It’s one thing to be on a team, and another to lead it. But how do you combine everyone’s skills to create the most efficient and effective team possible?
Leading High Performance Teams, or MGT 411, focuses on the design, management and leadership of teams in organizational settings. Dr. Travis Maynard of Colorado State University’s College of Business created the content and structure of the course and has been teaching the class to business students for 10 years.
“It’s a predominantly business-focused team course,” Maynard said. “It’s one of the biggest characteristics that employers say they look for in hiring – the ability to work in teams.”
Students work on a semester-long project where they find a team of clients on campus or in an organization off campus. The teams in the class observe the team of clients and determine challenges the clients are dealing with.
“The clients could be dealing with communication, conflict, leadership, effective meetings or any other variety of issues,” Maynard said. “The teams have to diagnose (the issue) and come up with an intervention.”
The teams, assigned in class, are then responsible for implementing the intervention within their team of clients and assessing whether or not their solution worked.
The class teams were created by Emergenetics, a 100 question psychometric research and behavior studies assessment that highlights individual behavior and expressive patterns. Emergenetics sorts thinking styles into colors. Analytical thinking is blue, structural thinking is green, conceptual thinking is yellow and social thinking is red. Students were placed into their groups based on color patterns most likely to lead to success for the team.
“After taking a 100 question test about my personality, I now know what type of learner and group member I am,” said Shivaun Wood, a senior in CSU’s College of Business. “By sharing the results with my team I am able to work with them more efficiently by working off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Beyond traditional in-person teams, the class works on projects with virtual teams composed of students from universities around the United States as well as abroad in Finland and Amsterdam.
“For two weeks later in the semester the teams will work on a decision-making task to give them an opportunity to experience the challenges and advantages of working in virtual teams,” Maynard said. “Most teams after graduation will be virtual to some extent.”
Wood described this vast amount of information that can be applied after graduation to her career path after only a few short weeks in Dr. Maynard’s class.
“Leading high performance teams is not something that comes naturally,” Wood said. “I am so lucky to be taking a class led by someone who is not only knowledgeable about the subject but also has done extensive research and case studies.”
While Maynard said the course is only offered in the College of Business, he said the skill of building teams is applicable to some extent in any career.
“It’s labor-intensive but incredibly valuable to see the application of the things we’re talking about in class,” Maynard said. “It’s certainly a skill that you can take with you.”
Collegian Reporter Jessie Trudell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JessieTrudell.