Personal Awareness

Site: RRU Open Educational Resources
Course: OER-TMSWC: TeamsWork Moodle Course - Master Course
Book: Personal Awareness
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Date: Thursday, 2 April 2020, 6:16 AM


Personal Awareness


Why is it important to develop self awareness before working in a team? It helps you:

  • Determine personal values and self-awareness of individual team members
  • Identify individual contributions to team, exploring leadership, values, strengths and interests
  • Identify and plan individual goals for work to accomplished together
  • Self-reflection practice

In this unit we also cover team and experiential learning theories that will explain and support team-based learning at Royal Roads University. At the end of this unit you will have deepened your personal awareness of strengths and discussed and shared with your team.

Why Team Work?

Current research and literature addressing work place competencies and outcomes reference collaboration or teamwork as a primary competency. This trend is consistent across countries, associations, employers and within higher education. The Conference Board of Canada highlights top skills needed to enter, stay in, and progress in the work world. Team work adds value to the outcome of a task, project, or team when you can work with others and participate in projects and tasks.

Royal Roads University has identified teamwork as a core competencies in the work place, thus has strategically implemented opportunity for practice and growth with team work in your academic courses. Team work is a core competency of the Learning and Teaching Model.

Conference Board of Canada, Team Competencies

Employability Skills

The Conference Board of Canada lists 'working with others' and 'participate in projects and tasks' as needed skills for the current workplace. Employability skills are defined as "the generic skills, attitudes and behaviours that employers look for when they hire new recruits and that they seek to develop in their current employees."2

Work with Others
  • understand and work within the dynamics of a group
  • ensure that a team’s purpose and objectives are clear
  • be flexible: respect, and be open to and supportive of the thoughts, opinions, and contributions of others in a group
  • recognize and respect people’s diversity, individual differences, and perspectives
  • accept and provide feedback in a constructive and considerate manner
  • contribute to a team by sharing information and expertise
  • lead or support when appropriate, motivating a group for high performance
  • understand the role of conflict in a group to reach solutions
  • manage and resolve conflict when appropriate
Participate in Projects and Tasks
  • plan, design, or carry out a project or task from start to finish with well-defined objectives and outcomes
  • develop a plan, seek feedback, test, revise, and implement
  • work to agreed-upon quality standards and specifications
  • select and use appropriate tools and technology for a task or project
  • adapt to changing requirements and information
  • continuously monitor the success of a project or task and identify ways to improve
Interesting Fact:

One study, published in The Harvard Business Review, found that ‘‘the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more’’ over the last two decades and that, at many companies, more than three-quarters of an employee’s day is spent communicating with colleagues (Duhigg, 2016).

Watch this YouTube clip by author Patrick Lencioni who specializes in team development and organizational health. He speaks to the value and necessity of team development in the work world and how it truly effects every area of our life.

Group Work vs. Teamwork

There are some difference between group work and team work. Team work is less about 'me' and more focus is on 'we.' Teams come together to work towards a common goal. Team members have a shared understanding, ownership and contribution. The image below represents the varying dynamics in a group vs. team.

Left image shows six people working towards a common goal in a group where work is coordinated by someone else. Right image shows a group of people working towards a common goal who coordinate the work themselves.

Image retrieved from Rosanna Nadeau

“With a group, the whole is often equal to or less than the sum of its parts; with a team, the whole is always greater.”

Oakley, B., Felder, R., Brent, R. and Elhhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student-Centered Learning. Volume 2, No. 1. pp. 9-34.

Group Work vs. Teamwork (Continued)

There is a tendency when completing team work for each student to go into isolation to work on a specific part of an assignment, often with no input from other team members. Towards the end of the assignment team members might quickly combine each member’s section of a document and then upload the assignment for a grade. In this instance, very little collaboration takes place and students can’t take advantage of the deep learning that often occurs in teams

The intention with RRU teamwork is for you to interact with all members of your team on various aspects of the assignment, collaboratively forming a consensus and working together towards a common goal. There is a shared understanding of roles, responsibilities and timeline. Team cohesion is established through common understanding of each team member’s role and research.

The chart demonstrates the differences and similarities of work groups and teams. As you build and develop your team, keep your focus on 'teams!'

Work GroupsTeams

Individual accountability

Individual and mutual accountability

Come together to share information and perspectives

Frequently come together for discussion, decision making, problem solving and planning

Focus on individual goals Focus on team goals
Produce individual work products Produce collective work products
Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks

Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks to help team do its work; often share and rotate them

Concern with one’s own outcome and challenges Concern with outcomes of everyone and challenges the team faces
Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by one manager or leader Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by team leader with team members, collective approach


Oakley, B., Felder, R., Brent, R. and Elhhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student-Centered Learning. Volume 2, No. 1. Pg. 9-34.

