Group dynamics practically exists out of the fact that individuals posses different personalities in the way they relate in a given business environment. Group dynamics in its totality revolves around the functionality and nature of different groups. For effective management and efficient functionality of different aspects of the organization, business entities need to understand the functionality of groups. The urge to identify with a certain group has over the years proved to be a powerful force that reckons above individual personalities. Moreover, group dynamics have been observed to override beliefs, values and preferences of different individuals in an organization. The magnitude of group dynamics is therefore set to affect the human potential in an organization (Needham, 1999, p. 308).
When analyzing the importance of workplace diversity and relating it to group dynamics, it is obvious that all organizations should consider group dynamics as a core tenet for success. According to common definition, group dynamics is the summation of any number of entities. Groups are generally formed on the basis of gender, experience, area of expertise or any other determinant, though the effectiveness of groups depend on totally different variables (Maddux, 2003, p. 5). Groups also use peer influence which manifest in discussions that ultimately drive a group towards a consensus. Many examples of group dynamics exist in the world today; for example, the jury. However, many leadership programs around the world tend to emphasize more on team building rather than group building. Group building is actually more important because groups are easier to form and organizations need to put a lot of emphasis on it to synchronize the activities of the organization which would have otherwise been done in discord.
Success and Criticisms of Group Dynamics
Positive interdependence in group dynamics has effectively helped in achieving mutual goals because group dynamics contribute to the overall intermix of various talents in a given work environment. In most circumstances, different groups would have different potentials and expertise which if channeled towards a mutual goal, would effectively lead to high levels of success. Studies have also indicated that groups that have effectively achieved high levels of success have performed tasks, processes and maintenance functions in synchrony with each other (Needham, 1999, p. 308). This is normally moderated by a group leader who coordinates the functions of different groups.
In this analysis, the objectives of the group have not always been the only direction that has propelled groups towards a mutual goal because resource building and facilitation of stability among group members has also been established to be a fundamental motivator towards the achievement of mutual goals (Needham, 1999, p. 310). In this context, groups have been observed to modify their own processes and procedures by providing the guidelines through which their actions would be performed.
Groups that are only limited to the accomplishment of certain tasks have failed to sustain in the long-run. The "people value" in each group is therefore a key determinant on the long-term sustainability of any given group. However, research on groups has been perceived to be an irrelevant topic in the past because organizations were more segmented then they are today. In fact, globalization has prompted organizations to consider group dynamics in their organizations. Indeed globalization, specialization, outsourcing and mergers which are virtually the norm in today's business world have forced business entities to effectively work towards exploring the dynamism of groups (Needham, 1999, p. 309).
Group cohesiveness is the ability of a group to work synchronously and harmoniously towards the attainment of a mutual goal. A group is cohesive if it can come to a quick consensus which would ultimately mean the timely accomplishment of a given task. Non-cohesive groups cannot accomplish their goals in time because their efforts are misdirected or not properly aligned towards the attainment of a given objective.
Group cohesiveness passes as a very important facet of company success because the attainment of specific goals in due time, virtually depends on this aspect. It is important for groups to ensure cohesiveness for the attainment of goals in due time or even earlier. In the same regard, cohesiveness is important because it increases efficiency in the organization. Every group member will know his/her role, thereby complimenting the efforts of one another. This also brings us to another important aspect, which is coordination, because cohesive groups bring coordination of the organizations' activities. In respect to coordination, efficiency and attainment of specific goals in an organization, groups are able to affect the organization's activities in a huge way (Forsyth, 2009, p. 22).
Group cohesive forces affect group processes because they bring about synchrony of the entire group process. Additionally, they bring about understanding among group members and also foster tolerance. This is evident because group members are distinct in their own characteristics. It also improves the patterns and structures of communication among group members. In this regard, to improve cohesiveness in groups, organizations should first of all compose groups on the basis of common similarities they share. In this context, group members should share a lot of similarities. Research studies since 1940s have observed that groups that share a lot of similarities in any type of unifying factor such as experience or sex, are more cohesive than groups or group members that don't share a lot of similarities (Forsyth, 2009).
Groups are observed to be especially more cohesive and functional in work environment that in other contexts. This is because work environments have structures that enhance the efficiency or talents of different groups. The work environment especially enhances the expertise of different groups and also differentiates different groups along lines of expertise, proficiency or even experience. In this context, coordination is facilitated in a work environment.
Social Influence in Groups
Social influence and interactions affects group members because they define the environment through which group members interact. Moreover, they shape the characteristics of group members because they posses characteristics that are symbolic of their social environments. However, social influences can negatively affect group functionality because they are a possible basis through which group members clash. People with similar social preferences are likely to be against others of a different view (Koller, 2005, p. 100).
