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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5

UNIT 5 Team building MODULE A:
A1: Background information and class activities (SPEAKING) A2: Testing material

MODULE B:
B1: Writing skills B2: Written test question format and testing material

Essential resources (dictionaries)
Longman: http://www.ldoceonline.com/ Oxford: http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ Macmillan: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/ Cambridge: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ Cobuild: http://www.mycobuild.com/free-search.aspx Merriam-Webster’s (American English): http://www.learnersdictionary.com/

Extra resources
British English / grammar (BBC ENGLISH): http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/askaboutenglish/ British English / reading, listening and vocabulary (BBC ENGLISH): http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/wordsinthenews/ British English (news, BBC): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ American English (news, VOA): http://www.voanews.com/ American English (learning English, VOA): http://learningenglish.voanews.com/

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5

MODULE A1 Background info and class activities (SPEAKING)
#1 GROUPS AND TEAMS In today’s business environment, very little can be accomplished by an individual working alone, and an understanding of group processes and dynamics has become crucial to success, because these bring together people from different backgrounds, with different personalities, temperaments and areas of expertise. What is, after all, the main difference between a team and a group? While groups are more heterogeneous, teams, by contrast, are homogeneous. Basically, teams consist of organized groups of people committed to a common purpose or goal, to which they hold themselves mutually responsible. The key is a common purpose and a sense of mission. Groups can only become teams through disciplined, unified action. The single greatest impediment to teamwork is when individuals consider that being recognised is more important than achieving the set goal. While individual expression is vital to a team’s success, the trick is to be able to figure out how to organize and structure your team and team effort so that everyone gets to do what they really want to do, as much as possible. Bringing out each person’s strengths and creating a collaborative environment are the prime goals of group success, but still, everything starts with the individual. Today’s business organisations and managers must recognise and nurture people’s strengths, skills and aptitudes, while at the same time enabling and doing justice to collaborative efforts. The balancing of individual needs and strengths with the goals of an entire team as a whole can be rather complicated and, as a matter of fact, teams and groups don’t always work as smoothly as originally intended.

1. 2. 3. 4.

Have you ever worked within a group or team? Can you make a difference between the two? Think of a few advantages and disadvantages regarding teamwork. Do work teams have to be led? Do you think that a more personal relationship (e.g. marriage, parents & children) can be considered analogous to teamwork? If so, how can professional team working skills benefit from such a background?

#2 WHERE TEAMS GO WRONG Sometimes, the barriers to effective teamwork can be quite subtle: personality conflicts, language issues or conflicting expectations. Perhaps different backgrounds and training may make it hard for team members to understand each other’s ideas. There are also the nearly universal hindrances of hidden agendas, power plays, failure to listen or a lack of adequate communication skills in general. It’s important, though, to recognise that the barriers to effective teamwork usually don’t involve the content of the project itself.

5. 6. 7. 8.

How can a hidden agenda affect teamwork? Describe a possible scenario of a personality conflict within a team. How can teamwork be improved? Do you think that work teams can stifle individual enterprise, creativity and initiative? Explain.

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5 #3 EFFECTIVE GROUPING The place to start is understanding what happens when people try to work together. There are certain patterns that people often fall into, and being aware of them can help prevent problems. The first step is to create limitless options by brainstorming and putting all ideas on the table. We need to encourage everyone to be creative and think outside the box. We also need to keep people from taking a stand too early and also to do our best in order to avoid camp-forming. Second, we should mix groups from time to time to pre-empt an exclusive us-versus-them mentality. Third, we would need to encourage a dialogue and not start a debate. Eventually, groups need to sit down and make plans. They must clarify their outcomes and brainstorm all the options suggested.

9. In your own words, describe the process of brainstorming within a team. 10. What do you understand by “thinking outside the box”, as a team member? Give a few examples. 11. What can happen if you take a stand too early, as a team member? 12. Why can camp-forming be disruptive to teamwork? 13. Describe some possible problems arising from starting a debate instead of encouraging a dialogue within a work team.

