Organizational Behavior: Group Dynamics
Group dynamics. Organizations are made of social beings; people have diversities, but as much as they are different, they have much in common. In a formal organizational setting, employees are bound together by the vision, mission, and objectives of the organization forming one major group. Therefore, inside a big major group called organization there exist smaller groups of people. These groups may be brought together by official obligations and duties hence forming a formal group. Secondly, people may be brought together by private interests and personal connections creating informal communities. Whether the groups are formal or informal, they reflect the dynamic traits of their members as they face similar issues such as maintaining group cohesiveness and making relevant decisions (Robbins & Judge, 2014). There is a whole lot of things that a person learns when in a group.
My friends and I set to learn a few things about our informal group by observing and recording all observable issues while playing Monopoly and Charades. The objective of the group was to engage in Monopoly and Charades and, from the two games, focus on learning about the group dynamics in an informal setting. This paper presents a reflective analysis of the lessons learnt from the informal group interaction in relation to the class discussion of groups in organizations as put down in the book Organizational Behavior co-authored by Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge.
The study of group behavior was prompted by a class assignment to conduct two field study activities that would enable the class to have firsthand experience in groups. For several groups in class, the formation of the group was just for the completion of another assignment in class. For the five of us, Adam, John, Steve, Jeff, and George, coming up with a group was not a problem because we were friends already and did a lot of things as a group, classmates, and friends before. It means that the group was cohesive with the members having a lot of things in common. However, until the setting of the class assignment, there was not much that could be said about any existing differences as we had never really attempted to deliberate on what the group was all about. However, we often play Monopoly and Charades, which is why it was not difficult to pick the two for the field study. After all, the group members would end up enjoying the games and learning a lot in the process. That is what Robbins and Judge (2014) refer to as group decision-making.
From the field study, the group has learnt that the differences between the members are the cohesive bonds that make the members inseparable. As an individual, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. In groups, the strengths of one member substitute the weaknesses of the other. Therefore, diversity makes the group a stronger entity and enhances group cohesiveness. It explains the concept of group dynamics as explained by Robbins and Judge (2014). For instance, these group characteristics discussed in this paragraph emerged during the Charades game. The first team comprised of Adam and John while Steve, Jeff, and George played in the opposing team. Steve was not strong in acting while Jeff would guess right but not act. Adam appeared skilled in both acting and giving the right answers, which led to the conclusion that Adam and John formed the perfect winning team even with the opposing team having an extra player. Taking a scenario where the group of five plays another team, say another group in the class, makes the team stronger and presents the members with a better chance to win.
The group could be compared to a work team in an organization. In work teams, the group gets together to handle a specified task and deliver on specified objectives (Robbins & Judge, 2014). One of the strategies employed in solving a problem or handling a task in groups or work teams is the art of brainstorming. It allows the group members or team mates to employ their creativity in providing solutions to an organizational problem. In the process, the best side of every member of the team gets to light. In their book, Robbins and Judge (2014) describe the process as the creation of synergy towards the achievement of specified goals and objectives. The second approach towards handling organization issues in work teams and groups is the assignment of roles to teammates and group members. The roles get assigned based on a person’s strengths where everybody gets to handle the role in which they can best deliver, and in the process, the random and varied skills of group members get synchronized into a complementary skill set in teams. The assignment of roles helps in enhancing accountability at the individual level, as well.
At times, groups or teams may not be the solution to organizational issues. This idea brings in the concept of intra-group conflicts and, secondly, the concept of decision making in groups and teams (Robbins & Judge, 2014). Groups comprise social human beings with different interests as much as they have a lot in common. The presence of personal interests, attitudes and perspectives also brings out conflicts in groups which reduces group efficiency. The second issue concerns decision-making in groups. As a rule of the thumb, decision making in groups is much more complex and time-consuming than when an individual is involved. The rationale of preferring group decision-making is that the members make more rational and informed decisions. The negative side of it is that decision-making in urgency cases may not be optimal especially given that it takes time to consult and agree.
The two aspects of group conflicts and group decision-making emerged during the Monopoly field activity. George chose to play on his own, took risky decisions, and though he made quicker decisions, he lost first and was pushed out of the board. George’s action and decision-making therefore rationalize the use of work teams in decision-making. The second team comprised John and Steve who lost second, and lastly we had Adam and Jeff who won the game after moving back and forth several times before Adam bought off Jeff and won the game in the end. What comes clearly out of this tussle is the strength of making decisions in a group, which is why Adam and Jeff won the first streak. However, an hour-long duration to the finalization of the game reveals just how inefficient decision-making in groups can be, especially when considered that Jeff and Adam got delayed by the conflicts between the two.
Over and above common goals and objectives, something else plays a major role in the coming together of members to form a group and most importantly, in ensuring cohesion in the group. Communication is what enables members to know what they might be having in common. Thus, like for every other discourse community or group, the members operate according to clear communication models and channels (Robbins & Judge, 2014). In the group discussed herein, communication began sometime back when we have discovered that we had had a lot in common, including the interest to Monopoly and Charades games. At the beginning, no one knew about the time when we would be enjoying similar treats, but through continuous interaction and communication everybody learnt about the others. During the field activity, the communication began on phone networks before meeting physically to deliberate on how the field study would be undertaken. At the bottom line, the members communicated at the lateral level with no barriers whatsoever, which brings out another aspect namely the leadership style in the group that is democratic and guided by self-management principles.
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Towards the end of the Monopoly game, a rather awkward issue has emerged. The members, other than Adam and Jeff, who continued playing for another hour, started complaining that the two were taking too long to complete the game. It began like any other complaint that took place before when the players took too long on the board game, and, probably, no one even noticed the problem. However, the field study enabled the members to connect the eventful complaints with the politics in a group setting and how it influences cohesion in the group as well as how the politics could easily break the group. In a larger organization, the scenario could escalate and cause rifts that could even lead to organization failure, which explains why politics should be handled and managed properly in both the group and organizational settings (Robbins & Judge, 2014).
Reflection and Conclusion
Prior to the group field study assignment, no one in the group has ever considered the dynamism to learn about. Additionally, probably not a single member of the group even thought that the group was worth studying, but, in the end, everyone had to learn and consider many more factors related to groups including decision making, conflict handling and management, leadership qualities for every member in the group, and the handling of politics in the group among other factors. In conclusion, the assignment helped the group members to have a broader perspective about group and organizational dynamics.
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