Characteristics of a Successful Team

A recent study conducted within Google reveal why some groups thrive and others falter. One key characteristic of a thriving team is psychological safety. Psychological safety can be defined as “shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk- taking” (Duhigg, 2016).

How do you establish psychological safety within a team?
  • establish group norms and goals (are you all on the same page?
  • be inclusive and establish respect for sharing of ideas
  • acknowledge your teammates ideas and work
  • acknowledge your own mistakes and ask for help (vulnerability is a strength!)
  • encourage every team member to speak up and use their voice (creative ideas generate from every member!)
  • ask questions and encourage discussion
  • be assessable to your team (you quickly respond and answer questions and provide feedback)
  • embrace failures as learning opportunities (comfortable experimenting and okay to err, no finger pointing)

Team members and teams flourish when they have established mutual respect and interpersonal trust. It allows each member to show up as themselves fully and take creative risks and experiment. Try it out in your team, share your ideas and personal experiences, listen to others and ask questions!

Read this great article on building psychological safety as the foundation of team performance.


As discussed, psychological safety is a key element to the foundation of your team. One building block towards establishing safety is dependability. This means being predictable and valuable in your contributions to the team. Only agree to work you can do, and ask for help when you run into challenges. When you agree to a deadline, meet it. On some teams, dependability is assumed and the members disappointed when you demonstrate a lack of dependability. On other teams, dependability has to be earned. In either case, the best strategy is to establish some early, small, opportunities for everyone to demonstrate dependability. That way, trust and respect can be built up within the team.

Structure and Clarity

In order to be dependable, team members need to understand their roles and responsibilities within the group. You also need to be clear about expectations and deadlines. Take the time at the start of any team project to detail roles and responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines. That way, everyone knows what they are doing, how they are supposed to do it, and when things are due. Document this understanding down and make sure everyone has a chance to read, ask questions, and clarify their understanding before it comes into force. Once the understanding is in place, make sure everyone has access to the document. Team Agreements and Team Assignment Plans are two documents that your team coach will use to help you structure and clarify your teamwork.

Personally Meaningful

When team members work on projects that are personally meaningful, they are more likely to be invested in its success. Sometimes school projects are assigned by the instructor, which can mean members have limited investment in the project other than simply getting it in on time. On other projects, teams will have some choice. In either situation, take some time to find some meaning in the project by connecting it to personal interests, career goals, or even simply for the sake of practicing your team skills. Teams are more successful when everyone has some personal investment in the purpose of a team project.

Stages of Team Work

Developing and forming a team takes time as you establish trusted relationships and team goals and norms. Teams go through recognizable stages, which psychologist Bruce Tuckman identifies as the 5 Stages of Team Development, forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.

Watch this video to better understand the stages of team formation. This helps to normalize the process and possible barriers of your team’s development.

High Impact

Teams are also more successful when their work can have a high impact on the world around them. Team projects can change organizations or communities in small and significant ways. Be sure to connect team projects to the world; consider how these projects might influence business and community leaders, how it might impact key stakeholders, or even change how you think about an issue. Finding these connections and considering your team projects through these perspectives can help shape your project and also connect it to real world concerns.


The forming stage group members rely on safe behaviour, with a desire for acceptance. They gather impressions and data about the similarities and differences amongst team members.

Serious topics and feelings may be avoided and the major task is orientating. The team is orientating to the assignment and task as well as to one another. Teams discuss the scope of the task, how to approach it, concerns and next steps. To emerge from this stage to the next each member must relinquish the comfort of non- threatening topics and risk the possibility of conflict.

  • Confusion
  • Uncertainty
  • Assessing the situation
  • Testing ground rules
  • Feeling out others
  • Defining goals
  • Getting acquainted
  • Establishing rules


This stage is when team members start to experience some discomfort and challenges. Storming can start when there is a conflict between team members' natural working styles, vision, and team goals.

Storming can also occur if roles and process are not clearly defined, people may feel overwhelmed by the workload, or uncomfortable with the approach that was suggested. The team has an opportunity to address and re-align, however if badly managed this phase can be very destructive for the team.

  • Disagreement over priorities
  • Struggle for leadership
  • Tension
  • Hostility
  • Clique formation


The norming phase is when team members start to resolve their differences and appreciate and accept others’ strengths and respect and follows the selected process, timelines and roles.

Team members know each other better, offering support and guidance through the process. A foundation of trust is set where team members are able to ask one another for help and provide constructive feedback. There is a deeper commitment to the team goal and task, with progression forward.

