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The Nature of Groups & Group Behaviour

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Business Environment & Practice Assignment 3 The Nature of Groups & Group Behaviour 28th May 2004 Produced By: Chris Hall HND1 BIT 1. Introduction The aims of this assignment, are to define the term 'groups' within the work environment, and discuss the difference between informal and formal groups. Using Tuckman's (1965) model the way groups form will be examined and also used to discuss the effectiveness of group working. Finally the advantages and disadvantages of groups will be discussed. Throughout the assignment personal experiences will be used and referred to as appropriate. 2. Explanation of the Term 'Group' and Description of 'Informal' and 'Formal' Groups. Handy (1993) describes a group as 'any collection of people who perceive themselves to be a group', whilst Shaw (1981) after reviewing 80 definitions of a group, says ' a group is defined as two or more people who are interacting with one another in such a manner that each person influences and is influenced by each other person'. Groups are typically separated into two main categories - formal and informal. Formal groups are the units established by the management as part of an organisation structure. They are defined in terms of their purpose and roles, they are official in the sense that they have appropriate authority, and they are provided with financial and physical resources. The principal function of a formal group is to further the aims and objectives of the organisation as laid down in policies and mission statements. A functional analyses described by Cartwright and Zander (1968) describes, a group as one whose members are committed to a set of values that define the overall pattern of activity (meaning), have accumulated or generated ...read more.


In order to maximise a group's effectiveness and ensure optimum efficiency for the organisation within the workplace, it is important for a leader to have the ability to identify any characteristics that make a group effective or ineffective. In order to examine and assess group effectiveness, both quantifiable and qualitative factors will be discussed throughout this section of the assignment. 4.1. Quantifiable Factors Quantifiable factors are characteristics of work place groups that are easier to measure than qualitative, as they have a measurable outcome. An effective group has a low turnover of members, high attendance and low absenteeism, high quality work output and productivity. However it is still able to achieve the targets of its individual members (Argyle 1989). These positive outcome factors are measurable and desirable for both the organisation and the group members. In contrast an ineffective group would be one where group membership has a high turnover and absenteeism, group output is low and poor quality, time is wasted due to disputes between members and individual targets are not met. Flynn (1996) uses the example of Hallmark cards to illustrate measurable success from effective group behaviour. Despite being the largest greeting cards manufacturer in the world Hallmark remains a family group run business which puts its achievement down to successful communication and group co-operation, so much so that through a profit sharing programme employees now own one third of the company. 4.2. Qualitative Factors McGregor (1960), when examining qualitative factors, distinguished between effective and ineffective groups in terms of how well they handle internal processes within the group. His key factors for success included: * Good communication with clear understanding of the group task, and role divisions within the ...read more.


Through effective listening and communication, the group generated its own norms, and was able to resolve any conflict in a manner that was eventually suitable for all. Despite being a larger group, it was not in existence long enough for smaller groups to splinter, and as everybody already knew each other, nobody within the group had a chance to become marginalised. Group unity for goal achievement was immediate, although how this was going to be achieved was not always agreed on. This however did not cause excessive hostility, as it was dealt with openly. Role functions within the group were well defined, everybody had an equal part to play, despite me having an original lead role and being the one who eventually documented all changes. The group functioned purely as a formal work group until adjournment, and was not therefore one that had a social agenda - its members were only interested in achieving a fair revision of work duties so that work load was once again distributed evenly. Consequently, this group experience was a positive and successful one for both its members, and the organisation that we worked for. 6. Conclusion Throughout this assignment, I have outlined - how groups form and become either formal or informal, are effective or ineffective and their advantages and disadvantages. Although I have examined the theory around these issues I have also used a positive example of working within a group, and demonstrated how powerful and productive group working can be. Work groups are an essential feature of the modern workplace, and if a person managing a situation can learn how work groups operate effectively, then it can often be a positive and productive factor for both the group workers as well as the work organisation. 7. ...read more.

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