Group Dynamics: Basic Nature of Groups and How They Develop
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© Copyright Carter McNamara,
This might seem like a silly question, but it is not. Gatherings of less than
10-12 people are considered by organizational development consultants to be
a small group. Information in this section is most useful for forming and facilitating
small groups of 10-12 people or less.
Groups that are larger than that range tend to have another level of complexity
not apparent in small groups. For example, the nature and needs of larger groups
are often similar to those of entire ongoing organizations. They have their
own various subcultures, distinct subsystems (or cliques), diversity of leadership
styles and levels of communication. While certain structures are often useful
in small groups, they are absolutely necessary on an ongoing basis in larger
groups. For example, larger groups should have a clearly established purpose
that is continually communicated, and formal plans and policies about ongoing
leadership, decision making, problem solving and communication.
© Copyright Carter McNamara,
When developing a team, it helps a great deal to have some basic sense of the
stages that a typical team moves through when evolving into a high-performing
team. Awareness of each stage helps leaders to understand the reasons for members’
behavior during that stage, and to guide members to behavior required to evolve
the team into the next stage.
Members first get together during this stage. Individually, they are considering
questions like, “What am I here for?”, “Who else is here?”
and “Who am I comfortable with?” It is important for members to
get involved with each other, including introducing themselves to each other.
Clear and strong leadership is required from the team leader during this stage
to ensure the group members feel the clarity and comfort required to evolve
to the next stage.
During this stage, members are beginning to voice their individual differences,
join with others who share the same beliefs, and jockey for position in the
group. Therefore, it is important for members to continue to be highly involved
with each other, including to voice any concerns in order to feel represented
and understood. The team leader should help members to voice their views, and
to achieve consensus (or commonality of views) about their purpose and priorities.
In this stage, members are beginning to share a common commitment to the purpose
of the group, including to its overall goals and how each of the goals can be
achieved. The team leader should focus on continuing to clarify the roles of
each member, and a clear and workable structure and process for the group to
achieve its goals.
In this stage, the team is working effectively and efficiently toward achieving
its goals. During this stage, the style of leadership becomes more indirect
as members take on stronger participation and involvement in the group process.
Ideally, the style includes helping members to reflect on their experiences
and to learn from them.
5. Closing and Celebration
At this stage, it is clear to members and their organization that the team
has achieved its goals (or a major milestone along the way toward the goal).
It is critical to acknowledge this point in the life of the team, lest members
feel unfulfilled and skeptical about future team efforts.
© Copyright Carter McNamara,
There are many types of teams you could use in the workplace. The type you
choose depends very much on the nature of the results that the team is to accomplish.
1. Formal and informal teams
These are usually small groups of employees who come together to address some
specific goal or need. Management appoints formal teams, that is, teams that
are intentionally organized and resourced to address a specific and important
goal or need. Informal teams are usually loosely organized groups of people
who come together to address a non-critical, short-term purpose.
Committees are organized to address, major ongoing functions or tasks in an
organization, and the membership of the committees often is based on the official
position of each of the members, for example, committees in Boards of Directors.
3. Problem-solving teams
These teams are formed to address a particular, major problem currently faced
by the organization. Often, their overall goal is to provide a written report
that includes recommendations for solving the problem. Membership often is comprised
of people who perceive and/or experience the problem, as well as those who can
do something about it.
4. Self-directed and self-managed teams
These types of teams are increasingly used where a) team members are working
to address a complex challenge in a rapidly changing environment, and b) the
strong ownership and participation of members are extremely important. These
types provide great latitude in how members achieve the overall results to be
achieved by the teams. The role of leader in a team might change during the
team activities depending on where the team is in its stage of development (see
below) and/or achieving is results.
For the Category of Facilitation and Teams:
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
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Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
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