Vancea, 2016). In some instances, there may also exist interpersonal conflicts among group members. At this stage, efficiency and performance may also be relatively low as the group is somewhat divided; thus, the members cannot attain a common goal.
Following the storming phase, groups transition to the norming stage, which is characterized by more cohesion. As the literature suggests, Tuckman described this stage as “the blue sky that arises at the end of the storm” (Zoltan & Vancea, 2016, p.242). Notably, it is at this stage that rules crystallize into norms, and the group begins to work closely together.
The end of the norming period marks the onset of the performing phase. Typically, at this stage, the group has settled their difference, established norms, and are set to accomplish a common goal (Zoltan & Vancea, 2016). In this phase, performance is at the peak, and the team operates more efficiently compared to other stages of development.
Throughout the movie “Miracle”, the four stages of team development are exhibited in the United States men’s ice hockey team. Notably, at the start of the film, Herb Brooks attends an interview with the United States Olympic Committee for the position of the team’s coach. This interview is evidence of Tuckman’s idea about the forming stage of team development. In the context of the model, the interview is conducted to look for external guidance for the team to win the Olympics (Nestor, 2013). As such, it marks the first stage of the model, which Tuckman views as a gateway to a self-sufficient group. Other illustrations of the forming stage include the scene where Brooks introduces himself to the assistant coach and during the selection of the athletes that would represent the United States in the Olympics. The activities conducted in the forming stage define the path that would be followed to win the championship.
Furthermore, during the first tryouts, McClanahan and Jack are involved in a fight, which Brooks watches without any attempt to intervene. This scene in the film is evidence of Tuckman’s idea about the storming experience of every typical team. Notably, the fight on the ice signifies a period of interpersonal conflict, whereby players attempt to express their individuality (Nestor, 2013). In this scenario, McClanahan and Jack’s fight is based on a prior grudge developed during college. Also, the storming phase is solidified by Patrick when he refers to Brooks, stating that “he’s got twenty-six people who hate his guts” (Virgil Moody, 2016, 00:27:00). Patrick’s opinion and prior interpersonal conflict between McClanahan and Jack signify that the team is unstable, and its performance is relatively low.
After the storming phase, the hockey team eventually transitions into the norming phase. This stage can be observed in the scene where Brooks makes the group skate in the ice several times before Mike, the team’s captain, eventually states that he plays for the United States (Virgil Moody, 2016, 00:46:28). Mike’s actions crystallize the team’s unity to work for a common goal- winning the championship for the United States.
Having conquered the storming phase, the team finally enters the performing stage. This stage is evidenced by the team’s victory in the finals. Also, during the Christmas party, the team imitates Brook’s words “again, again”, an action that shows that they are finally entering the performing stage. Notably, the team’s deeds portray their willingness to accept and move on from the second stage of development.
However, throughout the movie, there lacks clarity about the fifth stage of Tuckman’s development model. In typical teams, it would be expected for the team to either dissolve after winning the championship, in the scenario of temporary groups or proceed in other tournaments, in the case of a permanent team. From an analysis of the plot of the film, it is evident that the hockey team was a temporary group, as each participant played for a different team in their home areas. However, the adjourning stage is not clear, which is evidenced by the lack of an announcement of the way forward for the team after the Olympic championships.
Furthermore, it is debatable whether the hockey team’s development follows the sequence exhibited in Tuckman’s model. Based on the assessment of different scenes in the film, it is clear that the second and third stages of the model co-occur. This phenomenon is evidenced by the existence of conflicts in the group alongside norms that keep the team together. Notably, the team hates the guts of Brooks, but it still works together following the coach’s teachings. Therefore, rather than occurring in sequence as suggested by Tuckman, the stages in the model happen simultaneously.
Further analysis of the film reveals that apart from applying physical energy, the United States men’s ice hockey team also focuses on emotional, spiritual, and intellectual energy, some critical areas in Radcliffe’s team energy model. Radcliffe’s model argues that engaging people’s emotional and spiritual energies are essential for an organization to perform to a higher level (Radcliffe, 2010). On the one hand, emotional energy is defined as the “energy of human connection and relationships” (Radcliffe, 2010). Notably, this form of energy is exhibited by the presence of social engagement, enthusiasm, and attempts of having fun as a team. In the context of the hockey team, it can be observed that members held a Christmas party together where they exchanged gifts, notably with the coach. The team’s decision to engage socially, besides practicing together, is an example of spiritual energy in Radcliffe’s model.
Additionally, it is clear from the film that the team spent their time on spiritual energy. As the literature suggests, spirit energy is the energy of vitality and remaining connected to what one cares about (Radcliffe, 2010). Amidst spirit energy, individuals feel inspired to work towards the established goal. Similarly, spirit energy is evidenced in the hockey team when Brooks proposes to include a new team member before the finals. Upon hearing the news, a few members of the groups approach the coach and argue that whether the team lost or won, they were a family, and having a new player was not a good idea (Virgil Moody, 2016, 1:02:00). This move by the team is an example of spiritual energy, whereby team members portray their strength to remain connected and care about one another regardless of the circumstances.
