Are you prepared to meet your new MBA team members? Do you know what you can expect from them? Do they know what to expect from you? Can you prepare for your first team meeting so you have a successful MBA teaming experience? This post will help you answer questions about how MBA team dynamics can affect your work-life balance.
MBA Team Dynamics and Work-Life Balance
Purpose of MBA Teams – Two basic purposes justifies the use of student teams in MBA programs.
- Help MBAs learn the basic skills and principles of teaming and collaboration
- Learning from each other as a way of leveraging the diversity of experience and knowledge of MBA class members
Team homework assignments help reinforce both purposes and help ensure that effective team dynamics are an integral part of the MBA program and MBA experience, which enhances work-life balance among team members.
First Meeting Preparation
Two important things to consider when preparing for the first team meetings are first impressions and the logistics of working together, both of which can create work-life balance issues as well as how well your MBA team functions. First team meetings are MBA program specific and can occur during the first class session, a new student orientation, or some type of residency period. In the best of all possible worlds, you would be given your team member assignment in advance and you could start communicating electronically or face-to-face at your leisure.
First Impressions – Creating and forming first impressions is important when forming a group of strangers into a team. Many students with whom I have worked over the years, after meeting their assigned team members for the first time would say to me, “Why did you assign me to this team” or “Is there any way I can get on another team?” or “What a great team.” Their phrasing implies the entire team is an issue. However, after some discussion, I usually found that one or two team member’s behavior led to the comment. Team dynamics can be very complex. I have seen MBA teams achieve amazingly high levels of performance and I have seen MBA teams self-destruct. In many cases, one or two team members who formed negative or false impressions about one or more of their team members determined the team’s destiny and perhaps even created work-life balance issues for team members. Future posts will deal with this, other team dynamics, team issues, and the role teams play in work-life balance in more depth. At this point, given the importance of first impressions, it is important for you to start thinking about the topic.
Logistics – Many MBA teams, through trial and error solve the logistical issues of working together, even though the process is frustrating for some team members. Keep in mind that team members usually work for different companies, live in different geographic locations, have established work habits, have adopted, and use various technologies on a daily basis, and have various other habits that can affect how well a new MBA team will collaborate and work together.
Elimination of trial and error frustrations is possible through the preparation of a logistics plan that focuses on three broad areas: communication, technology compatibility, and document management.
- Communications – agree on the technology that you and your team members will use to communicate with each other including: landline or mobile telephone, email, SMS (text messaging), IM (instant messaging), chat, or any other means of communication suggested by a team member.
- Technology compatibility – determine if the software and operating systems used by each team member are compatible. Perhaps not all team members are using Windows 7 and Microsoft Word. Team member agreement is necessary for reconciliation of any compatibility issues.
- Document Management – MBA teams manage a large number of documents during their program. A frustration for some team members is the email attachment method of managing documents. Team members need to reach a consensus for an alternative.
This may seem obvious to some; however, to a team member whose technology literacy and access is limited can be critical to them having a positive teaming experience. You may find a form I created helpful as you and your team members address the logistical issues. Click on the links below to download a copy. Future posts will address technology in greater depth.
MBA Team Logistics Worksheet – Click here to download a Word file from the MyeEMBA web site that you can edit.
MBA Team Logistics Worksheet – Click here to download a Word file from this blog entry that you can edit.
MBA Team Logistics Worksheet – Click here to download a PDF file from this blog entry.
Objective of Meeting – get to know each other, determine compatibility issues, and determine how your team will work and collaborate to enhance every member’s work-life balance.
Meeting Agenda – The first meeting, although structured by the MBA program will likely provide time for you to address the logistical issues.
What else should you address during the first meeting? Is the form useful? How would you modify the meeting objectives or agenda? Share your thoughts by adding to the comments below. What would you like to see covered at MyeEMBA? Let us know in the comments section!
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In my next post, I will discuss the benefits of managing career wellbeing while enrolled in your MBA program.
Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of MyeEMBA.com