UC Berkeley’s Haas School Launches New Program Focused on Teamwork
How to become better active listeners, how to provide constructive feedback, how to establish collaborative environments conducive to innovative thinking – these are among the valuable “soft” skills MBA students at the Haas School of Management at the University of California at Berkeley are learning as part of a new program called Teams@Haas.
The program, which debuted this year during Haas Orientation Week, is a new component of the Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) curriculum. Full-time MBA students dove into the new initiative last fall by forming diverse semester-long study groups and together developing collaboration plans for working across boundaries.
“Unlike when we operate as individuals and we can practice reflexivity, in a group we need to carve out time to exchange information and understand how we perceive the situation,” Brandi Pearce, an organizational behaviorist who leads the new program, explained.
The groups took part in diagnostic and feedback sessions after a month, individuals had the opportunity to describe anonymously how the team was functioning at periodic checkpoints, and all students completed a survey at the semester’s end showing highlighting the evolution of the teams and best practices.
Students praised the inaugural Teams@Haas program. “While we had all worked on teams in our previous jobs, Haas challenged us by putting us in more diverse teams than those we experienced at work,” said Felice Espiritu, MBA/MPH 14. Espiritu was in a group that included students from Switzerland, India, the East Coast and a range of industries. “But Haas also gave us the resources to set us up for success and deal with issues that arose in a way that focused on our long-term personal goals and leadership development,” she added.
Espiritu’s team reached out to Pearce for help as it encountered challenges, and Pearce was at the ready to assist. “What Brandi helped facilitate was establishing the group norm for how we communicate with each other and how we work with each other—what’s acceptable, what’s not and how we prioritize our work,” Espiritu said.
This semester, Pearce and a team of coaches will work with full-time and part-time MBA students to help bring some of the Teams@Haas skills to bear as part of group projects they participate in during their required experiential learning courses.