Competent managers gather a group of persons and build them into an effective team for optimum performance. Dedication to a common goal, collaborative tasks, and the group more responsible for their roles. Military platoons significantly depend on the effectiveness of team leaders in establishing a competent platoon that is skilled in their tactics and technical skills. Direct and open communication creates trust when developing efficient teams for various tasks. Providing a clear vision for the team is also paramount in developing effective teams in various organizations, including military platoons. Establishing trust during team management allows team members to share constructive feedback and align with the set goals and objectives. This paper describes aspects of managing groups and teams, including concrete experience, reflective observations, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.
One of the most rewarding jobs during my military career was as an Observer, Coach, and Trainer (OCT) stationed in Hohenfels, Germany. Our mission was to observe, coach, and train Infantry and Armor military units during different phases of simulated combat operations. In addition, we also provided mentoring to Romanian and Bulgarian military forces. As a team, we provided feedback, after-action reviews, and take-home packages for units to review after their training exercise. For this position, I had to become certified before I was assigned to a team to perform my duties as an OCT. The week-long course prepared me for my first training rotation and helped me understand how the exercises are conducted and my role in ensuring each unit receives maximum benefit from their training.
In my first rotation as an OCT, I was assigned to an Airborne Infantry unit. My job was to observe, evaluate the platoon leader and provide feedback. At the end of the exercise, my goal was to ensure the platoon leader could develop a cohesive team that was competent in their technical and tactical skills. At first, I was nervous because infantry tactics were not in my field of expertise; by trade, I was a subject-matter expert in armor tactics. What helped guide me through this first experience was the confidence and insurance my senior leaders confided in me. Their encouragement was the motivation I needed that propel me to get over my nerves and focus on my training which was to provide honest and constructive feedback to the leaders I was observing.
The leader I was observing was the newest member of his team and lacked the command presence needed to lead his soldiers. His lack of coordination and knowledge on developing teams created problems within the Platoon, from conflict between soldiers that hindered their performance and trust issues due to a lack of clear goals. In order for him to become an effective leader and create an effective team, the four stages of the Tuckman Model (Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing) were significant in his development.
The first stage in the Tuckman Model is the Forming stage. It was clear that this Platoon was newly formed and not functioning to its full potential. The soldiers within the Platoon were mixed with emotions. Some were excited about the tasks ahead, and others were anxious because of the uncertainty of their roles and responsibilities. During the first week, while preparing for the exercise, the platoon leader was engaged in directing the team and establishing clear objectives for the team and individuals.
During the second week of training, the Platoon entered the storming stage. Soldiers began to push the boundaries that were set during the forming stage. When it came time to make group decisions, team leaders challenged each other, causing conflicts within the Platoon, with some of the soldiers questioning the goals established by the platoon leader. The platoon leader and a few of the soldiers committed to their roles and responsibilities became aggravated because of the lack of support from the other soldiers. While observing what was happening, I was able to coach the platoon leader on how to resolve conflicts swiftly by building trust between soldiers and establishing processes and structure within the Platoon.
Going into the third week of training, the Platoon was entering the norming stage. Observing the Platoon entering this stage was gratifying. I was able to witness a stronger commitment to the goal established by the platoon leader. The platoon leader started to gain the respect and confidence of his junior leaders and soldiers. There was camaraderie forming between the soldiers while their differences were being resolved. From that point on until the end of the training exercise, soldiers were working as a team utilizing each other’s strengths to accomplish tasks.
During the last week of training, the Platoon has noticeably become comfortable in their roles and daily responsibilities. The platoon leader’s motivation and knowledge radiated, performing at a high level. Motivation is paramount to improving team performance; platoon leaders adopted mechanisms to support and motivate their teams, leading to improved performances. According to (Kamarudin et al., 2023), it is a prime obligation of the team leader to appreciate his team members whenever they present great performance. Platoon leaders ought to understand that a team is established when individuals with common interests come together to realize a common dream of boosting performance. By Platoon leaders inspiring his juniors to think of their team first and all other personal interests later, he allowed them to contribute equally towards achieving organizational goals.
