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Unread 01-26-2004, 02:24 PM
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Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

Hey everybody...I wanted to start a thread discussing team "issues"...for example, what is your team having to deal with @ the moment (not just technical problems but social, emotional) Itīs just that I wonder how many other teams go through what we go through...

---------------------------------------------

Well our teamīs not having major technical difficulties...everybody does his/her part well...
This is the scenario: Weīre from Brazil. We have 26 students. We only have enough $$$ to send about 6 to 8 people.
**So....everybody wants to go (travel to the States: itīs every kidīs dream!) but thereīs not enough for all...people are becoming depressed, and I can say that they have every reason to. I mean, the guyīs working 24/7 during his summer vacation (yes, itīs summer here!) and doesnīt get to experience the best part of the competition? He has every reason to be angry and upset...
Today weīre having a meeting to decide whoīs gonna go...I would love to be able to go to new jersey and all but if i were chosen i would feel bad for the guys that are staying...im so confused. Unfortunately we havent been able to get any sponsors so far but lets keep praying huh

Well thatīs our teamīs major problem at the moment...but learning to solve them is part of the game and the challenge!!!
Hope your problems arent worse than ours!

Feel free to
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Unread 01-26-2004, 02:57 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

You are in a big fix, aren't you!!!
Well, I hope everything turns out fine for you

Currently... other than a few controversies about the design, which I think are pretty much settled, we aren't facing any technical problems (I finally convinced everyone *sighs*)

Commitment is a big problem...
We started a girls' team this year, last year we had a mixed team with 97% of girls in the marketing, and only 3% in Build (Nice part, I got to work with 40 boys..LoL)

So this year, the teachers came up with the idea of having a separate girls' team
My first reaction: It isn't feasible!
Well, but surprisingly about 50 girls showed up on the first meetings, and even though the # has been dropping since then, there were considerable amount of girls in the workshops

But because of Exams, and loss of interest, I only see 3 or 4 people showing up other than me
Hopefully, when exams are over, the attendance will increase again
I have to say it's easier to work with 4 students, and about 3 teachers
But then... I thought we were all supposed work as a team
Whatever happened to that...?
Well, recently, I heard, people did not know about the meetings, but I really do not understand, how they cannot know, when we post on forums, announce in school, pass the word around, email everyone


I think it's time we got a little stricter about showing up on meetings
Maybe it's time to kick a few people out....
LoL!

Well, I'm sure, we'll be fine...
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Unread 01-26-2004, 03:15 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

All teams experience non-robot related issues, although I'd say your situation is more difficult than most.

To me, the important thing is for all team members to feel valued and regardless of who goes and who stays, the team stays together and continues to be productive. The last thing you want is people quitting or giving up after your decision is made. Your decision can be based on many different criteria. Look to tour fellow Brasilian teams and their more humble beginnings. I'm sure their growth can inspire yours.

Here's one possible way to deal with your difficult situation. I'd give the most productive and oldest students the first chance to go. If younger students will have an opportunity to travel next year, I'd be in favor of a student who is graduating and won't have the chance again next year (provided they are productive). All the while, I'd be sure to let your team know that they are all pioneers blazing an uncharted trail that will have a lasting impact in the future of their school and community.

You can even use NASA's Mars missions for example. Seven or eight people get to field questions and take a bow in front of the media after two robots land on Mars. The whole Mars team consists of hundreds of people. The few who step center stage earned the right to, but you also know that those leaders, behind the scenes, are doing an awful lot to share their appreciation for the rest of the team and their hard work. Celebrate small victories along the way, when a mechanism is finished, give all those students credit. I'd put all team member names somewhere on the robot as a gesture of team unity as well.

For those disappointed students, have them understand that their sacrifices will benefit the future and have them look to the future years. That should help provide inspiration and motivation for fundraising efforts. Also, try not to rely only on large corporate sponsors, have each student participate in fundraising if you haven't done it already. Have you contacted teams who are close to your regional venue and inquired about them possibly hosting your team (to reduce/eliminate hotel costs)? Your task is difficult, but not impossible, and the whole FIRST community is here to help in any way they can. Many teams, in their infancy, cannot afford to travel with all members, but they build for the future. Good Luck!
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Unread 01-26-2004, 03:22 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

On almost every team, and every year you will have at least one major emotional problem:

1. a student will get upset and quit the team

2. a mentor or parent advisor will get upset and quit the team

3. two students will fall in love - sometimes its great, and sometimes they have a falling out before the season is over, and then one or both dont want to be on the team anymore

4. students who have been best friends for years will have a falling out, and you will have a big mess on your hands.

