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Com Final

In: Business and Management

Submitted By HBrakke
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Risky Business
COM 230
29 April 2015
A Case for Collaboration: Project #3 During the spring semester of 2015, the group known as “Risky Business” was founded in the small group communications course led by Brandon Ferderer. Our group consisted of From the moment we met each other, we came to the unanimous consensus that we each wanted to earn an A in the class. This was an important goal to set, as it showed that each member was equally invested in working together to earn the highest grade. After a couple weeks of getting to know each other, primary roles for each member were beginning to emerge within our group. When determining roles within a group, oftentimes members will struggle with roles designated to them. However, group endorsement was prevalent within Risky Business, and the members accepted their roles as appropriate and consistent with their skill set. When it came time to establish them, the following primary roles were determined by our group: Kennedy assumed the role of task leader; Haley and Jin accepted the role of our tension releasers; Xinyi was deemed our information provider; and Brad was designated our central negative or “Devil’s advocate”. As the semester progressed and different projects arose, each member adapted to new roles to fit the project or the issue. This ability to readily accept roles and adapt to new roles as needed, made our group efficient and effective. From starting the first project, our group strived to build group cohesion. Group cohesion refers to “the degree of attraction members feel for the group.” Problems we believed we would face regarding group cohesion were barriers that might arise due to differences in languages and culture among the members. Risky Business had a member from China; keeping communication strong, while maximizing our potential as a group could have been an issue. Collectively, we focused on the concepts of hard and soft products, our finalized material, and communication within the process.
Our defining moment as a group was when we won the Jeopardy review challenge. Nervous for our first exam, we wanted to be well-prepared and equipped with all the necessary information and knowledge. Our group came together with study guides and lecture notes ready to dominate the competition. At first we did not know what to expect, but in just a moment we found our stride and hit a hot streak. Risky Business used transactional communication, which consists of “each member being both a sender and receiver simultaneously.” Our group ended up answering a streak of questions correctly which boosted our morale and confidence. By exceeding our own expectations we achieved synergy as a whole.
We believe that the climax of this synergy during the Jeopardy event was the final Jeopardy question. After seeing the Girls start catching up on our lead, we became nervous. Nerves were high and we desperately wanted those extra credit points. Seeing the other groups incorrectly answer the final Jeopardy questions made us lose hope for a split second. However, after finding out that we were the only ones who answered it correctly, our spirits, and our confidence to succeed as a group, were lifted exponentially. At that time, we reached our defining moment of the semester. In the course of this event, we learned the value in having trust in one another. This single event also helped Xinyi branch out. She became more confident speaking to us; she was able to identify many of the answers in her notes.
With that said, if we had not won the final Jeopardy, it would not have affected our success as a group. However, our defining moment may have not come. We believe, at that point, our group had confidence to feel able to achieve every challenge set out for us, but our bond was still not strong. The second project required us to spend much more personal time with each other, so having a strong sense of cohesion or unity was important. Losing the final Jeopardy, while we were ahead, would have resulted in our confidence depleting, and our community project may not have been as enjoyable.
After learning all of the insight concepts of working hands-on within a small group, we concluded these skills will translate exceptionally well into a real world setting. Being able to personally observe and experience the challenges of this semester allowed us to incorporate the Tuckman’s Model of Group Development. At the beginning of the semester, we were complete strangers but were forced to go through the forming stage of this model. It was mandatory to have a “getting-to-know-you” conversation (Ferderer). In order to avoid awkwardness, we had to act friendly and polite to the fellow group members, while still setting our goals for the semester. The primary tension, or the uncomfortable feeling with each other, was experienced during this stage. As the course progressed and challenges were set forth, secondary tension, which consists of a higher level of stress and conflict, presented itself (Ferderer). Slowly but surely, Risky Business began to ease into the norms of the group. Our communication began to improve and it became easier to disagree or challenge the thoughts of another member. However, since we achieved a greater sense of community, this allowed us to be civil and not become hurt over any disagreements.
Risky Business has many recommendations for other or future small groups. We believe it is imperative to have a shared goal and a high level of cooperation within the group. Having goals that everyone in the group deems valuable allows the group to avoid unnecessary interpersonal or ideological conflicts that may be destructive. This is one of the first things to accomplish when establishing the group. It is also important to have strong group cohesion. Being able to work together smoothly and communicate well is an essential quality for group efficacy. Communicating while achieving the task is just as important as being able to communicate for free time. Having a tension releaser to provide humor and lighten up the group climate opens up room for work along with play. We also recommend future students to establish social, procedural, and task norms. These are rules governing relationships, responsibilities, and problem-solving. It is essential to establish these norms because it is helpful with setting up a list of rules by which the group follows. An example of such a norm is to closely analyze the group for possible social loafers. Social loafers are members who have a tendency to “get by with less effort than what they would have put when working alone” ( In any group, if the established role appears not obtainable or not valuable to a member, then that member is likely to lose motivation. Again, this is why it is critical to have group cohesion during every planning step of establishing and achieving the goals. Furthermore, someone such as Xinyi in our group could have become a social loafer if she began to feel unheard because of the language barrier. Communication among the group is essential so each member is heard and, furthermore, so the group can properly determine the reason behind the perceived problems, such as social loafing. It is difficult to approach the social loafer at times, but it is necessary to first determine if someone is intentionally exerting less effort or if there is group dynamic is inhibiting the member from being a social facilitator. Once the group concludes a member is a social loafer, however, it is vital this member is approached in an appropriate manner. If not dealt with swiftly and in a polite manner, it could cause more destruction to the group as a whole than if left alone, leaving the others to feel resentful about having to pick up the slack.
One important piece of advice that we would share with future small groups is that not all small groups have good members. Risky Business was fortunate enough to have all six members establish common goals, show continuity in caring about the group goals, and attempt to make a positive impact during the semester. For example, although Brad had missed some of the group events, he was willing to make up for his absences and wanted to do more. Many groups may have more than one member or a majority that does not care about the group. This creates a destructive environment for those in the group who actually want to do well and succeed. One essential notion that Professor Ferderer shared was that it was possible to ask members to leave the group. It is important that the overall well-being of the group come before the feelings of individual members who lack effort. Risky Business concurs and would encourage that any interpersonal conflict with bad members be solved with polite confrontation if possible. If this does not work and the group’s dynamics and its potential success in reaching its goals is jeopardized, however, then asking the purposely-ineffective member to leave is a viable option. In our future opportunities, such as jobs, boards, and committees, the “small group” will likely last more than a few months like in our semester. We are aware that, as individuals, we will be members of at least some sort of small group for years at a time. Learning to effectively communicate and function within a small group are ambulatory skills important to the rest of our lives and should not be overlooked in any business model. The plethora of skills learned in this class have taught us how to successfully work in a group whether it be leading, or assuming any primary role.
1. How did Risky Business work with linguistic barriers? 2. Why was transactional communication beneficial to the defining moment? 3. What could be the reason a group member took on the position as a social loafer? What is the right way to approach handling it? 4. Why was the use of Tuckman’s model so helpful in building cohesion? 5. What are some advantages of taking small group communications?

Works Cited
Cragan, John F., David W. Wright, and Chris R. Kasch. Communication in Small Groups Custom Edition for Arizona State University. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.

Ferderer, Brandon. Small Group Communication. Arizona State University, Tempe. 2008
"What Is Social Loafing? Definition and Meaning." WebFinance, Inc., 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

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