Developing a cohesive team is essential to ensuring competent and optimum performance in an organization. The leader’s Platoon was well established though not fully functional. Understanding group dynamics in terms of team situations and personal temperament played a key role in the successful training of platoon leaders (Vaida et al., 2021). The Tuckman Team Model describes the four phases of team development that progressed through helping Platoon leaders establish a cohesive team competent in their technical and tactical skills. However, initially, I was nervous about undertaking the task of training platoon leaders, but confidence and assurance helped me through the initial phase. Communication was fundamental in succeeding in every stage of leader training, Assurance by senior leaders of their support encouraged me to undertake the role assigned and helped relieve my nervousness. From the Tuckman model, forming stage created a platform for knowing each other while trying to make good impressions, sharing experiences, and setting expectations (Kamarudin et al., 2023). Team forming was a good idea to help build trust and get to understand the various strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Preliminary boundaries and expectations were developed at forming stage of platoon leader management and training.
The storming stage is another crucial stage in team and group management. I found this group to be characterized by team conflicts, with teams challenging the preliminary expectations and boundaries set by the new leader (Kamarudin et al., 2023). The leader I observed in my roles lacked the command presence needed to lead his soldiers. At this phase, inadequate skills to address arising conflicts were evident, leading to lowered performances and a lack of trust. In order to enhance effective leadership in a platoon, the stage of storming presented in the Tuckman Model was significant. Since the Platoon was not functional to its full potential, the soldiers exhibited mixed emotions, with some being excited while others were nervous or uncertain about their roles and responsibilities (Vaida et al., 2021). In making group decisions, leaders could not agree during the storming phase. Besides, the storm phase was evident as groups queried the goals established by platoon leaders. The Platoon leaders and a few soldiers became dedicated to their roles and responsibilities aligned with Tuckman Model in team development stage two.
Conflict resolution is fundamental to developing a productive team. While conflicts start at the storming phase, building trust is crucial in ensuring teams trust their leader with arising issues. Learning about the potential conflict in the storming phase assisted in the progress of the development into norming stage because the conflicts were resolved, and a strong dedication was established by the Platoon leaders (PANKRATZ, 2021).In addition, teammates proved flexible,making it a success while every member in the Platoon as well as their leaders, understood their roles and strived towards accomplishing the project. Leaders and their juniors worked together as a team as their differences were addressed in the storming phase. Having identified the strengths and weaknesses of each member, strong leaders inspired weak teams to return to normalcy during the third phase of training (Doley et al., 2021). Group cohesion ensures that everyone is responsible for the roles and to each other, though conflicts and other problems can arise at norming phase. Competing, accommodating, compromising, avoiding, and collaborating significantly assisted in resolving team conflict at the storming and norming stages.
Lencioni Model is crucial in identifying the five common problems teams encounter that influence their productivity. Lack of trust from platoon teams made it challenging to ask for help or take risks; this demonstrated low levels of effective communication (Doley et al., 2021) . Ineffective communication leads to low performances among the leaders and subsequent poor outcomes in every training phase. Most of the conflict started because leaders could not accept responsibilities hence disagreement on the established goals. Establishing trust is emphasized in most of the models on developing effective teams. Resolving conflict in the team was a notable way of observing that teams reach performance stages as the teams have worked together previously hence pulling together their efforts. Disc Model on conflict resolution was useful in conflict management between senior and junior leaders and their subjects (Aggarwal, 2023). Marston highlights dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance as key personality predicted in conflict management. In the presented scenario, Platoon leaders conflicted over taking leadership of the entire team, especially in accomplishing the set goals and objectives.
The case provided significant skills in addressing conflicts and developing the best team to accomplish a competent team. Therefore, several ways will be crucial to respond to the next occurrence of a similar experience. First, I would integrate the Disc Model of group development to identify personality traits with the potential to cause conflict and create mitigation strategies to address the situations. I will also incorporate motivation into teams to inspire them after they yield improved performances. This case prepared me for the next similar experience; I would be more composed rather than nervous because I would have developed competence and self-confidence. In order to create a more effective team and leaders, the four stages of the Tuckman concept; forming, storming, norming, and performing will be significant in the next development.
The weeklong course prepared me for effectively training platoon leaders. Mandated to ensure platoon leaders are able to develop a cohesive team that is competent, Models on team development are crucial to building competent teams. Confidence and assurance from senior leaders are paramount to becoming a competent team builder. Lack of coordination and skills in team leaders creates conflict and undermines performances. The four stages in the Tuckman model of group development shape the personality of each team leader and their juniors. Forming stage is the initial phase of group development and determinant of the other stages. The other phase is storming, characterized by mixed emotions of teams and their leaders. The third stage is the norming that progress after arising conflicts is addressed in stage two, and the last stage is the performing phase. Therefore, successful group and team development is coined through stages proposed in various models of group development and trainers’ performance.
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