In the modern business era there has been a significant shift from the selected manner of getting work completed. A paradigm shift has been observed from individuals working on isolated tasks to creation of groups and teams being created for the purpose of getting the job completed quicker and in a more efficient manner. Groups and teams gained popularity as a managerial tool due to the involvement of the diversity of the group members who each help in critically analyzing the situation in their own manner and who provide solutions which take into account a broader perspective.
Groups bring diversity to the organization’s goals commitment and offer managers views which can cover a broader scope than an individual working in an isolated manner could ever have. However, there is still some concern where groups are concerned. And the major concern is the creation of a ‘Group Synergy’. By this we refer to the idea that a combined effort from numerous people would bring about better yields than a numerous individuals working on isolated cases could ever have. Group synergy basically involves the sharing of the vision of all group members towards a single goal. Groups and Human Behavior
Groups provide 3 basic human requirements which each employee desires inherently (Broochers, 1999). These 3 needs are the need for Inclusion (establishing identity with others), the need for Control (exercise one’s ability to control and lead others) and the need for affection (to develop relationships with others). Groups help organizations meet the 3 needs as well as get their goals attained by the creation of groups. The psychological benefits of groups enable employees to have a healthier work-place environment and they have relatively less burden as support is always able due to the existence of group members and team mates.
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Groups and Gender Roles The popularity of Groups and ‘Group Synergy’ can be attributed towards the shift the management styles exercised over the years. Groups were relatively not deemed as necessary in the early 1900s as a more isolated manner of work was deemed result providing. Managers were of the opinion that the more interaction between employees, the more distraction would be prevalent and eventually less work would be get done. This kind of philosophy led to the office workplace having an individualized culture with people working on independent isolated tasks rarely relying on outside interference or support.
This approach proved to be accurate to some extent as employees were reduced to becoming drones and working in isolated atmosphere. Cubicles and other physical structures are remnants of the kind of managerial approach to curb interaction. But an important thing to consider here is the type of employees working at the time. Until the late 60s offices were the sole dominion of men and psychologists have noted that men have a deep seated individualistic streak inherent in them. However, after the 60s women became more and more active and began entering the workplace.
This approach of isolated job completion showed negative results on women production as there is a significant difference between the way men and women want work to be done. Women have a tendency of association and prefer a group effort rather than the individualistic culture existing at the time. As recognized by Claese in her journal article, she believes that the advent of women into management circles and who desire social bonding rather than individualism in the workplace has led to the increase in groups as compared to earlier years (Claese, 1999).
The journal article provides substantial arguments as to how groups could be related to a feminine frame of thought as women tend to find solace and encouragement in groups and have a group mentality as compared to masculine opinions of handling their own issues and problems. In the same article there is an interesting observation stated by the author who quotes Drucker as stating that the value is added to information better in teams rather than by individuals. This kind of characteristic is more dominantly found in women rather than men. Groups and Leadership
Leadership also plays an important role in observing the group’s results and its overall performance. Initially much importance was placed on group leaders as being the sole factor in influencing the groups output. Early leadership theories supported the fore-mentioned assumption that leaders were the only governing factor in bringing out the best in a group. Theories such as Trait theories and Behavioral theories try to justify the importance of the role of the leader in the group. Yet contemporary theories have proven better results when the leaders and the members of the group have a healthy relationship.
Theories such as the Hershey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory (which focuses on the followers’ readiness to accept the leader) and the Path-Goal Model support the argument that the leader has to become more than just a symbol but instead work alongside the members of the group and team to actually bring out the true potential. A better understanding of the leadership roles in forwarding group synergy is discussed in the article “Leadership Effectiveness and Personality Characteristics of Group Members” by Olusegun Agboola Sogunro.
In it he basically analyses the group members’ personality characteristics and leadership effectiveness in relation to each other. Through the course of his studies he compared different settings and evaluated the effects of the personality clashes and found that if the personalities of the group members and the leader complemented each other than the productivity of the group increased. There are many research findings in the article which support the author’s belief that the synergy of the group relies centrally on the compatibility of the various personalities of the group members.
