- A group is a collection of individuals who interact with each other such that one person’s actions have an impact on the others. Groups can be informal or formal in nature. Both informal and formal groups serve important functions in the workplace.
- When a group is cohesive and has a shared purpose it can be considered a team.
- Social loafing is the finding that individuals do not always contribute as much effort to work when in a group compared to when they are working alone. There are a number of factors that can help us to understand group effectiveness and decrease the probability of social loafing.
- Groups and their individual members come together and grow apart in predictable patterns. This is called the group development stages, which include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Each group member has a life cycle that defines their role as they enter and exit the group.
- Groups decision-making can lead to more diverse thinking and problem solving. However, when groups are too cohesive or controlled, they can fall prey to insulated thinking and groupthink.
- Group communications, including meetings, are an important part of workplace communications.
Review your understanding of this chapter’s key concepts by taking the interactive quiz below.
Key terms in this chapter include:
- Formal groups
- Informal groups
- Command/functional groups
- Task group
- Friendship groups
- Interest groups
- Virtual teams
- Social loafing
- Work role
- Collective efficacy
- Emotional intelligence
- Group socialization
- Punctuated equilibrium
- Group communication
A group is a collection of individuals who interact with each other such that one person’s actions have an impact on the others. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
Formal groups are work units that are prescribed by the organization. Examples of formal groups include sections of departments (such as the accounts receivable section of the accounting department), committees, or special project task forces. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
Informal groups evolve naturally out of individual and collective self-interest among the members of an organization and are not the result of deliberate organizational design. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
When the group is permanent, it is usually called a command group or functional group. An example would be the sales department in a company. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
When a group is less permanent, it is usually referred to as a task group. An example here would be a corporate-sponsored task force on improving affirmative action efforts. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
Friendship groups consist of people you like to be around (a type of Informal groups). See 9.1 Groups and Teams
Interest groups consist of a network of working women or minority managers. Interest groups often dissolve as people’s interests change. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
A team may be thought of as a particularly cohesive and purposeful type of work group. A collection of people can be defined as a work group or team if it shows a series of common characteristics. See 9.1 Groups and Teams for a list of team characteristics.
A virtual team is one whose primary means of communicating is electronic, with only occasional phone and face-to-face communication, if at all. See 9.1 Groups and Teams
Social loafing refers to the tendency of individuals to put in less effort when working in a group context. This phenomenon, also known as the Ringelmann effect, was first noted by French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann in 1913. See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups
Norms are social conventions that we pick up on through observation, practice, and trial and error. We may not even know we are breaking a social norm until we notice people looking at us strangely or someone corrects or teases us. See 2.2 The Communication Process
A work role is an expected behavior pattern assigned or attributed to a particular position in the organization. It defines individual responsibilities on behalf of the group. See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups
Cohesion can be thought of as a kind of social glue. It refers to the degree of camaraderie within the group. Cohesive groups are those in which members are attached to each other and act as one unit. Generally speaking, the more cohesive a group is, the more productive it will be and the more rewarding the experience will be for the group’s members. See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups
Collective efficacy refers to a group’s perception of its ability to successfully perform well. Collective efficacy is influenced by a number of factors, including watching others (“that group did it and we’re better than them”), verbal persuasion (“we can do this”), and how a person feels (“this is a good group”). See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups
Emotional intelligence looks at how people can understand each other more completely by developing an increased awareness of their own and others’ emotions. See 3.3 Emotions at Work
Group socialization involves how the group members interact with one another and form relationships. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
The forming stage is the first stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development and is the initiation of group formation. This stage is also called the orientation stage because individual group members come to know each other. Group members who are new to each other and can’t predict each other’s behavior can be expected to experience the stress of uncertainty. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
The storming stage is the second stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development. Since the possibility of overlapping and competing viewpoints and perspectives exists, the group will experience a storming stage, a time of struggles as the members themselves sort out their differences. There may be more than one way to solve the problem or task at hand, and some group members may prefer one strategy over another.. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
The norming stage is the third stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development. Groups that make a successful transition from the storming stage will next experience the norming stage, where the group establishes norms, or informal rules, for behavior and interaction. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
The performing stage is the fourth stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development. In the performing stage, the group accomplishes its mandate, fulfills its purpose, and reaches its goals.. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
The adjourning stage is the fifth (and last) stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development. As typically happens, all groups will eventually have to move on to new assignments. In the adjourning stage, members leave the group. The group may cease to exist or it may be transformed with new members and a new set of goals. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
The concept of punctuated equilibrium was first proposed in 1972 by paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, who both believed that evolution occurred in rapid, radical spurts rather than gradually over time. In this model, revolutionary change occurs in brief, punctuated bursts, generally catalyzed by a crisis or problem that breaks through the systemic inertia and shakes up the deep organizational structures in place. At this point, the organization or group has the opportunity to learn and create new structures that are better aligned with current realities. Whether the group does this is not guaranteed. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle
Groupthink is a group pressure phenomenon that increases the risk of the group making flawed decisions by allowing reductions in mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment. Groupthink is most common in highly cohesive groups). See 9.4 Group Decision-making
Group communication may be defined as the exchange of information with those who are alike culturally, linguistically, and/or geographically. Group members may be known by their symbols, such as company logos or work uniforms. They may be known by their use of specialized language or jargon, See 9.5 Group Communication