Group Development: Understanding Team Dynamics

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Comparison of the differences between a ‘group’ and a ‘team’

A group is a group of people placed together in an organization, such as a division or company branch. On the other hand, a team is a collection of individuals collaborating on their tasks to achieve a mutual goal (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). A team member is not forbidden from pursuing individual agendas but is needed to commit to the general team vision and work together with others to accomplish it. As such, a team is a special type of group.

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The differences between groups and teams do not only end in the definition. Additionally, a team can be headed by several leaders, while a group requires only one leader. Responsibility is not shared among members in a group as opposed to teams in which the members share responsibility (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). Moreover, group members often focus on accomplishing individual goals as team members focus on the team goals. Therefore, groups generate personal work outcomes, whereas collective work results are achieved in teams.

The members of a team also rely on the support of each other while group members work independently. Finally, the group process involves discussing the problem, making decisions, and finally delegating duties to each member (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). Conversely, the process in a team involves discussing the issue, deciding on a solution, and finally doing it together. As a result, teamwork taps skills from several of its members to perform and achieve results. The best managers are separated from the rest due to their ability to assemble a group of people and create an effective team.

The practical implications of the differences between groups and teams for the manager

The terms’ group’ and ‘team’ are used synonymously in the organizational landscape, but elite managers recognize their subtle and essential differences. These managers are, in turn, able to apply this knowledge to achieve their organizational goals with the aid of their employees. Managers will need to acquire group and team management skills and utilize them in planning, organizing, leading, and controlling roles (Pratap, 2020). In the organizing function, managers will decide how teams will be employed in the firm, particularly when deciding on the firm’s structure and individual jobs. It is also evident that planning is usually undertaken in teams, especially in organizations that are less centralized or at the firm’s higher levels.

In the controlling function, the differences between teams and groups also affect the manager as they need a varying evaluation of performances and rewards. Finally, the teams and groups will influence the leading role of a manager. Contemporary managers will, thus, have to be excellent team leaders and team members. The management of teams and groups is an essential aspect of leadership. The same skills for managing teams and groups will be adopted while dealing with special interest groups (SIGs) such as labor unions. Project managers execute tasks per the project’s scope and objectives. They are tasked with the overall responsibility of conducting, controlling, and coordinating the general activities of the project (Oh and Choi, 2020). The team members involved do their best to decide who should be tasked with various duties. Still, they communicate, work together, and complement each other’s expertise and technical skills.

Situations when the formation of a group and/or a team would be necessary

Groups and teams are formed under very different circumstances and for various reasons. For instance, it would be more appropriate to work in a team or a group when the task at hand is of more significant uncertainty. Such tasks are more complex and often require the skills and ideas of several individuals to be completed. Forming a team will also be necessary when there is a need for a high level of commitment, a need for a unanimous decision and when the firm rewards collective work for building vision and strategy.

Groups and teams are formed for security reasons and status since people want to be considered important. Individuals also join groups and teams to satisfy their feelings of self-worth, while others do it to complete tasks they cannot achieve on their own. Developing a team involves five stages forming, storming, norming, and performing (Tuckman, 1965). A number of activities characterize each step of the process.

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Definitions of formal and informal group norms

A formal group is a collection of individuals who have assembled to accomplish a specific mutual objective. These groups are formed by the firms and have a systematic structure in the form of a hierarchy. The firm’s employees are put into groups which are then assigned tasks (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). As the groups complete their delegated duties, they also fulfill the organizational goals. It is in these larger groups that teams are formed. The relationship is professional, and their position in the group defines the members’ significance. Some of the functions in the firm which have some of these groups include human resources and marketing.

Informal groups are naturally formed in the organizational setup as a result of social and psychological forces. The firm’s employees create these groups to fulfill their social needs at the workplace (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). Individuals do not want to live in isolation, creating a platform to share their feelings, opinions, and experiences. The group members share the same likes, dislikes, language, interests, and attitudes. The relationship is personal, and all the members are equally important.

The evolution of formal and informal group norms

As individuals comply with norms, they adopt the accepted code of behavior in the group. These accepted codes of conduct among group members are referred to as norms (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). These codes are meant to aid a group in achieving its objectives and maintaining its value. There is little difference in the evolution of group norms in an organization in formal and informal groups. In informal groups, individuals act differently and start interacting with people who do not provide the necessary aid to perform their assigned tasks. This interaction continues, and soon they start embracing various attitudes, beliefs, and sentiments that differ from those of the organization. The process is very much the same, except that in formal groups, individuals are aided by the firm to form these norms. Also, norms in formal groups may evolve to become institutional laws.