There is sometimes an overlap between the storming and norming phase, as new tasks come up, the team may lapse back into behaviours from the storming phase.

  • Consensus
  • Leadership accepted
  • Trust established
  • Standards set
  • New stable roles
  • Co-operation


The team is starting to perform, collaborating, anticipating and adjusting to change. The work is more efficient and the team is motivated to successfully complete the end goal. There is higher productivity and team cohesion.

  • Successful performance
  • Flexible, task roles
  • Openness
  • Helpfulness
  • Delusion, disillusion and acceptance


The final stage is when the team is complete and there is disengagement. This stage happens at the end of a project or when organizations and teams are restructured. Team members separate and feelings of pride and accomplishment may be felt. Similar to mourning stage, team members may feel a sense of loss.

  • Disengagement
  • Anxiety about separation and ending
  • Positive feeling towards leader
  • Sadness
  • Self-evaluation

Personal Values

Now that you understand the value, characteristics and stages of a successful team it is critical that you dive deeper into your personal qualities and strengths. Understanding and sharing your strengths, leadership qualities, and personality attributes helps to form and build your diverse team. You will have an opportunity in Unit 1: Activities to take the following two assessments to deepen your knowledge of self.

ITP Metrics

ITP Metrics will be used throughout your team development and progression. At this stage it is highly encouraged for you to complete the personality section. You will receive a report that describes how your personality traits can relate to your team interactions and experiences in teamwork.

VIA Character Strengths

Understanding your strengths and your values will allow you to have a deeper conversation in a team setting. Once you have identified your personal values as a team you can better understand the group’s strengths, areas for improvement and overall functioning. Exploring your team’s interplay of character strengths can help to create synergy, as well as a positive work environment that can lead to higher performing teams.

A great resource and read that relates to character strengths is: Great Teams are About Personalities, Not Just Skills

Emotional Intelligence Framework

Emotional Intelligence is often referred to as a 'touchy-feely' soft skill, however business leaders alike agree that, "EI bolsters the hard skills, helping us think more creatively about how best to leverage our technical chops." (Harvard University, Emotional Intelligence is No Soft Skill)

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Daniel Goleman’s model (1998) focuses on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance, and consists of five areas:

  • Self-awareness: know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  • Self-regulation: manage or redirect one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social skill: manage other’s emotions to move people in the desired direction.
  • Empathy: recognize, understand, and consider other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
  • Motivation: motivate oneself to achieve for the sake of achievement.

Why does Emotional Intelligence Matter?

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and science journalist. He studies the brain and behavioural sciences and developed the argument that non-cognitive skills can matter as much as Intelligence Quotient (I.Q). Emotional Intelligence (EQ) or social intelligence requires one to have self-awareness of their goals, intentions, responses and behaviour. It also requires one to understand others and their feelings. Goleman states that emotional competencies are not innate talents, but learned capabilities that are developed.

How is this important to your team at RRU?

You are embarking on a journey where you will be interacting and working with diverse learners, which means you need to have a clear understanding of your behaviors and motivations so that you can fully develop an understand of others. As discussed through this unit, building a high performing team starts with knowing yourself and showing up in your team authentically. When you are better able to accept and understand you.

Daniel Goleman Competency Framework

Image Retrieved from EQ How

Personal Reflection

According to Senge (1994), reflection is the act of examining our own thinking. More specifically, it’s the process of “slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of how we form our mental models” (p. 236). Often these mental models are tacit and invisible unless we take steps to surface them, explore them in a non-defensive way, and potentially, to be willing to re-shape them in order to serve us more effectively.

Reflective thinking can be a great tool for debriefing situations and interactions that you or others feel have resulted in less-than desirable results. The following questions can help you cognitively revisit the situation and examine your own thinking:

  1. What has really led me to think and feel this way?
  2. What was my intention? What was I trying to accomplish?
  3. How might my thoughts, comments, or actions contributed to any difficulties with the situation?
  4. What remained unsaid or undeclared?
  5. What assumptions was I making about the other person or people?
  6. What prevented me from acting differently?
  7. How can I use reflective thinking as a resource to improve my communications?

Also, reflective thinking can be a great tool in use in your team – especially when team members feel they have reached an impasse or have achieved limited productivity. Sometimes, this frustration is a result of unsurfaced mental models that (1) are competing with each other; (2) are shared but undeclared; or (3) are shared but inadequate. Use these questions to help work through the frustrations that can accompany these apparent disconnects:

  1. What do we know as facts?
  2. What do we sense is true but cannot support with data?
  3. What don’t we know? What are our questions and imponderables?
  4. What is unknowable?
  5. What limited experiments can we design to test our current model?