Additionally, we can observe intellectual and delivery energy throughout the film. For example, at the beginning of the film, Brooks establishes new tactics that the USA team would use during the games. These new ideas signify the planning and analysis elements of team energy, as proposed by Radcliffe. Also, delivery energy is portrayed during team formation, tryouts, and eventually, when the team wins the championship.
Besides Radcliffe’s model, further analysis of the USA hockey group shows a lack of psychological safety, a critical idea in Simon Sinek’s theory of leadership. Notably, Sinek suggests that for an organization to experience outstanding performance from its employees, leaders must assure the latter of safety (Capture Your Flag, 2014). Safety may take different forms, including assurance of job securitization. Sinek further asserts that the circle of safety ought to be broad, covering both people in prominent positions as well as subordinates. A lack of psychological safety in the USA hockey team is exhibited primarily during the team formation phase. Notably, Brooks uses an unorthodox technique of selecting individuals that would represent the country in the national championship. This approach triggers concern and worries about being cut from the team among players.
However, it is debatable whether or not the team’s psychological safety is eventually restored because the group finally wins the championship. According to Sinek, optimum productivity and innovativeness can only be experienced amidst a circle of safety (Capture Your Flag, 2014). Sinek’s idea leaves the viewers with two probable explanations for the team’s victory in the face of psychological safety. One, it could be argued that the lack of psychological safety acted as a driver of better performance during the tryouts for the players to remain in the team. On the other hand, it could be argued that psychological safety is restored during the norming stage, as it is at this point that the group begins to perform better. This speculation is an indication of the lack of clarity on whether the team’s victory is as a result of the restoration of psychological safety, or fear of not being shortlisted to represent the United States’ national hockey team.
Besides, the presence and absence of team dysfunction, as theorized by Patrick Lencioni, can also be observed in the U.S. hockey team in the film “Miracle”. In his work, Lencioni highlighted five dysfunctions of a team- inattention to results, avoidance of accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict, and absence of trust (Cassady, 2013). In his view, a team that possessed the five elements was likely to lose or perform below stakeholders’ expectations.
The lack of team dysfunction in the hockey team is evident throughout the film. For example, having been cut from the 1960 hockey team, Brooks is determined to ensure that the 1980 team wins during the Olympics. However, rather than focusing on personal recognition, he acknowledges in his final speech that the victory belongs to the hockey group, “this is what you have done” (Virgil Moody, 2016, 1:54:00). This remark shows that the coach pays attention to the team’s success rather than his recognition. Also, commitment is evidenced by the team’s decision to agree and follow the new tactics suggested by the coach. Additionally, there lacks a sense of artificial harmony in the group, as conflicts are expressed and resolved accordingly. Furthermore, the team members and the coach develop accountability and trust, which consequently leads to victory.
A lot can be learned from the United States hockey team, including the manner in which the team transitioned through the different stages of team development and the group’s operating style. Similarly, through observation of this team and completing the questionnaire, I have also learned that I prefer a group that focuses on intellectual and emotional energy. Notably, it is evident from my highest score that I am a structured planner who is detailed, objective, rigorous, and analytical. As such, while working in a team, I prefer paying attention to what ought to be done. Also, I have learned that I prefer a group that focuses on emotional energy. Notably, some of my secondary traits are cheerful, creative, spirited, and emergent, which implies that I am a creative dreamer. Therefore, when involved in a team, I prefer focusing on how the group is doing and ensuring that everyone is highly engaged in the tasks, have the drive and fun as a team.
Conclusion and Final Summary
In recap, this paper looked at the different team theories and models exhibited in the United States men’s ice hockey team in the film “Miracle”. Notably, the analysis revealed that the team followed the suggested four stages of team development, as indicated by Tuckman. The group transitioned from the formation to the performing phase. However, the adjourning period that was added by theorists was not portrayed in the team. Based on findings from the analysis, I have argued that sometimes the team development may not occur in sequence as observed in the hockey team, whereby two stages coincided.
Furthermore, the paper looked at Radcliffe’s team energy model, Simon Sinek’s idea of psychological safety, and Lencioni’s insights into a dysfunctional team. The analysis revealed that there lacked psychological safety in the national hockey team. Notably, the team felt threatened by the new approach of team selection developed by the coach. However, the team was functional in terms of group attention, accountability, commitment, and trust. Furthermore, the group focused on all elements of team energy, such as emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and delivery energy. Based on these findings, I have argued that psychological safety is essential in boosting team performance. However, sometimes the lack of psychological safety may also drive individuals to perform beyond expectations for fear of being cut off from a team. Also, I have argued that typically, the success of a group can be attributed to the lack of dysfunctional elements.
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