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Group dynamics and team development

Group Dynamics and Team Development

OUTLINE

Topic: Group Dynamics

Purpose: To Inform

Introduction:

I. Team Building (Formation of a Group)

A. Sense of Belonging

B. Identity and Self-Esteem

C. Stress Reduction

II. Leadership

A. Leader-informal (leads discussion)

B. Supervisor- Looks over the group

C. Manager- Who the supervisor reports to

III. Cohesion

IV. Group Norms

A. Stages of Change

1. What are the Norms

2. Measure the Norms

3. Make the Change

B. How can a supervisor bring about change in a group?

Conclusion

When people work in groups, there are two separate issues involved. The first is the task and the problems involved in getting the job done. Frequently this is the only issue that the group considers. The second is the process of how the group works together. The group needs to act as one unit to accomplish its task or tasks. However, without due attention to this process, the value of the group can be diminished or even destroyed. In this paper, our goal is to enhance the reader’s knowledge on the formation of a group, its cohesion, how leadership influences a group, group norms and how changing group norms affects the group itself. In order to complete a task you need to gather people and form a group.

In a nation that believes individualism means strength, it is ironic that just about everything accomplished requires teamwork. It takes a team of people to run corporations, businesses, institutions, and to maintain households. Group work could be considered the quintessential element of livelihood. How is a group established? It is not something that happens overnight. Because it involves human beings, forming a group and anticipating them to integrate and function dynamically should not be expected to easily occur. Every member in the group may need things to convince them the group they are becoming a part of is worth their time and energy. Three specific points are essential to influence potential members. The sense of belonging, self4dentity in the group along with self-esteem, and a way out of those stress induced moments when/and if they arise.

What is a group? A group could be defined as people who work together on a common project in an effort to accomplish that task/project. In an article titled, Groups that Work, by Gerard M. Blair, he says, "Every individual in that group must feel as though they belong on the

project with the other personnel assigned". (Blair, internet) It is vital to make an effort at recognizing each members talents and specialties. Another important aspect in forming group dynamics is to make all personnel feel accepted and not rejected. Rejection tends to deplete a person’s self-esteem and cause them to question their self-worth and value. When working as a group, it is almost critical that members are so certain of themselves that are on the verge of being conceited. Confidence is the glue in the decision-making process. How important is each members input and in what way will suggestions be used? The more comfortable everyone feels with themselves and each other, the more likely no stone will be left unturned in regards to identifying what each person is capable of bringing to the group. More importantly, the chance of accomplishing the task increases with maximum confidence.

All of this is easier said than done. The pressures of not only forming a group and making it work may be just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous personalities from different backgrounds may cause disagreements while attempting to solve both simple and in-depth issues. These combatant situations can lead to stress and tension amongst the group members. So, what can be done to eliminate and downplay some of the animosity that will occur? From the start, the group must establish as one of the ground rules that no one is entitled to insult another. Emphasize that the main objective is to complete the project. If everyone has a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and no one fears being disrespected, a high stress level should not affect the groups’ dynamics. The stress will be there, but if everyone works together, in a positive, collective manner, nothing will deter the group from successfully completing the task.

Leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. Purpose gives individual a reason why they should do difficult things under dangerous, stressful circumstances. "You must establish priorities, explain

the importance of the mission, and focus individuals on the task so that they will function in an efficient and disciplined manner". (FM 22-10)

Direction gives individuals an orientation of tasks to be accomplished based on the priorities set by the leader. The standards you establish and enforce will give your organization order. "Tough training will give them confidence in themselves, their leaders, each other, and their equipment". (FM-22- 100)

Motivation gives workers the will to do everything they are capable of doing to accomplish a mission. It causes individuals to use their initiative when they see the need for action. Motivate subordinates by caring for them, challenging them with interesting training, which will eventually develop them into a cohesive team. "You will probably influence your subordinates mainly in a direct manner, but other above you in your chain of command will use more indirect methods." (FM 22-100) Effective leaders use both direct and indirect methods of influence to lead. Remember to reward their successes and give them all the responsibility they can handle.

Cohesion is the force that holds a group together. Cohesion varies widely based on numerous factors like group size, dependence of members, and achievement of goals in the group, status of the group, and demands and pressures. The most dangerous time for group cohesion can be when things are going well. Cohesion is often viewed as a mediator of group formation, maintenance, and productivity (http ://www.accel-team.com).

Research in social science has identified a number of factors that will increase the cohesion in a group. When analyzing a group and its development, there are several points to consider. The more attractive the group, the more cohesive it will be. (Festinger, Schacter, Back, 1950) The greater the similarity in member attitudes and values brought to the group, the greater

the likelihood of cohesion in the group. (Homans, 1961). Group cohesion will be increased by success in achieving the groups’ goals, (Sherif& Sherif, 1953). Group cohesion will be increased when there is a low frequency of required external interactions (HOmans, 1950). Finally, group cohesion will increase under conditions of abundant resources, (

If a supervisor presses the group to conform to a new norm that is viewed as a threat to the security needs of group members, the group will become more unified in order to withstand the perceived threat. With the passing of the threat the group can lose its cohesiveness. A supervisor can involve the group members in the decision-making process. Input from group member’s will not only reduce their feelings of alienation, but also improve communication between the supervisor and subordinates, reducing potential conflict (http://www.accel team.com).