Yet the author does not negate the importance of factors such as leader’s characteristics, the goals of the group and the overall context under which the group was brought into existence (Sogunro, 1998). Groups and their Organizational Structure Groups created for the purpose of organizational needs are not structured haphazardly. They have to take into account numerous variables. Leadership has already been discussed leaving 6 other group structure determining factors. Before making any managerial strategy regarding the group, managers must take into account the roles of the group members.
Group members should have the urge to satisfy some role in the group otherwise they do not associate themselves with the said group. Roles need to be fulfilled in the group otherwise group members generate a problem recognized as ‘Role conflict’ under which the group member is confronted by different role expectations. Norms are also critical in establishing the group structure. The norms are the standards or expectations shared by the group’s members. Norms help group members to stay honest with themselves and their organization and affect their decisions.
Conformity is another similar factor which pressures group members to conform and basically align their interests and habits with each other. Whether an organization wants high conformity or low conformity would affect the structure of the group. High conformity groups would emulate the leader or any influential person and would result in similar solutions from various members, while low conformity groups would have diversified opinions amongst the group members. The status systems determine the prestige grading, positions and ranks members would hold within any group.
If the organization is bureaucratic in nature and has strict status system policies then the group would be more hierarchically structured and the managerial strategy would be to have the members of the group follow protocols and follow the chain of command. In groups having less emphasis on status systems then there is an informal linear hierarchy and an obscure chain of command. The group size is a determining factor of the structure of the group. Managerial strategies have to take into account whether the group is large or small in size to help in forecasting its chances of success.
Larger group sizes offer much better diversified opinions and can provide more options to choose from as solutions. However, the drawback of the larger groups is that it is difficult to come to a single decision yet that is a minor hindrance. Group cohesiveness is the degree to which group members are attracted to one another and share the group’s goals. The more cohesiveness between the group’s members the better the outputs from the group will be. Combined these factors determine the structure that the group would be in. Managerial strategies need to accommodate for the group structure to actually be successful.
Creating strategies which do not coincide with the structure of the group would lead to failure as the group would be unable or unwilling to follow through with the strategy. Diversity and Group Synergy In today’s globalizing world, diversity is no longer an alien concept. With movement of people as well as entire organizations, there is relatively no organization untouched by workplace diversity. People of differing genders, nationalities, races or creeds interact with each other in their daily lives and eventually they are grouped together at one time or the other.
There are two ways to look at the diversity issue. The affects can be mapped along two routes: The effect of organizations on diverse workgroups and the effects of diverse workforce on the organization. Organization managerial strategies can affect workgroups both positively and negatively. If the managerial strategies implemented by the managers are deemed to discourage diverse workgroups or tend to favor some specific minority or majority in the workplace the group synergy is unhealthily affected.
Similarly the workgroups can affect managements strategy formulation as is evident in today’s world as management these days has to take deliberation before forwarding policies which may be deemed biased against any diverse faction of the employees. Baugher discusses in his article the two aspects and discusses perception towards the two situations. According to him and fellow researchers, organizational impact of workgroup diversity is deemed in negative light as the organization had always hindered integration of diversity in workplace and has been resistant to change through time.
However, the author does support the other scenario as per him; there are numerous potential benefits of the workforce affecting organizational level. Diversity can bring in a range of new innovative ideas as well as give cultural value to the organization and expansion in the knowledgebase. Baugher has discussed the effects of diversity based on the genders and cultural differences and how it can affect the workgroup. The article provides statistical evidence that given the option to create own workgroups, employees showed tendencies to group in a manner attracting like-minded people.
According to his research findings, Baugher has proposed that with the attraction towards homogeneity and the desire to associate with similar social groups, the diversity expected would not be as rapid nor would it be as wide spread (Baugher, 2000). Conflict Management within Organizations Groups Conflicts are a fact to be acknowledged within any social group. With the interaction of 2 or more people with each other it is natural that some manner of conflict would arise sometime. Instead of sidelining conflicts, they need to be addressed and brought out to the open instead.
This way a solution can be found and the conflict suppressed. There is a misconception that there is a sure fire way to handle conflicts. But studies have proven that not only are there various ways of addressing conflicts, but different people handle conflicts in different ways. A study conducted to show differences in the ways males and females addressed conflicts gave the result that, managers who assume masculine, feminine or androgynous roles tackled conflicts in different manners.
