During my junior and senior years at Oakton High School, I was on the Paragon Yearbook Staff. I was a staffer during my junior year, which simply meant I was part of the team without a specific leadership role. My job was to put together pictures and write copy for about 4-5 pages of the yearbook. Just about every new student to yearbook was a staffer. This role was basically a training position since there was so much to absorb about the formatting and everything that went into creating an award-winning yearbook.
The following year, my senior year, I took on the role of Sports Editor. With this leadership position came much responsibility, conflict, stress, etc. I learned much more about the creation of the yearbook from start to finish, and how to divide up pages and tasks within the staff. But most importantly, I learned how to manage the short amount of time that we had to complete a book that had to be published before June.
In a team as large and diverse as the Paragon Yearbook Staff, there are many types of problems that may arise and disrupt a team’s decision-making processes. According to Levi in “Group Dynamics for Teams”, three main causes of group decision-making problems include disagreements, time pressure to decide, and outside stress.
These three causes were all very prevalent to the yearbook staff in different ways. First, of course there was disagreement among the staff and editors. At the beginning of each year, it was the staffers’ and editors’ responsibility to come up with a theme for the yearbook . This resulted in a lot of heated disagreement for everyone involved. Second, the time pressure to decide on a theme kicked in among all the disagreement. Picking a theme for the book was only the beginning of a lot more work that was required to create a yearbook. Finally, outside stress also played a role as the year moved along. Every student in yearbook was involved in many other activities, a full schedule of classes, and on top of it all were deadlines for yearbook proofs. Together, these 3 things created a fair amount of conflict when making decisions for the betterment of the Paragon and the yearbook.
Now that I further understand the 3 main causes of team decision-making problems, I will apply this knowledge to the current teams I am on. I am lucky to have had many team decision-making experiences in high school that I can learn from as I enter many new teams at Virginia Tech. Working with teams has been, and continues to be, a great learning experience for me. There is so much that every student can learn from working with a team and having to make difficult decisions amongst disagreement, time pressure, and outside stress.