What are norms? They are the rules we establish for acceptance or expected behavior, in other words, what would be considered normal. Flow we dress, act, the words we speak, pray, and even what we eat have norms. According to the dictionary, norm means "A standard, model, or pattern regarded as typical". (Websters New Reference Library pg. 268,1976) Each culture has its established norms, which are taught from one generation to the next. Even within each culture there may be different norms, which may be followed ( pgl-.6).

When establishing a working group, characteristics of a formal or informal group are to establish its group norms. It is important to get the group to recognize their existence and influence. This can be accomplished in many different ways: by observing the behavior of group members, interviewing the group, or by having group members identify their own norms. Group

norms are very important in order to keep a group functioning as a system instead of a collection of individuals (

How do these norms affect the groups decision making process? Norms tend to guide the group. Without knowing it, members act within the norms established. Staying within these boundaries which become ingrained in their behavior patterns, the group is able to accomplish its goals. One thing to keep in mind about norms is, they may help a group progress towards its goal. But some norms may also hinder the group from working together effectively ( : . corn)

We previously explained the importance of leadership and communication skills and their importance to the group’s existence. We must look at the position of the supervisor in the group and how this position helps the group, by giving it direction and when needed, re-evaluates the groups norms. Norms from time to time may change, and it is the supervisor’s responsibility to study the group and its established norms. Once the supervisor understands what norms are followed and which ones are hindering the group, he must take action and make the appropriate changes to the groups norms. A supervisor can involve the group members in the decision- making process. Input from the group members will not only reduce their feeling of subordinate status, but also may improve communication between the supervisor and the group members. This, in-turn, helps reduce potential conflict and help keep the groups cohesiveness strong. (http//www.butbarbados .org).

It should be clear that group norms are very important for the successful operation and survival of a group. Understanding the importance of establishing group norms by the group members, can help everyone involved move forward and accomplish its goals.

If a supervisor presses the group to conform to a new norm that is viewed as a threat to the security needs of group members, the group will become more unified in order to withstand the perceived threat. With the passing of the threat the group can lose its cohesiveness. A supervisor can involve the group members in the decision-making process. Input from group member’s will not only reduce their feelings of alienation, but also improve communication between the supervisor and subordinates, reducing potential conflict (http://www.accel team.com).

"When groups are given challenging objective and rewarded for their group success, the spirit of commitment to the "team", group members will work hard" (Myers, 303). Group norms that consist in three to five in size with equally competent people can help members feel their contributions are indispensable.

Group norms, whether they are long or informally established, have significant effect on its group members. An individuals’ behavior could only be the result of social background and environment, which influences their attitudes.

In the work environment the norms are defined with the limits of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Norms help the individual to structure their daily work process environment by appropriate behavior on the job. Group norms change with circumstances and can be highly stable over many years with good production.

Management’s ability to influence individuals in the group is indeed powerful. When people are among like-minded employees this will increase team cohesiveness and uniformity. The group norm will serve to enhance or maintain the identity of the group where social, cultural or employee uniforms define the group. Group norm to resist supervisor pressure tactics only initiate personnel to become highly motivated employees fighting to maintain individuality and freedom.

"The desire for social acceptance and approval—and its underside, the fear of rejection and ridicule—are potent forces inducing conformity." (Jones, Hendrick, Epstein 252) Eventually the group norms will suffer from conformity pressures toward uniformity because the group will have one person that becomes afraid of creating a weak link. Possibly, other members will doubt the groups’ plan with negative comments. "Self censorship by withholding personal opinions, usually causing regret and guilt." (Meyers 318) Illusion of unanimity when the absence of dissent creates an atmosphere where outwardly there is agreement but inwardly they are thinking the opposite.

Members look to a group for acceptance, approval, and social identity. Highly cohesive groups can provide members with freedom to disagree. In a free-spirited atmosphere, cohesion can enhance effective teamwork.

Failed decisions help explain flawed group norms. Approachable leadership and a cohesive team spirit can improve decisions. Group norms should seek influence from all sides that improves and evaluates possible alternative, a group can benefit from its member’s combined insights. People make decisions sometimes to stay bound into a group by choices in racial fear, employment alienation or low self-esteem. Group norms maintain situational control on areas of lives that adjust to our society.

We have discussed the dynamics of a group and its many components to make it function productively when attempting to accomplish a task. First we covered group formation and how vital it is for members of the group to have a sense of belonging. Diversity is good, but being goal-oriented and unanimity is better. Cohesion and leadership were next.

Cohesion is the force that holds a group together. Without this, people tend to feel alienated within their group. With cohesion comes leadership, and with leadership, there is guidance. Lastly, we discussed group norms and how norms can be changed within the specific group. Working in groups can be a good experience or it can be a nightmare. Whether a group is successful or not at accomplishing its task and goals, it is certain to experience conm-iunication problems, conflict, negotiate positively, and group development. As members of the group interact, they may find diversity in culture, ideas, and personalities. Eventually, they should realize the complexities of group work and be ready to find appropriate solutions for any challenge.

Bibliography:

Blair, G.M. (2001). Groups at work The University of Edinburgh:

Chartwell-Bratt, UK.

Jones, Russell, Hendrick, Clyde, Epstein, and Yakou. (1979). Introduction to social psychology 252 Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, Mass.

Meyers, D.G. (2000). Social psychology 303 6 Edition. McGraw Hill College Websters New Reference Library (1976)

http :I/www. ianr.unLedu

http ://www.accel-team.com!work_groups/informal_grps_04 .html http://faculty.cob.ohiou.edu/salisbury/researchlcohesion.html http://www.butbarbados.org

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