Making Task Groups Work in Your World

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9780139060410: Making Task Groups Work in Your World

This book focuses on leading task groups in a variety of settings, and deals with the way in which they develop and function. A conceptual model is profiled to help groups attain a balance between process and content—to make their work as efficient and effective as possible. The 3-phase conceptual model (warm-up, action, and closure) is linked to a series of cases from practicing leaders who work with a variety of task groups. These cases provide real-life examples of the use of warm-up, action, and closure, along with six scenarios covering a wide range of work/task group settings. Probing questions at the end of each chapter help readers develop their own framework for effectively designing, implementing, and concluding the work of task groups. These exercises provide an opportunity to visualize actual problem situations and to practice developing appropriate solutions. For individuals who recognize the importance of being part of a group, and effectively leading that group to the achievement of its goals—especially in the areas of counseling and social work, organizational development, non-profit management, and business.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

From the Inside Flap :

Preface

The annual meeting of the board of the directors of the small-town volunteer rescue squad was scheduled for 7:00 PM. The meeting usually consisted of two meetings: one in which the outgoing board members were retired and the incoming members voted in; a second in which the new board assumed its position, elected officers, and moved on with the work at hand. At this gathering were some 20 people, including six new board members, five rescue squad volunteers, and nine existing board members (six of whom would be retiring).

During the first meeting, the new board members sat quietly while the others conducted business, going through a lengthy series of annual reports, old business, and the election of the new board. The second meeting finally began at 9:15 PM. At 9:25 PM., for the first time that evening, the new members were asked to briefly introduce themselves. One of the new members (who also happens to be a co-author of this book) thought, "This is a terrific example of why people avoid or burn out on public service. Now I know firsthand what we mean by the need for effective task groups." Half a dozen new, enthusiastic, excited, and interested members had arrived to take their place in supporting this vital public service; and by the time their presence was acknowledged, they were tired, the meeting had lasted much later than they had been led to believe, and many of them felt like rubber stamps for a chair who was pushing his agenda as if no one else in the room existed.

Such experiences are all too common in groups, organizations, agencies, schools, and communities across the country. People are bored in meetings, time is wasted, and often nothing seems to get done despite hours of discussion, debate, and sometimes rancorous arguments. We are told that civic responsibility is a thing of the past. People run for local and regional offices on one-issue campaigns that are frequently more exclusionary than inclusionary. In many parts of the country, getting people to run for local or regional elected offices is a daunting task. And while the concepts of community, collaboration, cooperation, and communication are widely trumpeted, their actual practice in our day-to-day community lives is not as common as some yearn for.

Our collective work over the past three decades leads us to offer this book to those who believe that effective task groups can indeed move society in positive directions. Perhaps now more than ever, task groups are a fact of life in volunteer, community, professional, work, political, and educational settings. A central key to their future effectiveness, and therefore to people's willingness to proactively participate and move society forward, is the way they are organized and run, especially given increasing competition for time and commitment to task group activities.

This book is centered around the notion that process (the way we conduct our groups) and content (what we want to achieve) need to be balanced. This balance is attainable if we make the concepts of warm-up, action, and closure the guiding principles for running task groups. To make these concepts come to life, we have drawn together a rich and diverse group of people who share their stories on the application (or lack thereof) of these concepts in a wide range of settings.

In Chapter 1 we present our assumptions about task groups. The chapter also introduces six scenarios with fictional leaders. These situations, drawn from a composite of real-life experiences, are used throughout the book to illuminate various elements of warm-up, action, and closure.

In Chapters 2, 3, and 4, we focus on warm-up, action, and closure. In addition to using the scenarios introduced in Chapter 1, these chapters draw extensively on the words of the contributors. Writing specifically for this book, they share stories from a wide array of task groups to illuminate the value of warm-up, action, and closure in balancing process and content. The contributors write about

A county-wide coalition for creating a leadership center under the

auspices of a community college A high school Sophomore Awareness Program The committees in a state legislature A small business A task force of a national association An impoverished group in the Philippines A college student group focused on ways of undoing racism A multi-faith grassroots organization addressing social change A nine-county health system agency's executive board A children's group focused on school and family concerns

In Chapter 5 we synthesize the major elements of warm-up, action, and closure. We suggest that, in a world in which face-to-face groups are a growing phenomenon, attention to these concepts as ways to balance process and content will leave us with effective groups and, more significantly, increased harmony in society because of the work these groups do.

Chapter 6 revisits the six scenarios introduced in Chapter 1 and offers a plan of action for each situation. Each plan draws from all the elements of warm-up, action, and closure that have been described in previous chapters.

At the end of each chapter, we have included Points to Ponder, which can be used as discussion starters on the material covered in the chapter. Acknowledgments

On the weekend before a recent annual American Counseling Association's world conference, Diana Hulse-Killacky and Jim Killacky spent a few hours in their New Orleans home developing a detailed outline for this book. Jerry Donigian joined their conversation by phone during the next couple of days. Diana and Jerry met with Merrill/Prentice Hall editor Kevin Davis early during an ACA conference, and by the end they had agreed on a book contract. Thus, a work that we had long discussed and prepared for was launched.

Our distinguished contributors A1 Alcazar, Mary Cathcart, Issy Cross, Alice Cryer-Sumler, Mary Frenning, Courtland Lee, John Phillips, Don Reichard, and Larry Stokes have had important roles in the creation of the book. Sam Gladding has been a dear friend and colleague, and his unfailing encouragement and support inspired us at several key points in our work. Our discussions about the book with practicing group leaders in a wide range of settings have resulted in enthusiastic responses. The three of us have developed into an effective task group in the process of writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more. Finally, all those leaders-good, bad, and indifferent—who we have met in our own development may recognize themselves in these pages.

Kurt Kraus, assistant professor of counseling at Shippensburg University, created the figures that depict varying combinations of process and content in warm-up, action, and closure phases of task groups. He was especially creative in designing his drawings to match the scenarios of our fictional leaders.

Finally, thanks to the following reviewers for their comments on the manuscript: Brenda Bova, University of New Mexico; Lynn Bromley, Southern Maine Technical College; Andrew L. Carey, Shippensburg University; Robert K. Conyne, University of Cincinnati; Martha G. Forbes, National Association of Social Workers; Joseph B. Kelley, Pinehurst School; Malcolm E. Linville, University of Missouri, Kansas City; Sandy Magnuson, Texas Tech University; Vivian L. McCollum, University of New Orleans; Fred B. Newton, Kansas State University; Paul M. Terry, University of Memphis; Herman A. Theeke, Central Michigan University; and Sherman A. Timmins, University of Toledo.

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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