What is Group Dynamics?
Group dynamics is a pattern of behaviors and attitudes that occur within a social group (intra-group dynamics), or between social groups (intergroup dynamics).
We find groups within an organization. Individuals join groups and people often work in groups in different areas of life e.g. at work, school/college, sport, etc. When it comes to management’s point of view, managers need to understand “group dynamics” that can enable managers to adopt the right approach of interacting with them. So, what is ‘group dynamics’ then?
Kurt Lewin coined the term ‘group dynamics’ to describe the way groups and individuals act (such as group decision, group productivity, group interaction, group cohesiveness, and group communication) and react to changing circumstances. There are remarkable effects of the presence of other people on individual performance. The study has shown that:
- Performance on simple tasks IMPROVES in presence of others
- Performance on complex tasks WORSENS in presence of others
Group dynamics looks at how people form groups, how these groups develop, their structure and processes, how people act and react in groups, how they function, and their effect on the individual members, other groups, and larger organizations.
Managers are interested in group dynamics since they may have responsibility for a group of people. When managing groups, it is important to understand all these characteristics and interactions within the group and between groups in order to direct the group to a positive result. Thus, group dynamics is concerned with the interactions within (among group members) and between groups in the social situation.
The knowledge of group dynamics is important for management and organizations as a whole because:
- Understanding group dynamics can have value when looking at the way people work together, live together, and play together. This knowledge can then be used in the makeup of project teams, in understanding decision-making behavior as well as in predicting group outcomes.
- Companies are interested in group dynamics because the work of companies is seldom done by one person alone. People usually have to be organized in groups to complete the tasks needed to achieve company objectives.
- Understanding how groups form, develop and interact can help companies understand how to best organize and communicate with groups of people.
- Managers will be able to assess if the group is in trouble or headed in a direction that is counterproductive.
- Managers can be able to facilitate group meetings and group activities to bring the best out of all team members.
- As it concerns how people communicate as well as what position they play in group activities and decision making, managers and leaders understand that they have to pay attention to the way they communicate information to a group. For this, managers and leaders will need a variety of communication skills and styles in order to reach people with different natures and attitudes in a group.
- A company can be creative and innovative if the group dynamics of the team are responsible for innovation.
- Managers with skills and knowledge about group dynamics can build groups into high-performance teams and help these teams develop strategies for solving problems and resolving conflict.
- According to Cartwright and Zander, 1968, “Group dynamics is a set of behavioral and psychological processes that occur within a social group or between groups. It refers to the “nature of groups, the laws of their development, and their interrelations with individuals, other groups, and larger institutions.”
Principles of Group Dynamics
- The members of the group must have a strong sense of belonging to, the group. The barrier between the leaders and followers must be broken down.
- The more attractive a group is to its members, the greater influence it would exercise on its members.
- The greater the prestige of the group leader, in the eyes of the members, the greater influence he would exercise on them.
- The successful efforts to change individuals’ sub-parts of the group would result in making them conform to the norms of the group.
- The pressures for change can be established by the group through shared perception by the members of the need for change.
Why is Group is important in an Organization?
Organizations have groups and the effectiveness of the organization depends upon the effectiveness of the groups. The study of groups and group dynamics is an important area because of the following reasons:
- Groups typically outperform individuals when the tasks involved require a variety of skills, experience, and decision-making.
- Groups are often more flexible and can quickly assemble, goals, or move on to another set of objectives.
- Groups have many motivational aspects.
- Group members are more likely to participate in decision-making and problem-solving activities leading to empowerment and increased productivity.
- Groups complete most of the work in an organization.
Factors that Influence Group Dynamics:
- the social status of participants
- the assigned or adopted roles
- patterns of communication
- patterns of dominance that develop within the group
- task orientation
- effectiveness of a group
- Social facilitation
What is Social Loafing?
Social loafing refers to the:
- Failure of group members to contribute personal time, effort, thoughts, or other resources to the group.
- The human tendency to put forth less effort in a group than individually.
- Resulting in lower group performance.
- Failure to attain group goals.