Organizational Behavior - Groups


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A group can be defined as two or more interacting and interdependent individuals who come together to achieve particular objectives. A group behavior can be stated as a course of action a group takes as a family. For example: Strike.

Types of Groups

There are two types of groups an individual forms. They are formal groups and informal groups. Let us know about these two groups.

Formal Groups

These are the type of work groups created by the organization and have designated work assignments and rooted tasks. The behavior of such groups is directed toward achieving organizational goals.

Formal Groups

These can be further classified into two sub-groups −

  • Command group − It is a group consisting of individuals who report directly to the manager.

  • Interest group − It is a group formed by individuals working together to achieve a specific objective. Example − A group of workers working on a project and reporting to the same manager is considered as a command group. A group of friends chilling out together is considered as interest group or say members of a club.

Informal Groups

These groups are formed with friendships and common interests. These can be further classified into two sub-groups −

  • Task group − Those working together to finish a job or task is known as task group.

  • Friendship group − Those brought together because of their shared interests or common characteristics is known as friendship group.

Informal Groups

Why Do People Join Groups

There is no particular reason answering why individuals join groups. Group helps individual to feel stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and be more contrary to threats.

The following points help us understand the need of joining a group by individuals −

  • Security mirrors strength in numbers. Status pinpoints a prestige that comes from belonging to a specific group. Inclusion in a group is considered as important because it provides recognition and status.

  • Self-esteem transmits people's feelings of self-worth. Membership can sometimes raise feelings of self-esteem like being accepted into a highly valued group.

  • Affiliation with groups can meet one's social needs. Work groups significantly contribute to meet the need for friendships and social relations.

  • Groups represent power. What mostly cannot be achieved individually becomes possible with group effort. Power might be aimed to protect themselves from unreasonable demands. Informal groups provide options for individuals to practice power.

  • People may join a group for goal achievement. Sometimes it takes more than one person to accomplish a particular task.

Group Roles

The concept of roles is applicable to all employees within an organization as well as to their life outside the organization. A role is a set of expected behavior patterns attributed to the one who occupies the position demanded by the social unit.

Individuals play multiple roles at the same time. Employees attempt to understand what kind of behavior is expected from them. An individual when presented by divergent role expectations experiences role conflict. Group roles are divided into three types −

  • Task-oriented Roles
  • Relationship-oriented Roles
  • Individual Roles

Task-oriented Roles

Roles allotted to individuals according to their work and eligibility is known as task-oriented roles. Task-oriented roles can broadly divide individuals into six categories initiator, informer, clarifier, summarizer, reality tester and information seekers or providers respectively.

  • Initiator − The one who proposes, suggests, defines.

  • Informer − The one who offers facts, expresses feelings, gives opinions.

  • Clarifier − The one who interprets, defines, clarifies everything.

  • Summarizer − The one who links, restates, concludes, summarizes.

  • Reality Tester − The one who provides critical analysis.

  • Information seekers or providers − The one who gives information and data.

These roles present the work performed by different individuals according to their marked designation.

Relationship-oriented Roles

Roles that group individuals according to their efforts made to maintain healthy relationship in the group and achieve the goals are known as relationship-oriented roles. There are five categories of individuals in this category namely: harmonizer, gatekeeper, consensus tester, encourager, and compromiser.

  • Harmonizers − The one who limits tension and reconciles disagreements.

  • Gatekeeper − The one who ensures participation by all.

  • Consensus Tester − The one who analyzes the decision-making process.

  • Encourager − The one who is warm, responsive, active, shows acceptance.

  • Compromiser − The one who admits error, limits conflict.

These roles depict the various roles an individual plays to maintain healthy self as well as group relationships.

Individual Roles

Roles that classify a person according to the measure of individual effort put in the project aimed is known as individual roles. Five types of individuals fall into these roles: aggressor, blocker, dominator, cavalier, and avoidance.

  • Aggressor − The one who devalues others, attacks ideas.

  • Blocker − The one who disagrees and rebels beyond reason.

  • Dominator − The one who insists superiority to manipulate.

  • Cavalier − The one who takes part in a group non-productively.

  • Avoidance − The one who shows special interest to avoid task.

These are the various roles a person plays in an organization.

Well-Functioning Groups

We know what a group is, why it is important to form a group, and what the group-oriented roles are. Now we need to know how to mark a group as a well-functioning group, what features are necessary for a group to mark it as efficient.

A group is considered effective when it has the following characteristics.

  • Relaxed, comfortable, friendly atmosphere.
  • Task to be executed are well understood and accepted.
  • Members listen well and actively participate in given assignments.
  • Assignments are made clear and are accepted.
  • Group is acquainted of its operation and function.
  • People express their feelings and ideas openly.
  • Consensus decision-making process is followed.
  • Conflict and disagreement center regarding ideas or method.

Group Behavior – Example

Let us understand group behavior with the help of an example.

To work on a specific project, we make a group of 4 members: Rohit, Raj, Sid, and Rahul. It is not possible for any one of them to complete the project individually as it may be time consuming as well as not all the members as individuals have mastered the skills required to complete the project. This indicates the need to come together as a group.

Moving ahead, let us specify their roles. Rohit is the initiator, as he proposes the idea of the project, Raj collects all the information and resources required for the project and becomes the informer, Sid is the clarifier as he interprets the data and saves refined information, and Rahul is the summarizer as he concludes the result of the project that is what do we achieve by the end of our project. These are the task-oriented roles.

When a group of people come together and present their ideas there is a fair chance of collision. Rohit tries to resolve all the disagreements and disputes in the first place and acts as a harmonizer, Sid makes sure that everybody is giving their full support and effort in the project and acts as a gatekeeper, Raj is the one encouraging everyone and motivating them when they fail to try harder to complete the project and is the encourager, while Rahul tests the project at each stage and examines the major decision to be made and is the consensus tester. These are the relationship-oriented roles of each member.

Individually, each of them have different tasks to fulfill. Rohit tries to be the group leader and impose his ideas on others and we consider him as the dominator, Rahul is always up with excuses to avoid the task given to him and acts as avoider, Raj is the one who opposes everything but is never up with some new idea and becomes the blocker, while Sid takes part in every group activity in a non-productive way and becomes the cavalier.

Reference Groups

It is a group to which a person or another group is compared. Reference groups are used in order to examine and determine the nature of a person or other group's features and sociological attributes. It is the group to which a person relates or aspires to link himself or herself psychologically.

It is important for deciding a person's self-identity, attitudes, and social ties. It becomes the ground of reference in making comparisons or contrasts and in judging one's appearance and performance. These groups act as a benchmark and contrast needed for comparison and evaluation of group and personal characteristics.

An example of a reference group, would be the certainty of wealth. An individual in the US with an annual income of $70,000, may consider himself rich if he compares himself to those in the middle income strata, who earn roughly $22,000 a year. However, if the same person considers the relevant reference group to be those in the top 0.5% of households in the US, those making $1.8 million or more, then the individual's income of $70,000 would make him seem rather poor.



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