In 2005, I was asked to be on a team of state agency staffers who were asked to re-write the state level Joint Information Center (JIC) operational procedures. The team was made of five senior public affairs professionals from five agencies along with the Governor’s office. The job seemed simple. The existing plan was 10 years old and did not reflect current emergency operations policies and new technologies in use since the last re-write. The team was cohesive at first but due to a lack of interest and leadership from the then Governor’s communication staff, the project languished and floundered for over 18 months.
Meetings were scheduled then cancelled, work products morphed from one thing to another and ultimately two of the team members wrote the whole plan and submitted it to the Governor’s office for review. The team suffered from poor communication and was ineffective in the end (McNamara, 1999). It seemed like the project was not viewed as important or significant or those put in charge had no experience in leading teams (Rowitz, 2003). Looking at the second case where only two out of more than five members performed the task, there was clearly high level of under performance and lack of participation.
This team lacked team building and the people in charge should have taken more control in leading the team. The team members failed to share a common goal since they did not see the need for another new plan. The leaders were transactional rather than transformational. They assumed that the team members would be self motivated and they therefore failed to do follow up. This led to the lack of motivation of team members (Team building-a collective guide Para 2). Team members failed to work collectively and at the end capitalized on the ability of only two people to produce results.
With meetings being cancelled, there was no way such a team would have produced results without the interaction of team members (leadership teams, Para 2). The members did not have a chance to learn from each other or even share ideas. They lacked almost all the characteristics of an effective team. Responsibilities were not shared, there was no much communication, leaders did not participate and there was no common purpose. The team seemed to be highly affected by conflict that was not well dealt with.
Conflict occurs when opinions or values are contradictory (Basics of conflict management, Para 1) Though there were two members interested in having the task at hand completed, majority of the members were not. A joint operational center procedure which the team was to prepare refers to the procedures to be followed at the central location meant to facilitate operation of the JIS (public information officer, Para 1). The importance of these procedures is to ensure that there is a standard procedure to be followed in handling a calamity outbreak.
The team should have started the process by training all the team members on the dangers of operating under procedures that are outdated as well as the importance of having new once.
Public information officer. Retrieved from http://www. publicinformationofficer. com/JIC. html Basics of conflict management. Retrieved fromhttp://www. nsba. org/sbot/toolkit/LeadTeams. html Team building-a collective guide. Retrieved from. http://www. teamtechnology. co. uk/tt/h-articl/tb-basic. htm
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