Group Dynamics Lecture

Group Dynamics Lecture


What is a group? Groups are 3 or more individuals that can
all communicate with one another who come together for a common purpose, are interdependent,
take on roles, and influence one another. Many times the “interdependence” part
will separate a group from a collection of individuals. Let’s think about it this way – we are
a group if me walking away affects the other members of the group in some way, meaning
it would change the way we would complete the task. Let’s use the example of a baseball team. If the first base position player gets injured,
someone else must come into take their spot or the rest of the team has to adjust accordingly. That is interdependence. Group members have roles, not dinner rolls. Roles are, to put it simply, consistent behaviors
a person performs in a group. Roles can be formal or informal. Formal roles are assigned roles, whereas informal
roles emerge over time. For example, in an work group, your manager
might be the designated leader and that would be a formal role. Your crazy co-worker who likes to talk about
themselves and get off task might have an individual or dysfunctional role. This would be an informal role because it
is not assigned to them. Roles can be social (meaning roles that help
the group get along, like the mediator), task roles (roles that help the group complete
the task, like the recorder), and individual or dysfunctional (like the off-tasker). Norms are the rules of the group. They may be explicit, or stated, like a groups
by-laws. Most norms are implicit, meaning unspoken. One example may be that your group always
meets at 1PM on Fridays. That may be explicit. However, you always start the meeting at 1:05. That would be implicit. There are different types of norms – task,
procedural and social. They tend to go hand in hand. Task norms would be specific as to how we
are handling the task. Are you delegating and assigning roles or
tasks or is it a free for all contribution situation? Procedural norms would be how the group runs,
so the “start 5 minutes late” example I mentioned before would be an example of
a procedural norm. A social norm would be how the group interacts
with one another. Do we use first names? Nicknames? Is it ok to make jokes? Think about our class. What are some of the explicit and implicit
norms for this class? Tuckman’s stages of group formation explains
the process which groups follow from formation to the end of a group. I want to emphasize all groups are always
in one of Tuckman’s stages. The first stage is forming, which is when
the group gets together and meets for the first time. Communication is very much governed by social
norms, quite formal, small talk. Next, the group needs to begin focus on the
task. Because not everyone knows each other well
yet, conflict is inevitable as the group starts to establish roles, norms, and just how to
approach the task at hand. Even if the roles are formal and leadership
is assigned, we know that many times informal leaders will still emerge as others in the
group want power and status. Many groups never make it past the storming
stage, as they get stuck in an endless ring of power struggles. I see many students mention brainstorming
as part of this stage. While it may be part of this stage, it would
not be the focus of this stage. The storming stage is more about establishing
roles and norms for the group. Once these are established, the group moves
into norming, which is when they would begin to plan out the task at hand. This is the stage where delegation of tasks
may occur. This is usually a pretty short stage, sort
of like the planning stage for the performance, which is the next stage, performing. Performing is actually working on the task
at hand. If a group does make it past storming, this
would likely be the longest stage. Once the performing stage is done, the group
moves to adjourning and the group is disbanded. Let’s discuss an example of a Little League
team. The team forms, and everyone gets to know
each other through introductions, perhaps some sort of early team building activity. Then, tryouts for positions would occur. Two children want to be first base, so conflicts
arise as roles are established. In the norming phase, positions are established
and the children beginning learning the rules of the game and figure out how to work as
a team, learning to able to play to each other’s strengths and play as a team. In the performing stage, the team plays games
against other teams. Finally, when the season is over, the group
disbands. The last dynamic is the main reason people
dislike group work: Social Loafing. Social Loafers are those who do not pull their
weight in the group. As an example, if a group in class will all
get the same grade in the end, a social loafer would think, “why should I do any work if
the teacher won’t know whether I did anything or not and our group still gets an A. My other
group members are pretty smart. I’ll just let them do it.” These people are the Social loafers. They ride along with the group and don’t
pull their weight. Sometimes, it’s because they just don’t
want to do work, or they see an opportunity to take the easy way out. Other times, it may be because the person
feels somewhat inadequate or not confident about the topic, so they may feel their contributions
won’t matter anyway. You’ve probably been in groups before where
perhaps you wished someone was a social loafer… In any case, there are several things you
can do help with social loafing, and those will be discussed in the next unit.

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