Critical Book Review
EDU 713
Mary Jo Jones Gregory

Summary:

In Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Members and Leaders, Wheelan attempts to provide the reader with a manual that assists in building effective teams. Wheelan, a world-known author, speaker, and consultant, uses her knowledge and experience to offer advice on the effective formation of teams. The author emphasizes the effectiveness a group can attain when working together as a team. She discusses the transformation of a work group to a team. Wheelan states that this book of strategies will help the reader “find his/her work groups transformed into high performance teams” (pg. 5). The author creatively places interesting, suitable anecdotes throughout the chapters to help illustrate important points to be made. She also uses checklists after each chapter to help the reader self-reflect on the effectiveness of his/her current level of performance in the teaming stages. Wheelan’s teaming stages basically agree with Friend and Cook’s stages in Interactions, “forming, storming, norming, performing” (pg. 61 ) She discusses teaming formation stages in extensive detail offering advice and devotes a chapter on each stage: navigating stage 1, surviving stage 2, reorganizing stage 3, and sustaining stage 4. In addition to checklists and anecdotes, these four chapters also offer real-world scenarios and suggestions on “what you can do” in different situations throughout these stages. The author also designates one chapter to becoming an effective team member and another is devoted to becoming an effective team leader. This book is designed to be revisited when needed during the different stages of team formation.

Evaluation:

Dr. Susan Wheelan, author of Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Members and Leaders, is very well versed in teaming and collaboration. She has written many books and articles on creating effective teams and collaboration. She has been involved in research on group and organizational development, taught at Temple University, led the Training and Development Center at Temple University, and provided consultation to a wide variety of organizations and businesses world-wide on topics such as executive development, teaming, faculty collaboration, dealing with difficult employees, and conflict management. She presently serves as President of GDQ Associates, Inc. This edition of the book (2005) is the 2nd edition in which she has included additions such as: new case examples which she has witnessed, heard, or been told about over the last few years, and new information that has emerged since the 1st edition of the book was released. She works diligently to provide the reader with research-based information and notifies the reader if she is speculating. The coverage of the information on the stages of team development is in depth and very informative. In my opinion, this book would be beneficial to read to get the big idea of teaming and then consult the guide throughout the stages in which your team is engaged during the formation process. Otherwise, the reader may be overwhelmed with the immense information provided in this book. I think the author’s emphasis on creating effective teams from work groups is commendable. She describes each stage of team formation in great detail and provides real-world stories to help the reader comprehend her information. She also provides the reader with keys to productivity, which could definitely help a leader and a team member when creating an effective team. Wheelan does an excellent job at portraying the leader of an effective team as more of a collaborator than a consultant. This information will definitely help me become a more effective team member and team leader at my school, home, church, etc.
The strengths of this book include the following: the evaluative checklists provided after each chapter, the real-world scenarios provided to illustrate important points made by the author, the subject bibliography provided at the conclusion of the book,the in-depth detail devoted to each team formation stage, and the format was reader-friendly. The checklists allow the reader to assess his/her effectiveness as a team member during the different stages of formation. The real-world scenarios help the reader to relate to the information presented. The subject bibliography assists the reader in a quick-reference tool on other resources dealing with the same topics. The in-depth detail of the stages of team formation is very informative and helpful to a team who may be encountering similar experiences. Also the “What can you do” section provides the reader with the author’s knowledgeable advice on suggestions in which the team members can utilize during these stages of creating effective teams. The format of the book was easy to navigate and each chapter was divided similarly: Goals, Anecdotes or examples, Advice. To me, this format was very helpful in attempting to comprehend the material.
The weakness of this book includes the following: the enormous amount of information presented in this book can be very overwhelming. The vast amount of content on team formation is very overpowering. The information is very detailed and can overload the reader. I felt the author attempted to assist the reader with the abundance of information by using a reader-friendly format, but I did experience this overloading feeling during my first read of this book. I feel that maybe a workbook of outlines or graphic organizers would better serve the reader to organize his/her information as he/she reads the book.

Conclusion:

This book would definitely be beneficial to corporations or schools who are in the process of moving towards a teaming environment. The book could serve as a valuable tool to these businesses in creating and building a teaming environment. This book of information can be overwhelming, so I would recommend that it would be useful in a yearlong book study. Using this approach, readers would have the opportunity to have time to digest the vast amount of information presented. Team members could perform the useful scenarios included in the book in attempting to comprehend the stages of creation of effective teams. I feel the book is definitely worth purchasing and keeping on the bookshelf for easy access. This guide provides advice on creating effective team members and team leaders while also giving the reader tools to evaluate their effectiveness as members of a team. The book is designed as a resource to assist in the transformation of groups to effective teams whether the team is in church, school, business, etc.


References:

Friend, M. & Cook, L. (2010). Interactions: Collaboration skills for school professionals. Boston: Pearson.
Wheelan, S.A. Creating effective teams: A guide for members and leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.