Group Dynamics And The Need To Keep It Healthy

TEAM STARTUPED 12 Jan 2022 . 3 min read

    People often take on distinct roles and behaviors when they work in a group. "Group dynamics" describes the effects of these roles and behaviors on other group members, and on the group as a whole. When dynamics are positive, the group works well together, its members are twice as creative as any other group. When dynamics are poor, the group's effectiveness is reduced. Problems can come from weak leadership, too much deference to authority, blocking, groupthink, and free riding, among others. Keep in mind that observing how your group interacts is an important part of your role as a leader. Many of the behaviors that lead to poor dynamics can be overcome if you catch them early. Let’s thoroughly talk about both aspects.

    • What Causes Poor Group Dynamics?
    Group leaders and team members can contribute to a negative group dynamic. Let's look at some of the most common problems that can occur:
    • Weak leadership
    When a team lacks a strong leader, a more dominant member of the group can often take charge. This can lead to a lack of direction, infighting, or a focus on the wrong priorities.
    • Excessive deference to authority
    This can happen when people want to be seen to agree with a leader, and therefore hold back from expressing their own opinions.
    • Blocking
    This happens when team members behave in a way that disrupts the flow of information in the group. People can adopt blocking roles such as:
    • The aggressor
    This person often disagrees with others or is inappropriately outspoken.
    • The negator
    This group member is often critical of others' ideas.
    • The withdrawer
    This person doesn't participate in the discussion.
    • The recognition seeker
    This group member is boastful or dominates the session.
    • The joker
    This person introduces humor at inappropriate times.
    • Group Thinking:
    This happens when people place a desire for consensus above their desire to reach the right decision. This prevents people from fully exploring alternative solutions.
    • Freeriding:
    here, some group members take it easy and leave their colleagues to do all the work. Free riders may work hard on their own, but limit their contributions in group situations; this is known as "social loafing."
    • Evaluation apprehension:
    Team members' perceptions can also create a negative group dynamic. Evaluation apprehension happens when people feel that they are being judged excessively harshly by other group members, and they hold back their opinions as a result.

    Now let’s talk about some of the Strategies for Improving Team Dynamics

    • Know Your Team
    As a leader, you need to guide the development of your group. So, start by learning about the phases that a group goes through as it develops. When you understand these, you'll be able to preempt problems that could arise, including issues with poor group dynamics.
    • Tackle Problems Quickly
    If you notice that one member of your team has adopted a behavior that's affecting the group unhelpfully, act quickly to challenge it.
    • Define Roles and Responsibilities
    Teams that lack focus or direction can quickly develop poor dynamics, as people struggle to understand their role in the group.
    • Break Down Barriers
    Use team-building exercises to help everyone get to know one another, particularly when new members join the group. These exercises ease new colleagues into the group gently and also help to combat the "black sheep effect," which happens when group members turn against people they consider different. Also, explain the idea to help people open up. Example: share what you hope the group will achieve, along with "safe" personal information about yourself, such as valuable lessons that you've learned.
    • Focus on Communication
    Open communication is central to good team dynamics, so make sure that everyone is communicating clearly. Include all of the forms of communication that your group uses – emails, meetings, and shared documents, for example – to avoid any ambiguity. If the status of a project changes, or if you have an announcement to make, let people know as soon as possible. That way, you can ensure that everyone has the same information. Opinionated team members can overwhelm their quieter colleagues in meetings.
    • Pay Attention
    Watch out for the warning signs of poor group dynamics. Pay particular attention to frequent unanimous decisions, as these can be a sign of group thinking, Bullying, or free riding. If there are frequent unanimous decisions in your group, consider exploring new ways to encourage people to discuss their views, or to share them anonymously.

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