The process of changing formal and informal group norms

The relationship between formal and informal norms is essentially evolving constantly. It implies a change from beliefs, attitudes, and behavior to parliamentary laws, common laws, and contracts signed among individuals (Faundez, 2016). A linear transition is involved as one norm transforms into another. As formal norms emerge, informal norms do not disappear or erode. They continue to support the formal constraints as they reduce their cost of enforcement (Faundez, 2016). Although informal constraints are the source of formal constraints, the relationship between the two also operates in the opposite direction. This is because the informal constraints had slowly progressed as extensions of previous formal rules. The process of changing formal and informal group norms occurs during institutional change. In the process, the formal norms will lead to various informal constraints that modify the formal norms and extend them to various specific applications. The institutional change mainly originates from the difference in relative prices and the tastes of players.

The value of formal and informal group norms

Formal and informal groups are hugely beneficial to the firm. They lead to establishing a hierarchy and social structure, the emergence of informal support groups for employees, and an enjoyable working environment since employees can powerfully influence job effectiveness and satisfaction. These norms also provide workgroups with some sense of stability and are a means to develop a sense of security and inclusion (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). Employees feeling included and secure means that they are more likely to remain with the firm, which, in turn, reduces the rate of turnover and increases job effectiveness. Despite the overwhelming benefits, there are also challenges associated with the managers and team members (B2W-CMI Leadership and Management, 2021). For instance, deviating from established norms can be difficult, making employees resistant to organizational change. Members of a formal group can also be members of an informal group, which can at times create role conflict.

The stages of group development and maturity

As discussed above, the stages of group development include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. In the forming stage, the group is generally new and figuring out how to collaborate on tasks. There is a lot to be done in terms of purpose identification, development of group norms, building relationships and trust, identifying group processes, and defining individual roles (Tuckman, 1965). The group requires a strong leader to help it navigate through the forming activities. In the storming stage, the team is faced with conflicts and disagreements among members. It has moved past the initial forming and norming activities and needs to find the most effective means of handling the conflict (Tuckman, 1965). It needs to learn conflict resolution and define its power and structure. Leaders and members who are capable and ready to recognize problems and resolve conflicts will be vital to this stage.

In the norm, there is a unanimous agreement on the leader’s identity or leaders and the roles of the members of the group. The team increases its performance levels as its members learn to work together for common goals, and there is also a sense of togetherness within the group (Tuckman, 1965). The team is vulnerable and cannot afford disagreements. In the performing stage, the group performs at its maximum level and can achieve its goals while processing its strengths and weaknesses. It can evaluate its productivity and considers conflict as an asset rather than a problem (Tuckman, 1965). Still, it needs to uphold high standards for its members to maintain performance. The team usually utilizes both small and large groups to make decisions and complete tasks. It realizes that it is essential to ensure all members agree with the role and responsibility of the small groups. Finally, in the adjourning stage, the team may be disbanded, or members can leave after it has achieved its objectives.

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Factors that could influence the cohesiveness of workgroups

Group cohesiveness is the degree of the group’s commitment to staying whole. It emerges from forces that influence members to remain in the group. These forces that lead to cohesiveness include being attracted to the group, resistance to abandoning the group, and incentive to stay a group member (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). The cohesiveness of workgroups can either be increased or decreased. As such, factors that can increase the cohesiveness of a group include the fact that there is equality in the group, the group is small in size, and there are frequent interactions and set goals (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). Other factors might include the group’s mature development and its consistent achievement of success

Contrarily, factors such as the lack of equality in a group contribute to less cohesiveness in a workgroup. Individuals want to feel respected and worthy to commit and cooperate in group goals (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). Also, a group that has only been recently formed does not inspire confidence in members, and there is a chance that they might leave. Finally, ambiguous objectives and failure are features that will only decrease cohesiveness in a group.