Funny thing is, you can tell everyone on the team about this at your first meeting, and they all look at each other and say, "Yeah! right! not me!"

but this program is so intense and stressfull, that conflicts and emotions are bound to rise.

best advice I can give when things blow up on you is to sit everyone down and remember what this is all about. we are not here to build robots, or to win a contest, or to travel to cool places or to bring home trophies.

we are here to see what a career in engineering and science is like - anything else that happens along the way is frosting on the cake - so if someone else gets more frosting than you do, try not to be too upset.
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Unread 01-26-2004, 03:34 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
On almost every team, and every year you will have at least one major emotional problem:

but this program is so intense and stressfull, that conflicts and emotions are bound to rise.
You are so right...
Well, I wouldn't dream of quitting the team... People are expecting of me, hopes relying on me, some are reliving their dreams through me! So no matter, how tough it gets, I have to keep moving

There is one funny thing though... something my team mates say about me:
Sometimes, when something doesn't work, or I make a foolish mistake
I tend to get very angry... Yeah, one of those hot-tempered women
Once someone said, they'd have to carry a tranquillizer if I were going in the competition

It made me laugh so much, that I couldn't drill a screw properly....
Never stopped laughing the whole day... and since then, it's amazing, but I don't get all that angry

So, no matter, how heated the atmosphere becomes, always try to make each other laugh.... It's a wonder how things start falling together themselves....!
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Unread 01-26-2004, 03:43 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

The NU-TRONS has college admin, college facutly/staff, corporate engineers, college students, parents, 4 different high schools, and outside help.

Communication is our biggest problem, clearly.
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Unread 01-26-2004, 04:27 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

I've been worried about this for about a week, but luckily a mentor brought up the same issue, and people listen to mentors. Anyway,the main thing is:
Our robot thus far is quite heavy. And all we have designed is the drive train. We don't have anything for an arm or pneumatics or anything...

*Anything else said in this post will be personal opinions...that are shared with other members of the team...many of them.*

We don't have much of "student-run" team anymore...It's more of a "Single-student dictator." It's not kool. That particular student has the design in his head, makes a picture, and then gets his engineer dad to make a more comprehensive picture for us to work off of. This student will graduate after this season, and I'll be the most veteran member next year. This will NOT be happening again.

*Anything else said in this post will be completely personal*

We're using wood next year. Alluminum? No. 3/8" plywood? Yes.
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Unread 01-26-2004, 04:38 PM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

As much as I hope that you all get all of your problems worked out...I really DO NOT feel as if Chief Delphi is the place to be airing your team's dirty laundry. As great as the forums can be for discussing different strategies, clearing up rule questions, asking how to gear for the best torque, etc., complaining about a student on your team to five-thousand chief delphi users is not the Gracious Professionalism that Chief Delphi and FIRST are going for. It is especially not what Chief Delphi is going for in these forums. If you have to complain about a problem within your team, type it up in Word, and then delete it. It isn't worth hurting others for. Now, if you are going to ask a specific question e.g. "How do teams that feed from multiple schools communicate effectively?" That's fine and a reason that these and other forums are in place. However, if you want to talk about a student who has become a dictator, leave that within your own team or in your own head. Use the forums for what they are meant to be used for, not for complaints. Come on folks.
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Unread 01-27-2004, 01:03 AM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

I think that getting help with team management issues is as much of an acceptable request as asking for suggestions on how to build a 4-motor drive train. It just has to go in the right forum. (*cough* http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=86 *cough*)


As cliched as it might sound, you can't make people come, you have to make them want to come. By kicking people off the team, you accomplish nothing. Instead of coming to 50% of the meetings, those people are now coming to 0% of the meetings. If people are not showing up, the only way to fix the problem is to address the source; why aren't they coming? Common causes I've seen are being too busy (perfectly understandable at exam time, and cured only by waiting), or apathy (in which case there needs to be some activity on the part of the team's leaders to help fix it).

If one person seems to be "taking over" the team, the first thing to do is to make sure that is actually what is happneing. Someone who feels "displaced" by someone will naturally resent the other person, but having one person who is exceptionally smart, talented, or motivated take on a greater than average share of responsility should not be viewed as something horrible, rather, it is inevitable, even in the most egalitarian teams.
However, if the person is going too far, that may indeed be cause for concern, as a bottleneck can result in slowing everyone down because 30 people are trying to get approval from 1 person with limited time, or even worse, when that person gets sick and can't make it to a meeting, resulting in a whole day wasted. At that point, it probably is time for someone (a teacher/mentor or a senior student (but only 1 or 2 people, not the whole team)) to talk to the person and explain the situation and propose a solution.


