Our first meeting and building a real team

Getting Started
How groups are formed
How groups develop
The first meeting and building a real team
What do we need to produce?
How do we produce it?

The first time you meet:

  • Take some time to get to know each other. Be sure to learn each other's names and spend some time chatting.  Exchange contact details (email addresses, phone numbers etc). You can use this form to record everyone's details and make a copy for each group member for your next meeting.
  • Try to get a feel for each others' strengths, skills and perspectives and what each team member can offer the project.
  • Discuss goals each member has for the task/course.
  • Discuss the standard of work that is expected of all members (are some of you 'HD' junkies while others are content with passing?).
  • Agree on meeting details - frequency, dates, times, and location(s).
  • Decide how you will keep a record of your meetings - will you take 'minutes' or use individual journals as a record.  See the page on running good meetings and the template downloads which you can modify and print out for your team to use.
  • Decide on what form of leadership the team should have - perhaps nominate a coordinator.
  • Establish roles for team members, and expectations of those roles (e.g. leader, coordinator, minute taker, progress-chaser, meeting time-keeper, idea generator, devil's advocate, researcher, technical expert, editor, proof-reader, etc)
  • Discuss how decisions will be made - consensus, majority vote, etc.
  • Discuss how the group will keep track of team members who attend meetings, send apologies, submit their work on time/late - this strategy helps to keep team members accountable and the project moving forward.
  • Explicitly discuss academic honesty and how, as a team, you will work together in ways to ensure your acknowledgement of sources is accurate and consistent from the beginning. Talk about acceptable sources of information and sharing of information.

Download the following First Meeting checklist

Building a real team

It takes effort to make your group work well as a coherent, productive team. Just being in a group of people does not mean that things will happen.  Below are some ideas for how you can become a team… and how you can avoid becoming a team.

Download the following Building Teams checklist:

To become a team

  • Get to know each other
  • Do something social and/or risky together
  • Express feelings about being in a group
  • Identify your strengths and potential shortcomings to the group
  • Identify skills that might be useful to the group
  • Identify your preferences about how you like to work with others
  • Do something creative/play a game together
  • Be 'better' than the other groups
  • Have fun together

To avoid becoming a team

  • Don't join in
  • Have an aimless chat
  • Allow an individual to dominate
  • Allow members to not join in
  • Keep it formal, neutral and abstract
  • Avoid any expressions of feelings
  • Refuse to set yourself any task or goal
  • Don't find out about each other
  • Don't disclose anything about yourself
  • Express criticism and hostility towards others
  • Don't listen to each other
  • Show no interest in the group

(Source: Gibbs, G. (1994) Learning in Teams: A Student Manual. Great Britain: Oxford Centre for Staff Development. p14)

'The One Minute Manager builds high performing teams'; Carew, D., Carew, E,; HarperCollinsBusiness, 2004.