The advantages and disadvantages of cohesive workgroups

Cohesive workgroups lead to the accomplishment of organizational goals. When groups are united and the members are determined to stay together, the set goals are achieved with much ease (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). These groups also lead to the personal satisfaction of members. As they work with others to achieve common goals, the group members take pride in their association and contribution. At the end of the assigned tasks, a sense of personal satisfaction emerges as they recognize that they were helpful (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). Finally, cohesive work groups increase the quality and quantity of interactions. Various individuals come together and share expertise and skills and, in the process, get to know others better.

Despite the various benefits mentioned above, cohesive workgroups also have a few disadvantages. For example, decision-making in such groups is a point of concern (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). They prioritize unanimous decisions as opposed to looking for alternatives. Cohesive groups can lead to conformity, which decreases group productivity as people try to avoid disagreements. In general, cohesive workgroups are beneficial to organizations, as reflected by the advantages that outweigh the disadvantages.

The advantages of a virtual team

Virtual teams consist of members from different geographic locations collaborating on tasks while communicating using electronic devices. The members of these teams may be free agents or partners and not necessarily the employees of the organization (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). These teams are convenient to firms that utilize them as they can access personnel with the highest qualifications for a task despite their location in the world (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). Virtual teams enable firms that use them to acquire a competitive edge as they respond to their competitors’ activities in the market. The employees working remotely enjoy a level of flexibility that those working from a physical office never experience (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). They can work and efficiently tend to their personal lives as they have lots of time that result from their lack of traveling to and from a physical office.

The disadvantages of a virtual team

Even though virtual teams offer a different dimension to operation in organizations, they are also characterized by some problems. For instance, the team lacks connection as the members are often isolated (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). The individuals are located in different places and probably times, making effective working conditions challenging to achieve. Managing physical teams with members of the same geographical location, time, and culture is already a challenge for managers. When firms use remote teams, the challenge multiplies since the managers have to deal with people of different cultures and life experiences (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). Moreover, the inexistence of physical contact with the remote team members makes it harder for managers to observe and evaluate their performance and develop solutions to any work problems. The managers or supervisors also find it challenging to execute basic duties such as mentoring, coaching, and development.

The communication and leadership skills required to manage a remote, displaced, or virtual team

Managers face challenges from teams working remotely with regards to communication, cooperation with other workers, and integration into the rest of the firm. As such, managers need to possess skills in communication and leadership to discharge their duties while working with such teams successfully. By emphasizing clarity and sharing feedback with team members, the virtual team manager can develop a communication atmosphere in which the team members can trust, support, and mutually respect one another (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). This environment can also be characterized by openness and risk-taking and will aid the team in developing positive working relationships, freely sharing information, and preventing misinterpretation of communication (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). It also can minimize the rate at which the members form in-groups and out-groups.

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On the other hand, leadership skills will result in activities such as using practical technological tools to match the situation. These tools will aid the teams in managing files and other tasks (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). The team manager will also employ leadership skills to create a community based on respect, affiliation, and fairness. Elite managers understand the importance of treating all team members fairly and respectfully (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). They recognize every individual’s contribution to the team; therefore, they consistently treat them as they treat others and appreciate their efforts towards achieving the organizational goals.

The skill of mobilizing the team members to focus on and share in the team’s vision, purpose, and expectations will also be invaluable in the management of remote teams. With this skill, the team leaders can rely on the cooperation and total commitment of the members. Thus, team norms can be established in such a process by, for instance, using subtle messages like discreetly telling a member not to attack ideas while the team is brainstorming (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). Team leaders can also lead by example and focus on measurable outcomes. This skill will involve the leaders setting clear organizational objectives and clarifying the task assignments (Griffin, Philips, and Gully, 2020). The team members will then be held accountable for their actions. Finally, the leadership skill of coordination and collaboration across the borders of the organization will be vital in effectively working with freelance individuals and partners who are not the firm’s employees.

Reference List

B2W – CMI Leadership and Management, 2021. Unit 4004 masterclass. Web.

Faundez, J., 2016. Douglass North’s theory of institutions: Lessons for law and development. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 8, pp.373–419.

Griffin, R., Philips, J. and Gully, S., 2020. Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations. 13th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Oh, M. and Choi, S., 2020. The competence of project team members and success factors with open innovation. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market and Complexity, 6(3), pp.1-16.

Pratap, A., 2020. Four functions of management: The POLC framework. [online] Notesmatic. Web.

Tuckman, B., 1965. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6).

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