Guide To Effective Group Dynamics

A sound understanding of group dynamics, and the role it plays in business, is a critical component of successful management.

When a good dynamic exists within a group working toward a common goal, each individual member will perform effectively and achieve goals set by the group. Poor group dynamics can adversely affect performance, leading to a negative outcome on the common goal or project.

Many variables contribute to a positive work dynamic. Below are four key points to help you understand group dynamics — and how to create and maintain a constructive and productive outlook in any group.

Understanding Group Dynamics

How do group dynamics work?

A series of elements contribute to group dynamics, from the group structure to more specific components, such as established roles and norms. When these elements work effectively, it enables team members to build trust and work together to reach a common goal or decision. Furthermore, having established roles within the team can ensure everyone is held accountable for performing their responsibilities. Their ability to collaborate may depend on the varying personalities of members, which is something to consider when developing a team.

Another essential factor in group dynamics is the concept of cohesiveness. Better cohesion, or unity among members, makes it easier to accomplish tasks. The group should establish where they find common interests and values, along with agreeing on their goals and the processes to achieve them. Groups can also increase cohesion when members spend significant time together or have to compete against another team.

With negative group dynamics, members’ behaviors do not interact well with one another. These conflicts may arise if individuals personalities do not align, which is why you should set behavioral norms to ensure everyone acts respectfully. Poorly defined roles can be another cause for negative group dynamics–if members don’t understand their expectations, it can be harder to achieve goals.

What are group dynamics?

When individuals work within a group, they take on different roles and behaviors. The idea of group dynamics refers to how those roles and behaviors interact and affect the group. This concept was first coined in the 1940s by social psychologist Kurt Lewin. In an ideal group dynamic, members work cohesively as a team to form decisions and meet specific goals.

Group vs. team

While they may initially seem similar, professionals define groups and teams in the workplace as follows:

Types of group dynamics

Groups can fall into two general categories: formal and informal. While formal groups refer to groups created by an organization to fulfill its goals, an informal group is formed naturally by its members based on shared interests or values.

Typically, formal groups have predetermined and assigned roles for their members, while informal groups do not. Within these categories, you’ll find six specific types of groups:

1. Command

A command group is a type of formal group determined by a companys organizational chart. It typically comprises supervisors or managers and the individuals who report to them.

Example: Communications specialists report to a communications manager or director in an organization under the command group.

2. Functional

This type of formal group is created to achieve organizational objectives. Functional groups don’t have a specific timeline to complete goals, but they remain a group even after achieving their goals or objectives. While each group member has a specific role, all members work toward organizational goals together that are related to their department.

Example: Departments within an organization, such as marketing, accounting and human resources, are types of functional groups.

3. Task

A task group is a type of formal group created to achieve a business task, sometimes called a task force. Unlike a functional group, this group must work together to achieve relevant goals toward their main task within a specific timeframe. As a result, some of these groups disband after they’ve reached their objective.

Example: A company may form a task group to work on the development and launch of a new product.

4. Friendship

A friendship group is a type of informal group created by individuals who share common interests, beliefs, values and other similarities. These groups often do not perform business-related tasks and instead participate in activities together outside of work.

Example: A group of employees regularly meets for dinner after work on Friday nights.

5. Interest

An interest group is a type of informal group in which members do not necessarily work within the same formal business groups, such as departments, but have a common interest. These interests are specific to the group and may not always align with organizational goals.

Example: A union at a company represents an interest group. While its members may work in different departments, they work as a group to improve the conditions of their workplace for employees.

6. Reference

This type of informal group represents a reference or evaluation point for others. These groups can influence peoples behaviors by demonstrating what actions or attitudes are appropriate. Religious affiliation represents a type of voluntary reference group. In the workplace, a department might use another department–either internal or external–as a reference group.

Example: A marketing department may evaluate its performance by comparing itself against a competing companys marketing department.

Elements of effective group dynamics

The following concepts, from the development of the group to its size, represent core elements that can help create effective group dynamics:

Development

As you develop a team, you should understand the different stages it experiences as it completes its objectives. You may notice changes in behaviors or the way members interact within each stage. You can assess members actions during these steps and make adjustments as needed to help the group develop into a high-performing team.

The five stages of team development are:

Roles

To create positive group dynamics, you should define roles. In a work environment, a leader assigns responsibilities to group members. However, members may find themselves performing naturally occurring responsibilities while working within a team, often referred to as emergent roles.

Emergent roles fall under the following categories:

Principles/norms

Effective group dynamics require establishing a set of principles or norms to follow. Principles define the values of the group, while norms set work processes and acceptable behaviors, such as:

Size

The size of a group can affect how members work and interact with one another. In a small group, usually consisting of between two to 10 people, members often find more opportunities for participation because of the size. With limited teammates, individuals may also find it easier to build relationships with one another.

A large group consists of more than 10 members, which means the work can be spread across more people–potentially lightening individuals workload or dividing it more equally. Because they often do not work as closely, groups with particular dynamics related to size may form smaller groups representing close relationships within the larger group.

FAQ

What do you mean by group dynamic?

The social process by which people interact and behave in a group environment is called group dynamics. Group dynamics involves the influence of personality, power, and behaviour on the group process.

What are some examples of group dynamics?

As humans social environments became more complex, they acquired adaptations by way of group dynamics that enhance survival. Examples include mechanisms for dealing with status, reciprocity, identifying cheaters, ostracism, altruism, group decision, leadership, and intergroup relations.

What are the four elements of group dynamics?

What are the four elements of Group Dynamics?
  • Forming. The first get together of the members is set during this stage. …
  • Storming. …
  • Norming. …
  • Performing. …
  • Task functions. …
  • Maintenance Behaviour. …
  • Self-interest Behaviour. …
  • Formal and informal teams.

What are the 2 types of group dynamics?

The Different Types Of Group Dynamics

In an organization, we commonly see two types of groups—formal and informal. Let’s look at how different types of group dynamics play out by understanding their characteristics.

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