With the industrial revolution and latest globalisation effects, competitive nature of businesses has increased more than ever. In order to survive in this modern competitive world, businesses must find solution to their problems faster and also it is more important to do their work more effectively. With that companies have identified that collaboration or in other words, group or team works will find more creative solutions for the problems that they are facing as modern day businesses. Therefore more and more companies nowadays use teams as a part of their organisational strategies.
On the other hand as the Article has mentioned in its introduction, the issue is, putting some people together and expecting them to work effectively as a group would rarely work. Therefore understanding the term Group Dynamics and Group Processes and effectively manage them in groups is becoming more important.
The article "Ten Critical Traits of Group Dynamics" which was written by Helene F. Uhlfelder who is a PhD holder in educational psychology has acknowledged the importance of identifying and improving the Dynamics of groups and teams in organisations in order to improve their effectiveness and performance. Further the author has introduced 10 critical traits that can be used to categorize group dynamics. Finally the article has mentioned the importance of assessing groups regularly in order to find issues that are facing groups and how those traits can be used to improve group dynamics in order to build effective teams.
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Main objective of this assignment is to summarize the given article giving my opinion on the main argument of the article. For that task various sources will be researched including text books, online journal articles and some other web sites. And the complete article will be summarized in a critical manner giving my views on necessary points using the research findings and my own experiences on the subject matter.
The Main Argument of the Article
This article mainly discusses the importance of 10 traits that have been identified by the author, which can be used to categorize dynamics of groups. According to the author these traits can be used to identify any areas that groups need to improve and areas that they are good at. The author argues that by doing so groups or teams will be able to work together more effectively and increase their performance levels.
When analysing the article it can be seen that the author has successfully explained her argument more clearly with providing examples and covering many supplementary topics which are required to further clarify and make it easy to understand the main argument for the audience.
Helene Uhlfelder has covered many technological terms like Group Dynamics, Group Process, and has defined the difference between Group and Team before explaining about the 10 critical traits.
Although the article has explained group dynamics and group process before explaining what is group and team, as I believe in order the article to be more logical the author could have explained terms like Group and Team first. If the author has assumed that the readers having the knowledge about those terms then she could not have covered them later. Anyhow to begin with explaining the term group and team would be appropriate.
Group and Team
The term group is defined in the article as situations where two or more people coming together in order to achieve a common purpose. Further it is mentioned that in a group people should interact each other, depend on each other and they should have a task to realize.
According to the article the team also a group, that is in a work environment. The author has mentioned various characteristics that are possessed by teams.
It is and intact social system with boundaries. Therefore who is in the team and outside the team can be clearly identifiable. There is interdependency among members.
Members are collectively responsible for the tasks to be performed.
Operates in an organisational context and therefore members have relationship with other members of the organisation.
It is obvious that the author has comprehensively explained the terms group and team using various sources and in different contexts like systems terms. But she has overlooked the theory of group formation, which could have added great value addition to the article. As the author has mentioned various stages during some parts of the article, it would be a necessary part to be explained.
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According to (Luthans, 2008) there are five stages that are generally recognized as stages of group formation.
Forming - this stage is characterized by uncertainty and confusion. Members are testing the appropriate behaviour for the team.
Storming - in this stage leadership will be determined. Intragroup conflicts are common.
Norming - Members settle down into conformity and cooperation.
Performing - The group will perform the task that they were grouped.
Adjourning - After the task is completed group will disband.
Group Dynamics and Process.
According to the author either positive or negative, group dynamics exists in every group and hence teams. Although author's definition about group dynamics and processes a bit confusing at the end of that particular section she has given a simple explanation to identify those terms distinctly.
According to that group processes are simply referred to as specific processes used by group members and leaders whereas group dynamic is defined as forces and dynamics of the group as a whole.
It is found in literature research that the term Group Dynamic has been defined in many different ways. According to (Forsyth, 2010) it was first defined by Kurt Lewin, as the processes of the ways groups and individuals act and react to changing circumstances. According (Luthans, 2008) another view on group dynamic identifies it from the viewpoint of the internal nature of groups like how they are formed, structure and processes, how groups function and affect its members
After explaining basic definitions and concepts the author moves her discussion into the main content of this article, the 10 critical traits.
Ten Critical Traits
According to the author, using 10 critical traits approach it is possible to characterize group dynamics and identify issues that are faced by groups. Those 10 critical traits include, safety, inclusion, free-interaction, appropriate level of interdependence, cohesiveness, trust, conflict resolution, influence, accomplishment, and growth. Helen Uhlfelder has explained them comprehensively using examples to make them easy to understand by the readers.
Safety - according to this trait team members need to feel safe within their teams and members of the team should be safe from any disruptive behaviour of other team members.
Inclusion - all members should be allowed to participate with equal opportunities. Everyone should be taken as members of the group and efforts should be taken in order to include new and quiet members.
Free interaction - there should not be any restrictions on which members interact with which members and every member should be allowed to interact with others. According to the author teams can become less effective when only few members are allowed to interact with the leader.
Appropriate level of interdependence - there should be an appropriate balance between individual needs and group needs. It is mentioned there the important of sense of belonging and affiliation that comes from being interdependence as well as maintaining individual identity.
Cohesiveness - members should feel as they are a part of a team. Without the attraction of cohesiveness a group can fall apart. Therefore it is very important that members having a bond or affiliation among them.
