Anticipating Communication Barriers
This is an example of when I worked with a virtual group to identify potential breakdowns in communication with each other, which would be solely online. We conducted strategies in advance in order to avoid some common problems that could block our communication during our project development.
Crisis Communication Class-Group Project
In a crisis communication course I took at UALR, I worked with two others to develop a crisis management plan (CMP) for a local business. This class was completely online and we had different schedules so we were unsure of how we’d work together to create the plan.
We had to figure how to work together in an online setting to accomplish a large task.
One of the first things we did was create a group contract that outlined our expectations for group behavior. We discussed task related rules such as “use email to share files” and “set reasonable deadlines” as well as social rules such as “reply to emails within 24 hours” and “update each other on progress and let us know if you cannot meet a deadline.” These were norms we wanted to establish among our group to help us communicate often and well. We also created a document that detailed our schedules so that we could coordinate times to be online at the same time or Skype. Before we began developing the CMP, we discussed our strengths and weaknesses to find out how to most effectively distribute tasks among us.
Establishing group rules before any work started helped foster honest communication and a stronger team bond. As a result, we were able to avoid the negative pattern of group members not communicating or participating. Talking about our strengths allowed us bypass potential frustrations that could have come from “getting stuck” with a part of the assignment one of us wasn’t very equipped or excited to do. Sharing our schedules allowed us to be respectful of each other’s time and know when we’d be able to ask questions and expect feedback from each other.
To illustrate this, I will quote from my final reflection paper I wrote at the completion of the course. “This is one of few group projects that has actually been successful, as far as group work and cooperation. We all took responsibility for our role throughout the semester and worked well together.” “I was uneasy of doing group work in an online setting”, but “there weren’t even any conflicts between us.”