What is Group Dynamics?
Have you ever worked with or been a part of a group where things just clicked? Not only were you…
February 5, 2021 | 7 mins read
Have you ever worked with or been a part of a group where things just clicked? Not only were you able to interact easily but also collaborated effectively. You understood others’ strengths and weaknesses as much as they understood yours. Well, this is no accident! Great leaders know how to create teams that have strong group dynamics.
As a manager or team leader, you often shoulder the responsibility of assembling a group that works together in harmony. If you’re concerned about establishing a high-functioning team, identify the underlying dynamics that make or break teams. Let’s see how to navigate group dynamics in the most effective manner.
In order to understand the significance of group dynamics in organizational behavior, let’s see what constitutes a group. Put briefly, a group refers to two or more individuals coming together, interacting and working with each other to reach a common goal. Businesses consciously form groups as they drive and meet the larger goals of the organization. Groups also influence work, behavior and culture—exerting significant influence over an organization.
In a group, people tend to behave and interact in different ways. The attitude and behavior of one person can influence the behavior of another person. Group dynamics deals with the change in behavioral patterns and attitudes because of adjustive changes in a group. Factors such as social situation, individual personality and cultural traditions also influence a group. In a nutshell, group dynamics encompasses everything from group formation, group structure and the way it functions and grows.
A group will change, adjust and interact according to the changing circumstances and relationships among group members
Changes are constant within a group—there is a change of leadership, people join and leave and new tasks keep coming
The more organized a group is, the more cooperative and effective it is; it further boosts morale and increases productivity
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.
The purpose of a formal group is to perform tasks and meet specific targets. The primary responsibility is to drive business goals and they are a result of an organization’s structure. Formal groups serve a strictly functional purpose and individuals typically function under the guidance of a leader (e.g., manager). Departments, committees and boards of directors are a few examples of formal groups in an organization.
Formal group members are required to work with each other for a certain period of time. Group formation isn’t always a smooth process because not everyone can build rapport immediately. Its group dynamics highly depends on the leader, how they manage the team and delegate responsibilities. But continuous communication and collaboration encourage members to increase personal interactions, improving group efficiency.
Informal groups are a result of socio-psychological forces that encourage people to interact and engage with each other. Individuals working together are bound to form social groups because humans are social animals. We socialize for various reasons—minimize monotony in the workplace, defeat psychological fatigue and boredom. We simply enjoy others’ company and develop a genuine liking.
Informal group dynamics are tricky to navigate because there aren’t any rules or regulations governing a group. We form them organically as we find like-minded people we can connect with. Most informal groups are small in size, making room for resentment. People outside the groups often feel left out or uncomfortable. Moreover, personal differences are more likely to manifest because informal groups aren’t very stable. Nonetheless, they have the power to influence the effectiveness of an organization.
If you want to improve your group dynamics, let’s look at some of its most critical principles:
People in a group should have a strong sense of belonging if they want to communicate and collaborate for effective teamwork. Those who exert influence and those who were influenced need to engage with each other to understand each other better. When you develop a sense of belonging, you feel encouraged to give your best and support others as well. If everyone performs well, your group gets a morale boost.
If you want to implement a change in your group, you need to create a common perception among people that will make them accept the change with greater ease. It’s providing a heads-up for your team and preparing them for a change. For example, there is a revision in your project deadline. You need to communicate with your team and inform them about the additional efforts they’ll need to put, moving forward. If everyone is on the same page, it becomes easier to execute decisions.
You won’t always come across like-minded people in your group. People from various walks of life with diverse perspectives and viewpoints may think and work differently. If you want your group to function as an individual unit, you need to address individualistic tendencies. Group members need to conform to group norms and respect the essential rules that govern the group.
Changes are constant in a group. To effectively bring about changes and implement them, your group needs to be well-coordinated and informed. Share all the relevant information concerning the plan, strategy and outcome of change amongst group members. State the expectations in advance so that there isn’t any dissatisfaction later. A coordinated group is better prepared to deal with change.
The principle of change is responsible for the principle of readjustment. Changes in a particular part of a group are likely to cause tension in the other part. It can be managed by making readjustments in the related parts of the group. Essentially, the principle of readjustment emphasizes readjusting group dynamics after a change in group norms, objectives or delegation of responsibilities.
The core purpose of groups is to drive an organization’s goals successfully. All the operations are geared towards achieving common targets. Problem-solving, strategizing and decision-making have to be done in a collaborative manner. You need to be on the same page as everybody else, otherwise, conflicts are likely to arise. Goals, milestones and timelines for any project should be set collaboratively. If not, every member should be aware of the expectations.
A group survives only when their actions are goal-oriented. Everyone needs a direction to follow, otherwise, there will be confusion and chaos. The principle of common motives guides the goal orientation principle; all the tasks are geared towards meeting larger objectives. An operational hierarchy ensures that a group stays on track and makes progress.
The principle of power plays out in different ways. The more attractive a group looks to someone, the more influence it exerts. For example, there is a new inner circle at the office and all the easy-going people are in it. An outsider is likely to be attracted by such a group because it exerts a certain kind of influence. The greater the power of a group, the greater its influence over its members and others.
Group functioning is a continuous process. Every group is formed in such a way that each individual is responsible for maintaining continuity, in addition to being accountable for their own actions. Groups should adjourn only upon the completion of tasks or after achieving their desired objectives. Until then, everyone should continue to work in harmony and ensure continuous operation.
As a manager or a team leader, you have the responsibility of bringing different people together and encouraging collaboration among them. It isn’t easy to build effective teams but here are three habits you should adopt and practice.
Alignment leaves no room for ambiguity. Everyone is aware of the expectations and their responsibilities, which helps them process in the right direction. Alignment on plans and goals creates a strong team dynamic. Start by writing down your plans, getting buy-in from decision-makers and communicating progress regularly.
Conflicts are inevitable in groups, especially when you don’t expect someone to hamper your progress. Unless everyone’s on the same page, individuals may not apprehend a possible problem. You need to prepare your team for all sorts of risks and surprises. Be transparent about your team’s progress and share weekly updates with everyone. This way, no one will be thrown off and you can deal with problems in a more cohesive manner. Make sure that you communicate well and encourage everyone else to communicate too.
A team that trusts each other grows together. If you want to strengthen your team dynamic, promote a culture of faith and interdependence. Communicate the need for accountability and encourage the ‘sink and swim together’ attitude. There should be mutual trust and understanding, which will also increase the willingness to work together. In a group, everyone is responsible for their own and others’ actions.
Harappa Education’s Managing Teamwork course will help you master team management and develop strong team dynamics. Learn everything about effective teams and how they function through the GRIN Framework. Gauge your team’s learning and working styles with the Social Styles Model. Strengthen team dynamics and be the dynamic leader that your team needs!
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the COLLABORATE Habit such as Building a Team, Importance of Teamwork & Strategic Management to develop a strong team at work.