Jahnavi Shah

PhD Student, Planetary Science

Team Management: SR Edition

Happy March y’all! Here are some quick research updates before I dive into my experience working with the WesternU’s Science Rendezvous team so far.

Research Updates:

  1. I’m working on processing more radar images. I have now realized that I can use my own computer to process so hopefully that will speed things up a bit. I’d like to have more data before LPSC to add to my preliminary results.
  2. I’m also currently working on my CanMoon GIS poster for LPSC.
  3. Other than that, I’m reading some background papers to write the literature review of my MSc thesis.

Science Rendezvous:
I’m working with the WesternU’s Science Rendezvous core organizing team as the Co-chair of the Communications/Promotions Committee. This core team consists of co-chairs of the various committees (including program, logistics, volunteer, sustainability, and communications). Each committee consists of 4-6 committee members.

#STEAMgreen

As a co-chair of the committee, I’m learning a lot about team management and dynamics. I learned about a concept called ‘stages of group development’ at a team dynamics workshop a few years ago. The concept was developed by Bruce Tuckman , an American psychological researcher.

Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development:

  1. Forming: team acquaints and establishes ground rules
  2. Storming: members start to communicate their feelings but still view themselves as individuals rather than part of the team
  3. Norming: people feel part of the team and realize that they can achieve work if they accept other viewpoints
  4. Performing: the team works in an open and trusting atmosphere where flexibility is the key and hierarchy is of little importance
  5. Adjourning: the team conducts an assessment of the year and implements a plan for transitioning roles and recognizing members’ contributions

As a co-chair, I’m trying to keep these stages in mind because I know I’m a strong believer in the correlation between team bonding and productivity. However, I do sometimes (almost always) forget the group aspect of the project when there are tasks at hand and approaching deadlines. I’m definitely using this as an opportunity to strengthen my team management skills, in addition to improving science communication and outreach skills. I’m hoping to have more updates and reflections at the end of Science Rendezvous! I think currently my committee is probably at the ‘norming’ stage. In my experience, making the jump from ‘norming’ to ‘performing’ is more natural if the group has an opportunity to connect outside of the work environment – and unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance like that.

On another note, I feel like I’ve been struggling a bit with delegation. Since the committee is comprised of graduate students, everyone has a busy schedule and tasks slip through. As a result, my co-chair and I have to cover for it. However, we’ve come up with a new system where everyone is assigned (at least) one task (we roughly pre-assign tasks, but still leave some room for changes if people feel strongly about one task compared to another). Even though it gets a bit hectic at times, I do enjoy the challenge and I believe these skills will be useful for working with/ leading any team.

Additional:
Some of the articles that formed the Tuckman’s theoretical groundwork:
Tuckman, B. “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” Psychological Bulletin 63.6 (1965): 384-399.
Tuckman, B. and Jensen, M. “Stages of Small Group Development.” Group and Organizational Studies 2.1 (1977): 419-427.

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