How people behave and perform as members of a group is as important as their behaviour or performance as individuals. Drawing on your own experience and on the theory and research on groups, discuss critically how working in a group can be both psychologically rewarding as well as potentially demanding for the individual. For example, you could use your experience of working as a group on a project in a university or in your workplace.
There are various definitions and perspective of organisational behaviour, According to Brooks, (2009) it involves an exploration of organisation and managerial processes in the dynamic context of the organisation and it's primarily concerned with the human implication of such activities
The main reason for the study of organisational behaviour is due to the fact that every organisation consists of people, and effective managers must be capable of relating to individuals, groups and formal structures in order to meet the needs of the organisation (R Bennett, 1997).
According to Rollinson (2005), the major aim of organisational behaviour as a course of study is the analysis of interactions within organisations at the micro level since belonging to a group or organisation is not alien to human beings.
What is a Group and Group Working?
Informed definitions and notions on group remain the subject of much academic discourse, the definition of groups vary, thereby making it highly problematic and broad (Brooks, 2006).
Roger Bennett (1997) claims that a group is a collection of two or more people who possess a common purpose. Mullins (2002) from a psychological perspective simply states that a group is any number of people who interacts with one another and is aware of one another is a group. Konopka (1963) defines group work as way of social work which purpose is to help the individual to increase their social functioning through purposeful group experience. Individuals make up every group thereby making them major role players in group work. The personality of each individual also tells what to expect from such group because it affects other people in the group i.e. personality difference can lead to hostility between individuals which could hinder the development of group work.
Groups are formed for specified reasons.
Mullins (2002) states that the reason behind group formation can be the fact that groups provide a feeling of identity and role recognition, the protection for it membership depending on if the group is a formal or informal one, it encourages Opportunity for initiatives and creativity. Furthermore Shein (1980) argues that the motive behind group formation is due to the collaboration of knowledge because complex task may not be undertaken by a single individual and moreover, group working helps and generation of innovative ideas and also as a means of generating new ideas.
Group development and experience
The level in which a group achieves its aim is affected by the process and stages involved in the group work development Forsyth (2006). One of the models of group working is that of Tuckman (1965). Tuckman categorised group development & relationship into four distinct stages which are-
Mullins (2002) explains that this is the first process of the group by bringing of a number of individuals together who indentify for the initiative of the group. Brooks (2009) there might be issues of nervousness, frustration, wary and confusion at this first stage, everyone is busy there, trying to find out who the other people are and to establish their own personal recognition and also make a good impression about themselves and also the behaviour patterns of other individuals in the group. There is the issue of inclusion/exclusion is paramount as they explore how they fit in, their ambivalence about being a member and how they can relate with the leader, (Tyson 1998). This stage is the most important stage because the group tend to agree on a common goal and talk about strategies and ways to achieve this.
For example, my first experience about group working was unpleasant at first. The group was made up of six people including myself and the lack of social interaction was evident. I wanted to enjoy working with my team mates hence, encouraged social interaction. I however perceived that introverts are proud, difficult and unfriendly people.
This is the stage whereby group members begin to tackle themselves and there is the fight for authority of power, members begin to confront each other, Mullins (2002) disagreement will usually be expressed and this will lead to conflicts, aggression and arguments, these conflicts should be handed and sorted carefully by group members. Rollinson (2005) explains that storming brings about the use of force and individuals make bid for position in the group. This is an importance stage for the building and growing of the team because everyone gets to show their inner personality and traits. The aftermath of this makes the individuals able to tolerant themselves much better. This stage is about competition among group members.
At this stage in my group, there were numerous clashes and conflict regarding the role allocated to each member. This caused frustration and hostility. I in particular had personality conflict with another member of the group since he wanted to assume the leadership role, and I posses' strong leadership traits.
This stage brings about members working together and the task is being allocated within groups, Rollinson (2005) says that in this stage the conflict is usually subsidized and there is a sign of cooperation and Sensitivity begins to grow among members and there is the sense of belonging. Tuckam (1965) the major aspect of this stage is the data flow among members, information is share and feedbacks are given. The storming and the norming stage can be said to be inter-twisted because it is often through the storming and problems that group norms will be set.
During this stage I and my group members were being cooperative because we wanted to achieve our goals and objectives; we put up a code of conduct amongst ourselves to regulate good behaviour and to reduce future equivocalness.
