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Groups and Teams in the Workplace, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

Group theory is only understood through concept of group dynamics. That is, with a meaning that a group involves living things and only functions following good leadership and communication and leadership (Deutsch, 1962). A group functioning also undergoes a continual state of change respective to its operations. This paper examines group dynamics in an organization and its importance in the overall system of organizations. The paper purposes to provide answers to the following questions. Why is it important to understand group dynamics in the business world? How does positive interdependence help to achieve mutual goals? Why is it said that research about groups is NOT always valid and relevant? Are groups OR individuals more effective in work environments? What is group cohesiveness? Its importance and how to improve it, how does social influence/interaction affect decision-making? How can you encourage/promote and discourage member’s acceptance of proposals in the workplace? Are leaders an important aspect of groups? Can leaders emerge from groups? What is the importance of group members’ perceptions about leadership and why is this phenomenon important as it pertains to group outcomes? Why are teams more effective than work groups in certain situations?

The study of groups almost in all situations remains an important activity especially for behavioral scientists. This has been the case since the works by Hawthorne Researchers implemented over fifty years ago (Eisenberg, 2007). The outcome of respective numerous studies into varying aspects of groups behavior is a store relevant and useful for developing knowledge about the dynamics of groups. Understanding group dynamics remains relevant in every aspect of the organization (Johnson, 2005). It helps tackle different areas of an organization that require special handling as well as facilitate group effectiveness, group cohesiveness and inter-group competition (James, 2004).

In modern organizations, the aspect of group dynamics remains important because it is of great use as a problem-solving tool within an organization, encouraging teamwork and enhancing innovativeness in groups in several situations that demand cohesion. In understanding group dynamics the organization understands the criteria of choosing groups and facilitating the appropriate sizes, cohesiveness of groups, Leadership of groups as well as the Nature of members including their respective and applicable motivation means, individual roles, Group norms, Environment respective to organizational and physical culture including its social factors (James, 2004).

In cooperative learning, an element of positive interdependence is crucial in relaying mutual goal attainments. A good case is the situation of a diverse group. The group members perceive that they only can reach their individual and group learning goals if only they adhere to the concept of positive interdependence. Through this concept, the individuals of the groups look into other group members in the learning process in the motive of reaching their goals (Deutsch, 1962). The other group members are a motivation to individual goals where individuals look unto them and feel comfortable that they also can make it in realizing their goals if the rest have done it. Positive interdependence is structured successfully when the members of the group perceive a link with each other actually in a way that they have a feeling of failure if one cannot merge with others (James, 2004). In mutual realization of goals, the tasks and goals of the group, design is meant to develop a feeling of togetherness (Deutsch, 1962).

Many organizations conduct group researches because they need to verify their relevance to the respective organization. However, there is always some level of criticism in the researches on groups arguing that they are not valid and the data collected is neither relevant nor useful to the organization (James, 2004). The main reason for such argument is the diversity of groups and the change in the dynamics of respective groups. It is not possible to come up with a sole argument of group dynamics because there are varying aspects of groups both externally and internally. Mostly, research on groups does not put across ethical issues or other derivatives of the group. The researches focus mainly on data from the same groups that in a way might provide invalid information (Johnson, 2005).

A long history engulfs research on competitive, cooperative, and individualistic environments at the work place. The first research study done have had multiple outcomes classified into major categories including productivity/achievement, psychological health and positive relationships. The researches are a clear indication that groups otherwise known as cooperation are by far, much more effective when applied in a work place, than any other approach. Compared to individualistic efforts within the work place, the groups are better placed (Johnson, 2005). They facilitate greater productivity and a higher achievement and they are supportive, caring, as well as good in providing committed relationships. Groups at the work place also facilitate greater social competence, psychological health, and self-esteem. Generally, the groups instill positive effects on the operations of the organization as compared to individualistic approaches thereby facilitating cooperative learning, which is a valuable tool for success in organizations (Johnson, 2005).

Group Cohesiveness is generally the force that brings a group together. The force solidifies the respective members and brings them closer together. Cohesiveness actually has two broad dimensions including emotional and task-related perspectives (Eisenberg, 2007). The emotional aspect, which applies most often in the study of cohesiveness, is derived from a general connection that respective members feel to a particular group including its members (James, 2004). Specifically, it is about how members like or prefer to spend time with in terms of group members. The concept also takes note of whether the members look forward to attending the next meeting or the desire to be in the midst of others. Task-cohesiveness is also part of the broad concept. Members of a particular group share overall goals and cohesively work together in realizing the same goals. Group cohesiveness is very important because without the same concept, group operations fail regularly and leads even to loss of members. Several factors in-group cohesiveness affects the processes of the group (James, 2004).

