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Management Skills Development in Volunteers

Observations are useful aspects of any research study which involves investigation of issues through naturalistic inquiries into participants’ behavior, actions, decisions, interactions, and events resulting from these (Jorgensen). In this observatory paper activities of a peer group comprised of volunteers from the classroom are studied to identify different issues that are considered relevant and important in regards to the development of management skills.

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The group was formed by accepting volunteers from the class population. The group comprised 12 participants who took the task of developing a small business plan for a coffee shop in CITY NAME. The group was assigned a group leader by the instructor whose role was to ensure a collaborative effort between group members. The role of the leader and behavior of the entire group unveiled different important aspects of building a successful team and achieving the task at hand. From this observation activity, five characteristics of a successful team can be pointed out with reference to the group’s actions.

Through observation notes the five characteristics could be suggested as strong leadership and rotation of roles, encouraging participation and communication, demonstrating trust and respect for others, ensuring completion of tasks, and managing conflicts between team members. Definite leadership is a crucial element of a successful team which can ensure that the team members remain motivated to achieve the overall objective of the exercise. The group leader is responsible for gathering setting up tasks and schedules for other participants, managing them, and also most importantly recording responses from participants and cultivating ideas to develop the final business plan. The group leader’s role could therefore be suggested to be that of influencing other’s behavior and encourage them to take on responsibilities within the group to achieve their individual tasks and overall objective of the team. It is also observed that assigning tasks could create problems and therefore resistance from team members could be overcome by finding the best task suitable for participant’s skills. For this, it is also important that the leader has prior information regarding the knowledge pool of the team and therefore he/she could communicate to the team members according to their level of understanding. Participants are observed to be a little hesitant to contribute in the group at first as the majority of them did not understand the task and it is therefore important for the leader to balance between both informal and formal discussions so that team members can have relaxing nerves and allow mind blogging which could generate more interesting and fruitful ideas. However, the selection of communication techniques surely depends on the situation and conditions prevailing at the time of team activity.

Through communication and persuasion activities the leader can actually create an environment within the team which is more proactive and it can deal with difficult tasks in a shorter period of time. Managing individuals also require that it influences individuals’ attitudes towards another member of the group. It is observed that if participants understand each other positions in the group and respect others for their contribution then the achievability of the task can actually become a possibility. It is, therefore, necessary for the leader to undertake trust-building exercises and appreciate team members for their contributions. Finally, management of conflicts within the group is an important aspect of successful team building as the leader of the group should maintain an unbiased role and should strive for resolving issues based on an assessment of the issue and moreover through a judgmental approach.


Jorgensen, D.L. Participant observation: a methodology for human studies. London: Sage Publications, 1989.

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