What is Group?
A group is a collection of two or more people who have a common interest and interact with each other in order to accomplish particular goals. Members of groups relate to each other in the same way and are united by common ties, beliefs, and perceptions on a relatively sustained and structured basis.
A group can be defined as two or more freely interacting individuals who share a common identity or purpose – Robert Kreitner
In other words, a workgroup is two or more interacting and interdependent individuals who come together to try to do a task to achieve a goal.
Its members regularly interact with each other and depend upon each other to do their tasks. They share common values and are affected in their behavior and performance by norms. Groups may be formal or informal.
Characteristics of Group
A group is characterized by its following attributes.
Collection of People
A group is a collection of people. For the existence of it, it must have at least two members. Groups can not be formed without individuals. It is well known that it is difficult to handle more people, for efficiency, there must be a limited number of members.
A group would be quite static without interaction. It is necessary for all members of the group to interact with each other. Some forms of communication like face-to-face, phone calls, etc., and the ability to communicate are vital for its existence.
Shared Goals and Interest
It is formed to achieve some common goals. Goals are the concerns of all members. Achievement of a goal is a reason why individuals formed a group. They share their ideas and interest to accomplish the shared goals.
It is the awareness of each other that most clearly differentiates a group from an aggregation of individuals. Unless people are not aware of each other, they will not interact in a way that achieves common goals.
Causal groups do not qualify as a group because ordinarily, they are not aware of each other. The collective identity is made when its members continuously interact with each other toward the attainment of goals.
Every group must have a leader who takes over its members. The leader emerges from within informal groups and is accepted by group members.
As individuals become a member of the group they are assigned some tasks, roles, and responsibilities to complete. It is the group leader who assigns tasks to his members, and he must assign them according to the capacity of his members.
A status system is developed in a group. Members are accorded by their groups. Individuals in leadership roles possess status because of their roles. They are ranked highly in the group status hierarchy.
Norms are certain rules about how to behave within groups. Groups prepare implicit or explicit agreements among all the group members to show how should they behave. The more an individual complies with norms, the more he accepts the group’s standard of behavior.
Types of Group
We human beings belong to different groups. In organizations, managers and non-managers belong to different groups that exist in the organization. There are different groups we can find. Here, we look, into two major types of groups, formal and informal.
A formal group is formed under the organizational structure by virtue of the management decisions to perform the organizational objectives. Its members are selected by the management and are required to assume certain roles.
It is a formally formed group. Members of the formal groups are selected according to their talents in order to do certain defined roles and undertake specific tasks. The functioning of such groups is governed by organizational rules, work assignments, and rational structure.
Production department, finance department, marketing department, personnel department, etc are examples of formal groups.
It can be further classified into two groups, command, and task:
- Command Group – A command group consists of a manager and a set of his immediate subordinates directly reporting to him. It is specified by the organizational hierarchy. It is a relatively permanent group and undertakes certain regular activities of the organization. Different product divisions (Product X, Y, Z) and departments (production, finance, marketing, personnel) are examples of command groups.
- Task Group – A task group is formed for performing a specific task. It consists of a number of employees who work together to complete a specific project or job. It may or may not be part of the organization’s structure. This group may be composed of personal specialists, corporate vice presidents, and workers from the shop floor. If it is formed permanently, it is called a standing committee, and if it is formed temporarily for a specific purpose, it is called an ad-hoc committee or a task force. Examples of task groups are committees, project groups, and task forces.
Informal groups developed naturally among an organization’s employees without any direction from management. It is a voluntary and unofficial formation of relationships coming into existence by virtue of some commonly shared background, needs, interests, values, and purposes.
The informal group emerges naturally by virtue of the fact that people seek in the organization some kinds of social alliances, interactions, and relationships on a selective basis in the course of their association with their jobs.
The formation of informal groups in the organizations does not signal especially anything good or bad about management practice. It is an important part of the life of the organizations. Friendship can bind people together and help them to cooperate with each other.
It can be also classified into two groups, interest, and friendship:
- Interest Group – Interest groups are formed to share common interests in some job-related event or possible outcome. It is an informal or non-structured group. It emerges to pursue a specific goal and share a common interest. Some common interest areas of employees are holidays, cafeteria, sports, library, overtime facilities, and so on. Employees form interest groups to promote their common interests.
- Friendship Group – Friendship groups are formed in an organization because of the social affiliation needs of the members such as needs for belonging, affiliation, acceptance, etc. Employees having common characteristics such as age, ethnic background, political sentiment, etc. form a friendship group.
Also Read: The 5 Levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Why Do People Join Groups?
Most people belong to a number of groups. It is well known that different groups provide different benefits to their members. The common reasons for joining groups are as follows:
Probably the most important reason for joining groups is security reason. By joining groups, individuals can reduce the insecurity of ‘Standing Alone’. People feel stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and are more resistant to threats when they are part of groups.
Groups provide recognition and status to their members. Where the works of the group’s members are clearly shown to everyone. Members can make their position inside and outside of groups.
Groups provide an individual with a feeling of self-worth. A member is able to know his value. In addition to conveying the status to those outside groups, membership can also give an increased feeling of worth to the members themselves.
Groups can fulfill social needs. People enjoy the regular interaction that comes with group members. For many people, on-the-job interactions are their primary means of fulfilling their needs for affiliation.
A group represents power, what can not be achieved individually often becomes possible through the group’s actions. Individuals may align with others to protect themselves from unreasonable demands by management.
For an individual who wants to influence others, a group can offer him/her power without a formal position, or authority in the organization.
People may join groups for goal achievement. When it takes more than one person’s talents, knowledge, or power to complete the job, the stated goal can be achieved easily.
Stages of Group Formation
Bruce Tuckman, an American Professor has suggested the five stages of group formation and which is most popular in management practice. Here are the five stages of group development, based on Tuckman’s model:
This initial stage involves the formation of the group structure. Team members seek acceptance and avoid conflict. They look to a leader for guidance and direction. Behaviors include politeness, orientation with others personally, and defining tasks and processes.
Conflict arises as the group starts organizing tasks and processes. Power struggles, disagreements, and lack of role clarity are common. Members may feel defensive or uncertain about the team’s mission. The focus is on resolving conflicts, establishing consensus-seeking behaviors, and reestablishing roles and ground rules.
Cohesion develops within the team, and shared leadership emerges. Processes and procedures are agreed upon, and there is a focus on effective conflict resolution and consensual decision-making. Trust, acceptance, and a sense of belonging are prevalent.
In this stage, true interdependence is achieved. The team is highly productive, with clear roles and a flexible approach. Collaboration, personal development, and high commitment are evident. Leadership becomes shared, and team members work well individually or as a team.
This final stage involves the termination of the group. Members may experience feelings of sadness, relief, or restlessness. The team evaluates its efforts, ties up loose ends, and acknowledges team achievements. Leadership focuses on facilitating the transition and reflecting on the collaborative learning experience.
Difference Between a Group and a Team
Group and team are often considered the same but have distinct differences in their definition, purpose, and structure.
A group is a collection of individuals brought together for a common purpose, but each member works independently, focusing on personal goals. It has a loose structure and lacks a unified direction.
On the other hand, a team is a cohesive unit with a shared objective. Its purpose is to collaborate and leverage the strengths of each member to achieve a common goal. A team has a more defined structure, with clear roles, communication, and interdependence among members.
In summary, a group emphasizes individual contributions, while a team emphasizes collaboration and collective achievement.