This includes the forces pushing group members together or tearing the apart therefore allowing them to work together or apart. The forces are positive or negative in nature and affect the group process differently. The main factors that have an effect on group process include group size, members’ similarity, entry difficulty, external threats and competition and group success (Eisenberg, 2007). Often, the factors mentioned work together through enhancing the individual identification with a particular group and similarly with some individual members of respective groups. Some situations result to cohesiveness in a group being down because of a challenge on the named factors (Eisenberg, 2007). In such situations, there is need to develop means and approaches of handling the factors and increasing group cohesiveness. It is important to foster similarity of individuals in a group. This way, the members get closer and they have a feeling of togetherness. The more individual group members become closer and similar to each other especially on the common human characteristics the better and easier it becomes in reaching cohesiveness (James, 2004). Social Identity Theory explains the scenario in that people feel better and closer when in company of others who are perceived as similar to them regarding characteristics of age and ethnicity or other factors including values and attitudes. Another good approach is reducing the size of the group. In this case, a smaller group is better and cohesiveness can be reached with ease than a large group. Ease of entry to the group also might serves as a remedy to boosting cohesion between members of the respective group (Eisenberg, 2007).

Social influence is a concept always applicable within a group situation. A group has a make up of individuals who in reality have differences internally and externally. This is where social influence is applicable in boosting decision making or bring down any efforts of making a particular decision. Always, social influence remains as a fundamental experience within social groups. It is only through social influence that individuals can agree or disagree on common beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors and these are the relevant aspects of decision making in a particular group (James, 2004).

At some point, some individuals conform to what other people regard as their rules of the game within a group. These people in such circumstances behave the way they perceive others do and in certain ways therefore influencing their ways of making decision. Forces of the strongest in the group are the main determinants of decision made within the group. On the other hand, people holding lower self-esteem tends to follow and approval what the others say and do within the group.

Encouragement in a group is vital and stands out, as the solution to the difficulties in decision-making within a group (James, 2004). In this respect, individuals have to be given a chance to develop their decision-making skills. In general, enhancing cohesion in a particular group is the only way of bringing out the rightful acceptance of the proposal. Without cohesion, individuals have a hard time in accepting proposals from the group and decision-making become a cumbersome process. Therefore, it can only be through the involvement of everyone in decision making to ensure that all proposals are accepted when tabled in a group situation (James, 2004).

Leadership is the overall control of a particular group. Leadership aims include either maintenance of interpersonal relationships within a particular group or the prodding of the respective group in pursuing of achieving the task of the group. There are situations where groups have two leaders including social dimension leaders and task dimension leaders. The perception of group members on group leadership is very crucial (James, 2004). The important aspect determines the level of cohesiveness in that particular group. Perceiving the leadership of the group as autocratic dismantles the cohesiveness of the group. It is only through people’s perception of the group as being democratic that cohesiveness of the group increases and makes the groups operations better and easier.

Leaders can solely emerge from the group following a developmental theory. This is a supportive claim as per all theories of leadership. Leaders can emerge following a learning process when group cohesiveness encourages development of leadership traits. Critics of trait theory suggest that in groups, there is nothing as inborn traits of leadership. Leadership is learned and through a perfect and suitable environment facilitating a learning process, leaders can emerge from the group members and make play leadership roles perfectly.

In some situations, there circumstances in which teams play a better and successful role than the groups themselves. This is determined by the level of cohesiveness in either the groups or respective teams (Eisenberg, 2007). There are several disparities between teams and groups, which emerge in explaining their level of power. A work group is generally a collection of people who work in the same area and pursue a completion of a particular task.  People in this scenario, come together to share information providing a solution for the group. All teams are generally groups, but they are better because they deal with specifics. The success of teams is bestowed on the small number thereby making it more cohesive and easier in its operations. Diverse situations and controversial decisions in a group demand that a team be formed from the group (James, 2004). The group in overall cannot make upright decisions in such circumstances because there is a high level of disparity. When in need of clear and precise decisions, a team is the only possible approach in a group situation. A team in a group situation requires mutual and individual accountability. This is one of the most tasking concepts when dealing with the overall group. There is an element of laxity as well as blame games in groups resulting to failure in decision-making. Thus, teams are better placed when in need of accountability in controversial and decisive situations (Eisenberg, 2007).

References

Deutsch, M. (1962). Cooperation and trust: Some theoretical notes. In M. R. Jones (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, 275-319. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Eisenberg, J. (2007). Group Cohesiveness, in R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, 386-388. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

James, P. (2004). Towards a theory of leadership practice. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36 (1): 3–34.

Johnson, D. (2005). Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

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