This stage brings about the cohesiveness to work as a team, Mullins (2002), structures and procedures are now in place and the group is set to get on with the job at hand Rollinson (2005) the ability of the group to concentrate on achievement of its objectives is of top priority, Brooks (2009), it is the effective operation stage. This stage brings about the constructive attempts to complete tasks and there to much energy for effective work, Armstrong (2006).
There is the general feeling of unity and the discomfort of storming and norming had been overcome. Problems will come up time to time but these are minor setback rather than major disruption (Tyson, 1998).
An example of the stage with working with my group was that, we were to give a group presentation in front of thousands of people and became ill at the time I couldn't take part in this; the whole group supported this decision and after spent time with me and kept encouraging me to get better.
Tuckman (1965) and Jensen (1977) added a further stage to the model, after all of this the group may have to disband because they have achieved the major aim of forming the group and the task has been completed.
Rollinson (2005) this stage is said to be that of sadness and anxiety because people tend to reflect on their experience within the group and the times they spent together.
The ending of a group was very unhappy for me because I had already felt the sense of belonging.
Previous Research on Group Working
In the 1970s, Meredith Belbin formulated a theory of team building which suggested that certain types of individuals do not perform well when working together in the same team (Bennett, 1997).
He stated that for a group to be effective it must develop a blend of formal and informal roles(Belbin 1993).The research findings are mainly useful in two ways: as a means of selecting members of a team prior to its formation or in its finding of interpersonal problems in a group(T Tyson, 1998).
Belbin's team roles is very popular in team development and teambuilding, he initially keyed out eight roles that team play but later extended this to nine, he argues that, it's the nine roles that team members need to be effective and successful (I Brooks, 2009).
Belbin look at behaviour both in terms of strengths and weaknesses. By having a clear view of the different roles, it is used to make and sustain a skill balance within teams. (Belbin 1993)
The Belbin roles can be explained as follows
The coordinator is a mentally stabilized person who makes the ideal for the chairperson (Bennett, 1997), controls the way the individual operates (M Armstrong, 2006), he delegates and promote decision making (Tyson, 1998).Their weakness maybe the fact that they can be too over delegated and manipulative (Belbin, 1993), they are not more than ordinary in terms of creative ability (Mullins, 2002).
This individual is usually a dynamic, out-going and extrovert and he is normally argumentative (Bennett, 1997).the shaper destine the way the team should work (Armstrong, 2006) and usually thrives on pressure (Tyson 1998). Their weakness can be the fact that they are easily irritated and impatience (Mullins, 2002). They usually can be offensive just to reach the target of their goal (Belbin 1993)
This person is usually characterised as a good company worker who is always practical and conservative (Tyson, 1998) they are usually stable and controlled(Bennett, 1997).the allowable weaknesses of the implementer is the fact that they are usually unresponsive to unproven ideas(Mullins, 2000) and are always resistant to change(Belbin, 1993).
This individual here also support and enable team socialisation (Belbin 1993),they help to promote team spirit and are usually diplomatic(Tyson, 1998).the team worker is keen and able to identify problems(Bennett 1997) but they are usually very indecisive at moment of crisis(Mullins, 2000).
According to Armstrong (2006), this is usually someone who produces ideas and strategise. He is the major source of the team's creativity (Bennett, 1997) the plant solves difficult issues and is often unorthodox (Tyson, 1998). Usually prefers working alone (Belbin, 1993).Their allowable weakness is the fact that the disregard practice details (Mullins, 2000).
Mullins (2000), describes this individual as an extrovert and his always enthusiastic, this individual explores opportunity, resources and makes contact outside group (Tyson, 1998).they are also curious, positive and make team receptive to ideas( Belbin, 1993).
The weakness of this group is that they are over optimistic and they lose interest once initial enthusiasm has passed (Mullins, 2000).
This character of teamwork is usually cautious and judges accurately (T Tyson, 1998), they usually analyse all problems and bring up new ideas (M Armstrong, 2006).they usually calculate the best ways to do things (Belbin 1993).
Mullins (2000) further explains that the set back of this group is that over critical and lack drive.
The specialists are usually single-minded, self-starter(s) and dedicated members of the group (T Tyson, 1998), provides knowledge and skills in rare supply (Mullins, 2000).
