What is the best practice? Gleaned from the research literature and years of experience with groups, scientist identifies practices that groups need to consider no matter what kind of group is formed. Best practices will give you a foundation for what needs to happen to have a successful workgroup.
groups should not ignore fundamental communication and relationship-building among the members. Third, group members should try to generate a common vision and share their accomplishments. Fourth, each member of a group is personally responsible for fostering positive ongoing interactions that meet member goals and contribute to constructive interactions among the members. Fifth, groups should celebrate accomplishments. Let us look at each of these in turn.
Be Organized and Consistent
One important role in a group is that of a “leader.” I call this “the lead” instead of the leader for two reasons. First, many faculties don’t have time to take on what they feel is the very full responsibility of being a leader. Second, faculty may feel that they don’t know enough about academic to be able to “lead” a workgroup. The lead can be the instigator for the group, but the group members themselves need to decide how to handle the jobs associated with this key role: making announcements, setting the schedule, and running the group. Leadership is associated with the decision-making the group has to do. The elements in the decision tree highlight many of the key decisions a group has to make to function well.
Build Personal and Professional Relationships
Build trust lay out ground rules, and establish positive communication using active listening strategies. As mentioned earlier, it helps to spend at least one session building trust and having a conversation around the ground rules. Using the decision tree in Figures 4.1a and b can foster a more focused conversation. These conversations lead to rapport-building with a shared sense of mission for each member in meeting his or her individual writing goals.
Develop a Shared Vision
With decisions made about leadership and the establishment of positive relationships, the group can focus on being goal oriented for the group members and for the group itself. Pay attention to time limits so that members feel that the time is not wasted or overextended. In addition, seek to be consistent about expectations for accountability.
Devising ways to reward progress encourages more progress. What are some rewards that individuals have used? Some faculty says they spend some time at a local bookstore. Others give themselves permission to buy a special pair of shoes. Some may go for a walk in the woods. Others browse an antique mall (my favorite). Rewards are things that members like to do but often don’t because they are too busy. Yet, if members reframe them as rewards for meeting writing goals, these can be seen as more enjoyable. For groups, the reward might be a box of candy at a meeting, a meal, or happy hour at a local restaurant.
Foster Positive Interactions
Be supportive. Check in on ground rules. Offer constructive feedback. Initial excitement for the group may waver as time passes. The group may wander away from the ground rules established early on. By being supportive of and respectful to each other, the group works well. It is not a bad idea to check in on the initial ground rules about midway through the term. For feedback groups, talk about how the process of giving and receiving feedback on goals or on writing is working. Some members may need encouragement in commenting on how the group is working for them.