Did you know that mastering group dynamics can change your group work forever?
Teamwork and group discussions are now an important part of many jobs.
Failing to understand group dynamics will deprive you of realizing the power of teamwork.
Many people find it time-consuming to work and brainstorm as a group to achieve a common goal or task.
However, having positive group dynamics can cause a huge shift towards the success of your business.
If you are an employee, it can boost your performance and raise you along the career success ladder.
I believe that many people hate working in groups, in fact, I was one of those people one day.
Mastering positive group dynamics can help you to combine the efforts, brainpower, and creativity of many people.
Moreover, you will enjoy working in a peaceful atmosphere to achieve a great task in a short time.
Working in groups is beneficial for large projects as the work can be divided among several members.
Teamwork allows splitting of large projects among several groups so that each group within the business can focus on a specialized task.
It is common knowledge that task specialization leads to excellence.
Proper group dynamics can lead to a very successful group brainstorming sessions.
Groups that have a positive group dynamics are more harmonious and productive than groups that have negative or poor group dynamics.
What Is a Group Exactly?
Before we discuss group dynamics, let us first define a group.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines a group as:
1- “Two or more figures forming a complete unit in a composition.
2- A number of people gathered or having some unifying relationship such as a study group.”
On a deeper level, we can follow scientific definitions such as that of Bales (1953).
Bales defines a group as:
“Any number of persons engaged in interaction with one another in a single face-to-face meeting or a series of such meetings, in which each member receives some impression or perception of each other member distinct enough so that he can give some reaction to each of the others as an individual person, even though it be only to recall that the other was present.”
Therefore, from the above definitions, we can deduce some of the features of a group.
- It should consist of two or more people.
- Members are often tied together by a common goal and their fates are bound as they are all held responsible for the consequences of achieving (or not achieving) that goal.
- The group has to meet and interact face to face (can also be online meetings.)
Groups and Interdependence
It is important to note that there should be interdependence between the group members on each other.
It would be a waste of time and resources if each member can successfully perform the whole project alone.
This idea of interdependence is important because a group is like an electrical circuit.
Any break in any link of the group will definitely affect the entire circuit.
Barriers to success can be communication issues, unclear objectives or lack of commitment.
This idea of Interdependence means we should tune our group dynamics to get good results.
Interdependence of teams occurs in any group regardless of the kind of group we are in.
Group dynamics is a model that works on both formal and informal groups.
Understanding the different Types of Groups
Examples of group types include:
A common type of groups is groups of friends and groups of interest who unite upon a common interest.
Examples of the groups of interest include book club groups and gaming teams.
Functional groups: These are groups that work towards achieving a specific task, goal or target.
They can be formal or informal.
Tasks within functional groups can be with or without a deadline.
As for informal functional groups, the members will often be the ones to create themselves.
Self-created groups have the freedom to assign deadlines or not
Examples of self-made groups include volunteers who are organizing a charity event.
In formal functional groups, the managers of the organization will be the one to create the group.
The company assigns the common goals and targets of the group as per the big picture of the goals of the organization’s.
Examples include the PR team working on a marketing plan while other groups are work on product design or finance.
Another important type of groups is managerial groups or groups of command.
These groups include staff at the authority positions in the workplace such as the board of directors.
Defining Group Dynamics
We have discussed what are groups and their types, therefore, it is now time to define group dynamics.
“Group dynamics is the behavior and interactions of each member with the other members and their attitude towards the objectives of the group.”
It is the model groups use to communicate and work together.
The model also includes the structure of the group such as the formation of dyads and triads within the group.
Each functional group members must take on a certain role.
Sometimes the group leader assigns these roles while other times the members take on certain roles by themselves.
Not all of these roles are positive or productive and some roles can be negative to the group.
The frequency of each role also determines the balance between the group dynamics.
For example, too many narrators or leaders can be harmful to the productivity of the group.
Therefore, it is important to identify the required roles and assign those roles with suitable frequency.
Understanding Roles Within the Group
Let us have a look at the possible roles that exist within a group.
1. The Initiator
It is someone who always takes initiative and proposes tasks, solutions, and ideas.
Many people are reluctant by nature and wait for others to take initiative before they take action.
2. The Informer
He informs the group members of announcements, updates or findings.
This member helps everyone to stay on the same wavelength as all the other members.
3. The Summarizer
It is the person who concludes the discussion of the meetings, recommendations or decisions.
This is helpful for recapping long discussions into shorter segments that can be easily memorized.
4. The Realist
He can be called the executor and is often someone who tests the ideas proposed in the real life.
5. The Peacemaker
This person likes to create peace and harmony between the group, therefore, relieves tension.
The result of this role is a positive and peaceful atmosphere that harbors productivity.
6. The Facilitator
This is someone who encourages communications and active participation among the members.
This positive role increases members engagement and cooperation which leads to faster and better results.
This role is closely related to the role of the Encourager who provides positive feedback to the members’ ideas, encouraging them to participate more.
The above examples were all positive roles.
The more the group has members with these roles, the more productive the group will be.
The next set of roles are examples of negative roles that disturb the balance of group dynamics.
1. The Alarm:
This is someone who constantly reminds people of the deadline and hurries them.
While this is a good role, it can turn negative if speed was favored on quality.
This role, can cause the compromiser to agree to speed up even if it is not the best decision.
Too many compromises lead to negative group dynamics.