Belbin (1993) stated that the weakness of the specialist is that can be overly focused on technicalities.
M Armstrong (2006) identifies this individual as the one who maintains a sense of urgency in the team. The completer conscientiously seeks out errors and omissions (T Tyson 1998). There is usually conscious of deadlines (Belbin, 1993).
The weaknesses of the completer are being inclined to work unduly and can b a nip-picker (Mullins, 2000).
These research findings are useful due to the fact that it is used as a basic for selecting members of a work team and also in the knowing of interpersonal problems in the ailing groups (T Tyson, 1998). Bennett (1997) explains the disadvantage of this research is its subjectivity due to the fact that there is little empirical evidence with personal characteristics of its members, and the difficulty of appraising teams.
In summary we can state that it is simply not enough for groups or teams who are working towards a common goal to have a collection of individual skills (Brooks, 2009)
Psychological and Rewarding Effects of Working in Groups
According to CHSE (2000), group work can be psychologically rewarding because it provides an overall quality of individual learning, Working in a group can also be rewarding in the sense that it is used as a safety valve for emotions and also individuals tend to relives emotional pressure by discussing them with each other. (Newstrom, 2007).
Hackman (1992), states that one way of approaching a general response to how working in a group is rewarding is to note that groups control many of the stimuli to which individuals are exposed in the course of their activities. A stimulus here is defined simply as the aspect of the environment to which individuals potentially can attain and influence his or her behaviour.
There are three types of group effects on the individual; Hackman (1992) explains this as
This includes the beliefs of the individual which is about one's self and the group; a group can influence a member's informative state through direct instruction and feedback, it also supplies standards against which individual can assess their own beliefs and actions.
Hackman (1992), further states that this includes the individuals' attitude or personal values. The group can influence the effective state of an individual by either providing or withholding direct social satisfaction or by providing access to vale stimuli external to the group.
Hackman (1992), is of the position that behaviour is influenced by stimuli encountered in a group setting, this could be directly by rewarding or punishment of certain behaviour or indirectly by shaping members information and effective state.
However, Forsyth (1996), states that working in a group brings about-
Belonging- it brings about interpersonal network and promotes contacts between individuals and it increases social interaction, I agree with this because when I was in the group for my assignment I had a sense of belonging, inclusion and security.
Influence- He further explained that groups are often used for the exercise and the application of social power and the use of influence.
Leadership-Bennet (1997) stated that a leadership is the ability to influence the behaviour of other. My experience of group work made me emerge as a leader, I had to take charge of group and this had a psychological effect on me because I carried out leadership trait everywhere and my group members identified me as a good leader.
Michael & Paul (1978) added that the effect of group work is the motivation it gives the individual; most studies have showed that individuals are most likely to be positively stimulated when in the company of others than alone.
Working in a group can be rewarding for an individual because it aids division of labour and this is a quicker way of getting the target reached on time because of the shared responsibilies (Mullins, 2002).
Schein (1980) also added that groups allow individuals to develop their sense of identity and reduce the feeling on insecurities.
From my own experience of working in a group, I developed knowledge and skills from my group members which was very useful for me because I applied this skills when I joined other groups; it was a very productive experience.
Challenges of group work.
Tyson (1998) explains that being a member of a group can be demanding to the individual in the sense that it can be time consuming. Hadler (2009) explained that solving a problem is always slow as compared to working alone, it requires individuals to come together for a period of time and this sometimes leads to impatience among group members. Individuals are always eager to express their own ideas and power- seekers use this as a ploy and display of expertise to show their supremacy (Tyson 1998). This can lead to the behaviour which is usually destructive and can drain the creative energy of the group (Hadler, 2009).
According to Hadler (2009) there is the issue of conformity as a challenge, because the individuals in the group want to conform to consensus for reasons such as the need to be liked and valued, and this allows for the other group members to censor their ideas.
In summary, Group work is the combination of the ideas of individuals to help achieve a common goal, although it has a positive and a negative pact on the individual.
Its positive benefit to the individual is that it gives room to acquire knowledge and shared ideas among group members, and gives sense of belonging to the individual where their ideas are being viewed.
Group work has its limitation which can be the fact that it is time consuming in the sense that people work at different pace thereby slowing the work of the group. Also there is the problem of leadership because everyone wants to be in charge of the group.
There fore, it can be noted that working in group is rewarding and also demanding.