For the first assignment of the Marketing Management course, all students were assigned the task of individually creating a plan to open Chinese coffee shop Luckin in Jordan. This required conducting a market situational analysis of Jordan, identifying potential target markets and researching their characteristics, crafting a marketing strategy, planning out the implementation timeline and selecting control techniques, and projecting sales figures in contrast to the expected budget. Once done, we were assigned the task of coming together in teams to discuss and compare all parts of our individual marketing plans and combining our ideas to create the best plan describing how to open Luckin in Jordan, which would then be presented to our tutor via PowerPoint presentation.
The following is a reflection of the process, including my role in the team and the lessons I learned.
Looking back at the process, we can review the effectiveness of the team by using the GRPI (Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal Relationships) Model.
This model outlines the four stages of effectiveness teams will undergo: Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal Relationships. For a visual representation of the GRPI Model, please refer to Figure 1 shown below.
Figure 1: GRPI Model of Team Effectiveness
As described by the GRPI Model, teams will begin by focusing on a Goal. This first stage sees team members understanding their main purpose and required tasks, as well as the preferred outcomes and timeline/deadlines (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). As in the case with my group, we began by agreeing on the goal, which was to create a comprehensive marketing plan, outlining how to open Luckin Coffee in Jordan using our previously completely assignments, by the given deadline.
In the future, I can improve the outcome of this stage by ensuring the goal selected is a SMART goal, meaning it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (Lawlor and Hornyak, 2012). I believe this will help clear up any confusion of the teams goal early on and help to eliminate any confusion that may later arise.
After agreeing on the goals, the GRPI Model states teams will naturally shift to assigning Roles. During this stage, team members will agree on personal and shared roles and responsibilities as well as agree on the team leader (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). In our team, we mutually divided the presentation so that each person took one slide, which explained one aspect of the marketing plan. One person stood out as the leader, and as a result, he was given the responsibility of following-up with all team members and was selected as the focal point of the group. When working in teams in the future, I can increase the effectiveness of this stage by ensuring that all members not only understand their responsibilities, but that all tasks can be evaluated quantitively or qualitatively (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). This will help set up clear expectations for each member.
The GRPI Model then goes on to describe that as teams determine their goals and required activities, they must also agree on Processes as well. This involves determining how teammates will approach communicating with one another, the decision-making authority, how to manage any conflicts that may arise, and the work flow (Raue et. al, 2013). In our group, this stage was only half completed as we did discuss the main methods of communication, work flow, decision-making authority, but we did not discuss how to manage any conflicts that may arise. Looking back now, I think this may be due to the fact that we had agreed on the marketing plan outline and had assigned tasks, so we did not expect any conflicts to arise. To me, I think it is really important that in the future I make sure that methods of managing conflict are laid out initially and agreed by all team members. Conflict is a part of any team, so to prevent it from escalating and causing major damage, it is important that all agree early on how to deal with it.
Due to the very short nature of the project and the fact that our team did not meet regularly in person, we did not reach the Interpersonal Relationship stage, in which trust is established among team members, strong relationships are forged, greater collaboration is found, and methods of dealing with conflict are established (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). Now that I have significantly developed my understanding the stages teams will undergo, in the future, I will be better prepared to pass through the stages to maximize the effectiveness of my team. In the future, I will also work to ensure that the teams I am a part of will reach the Interpersonal Stage.
In order to ensure the future teams I am a part of will reach the last stage, I can ease the creation of relationships and increase the level of trust by taking into account the Emotional Bank Account (Watt, 2013). To contribute to a team members Emotional Bank Account, simple steps can be taken, such as offering small acts of kindness (such as smiling at or complimenting your teammates). This, in addition to following through on promises/commitments, will allow trust to be built among teammates. Other ways to contribute to someones emotional bank account include maintaining integrity and tryin earnestly g to understand each individual. If you make a withdrawal from someones account (i.e. break their trust), ensure that you apologize sincerely to them to foster the relationship and trust (Raue et. al, 2013). Various methods of depositing to and withdrawing from teammates emotional bank accounts can be found below in Figure 2.
Treat one another with kindness, courtesy, and respect Treat one another with unkindness, discourtesy, and disrespect
Keep commitments/promises Break commitments/promises
Seek first to understand and listen Assume you understand and refuse to listen
Sincerely apologize for any wrongdoings Act with arrogance or apologize without sincerity
Offering help to others Ignoring others
Figure 2: Emotional Bank Account – Deposits vs. Withdrawals
Once the group was assigned, we met to discuss and craft the combined marketing plan. Each group member took turns highlighting their marketing plans and the research they conducted. As the only group member with a business background, the group turned to me have the final say on each aspect of the final plan. As a result, I also led on assigning slides for each group member to complete, based on which member had the strongest corresponding topic in their individual assignment. To ensure I was being fair and not dictating decision-making, I made sure to seek feedback from the team. Once I ensured all members were in agreement with their roles and the plan, the plan was distributed to all members, and we left to complete the work at home, alone, and by the agreed upon deadline. Being that I was the only native English speaker in the group, it was also my responsibility to review the completed PowerPoint presentation at the end to ensure there were no spelling and grammatical errors.