2. The Comedian:
It is someone who jokes and disrupts the focused working mood of the group.
His jokes are often irrelevant and excessive.
The comedian results in breaking the productive atmosphere and shifting the attention of the group to irrelevant matters.
3. The Aggressor:
This is a person who criticizes other group members and makes fun of their ideas or belittles their efforts.
This behavior discourages members to share their ideas and prevents people from doing their best.
4. The Resistor:
While the aggressor believes the idea, the resistor resists the idea and calls it irrelevant or wrong which is discouraging.
5. The Dictator:
The dictator likes to control the situation and believes his ideas should be followed regardless.
Having a leader is important but a dominating leader is discouraging to the other members.
Having more than one member of the group as a dictator will lead to strong conflicts.
It will also make it hard to reach conclusions or make decisions.
6. The Free Riders
Most groups must have at least one member who avoids working and leaves during group discussions.
Free riders cause other members to carry on an extra load which can cause them to be annoyed.
This act is called free riding and is considered immoral.
How Can Knowing the Roles Help Me?
The balance between these roles is important.
Too much or too little of one type can negatively affect the group dynamics.
It is better for the group to have more positive roles than negative roles.
Look at any group you know and observe the roles they have.
You will find most of these roles existing in one group.
However, a strong and an effective group will have more positive roles than negative.
The roles are meant to complement each other and there is no one role better than the other.
It is important that members get roles that fits their personality.
An introvert who doesn’t enjoy talking much would not enjoy being the facilitator.
The group leader must understand and be aware of all the roles in his group.
Identifying the negative roles will help the leader and the group deal with problems.
Conflicts In the Group
It is natural for any group to have disagreements.
However, these problems should be dealt with and not left to pile up.
There is a big difference between compromising and ignoring problems.
Compromising is suitable when the conflict is in personal desires and there is no absolute best option.
For example, choosing to conduct interviews on Wednesday rather than Tuesday.
However, when Tuesday is obviously better than Wednesday for some reason but some members are disagreeing out of laziness is an example of a problem.
In the above case, this problem needs tackling rather than compromise because the objection is illogical.
The leader needs to see why such members are lazy and obstructing the course of productivity.
Dealing with Under Performing Members
The way the leader deals with under performing members can strongly affect the group dynamics.
The leader has the potential to increase tension between the group members or diffuse the situation appropriately.
The leader has to be fair and not take sides during conflicts.
Being biased will make the team members feel that this is an unfair environment.
Feeling safe and being in a fair environment helps members to express themselves freely and perform better.
However, if the leader takes sides, this will create tension between the two sides in conflict.
The leader should observe and react objectively and fairly.
The group should develop a code of ethics and a warning system.
For examples, members who fail to complete the tasks should first be warned verbally.
The leader can discuss with the member the reasons that led to such under performance.
The leader plus the other members should help that member tackle overcome the problem.
Being supportive rather than critical helps groups to have positive dynamics.
If that member continues this behavior without showing improvements, written warnings should be issued.
Finally, after several warnings had been given, the group must inform higher managers of the situation.
Therefore, members should not ignore negative behavior but they should also avoid criticism.
Instead, they should show moral support and help other members become better: Procrastinating Meaning and Why It Will Make You Die Poor
Other Strategies to Improve Group Dynamics
1. Goal Setting
Groups should have clear objectives.
Clarity of the goals will help the team decide what tasks need to be done.
Without clear goals, progress is impossible.
Therefore, every group should start with setting smart goals.
2. Assigning Tasks and Responsibilities
After the team decides on what tasks they need to do, they should divide them fairly.
I say fairly and not equally because not all tasks will be equal in intensity and effort required.
Each member needs to clearly understand his or her task.
Members need to assign deadline for the tasks
The deadlines need to be reasonable, not too tight and not too lax.
Members can choose which tasks they are more comfortable with, provided that they divided the tasks fairly.
Freedom of choice will help the members choose tasks they are well equipped for, skills wise or otherwise.
3. Respecting Each Other and Interpersonal Skills
Members need to respect each other.
If you disagree with a member, you can disagree politely.
There is o need to prove someone wrong to state that you are right.
Don’t undermine any member’s efforts or abilities.
Lack of respect among members is one of the major causes of conflicts in the group.
If one person is presenting an idea, don’t interrupt your team member.
Don’t make fun of their idea or say it won’t work.
Give the person a chance to complete his or her idea in a welcoming atmosphere.
let the team brainstorm the idea and evaluate it objectively.
Objective evaluation and studying the feasibility of ideas will help eliminate sensitivity when rejecting unsuitable ideas.
4. Resource Allocation
An effective group understands that resources are limited.
These resources include money time, effort and manpower.
A group with good dynamics knows how to allocate its resources effectively.
Good allocation of resources means prioritizing tasks that are relevant to the goals and objectives of the team.
Wasting resources is a symptom and result of poor group dynamics.
Failure to set clear goals results in not appreciating resources.
Stay committed to the goals of the group and help others to commit as well.
5. Communication Is Key
Finally, effective communication is a key factor in the success of groups.
Groups that communicate well perform better.
Summary and Key Points to Remember
- You can harness the power of teamwork by having positive group dynamics
- Pay attention to the different roles within your group.
- Groups with more positive roles perform better
- Set goals, deadlines and assign tasks
- Deal with problems objectively in a healthy manner and don’t ignore them
- Respect and support your team members
- Practice good communication