Trust - team members should trust each other and they should trust the leader. There should be consistency between what they say and do.
Conflict resolution - as any team could face conflicts at any stage there should be a way to resolve those conflicts in order to continue the team work.
Influence - there should be ability for team members to influence other members. They should be able to motivate each other. If there is no method to influence members through usage of reward and punishment productivity could be minimized.
As the author has mentioned it is very important to make sure that influence will not be confused as control because controlling can lead to group problems.
Accomplishment - team should be able to complete its tasks. They should possess skills, knowledge to do their tasks. If they cannot perform their duties frustration would lead to conflict.
Growth - As in any situations group members should have opportunities to grow. Also as a team they should be able to learn and growth. Otherwise boredom can result in failure in the group.
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When looking at those traits it is obvious that those traits in nature would help teams to achieve its goals by eliminating group issues. But one weakness of this finding is that the author has not ranked the order of importance of these traits. Perhaps one could argue that these all could be equally important. But according to my point of view some traits are certainly superior or more important than others. For example cohesiveness, conflict resolution, etc. could be more important than growth or influence, because first, the group must work together and achieve their goals. Other things like growth, etc. comes next to that.
However it can be clearly said that these 10 traits would (although few traits could be more important than others) help groups or teams to achieve their goals and improve performances.
Benefits of 10 Critical Traits
According to the author these 10 traits can help teams or groups in great ways by helping them to identify weaknesses and strength of their group dynamics.
Therefore she suggests that organisations can use a form that includes those 10 critical traits in order to evaluate teams. According to the article teams can be assessed in 5 scores continuum. Also it is important to assess teams on regular basis in order to keep and improve their performance levels.
As the author explains, this evaluation can be done by any person who is not in the team, given that he has required evaluation skills. Further it is noted there that this tool can be used to evaluate a team in any development stage and find out their dynamics and processes in order to improve them.
There are several steps that need to be taken after evaluation is done,
The assessor should meet team members and provide reason for the score that they have got for each criterion.
Appropriate actions should be taken for traits that are scored below 3. Action plans can be implemented to resolve issues.
Team should celebrate scores over 3 and reinforce them in order to retain and improve performance.
Last step is to follow this procedure regularly again and again after agreed time period.
As I understand this is the most important part of this article, because this can be really used by any team in real world to improve their performances. Instructions are clearly given using examples. Therefore nobody would find any difficulties in implementing this.
Ultimately through this procedure teams will be able to improve group dynamics and group processes and will be able to build powerful teams and improve their performance level.
But there are some drawbacks in this method itself as it has not addressed all issues that could affect the performance of groups or teams.
Shortcomings of the 10 Traits Method
When analysing the article in depth it is clear that the author has failed to identify some of the important aspects of group and team management that are identified by other researchers and authors. Those aspects could directly affect the outcome of the group in terms of performance and effectiveness.
For an example phenomenon like groupthink and groupshift that could hinder the ability of the group to come into quality decisions by evaluating alternatives objectively. According to (Robbins, Millett, & Waters-Marsh, 2004) groupthink is related to the group norms. It describes that with the pressure from group to conformity group may eliminate unusual, minority or unpopular views from evaluating when making decision. Groupshift is a situation where when group arriving at a decision they could go for more risky decision as members initial positions are exaggerated toward more extreme positions.
Further (Robbins, Millett, & Waters-Marsh, 2004) has identified many factors that could affect group performances than the group dynamics that have been identified by the author of the article through her 10 critical traits. Size of the group, availability of resources for a group to perform, effects of social loafing, etc. could affect the outcome of groups greatly.
From the shortcomings mentioned earlier it is clear that the phenomenon of groupthink could clearly contradict with cohesiveness trait that she has mentioned in the article. She has mentioned that cohesiveness as an important dynamic in performance. Without cohesiveness a group can fall apart. But she has failed to mention the limit of cohesiveness because as mentioned earlier, extreme cohesiveness can cause groupthink and ultimately affect the effective decision making in the group.
Putting some people together and expecting them to work effectively as a group would rarely work. Therefore understanding the term Group Dynamics and effectively manage them in groups is important.
The author of the article has mainly discussed the importance of her 10 traits method in categorizing group dynamics in order to identify and manage any areas that a group/team need to improve or they are good at. The author argues that by doing so groups or teams will be able to work together more effectively and increase their performance levels.
The article has organized its arguments in a logical manner and has introduced many theories and concepts that need to understand the main argument of the article. Apart from few adjustments that I suggested in the analysis part of this assignment, it can be concluded that the author has succeeded in those aspects. Further the article has written in simple English that is a good point because readers will be able to understand the content of this article easily. In addition to that the author has provided lot of examples to make readers understand complex theories and concepts more clearly.
When critically evaluating the article, it is found that those 10 critical traits are actually important and very practical in evaluating and managing group performances except for few drawbacks that were discussed in the body of this assignment. Those drawbacks include the failure to mention some of the important aspects that could affect the performance of groups, like groupthink, the size of the group, effects of social loafing, etc.
Finally it can be concluded that if any organisation follows the method that the author has suggested to evaluate group/team dynamics and manage them with taking care of the additional points that I have mentioned earlier, organisations will be able to increase performance and effectiveness of their groups/teams.