Work groups are a common arrangement within today’s
business organizations. Work is being restructured
around groups of all kinds and in all sizes of organizations. Managers
need an understanding of group
behavior and the concept of teams in order to appreciate what groups can
and cannot do within
organizations and how groups function.
Any one member in group can influence the behavior of the individuals in
the group and teamwork. We will
examine some basic characteristics of groups including the types of work
groups, the development of
informal groups, and the manner in which groups operate.
UNDERSTANDING GROUP BEHAVIOR
Groups exhibit different behavior—more than
just the sum total of each group member’s individual
behavior. In this section, we’re going to look at various aspects of
What is a Group?
is defined as two or more interacting and
interdependent individuals who come together to
achieve particular objectives.
1. Groups differ from mere aggregates of individual because the latter
interdependence, interaction, or common goal.
2. Groups differ from organizations because the latter involve
systematic efforts and
are engaged in the production of goods and services.
3. Teamwork occurs when groups are able to work efficiently and
together to achieve organizational goals.
There are a number of types of work groups
1. A formal
group is a group officially planned and
created by an organization for a
a. A command
or functional group
is a formal group consisting of a manager
and all the subordinates who report to that manager.
1) Each identifiable work group consisting of manager and
subordinates is a command group.
2) A linking is an individual who provides a means of coordination
between command groups at two different levels by fulfilling a
supervisory role in the lower-level group and a subordinate role in
the higher-level group.
2. Informal groups are natural social formations that appear in the work
informal group is a group that is
established by employees, rather than by the organization, in order to
members’ interests or social needs. Informal groups are unplanned
a. An interest group is an informal group created to facilitate employee
pursuits of common concern.
b. A friendship group is an informal group that evolves primarily to
employee social needs.
Overview of Group Dynamics
Formal and informal work groups are becoming
increasingly important competitive factors in organizations.
Teamwork is the result of groups working together to effectively and
efficiently achieving organizational
goals. Formal groups include command and task
groups. Informal groups include interest and friendship
groups. A useful way to analyze groups is to view them as systems that
use inputs, engage in various
processes or transformations, and produce outcomes.
Managers can help bring about higher performance from formal work groups
by weighing the
characteristics of members they assign to particular groups. Group
members should have task-relevant
expertise and appropriate interpersonal skills. Also, it has been found,
that a degree of diversity among
group members usually adds to performance. Group training, particularly
for diverse groups, has been
found to be useful.
Members may be attracted to a group for a number of reasons including
being attracted to or liking other
members of the group, liking the activities of the group, the goals or
purposes of the group, because the
group satisfies an individual’s need for affiliation, and/or because the
group can help an individual achieve a
goal outside the group. The absence of attraction can prevent the group
from achieving high performance.
Member roles in groups include group task roles, group maintenance
roles, and self performance. Member
roles in groups include group task roles, group maintenance roles, and
self oriented roles. The size of the
group has also been found to have significant bearing on the group’s
performance. Mid-sized groups, from
five to seven members, seem to be an optimum size according to recent
research. Smaller groups can often
exacerbate individual differences. Large groups tend to be when working
in groups than when working
alone. Free riding is particularly likely when members exhibit
individualism rather than collectivism.
Managers can combat social loafing by several methods. Assign just
enough people to do the work is one
key method. Other methods include making each individual’s work visible,
providing for individual
feedback, have people work with those the respect, have standards to
actually measure group performance,
and making rewards contingent on a combination of individual and group
The work group processes usually result in greater or lesser performance
than would occur if the individuals
worked alone rather than as members of the group. This process is called
synergy. Managers strive to have a
positive synergy from the group rather than negative. Three key
characteristics of the group help determine
the synergy levels. These are group norms, group cohesiveness, and group
development. Norms are the
behaviors of group members that are acceptable to the group. Norms stem
from explicit statements by
supervisors and coworkers, critical events in a group’s history,
primacy, and carryover behaviors. Group
cohesiveness has important consequences for group communication,
satisfaction, performance, hostility
and aggression toward other groups, and a group’s willingness to
innovate and change. Factors influencing
the amount of cohesiveness in a group include whether or not members of
the group share attitudes and
values, the amount and severity of external threats to the group,
whether or not the group experiences
recognizable successes, the degree of difficulty encountered in joining
the group, and the size of the group.
One view of group development shows groups passing through five distinct
stages: forming, storming,
norming, performing, and adjourning. A group’s performance varies
depending on the stage it is in.
A special kind of group behavior is found in group meetings. Because of
the considerable amount of time
spent in meetings, it is important for managers to know how to maximize
group meeting effectiveness. This
chapter includes an excellent short guide for how managers can lead more
effective group meetings. Groups
can also help facilitate creativity and innovation in the organization.
Some of the major mechanisms that
organizations use to encourage the creative and innovative capacity of
groups include the use of task forces,
or ad hoc committees, and teams, particularly entrepreneurial and