An organization can effectively encourage or promote group proposals by properly giving groups the direction they need in accomplishing their tasks. Guidance can also be made through appointing facilitators who would give general guidelines in formulation of these proposals. In the same regard, tolerance should be a virtue that needs to be enhanced in the workplace with the acknowledgement that every group member has a distinct view from another (Koller, 2005, p. 101). It should also be made clear to group members that it is incorrect to either dismiss or judge a given idea for a proposal because people have different views. However, if tolerance is entrenched among groups, people are likely to share and exchange ideas instead of criticizing.
To compliment this initiative, the organization should facilitate innovation among group members because this will be the spring board through which creative proposals will be made. The inclusion of other members apart from the groups' should be encouraged to give the proposal formulation more weight. For example, the organization could foster intergroup proposals which would give more weight to the process of proposal formulation. Additionally, the organization could expand audience participation by including the participation of the general public or inviting board members or senior officials in the organization to comment on the proposals developed by groups. However, members can also be discouraged from accepting group proposals in the work place by disregarding the above.
Leaders are present in groups to make group work easier and accomplished in less time. They also induce creative and practical solutions in light of the challenges groups face in the course of their undertakings (Koller, 2005). Leaders can definitely come from within the group, though members who fit the profile of having good meeting practices, time keepers, effectively abiding by an agreed agenda, and the ability to maintain a clear record of suggestions and recommendations should be selected. However, effective group members are required to have high order skills which entail the ability to have precise observation skills, communication skills, decision making skills, conflict resolution skills, and also armed with methods of intervention that would ultimately improve group creativity as opposed to taking it away. Through these guidelines, leaders should be able to be selected from within the group itself (Koller, 2005).
However, it is important that group members perceive their leader in a positive light because it is through this way that the authority and functions of the group leader can be effectively respected within the group itself. Members should understand that the function of the group is enabling group members understand and conceptualize their objectives while at the same time, devising ways in which they can be achieved. This should be done without any bias to any preferences that may exist within the group (Koller, 2005). Consensus building is therefore likely to be affected if group members don't perceive their leader as possessing the necessary qualities of a good arbitrator.
Group member interaction with their leader is also important, especially in determining the outcome of the group because it is bound to affect the task and content functions, process functions and the maintenance functions of the groups. The task and content functions will be affected in the sense of determining the quality of the product to be made, elements of discussion and the services to be made. The content is actually the decision to be made, the goal, the objective, approaches, procedures rules to be followed and so forth (Koller, 2005).
The process function will also be influenced by group leaders in the sense that it will be focused on how the group expects to accomplish its goals. This will essentially include the problem solving techniques, clarifying roles and interdependencies, methods of generating ideas, the formats for meeting such as agendas and time keeping, establishing the set core values, providing or developing a mission statement, determining fundamental and integral core values for the organization and the likes (Koller, 2005).
The maintenance functions at stake when the input of group leaders are factored in, entails getting the group's psychological concerns met. This should be coupled with the function of improving interpersonal relationships. A successful group leader will therefore be mandated with the function of embodying respect for others and being aware of the many layers of reality that exist in interpersonal group relationships (Koller, 2005). They are therefore entrusted with the function of creating an honest and interactive environment for group members while at the same time, understanding the differences that exist between groups and facilitating consensus building.
Teams and Work Groups
In some scenarios, groups have been observed to perform dismally as compared to teams. For this reason, most corporate entities have laid more emphasis on team building as opposed to group dynamics. A couple of reasons underlie this fact. For instance, in groups, members are usually under the assumption that they have been grouped together for specific administrative reasons, while in teams, they understand their autonomy and appreciate their personal goals together with organizational objectives (Maddux, 2003, p. 5). For example, in a governmental commission, group members may be brought together because of their expertise and would therefore work towards solely fulfilling their mandate as opposed to a sales team which would strive for fulfillment of individual as well as organizational goals by meeting sales targets.
In a group, members are told what to do and their contributions are often limited in terms of creativity as opposed to team members who are more inclined towards their jobs and units (Maddux, 2003, p. 5). Group members therefore feel they are hired and are rarely involved in the planning process. This kills their motivation. Hiring could be equated to seeking the services of the jury who have more defined roles. Creativity is therefore limited in such kind of environments. In essence, teams have been noted to be better constituted for success than groups are.
Group dynamics is an important area of study in corporate affairs. Its importance is manifested when the organization subdivides its labor force into simple autonomous units as a mechanism for specialization. Work can therefore be done more efficiently and within a short time if such units are functional enough. However, organizations need to understand their dynamics to better comprehend how they can improve the success of these groups.