Our group faced a number of challenges in creating the presentation. First, given the fact that we had less than a week to meet and decide on a finalized and combined marketing plan to present, lack of time was a major challenge. Looking back at our first meeting now, it is likely that team members were unmotivated to speak up against some aspects of the marketing plan that they might have felt were weak or highlight points that were not brought up by the group leader because we were rushed for time, and speaking up would have only delayed the process.
This challenge was further exacerbated by the fact that there was a gap in experience level of teammates for some, this was the third or fourth module, while for others, this was the first time completing an assignment for the University of Bedfordshire. Taking this into consideration now, and reflecting back on what happened, it is fair to say that those who felt less experienced were less likely to speak up and instead went with the flow of the team because they were less confident than those who were more experienced. Those who were more experienced (like me) completed the majority of the decision-making and had their ideas heard more because they were more confident. This is important to note because confidence is infectious, and a number of studies show that teams are more likely to follow those that display confidence (Taylor and Humphrey, 2002).
It is also probable that, for reasons similar to those listed above, our team suffered from groupthink. Groupthink occurs when team members prioritize harmony and agreement, which often leads to complaisance and poor decision-making (B?nabou, 2012). The desire to agree on a plan and quickly, in combination with the effects of groupthink, likely meant that our team settled for a weaker comprehensive plan than if each team member had felt they could challenge what another was saying or offer new perspectives. In the future, I can help avoid groupthink by ensuring all teammates take part in brainstorming ideas and feel comfortable to share their thoughts and opinions.
After the presentation, the tutor provided useful feedback that can be used to improve future presentations in the academic and work realm. The main points of feedback and methods to improve are listed below:
Even though our group had followed the guidelines laid out in the assignment, our tutor commented that some of the slides had too much text. He pointed the slides we created that had tables and graphics were much easier to read and follow than slides with only text. Since PowerPoint is a very common method of presentation that I will use in future classes and for work-related projects, I decided it was worthwhile to research the its best practices. I have listed my top three take-aways below:
1. PowerPoint slides with full-sentence headlines (written as statements, not questions) have greater rates of retention than compared to slides with one word/phrase headlines (Garner et al., 2009)
2. Not only is reading the slides verbatim extremely dull to the audience, the redundancy principle states that it actually leads to a lower retention rate (Mayer & Johnson, 2008)
3. While tables, pictures, and graphs are preferred to deliver information clearly, research shows unrelated pictures and 3D graphs tend to decrease retention and learning (Stewart et. al, 2009)
While all three of these points are simple, I was surprised by what I learned. For me, the most surprising learning came from the first point mentioned above; I have always thought that slides with shorter headlines/key words were more professional than full sentences. Knowing what I know now, I will ensure my presentations in the future facilitate learning and increase retention by easily applying these rules to future presentations.
Sources of Research/Supplementary Data
The tutor was really helpful when providing feedback that related to the selection sources and research/supplementary data. Since students at the University of Bedfordshire – Jordan do not have access to the University of Bedfordshires online database of academic journals and other sources, it has been difficult to find research to support our assignments. The tutor offered a number of databases that students can use to access academic sources for free. While our host university also has a library, it is fairly far from the main city of Amman. As a result, it encouraged me to think of alternative and more feasible options; I realized there are multiple universities around the city that allow students to use their resources and libraries. In the future, I will ensure the sources I refer to are strong and academic by planning time to visit the libraries of local universities around the city in addition to spending time researching through online academic databases and journals.
Due to the fact that my team only met once to set a workplan and assign roles and then briefly before the presentation to practice, we did not present a cohesive image. The presentation would have been much stronger if we had practiced together as a team. The tutor even commented that while, each team member presented well individually, when put together, he could tell it seemed like we were forcing random pieces of a puzzle together. While we as a team would have liked to meet to practice the presentation, it was difficult to organize something in the six days we were given from the submission of the first assignment and the due date to present the teams marketing plan. All teammates work full-time, had very differing schedules, and lived in different parts of the city. Looking back at it now, we did not understand the value of meeting to go over the assignment. It would have been extremely useful to set aside an hour or two to review all parts of the presentation together and run through who was going to say what. This would have helped us present more cohesively and more comfortably. Going forward, I will stress the need to sit together before we present, and if scheduling conflicts get in the way to meet in-person, I will explore the possibility to meet via online/digital methods (i.e. Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.), so that all team members are on the same page and will feel comfortable to present as a team.
In summary, meeting together with my assigned team was useful in that it helped expose me to different ways of thinking and approaching the assignment. It also offered me the chance to reflect on what aspects of the first assignment I could have improved on and allowed me to learn how other students went about conducting research and organizing their plans, which will definitely be of use to me in the future. This assignment taught me a number of valuable lessons that I will be able to apply when working in future teams and when presenting PowerPoint presentations. These lessons include better knowledge of PowerPoint best practices, the value of citing academic sources and where to find them, and the importance of setting aside time to ensure the cohesiveness of the presentation. Keeping these tips in mind, I expect to be better equipped when approaching my next team project and to increase my contribution to the effectiveness of the team.