A sound understanding of group dynamics, and the role it plays in business, is a critical component of successful management.
When a good dynamic exists within a group working toward a common goal, each individual member will perform effectively and achieve goals set by the group. Poor group dynamics can adversely affect performance, leading to a negative outcome on the common goal or project.
Many variables contribute to a positive work dynamic. Below are four key points to help you understand group dynamics — and how to create and maintain a constructive and productive outlook in any group.
1. Strong leadership is important within a group
This doesn’t mean that a manager needs to bully or strong-arm the team to maintain control. A leader should guide the development of the group and the path to the goal that needs to be reached. They can do this by defining specific roles and responsibilities for members of the group, as well as a timeline for the common project so members can understand their role within the timeline.
2. Recognize how personalities affect team dynamics
Obviously, each person working in a group brings their own personality and skill set. Recognizing each person’s style of work, motivation, and level of aptitude can help a manager understand how that person fits in the group.
This practice can also provide an opportunity for managers to note any gaps in experience or behavior — and the necessary coverage with additional team members — for the group to accomplish its goal.
Along with members who contribute positively to the group, there may also be those whose behavior, attitude, or work style negatively affects the dynamics. Some may be obvious, such as an aggressive personality dominating and intimidating other group members, or a distracted person who is constantly off task. But some disruptive roles may not be as easy to pinpoint. For example, “social loafing” may occur, meaning some members of the group may exert less effort than they would if working alone.
A manager who recognizes and reacts quickly to these roles can influence the dynamic of the group in positive ways. A dominating or distracting member of the group may benefit from a separate conversation with the manager, addressing expectations of roles within the group. If each member of the group sees their contribution as valuable and accountable to the larger group, then social loafing is less likely among group members.
3. Understand the life cycle of a group
The way a group comes together can be demonstrated in five steps:
- Forming: The coming together of a group.
- Storming: Members of the group seek out like-minded members. At this stage, conflicts between different sub-groups may arise.
- Norming: Members become invested in the group as a whole and its common goal.
- Performing: The members of the group now function as a unit, contributing to complete the task within the standards defined in the previous steps.
- Adjourning: If the group has formed to meet a specific goal, then the group will disband after the completion of the task and any subsequent needed evaluation.
Consideration of where the group is within this cycle can provide perspective to all members of the group as they move through it.
4. Communication is key
How effectively a group communicates can determine its overall success in reaching its goal. Many methods of communication may be used in groups working toward a common business objective.
Emails, project management software, group documents, and video/telephone conferencing are some of the many ways the traditional face-to-face group meeting is becoming less prevalent.
It’s imperative for all members of a group to understand and utilize the chosen methods of communication. Open and transparent communication builds and maintains a sense of trust within the group and helps maintain focus toward the goal. Side conversations via separate emails or instant messaging chat features can be detrimental to the group’s overall trust.
Additionally, the group’s manager should assure that all members can effectively communicate needed information to the group. This could require additional training on programs, or assistance in clearly presenting information so all members fully understand the information.
Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity
According to Entrepreneur magazine, businesses with solid diversity and inclusion initiatives often lead the way in both creativity and innovation. That’s because diverse points of view can introduce new ways of thinking that can help streamline processes, eliminate redundancy, increase production, and improve satisfaction with both consumers and employees.
When it comes to diversity, there are many factors that influence the full and complete spectrum. Race, gender, and sexual orientation perhaps immediately spring to mind. However, other factors to consider can also include culture and age.
To create a truly positive group dynamic in a particular cohort, it’s important to make sure people from all backgrounds, identities, and views feel accepted and validated.
According to Forbes, there are several ways to ensure you address diversity appropriately and effectively. It starts with considering diversity and inclusion from the onset of any project — not as an afterthought. This may involve updating your recruiting strategy to ensure you get a stronger sampling of backgrounds.
Some other tips Forbes recommends for creating an inclusive workplace are:
- Celebrate the differences and unique views your employees bring to your team
- Make sure you listen
- Be sure to provide opportunities for growth and development, especially focused on leadership
- Improve your own leadership skills through education, study, or practice
- Periodically evaluate your approach to diversity and inclusion to see where it can be updated or improved
Be a better manager with the right education
Organizational management serves as the foundational underpinning from which all businesses and organizations can ultimately thrive.
You can help increase your group dynamics in the workplace by earning your online business degree. Maryville University has several options to help you reach these goals, such as the online bachelor’s in organizational leadership and the online MBA.
By developing your leadership skills, you’ll be better positioned to understand various points of view and transform the valuable input you receive into actionable strategy that can deliver results.
Chron.com, “Effective Group Communication Processes”
Forbes, “How Women Leaders Change Company Dynamics”
Entrepreneur Magazine, “Why You Need Diversity on Your Team, and 8 Ways to Build It”
MindTools, “Improving Group Dynamics: Helping Your Team Work More Effectively”