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A group is established when individuals come together for a common cause or function. Group dynamics as the name suggests refers to external and internal characteristics within a group or between groups. Though “birds of the same feather flock together”, it takes all types to make a group. Group dynamics relates to the process of group development.
- Conceptualization of the term
George Homans conceived the theory that groups develop on the basis of affinities. He proposed that people with similar attitudes and behavioral traits tend to gravitate towards one another. The reasons behind group development have been explained through numerous theories. The central idea is that when people come together they interrelate to each other and could either form constructive or unconstructive approach.
The term group dynamics was coined by Kurt Lewin, a psychologist, social scientist and management specialist. He established The Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1945. He observed that people display distinct traits when they work together as a group. Lewin’s theory of Group dynamics gives a detailed view on the consequences of the roles and behaviors on the group components as well as the group in totality. His tools are considered among good management skills that are practiced till date.
- Function of group dynamics
Group dynamics is a system which unfolds itself when group members come together. The process is dependent on several factors such as psychology of each group member and inter-relationship between the members. Group formation occurs when like-minded individuals aspire to get connected. A group can be made of two or more individuals. The group dynamics are dependent on several factors such as a group type, group size, group function etc. Group dynamics delves into the reasons and mechanics of a group formation.
A constructive group is one where members show accountability and trust towards each other. In such a team, the group dynamic is said to be positive. A positive group is more creative and productive than others. Two main theories – social exchange theory and social identity theory – provide justification for group formation. The former explains how human beings interact on the basis of mutual trust, while the latter emphasizes on coming together of human beings to get a sense of belongingness. In this case the individuals could be driven to network together based on demography, culture or an organization.
As a matter of fact, groups generally fail to perform at their peak level during the initial stages of formation. Several groups face similar problems during development.
The stages crucial to group development were first explained by Bruce Tuckman in the 1960s. Tuckman gave a detailed explanation of group development. The several stages explained by him form a part of our curricular, which is described briefly in forthcoming section.
Tuckman’s theory, there are five stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. During these stages group members must address several issues and the way in which these issues are resolved determines if the group can succeed in accomplishing its tasks.
Group Dynamics Essential Training Description
The course on group dynamics covers the basics of group making,
A Group structure is a network of relationships between members that facilitates the group to reach its objectives by working in unison. The structure could be further classified on the basis of its size, roles, norms and organization.
- Group size
In general, smaller groups tend to be more effective as every member has sufficient chances to contribute and be an active part of the group. On the contrary larger groups tend to dissipate resources while reaching decisions related to future participation. Group size is related to participation as well as satisfaction. It is also complicated for members of large groups to identify with each other and practice unity.
There are several work roles for group members: initiator, informer, clarifier, summarizer, and reality tester. Each role is designated on the basis of action performed. The initiator defines problems, proposes action, and suggests procedures.
- Group type
The simplest way to categorize a group is in two types: formal and informal. Mostly, formal work groups are the ones that achieve organizational goals. They work as command groups, task groups, and functional groups.
In formal groups the roles are programmed and allotted to every member. The roles have precise tasks for the individuals. However, roles also tend to evolve naturally to fulfill the needs of the groups. Once the individuals begin to express themselves, they gain confidence.
- Group norms
Group norms are acceptable standards of behavior within a group that are shared by the members of the group. Group norms classify the boundaries of tolerable and objectionable behavior. These classifications help to facilitate group survival, thereby giving a view of acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. Every group has its specific norms which can include anything from a prescribed code of dressing to acceptable comments. Norms are often an indicator of the group motivation, commitment and discipline.
For a smoother functioning of a group, maximum members of the group should adhere to the norms.
Stages of group development
According to a theory by Tuckman, main stages involved in group development include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Through these stages group members are required to address issues. The mode of action taken to resolve these issues determines if the group will succeed in accomplishing its tasks.
- Forming: This stage is usually signified by confusion and uncertainty. The major goals of the group are yet to be established. At this stage, the type of the role or group leadership remains to be confirmed. Forming is considered as an orientation period wherein the members get familiar with one another and list their expectations about the group. Members learn about the goal of the group and the rules to be adopted. This stage usually develops gradually as it involves development of trust.
- Storming: During this stage, the group comes face to face with a higher magnitude of conflict and differences. As a result, members begin to challenge group goals and begin a tussle for power. Group members contend for leadership position at this point of time. This could prove to be a positive experience for the groups if members achieve consistency by being firm in their resolve. At this time, members tend to vocalize their views. When members are unable to solve the differences, the group either gets dispersed or carries on but remains ineffective. It seldom reaches further stage.
- Norming: As the name suggests this stage deals with identifying individual differences and expectations. The group members start to extend a feeling of group unity and identity. Efforts of cooperation begin to yield results. Tasks get divided among members and the group resolves to progress further with evaluation.
- Performing: After the group reaches maturation, it gains a feeling of cohesiveness. At this time, individuals begin to accept one another and conflict gets resolved with group discussion. The group members learn to make decisions via rational process based on relevant goals instead of emotional issues.
- Adjourning: This stage of development is related to dismissal of group. Though some groups tend to be more or less fixed, the reasons for dismissal of group could range from inability to accomplish the task or individuals following their own ways. At this juncture members of group undergo withdrawal symptoms and reflect sadness in general.
What are the requirements/pre-requisites to this Training?
There is no fixed pre-requisite for taking up this course. However, it will help to have a basic interest or inclination in forming a group. One should have willingness to come together and cooperate with a motley group of people to address common problems at work or in life. In order to learn group dynamics, the candidate needs to be open – minded and imbibe various functions of a group. This process helps to determine individual inadequacies and overcome them through this course. A graduate from any stream who is willing to imbibe new skills is suitable to take this course.
Target Audience for this training
Anyone willing to function as a negotiator or a leader at a professional, social as well as a support group can take this course. Particularly, candidates keen on pursuing managerial roles in the corporate arena can benefit immensely from this course. MBA students desirous of gaining an edge in communications, particularly in group behavioral studies should definitely go for it.
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