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5 #4 ROLES OF TEAM MEMBERS In constructing teams, it’s important not just to get talented people, but the right combination of talents. In the famous phrase, “it’s important to have a great team of minds, rather than a team of great minds”. Meredith Belbin sees these types as necessary in teams, whether in business or elsewhere:         the Implementer, who converts the team’s plan into something achievable; the Co-ordinator, who sets agendas, defines team-members’ roles and keeps objectives in view; the Shaper, who defines issues, shapes ideas and leads the action, the Plant, who provides the original ideas and finds new approaches when the team is stuck; the Resource Investigator, who communicates with the outside world and finds new ways to get things done; the Monitor Evaluator, who evaluates information objectively and draws accurate conclusions from it; the Team Worker, who builds the team, supports others and reduces conflict; the Completer Finisher, who gets the deadlines right.

This model lends itself better to some business situations than others, but the idea of roles and competencies in a team is important, whatever form these take in particular situations. Some organisations are more hierarchical and less democratic than others, and team members are obviously expected to behave more deferentially in the former. Senior managers there have the traditional leader’s role: what they say goes. In other organisations, power is more devolved, and managers talk about, or at least pay lip-service to, the empowerment of those under them: the idea that decision-making should be decentralized to members of their teams. In addition to the traditional organisation, we increasingly find virtual organisations and virtual teams. People are brought together for a particular project and then disbanded. Here, in addition to Belbin’s types above, the role of the Selector / Facilitator is crucial.

14. If you were a team member, which of the above roles would suit you best and why? 15. Explain which of the above role(s) could be taken on by a possible team member who is (a) shy, diffident or (b) outgoing, assertive by nature? 16. What is a virtual team? Would you prefer to be part of it, instead of getting involved in traditional teamwork? Explain. 17. How do you see empowerment within a team, in relation to decision making?

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5 #5 STAGES OF TEAM LIFE The typical team is said to go through a number of stages during its existence. First, forming. At this stage, the group is anxious and feels dependent on a leader. The group will be attempting to discover how it is going to operate, what the `normal` behaviours will be: how supportive, how critical, how serious and how humorous the group will be. Second, storming. At this point, the atmosphere may be one of conflict, with rebellion against the leader, conflict between sub-groups and resistance to control. There is likely to be resistance to the task, and even the sense that the task is impossible. Third, norming. At this stage, members of the group feel closer together and the conflicts are settled, or at least, forgotten. Members of the group will start to support each other. There is increasingly the feeling that the task is possible to achieve. Fourth, performing. Right now, the group is carrying out the task for which it was formed. Roles within the group are flexible, with people willing to do the work normally done by others. Members feel safe enough to express differences of opinion in relation to others. Fifth and last, mourning. The group is disbanded; its members begin to feel nostalgic about its activities and achievements. Perhaps they go for a drink or a meal to celebrate.

18. If you have ever been part of a team, how did you relate to the stages of team life described above? 19. Which of the above stage(s) is / are, in your opinion, the most important? Explain. 20. Can teamwork skip any of the above stages? Explain. Input texts adapted from Margareta Petruț, Eugenia Irimiaș, STEPS TO EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION, Argonaut, Cluj-Napca, © 2008; Bill Mascull, MARKET LEADER – UPPERINTERMEDIATE, TEACHER’S RESOURCE BOOK, Longman, Harlow, © 2004; output questions by Adrian Ciupe, © 2012.

