One-Year at Goizueta: Alanna Holman – Building a Strong and Colorful Team

The summer semester has flown by and I am actually sad. I will not miss the demand of meeting intense deadlines, but I will miss being in the same classroom with my awesome One-Year classmates, and mostly my Rainbow Zebras.

If you can believe it…after countless hours together over the past three months, we are still talking to each other and we like each other! At the beginning of the summer, we were told that your core study team could make or break your summer experience. My team has made it even better than I anticipated. Our One-Year classmates know our team, and can’t help but smile “There goes those Rainbow Zebras.”

In our Leadership class, one of our team assignments was to write an After Action Review following our Fort Benning Leader’s Reaction Course experience. This report was our opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been doing well as a team, and where we could improve.

We attributed our success from a strong foundation in our team charter. We truly collaborated on this document, and made it fully comprehensive. We even accounted for any potential difficulties that might need mediation (thankfully, that plan was never executed).

In our team charter, we had four main goals. We agreed on these goals in the beginning, and withheld them to the end:

1) Execute high quality work, but with achievable standards
Goizueta MBAs do not have GPAs, but we are still given grades. Scores were not the most important outcome for us, but learning the class material was. The summer semester challenged us, and we mostly stayed true to this expectation. However, in the chaos that is Block 2, we did not follow our standard for an assignment. After some reflection, we realized we needed to be better communicators. I personally needed to be more vocal and communicate how I needed to organize my thoughts and contribute to a plan.  I made improvements in the following assignments, and I need to keep this in mind for the rest of my classes.

Rainbow Zebras at the Federal Reserve

Rainbow Zebras at the Federal Reserve

Issue trees in the Courtyard

Issue trees in the Courtyard

2) Build strong team spirit
We made a conscious effort to listen and be transparent with each other. Initially, the Birkman method showed us our individual needs and stressors, and how we compared to each other. Then we had a long in-depth conversation about individual preferences, goals, and expectations from the MBA experience. Finally we all agreed to a work-hard/play-hard mentality. This lead us to form our motto “Zebras Graze Together.”

We each had our team spirit roles: Brian the high-energy motivator and cherry-picker extraordinaire, Zhana the (sneaky) photographer and sender of Zebra motivational messages, Keegan our focused timekeeper and promoter to get some daylight and fresh air, Jemmy the initially quiet but hilarious jokester and new user to American idioms, and me reiterating positive affirmations and insisting on music whenever possible.

Rainbow Zebras at the Team Olympics

Rainbow Zebras at the Team Olympics

Team Celebratory FroYo

Team Celebratory Yogli Mogli

3) Adhere to our meeting norms
We outlined very specific meeting norms. Primarily, we agreed to no weekend meetings to account for family time. We kept personal cell phone activity off-limits during meetings. Scheduled meetings with prioritized tasks and frequent emails and text messages kept us on track. We also gave advance notice of meeting tardiness. All of us were full participants in the meetings, and we will bring that attitude into our future teams.

Also, we agreed to keep meeting conflict in our meetings. Conflict can be good and promote discussion, but we did not want hard feelings or any gossiping afterwards. We aimed to achieve consensus before concluding meetings.

Adapting to any conference room challenge

Brian adapting to any conference room challenge

Healthy team snacks provided by Zhana

Jemmy and Keegan enjoying healthy team snacks provided by Zhana

4) Grow individually through team experience
We all wrote down personal goals in the charter, and we worked hard to encourage each other to achieve our goals. Like I said, I need to be more assertive. I also need to be courageous and pursue challenges that are far outside of my comfort zone.

To be candid, I was not excited about the Fort Benning Leader’s Reaction Course. Obstacle courses in the middle of the Georgia heat were not my idea of fun. However on that day, I told the Rainbow Zebras that I was going to be a fully enthusiastic participant. I led the first challenge, and have learned to be more decisive under pressure. In another challenge, I jumped right into one of the obstacles, balancing 10 feet above a pool of water on a shaky board hauling a 30-pound box of ammo. I was motivated by encouragement from my team, and I know I can conquer more obstacles when I put forth my best effort.

Rainbow Zebras

Zebra Selfie

Rainbow Zebras

First photo together

Collectively we excelled this summer semester, and I could not have asked for a better experience. We may be in separate classes for the fall, but I know I can always count on my friends. Cheers, Rainbow Zebras! You are a part of my family.