You and I pretty much spend our entire lives in groups. We start off
in a family, play with groups of young friends, attend classes school,
and work in groups and teams.
So it would make sense to learn as much as possible about the
dynamics associated with groups. Some years ago, organizations spent a
fair amount of time educating people on the fine points of group
dynamics. The research was new and fascinating. New is good. Now that
that body of work has been around for a while, it's no longer "what's
happening." The human condition--and certainly the organizational
mind--is always looking for what's new. The world of advertising slaps
the word "new" on packaging and products for a very good reason: new is
still good. Old isn't bad--it just gets ignored.
There's no ignoring the importance of understanding groups. So here
are some things to ponder when you are leading, or part of, a group or
Pay attention to these
1. Whenever one person leaves or one person enters a group,the
dynamics change. Why? We learn how to function in our groups based on
the roles people play, how they play them, and the balance of power and
influence that results. Groups are about equilibrium.
2. That means that each time the group composition changes, it's a
signal to sit down and talk. When a new member enters, the first two
things that person thinks about are:
Why am I here?(Task/Role)
Who are you?(Getting to know more about the other members and vice-versa)
3. If you skip this step, it will only be a matter of time before
you notice that something is not quite right with the group. That's
the indicator to stop, get together, and clarify #1 as well as spend
time doing #2).
4. When a reasonable amount ofcomfort and trustis established, you enable the group to be able tomake decisionstogether. The question then is: how will we make decisions? Which ones
are left to the group, which are the purview of the leader, and why?
5. Now you are in a place toimplementand actually get the
work of the group done. That means you need to agree on "how" things
will happen. Note: "How" is important because implementation is the
element of group work that allows individuals to use their talents and
uniqueness. People lose interest and morale can plummet when they don't
feel as if they are uniquely part of the "how."
6. If you've attended to all of the steps so far, thensolid performanceshould be the result. That might mean a great performing team at work,
a terrific volunteer organization, or a healthy, well-functioning
Food for thought:If you find your group struggling, go back one
step and see if you paid appropriate attention to the relevant issue.
Keep going back until you take care of the business at that step and
then start moving forward again.
Groups are a huge part of our lives; it's worthwhile to learn how they really develop. I hope this adds to your thinking today.
What would you like to add to the conversation that would be helpful to others?