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5

MODULE A2 Testing material
#1 GROUPS AND TEAMS In today’s business environment, very little can be 1____accomplished by an individual working alone, and an understanding of group processes and 2____dynamics has become crucial to success, because these bring together people from different 3____backgrounds, with different personalities, 4____temperaments and areas of 5____expertise. What is, after all, the main difference between a team and a group? While groups are more 6____heterogeneous, teams, by contrast, are 7____homogeneous. Basically, teams consist of organized groups of people committed to a common purpose or goal, to which they 8____hold themselves mutually responsible. The key is a common purpose and a sense of mission. Groups can only become teams 9____through disciplined, 10____unified action. The single greatest impediment to teamwork is when individuals consider that being recognised is more important than 11____achieving the set goal. While individual expression is vital to a team’s success, the 12____trick is to be able to figure out how to organize and structure your team and team effort so that everyone gets to do what they really want to do, as much as possible. Bringing out each person’s 13____strengths and creating a 14____collaborative environment are the prime goals of group success, but still, everything starts with the individual. Today’s business organisations and managers must recognise and 15____nurture people’s strengths, skills and 16____aptitudes, while at the same time 17____enabling and doing 18____justice to collaborative efforts. The balancing of individual needs and strengths with the goals of an entire team as a whole can be rather complicated and, as a matter of fact, teams and groups don’t always work as 19____smoothly as originally intended. #2 WHERE TEAMS GO WRONG Sometimes, the barriers to effective 20____teamwork can be quite 21____subtle: personality conflicts, language 22____issues or conflicting expectations. Perhaps different backgrounds and 23____training may make it hard for team members to understand each other’s ideas. There are also the nearly universal 24____hindrances of hidden agendas, power plays, failure to listen or a lack of 25____adequate communication skills in general. It’s important, though, to recognise that the barriers to effective teamwork usually don’t involve the 26____content of the project itself. #3 EFFECTIVE GROUPING The place to start is understanding what happens when people try to work together. There are certain 27____patterns that people often 28____fall into, and being aware of them can help 29____prevent problems. The first step is to create limitless options by 30____brainstorming and putting all ideas on the 31____table. We need to encourage everyone to be creative and think outside the 32____box. We also need to keep people from taking a 33____stand too early and also to do our best in order to avoid 34____camp-forming. Second, we should mix groups from time to time to 35____pre-empt an exclusive us-versus-them mentality. Third, we would need to encourage a dialogue and not start a debate. Eventually, groups need to sit down and 37____make plans. They must clarify their 38____outcomes and brainstorm all the options suggested. #4 ROLES OF TEAM MEMBERS In constructing teams, it’s important not just to get talented people, but the right combination of talents. In the famous 39____phrase, “it’s important to have a great team of minds, rather than a 6

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5 team of great minds”. Meredith Belbin sees these types as necessary in teams, whether in business or 40____elsewhere: the 41____Implementer, who converts the team’s plan into something 42____achievable; the Co-ordinator, who sets 43____agendas, defines team-members’ roles and keeps objectives in 44____view; the 45____Shaper, who defines issues, shapes ideas and 46____leads the action; the 47____Plant, who provides the original ideas and finds new approaches when the team is 48____stuck; the Resource Investigator, who communicates with the 49____outside world and finds new ways to get things done; the Monitor Evaluator, who evaluates information objectively and 50____draws 51____accurate conclusions from it; the Team Worker, who builds the team, supports others and reduces conflict; the Completer Finisher, who gets the 52____deadlines right. This model 53____lends itself better to some business situations than others, but the idea of roles and 54____competencies in a team is important, whatever form these take in particular situations. Some organisations are more 55____hierarchical and less democratic than others, and team members are obviously expected to behave more 56____deferentially in the 57____former. Senior managers there have the traditional leader’s role: what they say 58____goes. In other organisations, power is more 59____devolved, and managers talk about, or at least pay 60____lip-service to, the 61____empowerment of those under them: the idea that decision-making should be 62____decentralized to members of their teams. In addition to the traditional organisation, we 63____increasingly find virtual organisations and virtual teams. People are brought together for a particular project and then 64____disbanded. Here, in addition to Belbin’s types above, the role of the Selector / Facilitator is crucial. #5 STAGES OF TEAM LIFE The typical team is said to go 65____through a number of stages during its existence. First, forming. At this stage, the group is anxious and feels 66____dependent on a leader. The group will be attempting to discover how it is going to operate, what the `normal` behaviours will be: how 67____supportive, how critical, how serious and how 68____humorous the group will be. Second, 69____storming. At this point, the atmosphere may be one of conflict, with 70____rebellion against the leader, conflict between sub-groups and 71____resistance to control. There is likely to be 72____resistance to the task, and even the sense that the task is impossible. Third, 73____norming. At this stage, members of the group feel closer together and the conflicts are 74____settled, or at least, forgotten. Members of the group will start to support each other. There is 75____increasingly the feeling that the task is possible to 76____achieve. Fourth, performing. Right now, the group is 77____carrying out the task for which it was formed. Roles within the group are flexible, with people 78____willing to do the work normally done by others. Members feel safe enough to express differences of opinion in relation to others. Fifth and last, 79____mourning. The group is 80____disbanded; its members begin to feel nostalgic about its activities and achievements. Perhaps they go for a drink or a meal to celebrate. Input texts adapted from Margareta Petruț, Eugenia Irimiaș, STEPS TO EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION, Argonaut, Cluj-Napca, © 2008; Bill Mascull, MARKET LEADER – UPPERINTERMEDIATE, TEACHER’S RESOURCE BOOK, Longman, Harlow, © 2004; output questions by Adrian Ciupe, © 2012.