I'm happy to say that our own team is suffering from no more than the usual, as predicted (2 students fell in love over winter break, 2 friends had a bit of a fight today, and 3 people have quit).
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Unread 01-27-2004, 01:14 AM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

First of all, social issues are always going ot be there, no way around it. Though good team leaders always try to minimise them by explaining things to their team and trying to encourage them. But hey, all the FIRST teams have lots of energy.

And yes most of the issues are relating commitment, or people who should or should not travel or go into the box (the driver,shooter,coach e.t.c). And there are other issues to like students not getting along, mentors feelings no one is seeing it form their point of view. E.t.c

Though i just want to finish off by saying that if you want to choose the people who are going to be travelling, this should be done atleast 5 or 6 weeks after the kick-off, and the guys who get to go should be the one who did contribute the most to the team (this is usually measured in time, thts the easiest way). If we decide this very early the people who do not get to go will get dishearted and your team might be left with less student.

Though i hope you people resolve your issues, and may be some sponsor comes along and you can all goto the states .
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Unread 01-27-2004, 01:30 AM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

Quote:
Originally Posted by collin234
As much as I hope that you all get all of your problems worked out...I really DO NOT feel as if Chief Delphi is the place to be airing your team's dirty laundry. As great as the forums can be for discussing different strategies, clearing up rule questions, asking how to gear for the best torque, etc., complaining about a student on your team to five-thousand chief delphi users is not the Gracious Professionalism that Chief Delphi and FIRST are going for. It is especially not what Chief Delphi is going for in these forums. If you have to complain about a problem within your team, type it up in Word, and then delete it. It isn't worth hurting others for. Now, if you are going to ask a specific question e.g. "How do teams that feed from multiple schools communicate effectively?" That's fine and a reason that these and other forums are in place. However, if you want to talk about a student who has become a dictator, leave that within your own team or in your own head. Use the forums for what they are meant to be used for, not for complaints. Come on folks.
I hardly think the thread started out as "whining" It turned into it, but I think this is a really important issue. I cant say I know what it'd be like to be in the situation that this team is in, but I can sympathize with them. I would be very disappointed if I were to put hundreds of hours into the construction of the robot, only to never even SEE it compete, let alone be there. It would be very cool if local teams hosted your team, like foreign exchange students.

Kind of off topic, but why does your team go to New Jersey? It has to be cheaper to fly into LA or New York, or even Houston(Being the closest regional to you), I would imagine.

Cory
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Unread 01-27-2004, 02:24 AM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

I think that when you place individuals with different ideas (some wrong) together, you naturally have problems. It becomes worse when these people are prideful, as smart people sometimes are.

The way to solve it is simply to go out of your way and treat everyone as you would family (you are around them as much). You also have to have incredible tact and be very politically minded.

Besides common manners, a good team structure is important since it determines ahead of time how problems will be solved and decisions made. This avoids haste in the heat of the moment.

Hope this helps!
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Unread 01-27-2004, 08:23 AM
KenWittlief KenWittlief is offline
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

was just wondering, what does it cost to fly from brazil to the US? $1000 per ticket?

there are almost a thousand teams this year - if each team donated $20 that would be enough to bring a whole international team here?

maybe FIRST should consider a fund to bring international teams here for regionals? in fact, I would say, if we are going to do that, let them attend the championship instead of making them goto a regional first.

something to consider.
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Unread 01-27-2004, 08:29 AM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

The airplane ticket is around U$ 750,00. Itīs a high cost considering that we have to include the hotels, transfer, vans... in the end the total cost per student comes to U$ 1300,00 per student.

This year : 20 x U$ 1300,00 = U$ 26,000. This is a big value for us, because 1 U$ = 3 R$ (our currency)
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Unread 01-27-2004, 08:43 AM
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Re: Team issues and difficulties?....(not just technical ones)

FIRST originally started out with something like 26 teams, most of which had to travel to the competition

this year we have 26 regionals!

this eliminates the large travel expense for local teams

so heres an idea, if you attend a local regional, FIRST can collect an extra fee ($100 maybe?) from each local team to help fund the most distant teams - esp international teams, who dont (yet) have the convienance of attending a local regional event?
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