To start to understand the way people behave differently in group settings, we first need to define exactly what a group is. Now, there are a lot of different academic and sociological ways to do this, but the simplest version breaks down like this: A group is two or more people connected together by social relationships.1
Next challenge: what exactly IS a “social relationship”? If any collection of two or more people who have something in common can be considered a group, then anything from a family of 4 to a football stadium during a home game can be considered a group, and yet these two collections of people function and relate to each other in very different ways.
Groups can be broken down into 4 categories:1
- intimacy groups
- task groups
- weak associations
- social categories
Intimacy groups are collections of people like families, romantic couples and close friends, which exist in intimate social settings and are expected to last over a long period of time. A group of football fans would fall under the category of weak association, along with audience members at a concert or riders on a crowded train. Social categories are broad, over arching collections of people like “Christians” or “LGBT+ People” or “American Citizens.” While people within weak association groups and social categories may feel a vague sense of kinship with each other, they can’t be expected to know every other person within their group.
Task groups, which is the kind of group we’re going to focus on, are the kinds of groups you’re most likely to find within an office setting. Task groups can include sports teams, parent groups, work groups – basically any group of people that is working together is to accomplish a goal. This kind of group exists for different reasons than an intimacy group, and requires more structure than a weak association group, because they are striving towards a common purpose.
Structure is an important element of all groups, but especially so in task groups. The way in which groups are structured determines their dynamic, and how they function, and how they rely on each other. For all group structures, there is a certain amount of interdependence, or a sense of relying on each other in some way. However, the forms of this interdependence can change as the structure of the group changes.
The images1 to the left show several different structural forms groups can take. The first features one group member in a position of influence over the others, the second a sequential form of influence where the task pass along from member to member. Third, we see a kind of interdependence where all group members rely on each other equally. Lastly, were have a two-level structure, where tasks or information flow down through mediators, rather than directly from the source.
The ways that individual people react within these structures reflect how they define their member roles2. All people bring different experiences to the table, have different strengths and weaknesses, and these can dictate how well they can do in certain roles. Personality types can very strongly affect the success or failure of any given group. Group members who block communication, by shifting responsibility and blame to other member or by being too accommodating and unable to drive forward motion, can cause the structure of interdependence to fall apart.
Groups with members who are naturally inclined to be supportive of the others within their structure, or are particularly good at mediating conflicts, have as profound an impact on a group as their negative counterparts2. One of the tricks to making a task group function smoothly is identifying the people within the group with personality traits which will encourage productive workflow and putting them in positions within the group that will allow them to do so. The strength of the interpersonal relationships within a group can determined how well they function as a whole.
Continue on to the next post to learn more about interpersonal relationships!
What happens when you find yourself, and your employees in a work rut? Don’t worry, it’s pretty common. That’s why TeamBonding is here! When you don’t have anything new, inspiring, or challenging happening in the workplace, you may find you and your employees in a work rut. Let’s talk about these 4 tips for getting out of a rut at work!
Imagine if you will, that it’s 2006 again. The housing bubble has just burst, and the US economy is teetering on the brink of what will end up being the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. People are scared for the futures of their companies, and are cutting corners at every possible turn. No one is very eager to spend money on team building.
Ice breakers and puzzle games have their place, but sometimes you just want to get together as a group, and play. Here at TeamBonding, encouraging play is what we’re all about! When you play as a team, you develop and strengthen social bonds, which makes working together a more rewarding experience all around. With this in mind, we’re excited to share a free game for you to play with your team the next time you need to relax and have some fun.
Communication affects teamwork in positive and negative ways. The quantity and quality of communication within a team and from leadership affects teamwork. The more collaboration your projects require the more assertive and intentional your communication should be. Every member of the team needs to take the initiative to communicate. When a team is not actively communicating, their work is at stake. It’s important for everyone to learn how to communicate effectively to improve teamwork. (more…)
It’s one thing to create an atmosphere of trust and a feeling of camaraderie between employees when they’re all in the same building 40 or so hours a week.
Know each other as people, not just professionals. We’re all so much more than our job titles. We have interests that may have drawn each of us to our roles and help us excel within them. There are easy team building icebreaker activities for work that will help you and your team bond and get to know each other as more than just your role in the office. (more…)
It’s easy… right? You just need to find the right people with the right skills, put them in a room together, and you have a well-oiled team. They’re smart, and they know their stuff: they’ll figure out how to get the work done…except it doesn’t always work out that way. (more…)
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