Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.15. Function in a team

ryanrori January 24, 2021

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The nature of the modern workplace is such that team work is not only encouraged, but has become essential and it is therefore important for you to be able to function effectively in a team, both in the course of your job and when learning.

Actively participate in group learning situations

Cooperation is working together to accomplish shared goals. Within cooperative activities individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. 

Cooperative efforts result in participants striving for mutual benefit so that all group members gain from each other’s efforts, recognising that all group members share a common fate, knowing that one’s performance is mutually caused by oneself and one’s colleagues, and feeling proud and jointly celebrating when a group member is recognised for achievement.

Cooperative learning takes place when people work together to maximise their own and each other’s learning. In cooperative learning situations there is a positive interdependence among colleagues’ goal attainments; colleagues perceive that they can reach their learning goals if and only if the other colleagues in the learning group also reach their goals. 

Cooperative learning takes place during:

  • Meetings when all staff members participate and contribute
  • Site/field visits to observe new processes or products
  • Excursions to places of interest or centres of excellence
  • Discussions around new developments in one’s industry
  • Activities designed to enhance learning
  • Information and training workshops 
Participating in Meetings

Attending various meetings in the workplace can be of great value to you, the learner, providing that you:

  • Read the Agenda before you attend the meeting
  • Make notes of any issues that you may want to discuss
  • Read any relevant material on the subjects to be discussed
  • Practice your listening skills!
  • Take notes during the meeting – there may be items that you will have to action.

There are many different types of meeting, some of which are formal and others informal.

  • Formal meetings are those which are prescribed by law, standing orders or constitution and include annual general meetings of shareholders, board meetings, statutory committees, standing committees, etc.  They are conducted in a formal manner and in accordance with a set agenda, held on specific date, presided over by a chairman and with a secretary engaged to record the minutes.
  • Informal meetings are less rigid and may be called at any time and for any reason.  A record may or may not be kept of the meeting, but where meetings are called to discuss business matters it is advisable to have written record of decisions reached.  Executive meetings, staff meetings, advisory committees and working party meetings will normally be informal to allow participants to contribute freely without having to adhere to rigid procedures.
  • Once-off meetings that are used to discuss specific issues that arise.
  • Regular meetings, such as safety meetings, departmental meetings, etc.
Checklist for Conducting a Meeting
Opening the Meeting
Have goals for the meeting been identified?
Has necessary background information been reviewed?
Are expectations for members’ contributions clear?
Has the sequence of events for the meeting been previewed?
Have time constraints been identified?
Encouraging Balanced Participation
Have leaders and members used questions to draw out quiet members?
Are off-track comments redirected with references to the agenda and relevancy challenges?
Do leaders and members suggest moving on when an agenda item has been dealt with adequately?
Maintaining Positive Tone
Are questioning and paraphrasing used as non-defensive responses to hostile remarks?
Are dubious comments enhanced as much as possible?
Solving Problems Creatively
Is the problem defined clearly (versus too narrowly or broadly)?
Are the causes and effects of the problem analysed?
Are clear criteria for resolving the problem established?
Are possible solutions brainstormed without being evaluated?
Is a decision made based on the previously established criteria?
Are methods of implementing the solution developed?
Participating in Discussions

These groups are usually held for a purpose or goal in mind. Situations may arise in the workplace where, for instance, there needs to be an increase in production. The manager may want all the people that work in that department to discuss ideas or maybe introduce new procedures to the group. Other concerns could be too many accidents in the workplace and the manager needs to know why? It is important for you to listen carefully and think before you speak. If you do not understand something that is being discussed, ask questions.

Participating in Workshops

A training workshop is a short, but intensive course on any subject. You will attend a training workshop when you join a company. This is the Induction Programme. During the course of your employment, you may be asked to attend a Health and Safety workshop where you would learn about all the health and safety regulations. Assessment may take place during the workshop or the learners could be given assignments to complete within the workplace that form part of that assessment. An example of such an assignment could be for the learner to inspect their workplace and report on any unsafe or unhealthy conditions. This report would form part of their assessment.

Participating in Site / Field Visits, Excursions and Learning Activities

To make the individuals and teams within a business successful, they need to be learning and updating their skills continuously.  A business that learns and encourages learning among its people, promotes trade of information between employees, thereby creating a well informed and educated workforce. This produces a very flexible organisation where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and changes through their shared vision.

  • Excursions – Excursions are usually conducted by Schools where the learners are taken to places of an historical or topical interest such as Museums; Art Galleries; Game Parks or Zoos. Factories and Law courts could be added to this list. The learners are then asked to write about certain aspects of their trip or they are given a pre-prepared worksheet to complete on their return which would form part of their assessment.
  • Activities – Some businesses, as part of the learning experience, may arrange for a Guest Speaker to do a presentation on, for example; Aids Awareness, Health and Safety, Quality Awareness, Benefits of Learnerships etc. For learners already engaged in study a guess speaker may give a presentation on Career development or Career choice. Active participation by the learner could include preparing questions to ask the speaker relating to the topics discussed. They may also be required to write up a report on the speech that would form part of their assessment.
  • Site Visits – There are various reasons for Site visits such as:
    • As part of the induction program a group may be taken to the main manufacturing facility of the business to learn about the production process.
    • Clerical staff, from Eskom, for instance, may be taken to one of the Sub-stations for which they have been ordering materials.
    • In a petro-chemical company, certain staff members may visit a waste disposal company’s landfill site to learn how hazardous waste is disposed of.
  • Field Trips – These trips will add practical knowledge to material that a learner is currently studying. Examples could be: trips to the city to identify different types of traders; possibly interviewing small traders and entrepreneurs. Other trips may take learners to the Labour Court or the Newspaper printing works. For these trips, the learners may have to complete a prepared worksheet that would form part of their assessment.