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5

MODULE B1 Writing skills (CVs, BUSINESS LETTERS)

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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5

MODULE B2  Written test question format (OPEN CLOZE 1)  Testing material
TIPS AND STRATEGIES:      Remember that you will have to fill in ONLY with a preposition (c.f. expressions including dependent prepositions) or an adverbial particle (c.f. phrasal verbs) – no other parts of speech! Remember that the preposition / adverbial particle should correctly form a prepositional phrase or a phrasal verb (you will have sufficient clues in the surrounding context). Before filling in, look carefully at the context immediately to the left and / or to the right of each blank – you will find the clues there. The preposition / particle you need is EXPLICITLY required by an incomplete fixed expression (prepositional phrase or phrasal verb). Remember that ONLY ONE preposition / particle is correct – no multiple versions will be possible. Check your answers at the end.

#1 QUICK TEST      A lot of companies are going 1____a process of change. A team leader’s first responsibility is 2____his colleagues. All companies must comply 3____the regulations. All fees are subject 4____review. An interview normally forms part 5____ the selection process.

#2 QUICK TEST      As a matter of principle one should never yield 1____unethical business practices. Because the regulations impose new requirements 2____small businesses, they will prove costly. Being the only wage earner put a great burden of responsibility 3____my father. Britain threatened to break 4____diplomatic relations with the regime. Bronson claimed that Johnson had gone back 5____his word.

#3 QUICK TEST      Confidence is an essential requirement 1____success. Croatia broke 2____all relations with Serbia. Demand 3____consumer products has increased. Diana was happy to agree 4____his request. Failure to comply 5____these requirements is a criminal offence.

#4 QUICK TEST      Firefighters led the children 1____safety. Further details will be sent 2____request. Good industrial / labour relations are 3____everyone’s best interests. Government bodies are bound by statutory regulations 4____race discrimination. He built 5____a good rapport with the children. 9

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION / UNIT 5 #5 QUICK TEST      He can’t be identified 1____security reasons. He derived great satisfaction 2____knowing his son had followed in his footsteps. He found it difficult to put ideas 3____words. He gave a powerful speech calling 4____unity. He had an excellent rapport 5____his clients.

#6 QUICK TEST      He has put 1____a request for two weeks' holiday. He is the only candidate who has demonstrated that he is a man 2____principle. He left 3____a word of apology. He recommended that the matter should be kept 4____review. He took great satisfaction 5____ doing his job well.

#7 QUICK TEST      Help came 1____the shape of a $10,000 loan from his parents. His contract is coming 2____for review. His pride 3____the quality of his craftsmanship made him a difficult team member. I got the job because Paul put 4____a good word for me. I never know whether to take him 5____his word.

#8 QUICK TEST     I realise that he hasn’t come 1____with any new ideas, but 2____the same token we haven’t needed any. I solved the problem 3____a process of elimination. I spilt the coffee, burning myself 4____the process. I’ve had no problem 5____recruiting staff.

#9 QUICK TEST     1____the end, the company’s grand scheme came 2____nothing. It’s a lot cheaper if you buy it 3____quantity. It’s a very small firm and if you do something bad, word gets 4____. It’s against my principles to connive 5____shady business deals.

#10 QUICK TEST      Much of the land was 1____poor quality. No one has yet carried 2____a review of the system. Not all staff can participate 3____the decision-making process. 4____retiring, she delivered an emotional farewell speech. Once George starts talking it’s difficult to get a word 5____edgeways.

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