Even though the study was aimed particularly for accountants it can be generalized to the extent that all managers, be they male or female, have to address conflicts and they have to provide lasting solutions to attain organizational goals (Chan, 2006). In the article by Suppiah, he has introduced some conflict management styles adopted by managers. He discusses the 3 approaches proposed by Follet, which were domination, compromise and integration. Blake and Mouton however provided 5 styles of handling conflicts which included problem-solving, smoothing, forcing, withdrawal and sharing.
However, they mapped these styles in regard to two functions: Concern for production and concern for People. Depending upon the function of conflict management, managers would be able to identify which of the styles to adopt in their situation. The article goes on to discuss numerous other perspectives to conflict management and styles yet one thing remains common which is the correlation between the managers desire for higher production and the managers concern for his employees. (R. R. V. Suppiah, 2006).
While making managerial strategies to handle conflict management in groups, managers must take into account their goals. A strategy of confrontation would not be feasible for a manager who wishes to build good relations with his/her employees as the employees might be offended by being forced into reconciliation. Meanwhile a manager might not want to try withdrawal if he wishes for higher production as the conflict would create in-group resistance and group members would not be giving their full effort.
Managers must take into account all the variables involved to come up with the perfect strategy to handle conflicts and come up with the optimal solution which results in satisfaction to all the group members and management involved. Creating Effective Groups The purpose of groups is to bring optimal results using combined knowledge of the group members and to harness the potential of each group member to bring about the desired outcomes of the organization. Groups can prove to multiple the gains as well as minimize costs and resources as a combined effort reduces individual costs.
To create effective groups and create a healthy group synergy some key elements need to be accounted for (Robbins & Coulter). These elements are recognized as: • Groups should set clear goals so that each individual member recognizes the team’s goals and they know what they are meant to accomplish. This provides them on equal footing with which to gauge their progress. • No group can succeed unless the group members possess the necessary skills with which to accomplish the tasks.
To create group synergy, group members should have the relevant skills for their tasks as each group member can rely on their partner to complete their respective tasks. • Mutual trust should exist between the group members and distrust could dissolve the best of groups. Groups can better obtain their results when the members believe in each other’s abilities, character, and integrity. • Being dedicated to the team’s goals and having a willingness to expend extraordinary amount of energy to achieve them is a characteristic of a unified commitment which is exhibited by the successful teams of today.
• Good healthy communication must prevail to have an effective group synergy. Group members who convey messages to each other verbally and non-verbally are more abreast with information about each other and can better support their group members than those who do not communicate at all. • Groups which can survive any conflict exhibit good negotiating skills. By this the group members should be willing to make adjustments as to who does want. The flexibility amongst members would help them overcome conflicts and reconcile differences.
• The leadership in the group must be sound as the appropriate leadership helps the members of the group by clarifying the goals, demonstrating that change is possible by overcoming inertia, increasing the self-confidence of team members, and helping the members to more fully realize their potential. As discussed in the earlier sections leadership is an important factor and the key thing to recognize is that leaders guide and support the team yet instead don’t control it. • The last condition necessary for an effective team is a supportive internal and external climate.
If the climate in the internal and external setting is supportive then groups would have no restraints and could easily accomplish their goals whereas if the climate is intense and there are conflicts in either in the internal or external setting then the group would have difficulty in accomplishing the goals. Conclusion By the end of this paper we can clearly make some inferences about group synergy and what factors affect the internal operations of the groups as well as the various different complications that may arise within groups and between the groups and the organization.
Managerial strategies for developing group synergy differ from one place of work to the other. When formulating the strategy a major role is played by the structure of the group as it contains numerous minute factors such as size, cohesiveness and conformity which on their own can deeply affect the success of the managerial strategy. Other critical factors to keep in mind for formulation of strategies is the possibility of the strategy to create intra-group conflicts, inter group conflicts or conflicts between organization and the groups.
These conflicts can be handled by managers not based on a single sure-fire approach but instead depending on the context of the conflict, the factors behind it, the groups perspective and also the overall effect of the conflict. Each conflict can be handled in a unique manner and managers must keep in mind this fact.
- Baugher, D. (2000). Gender And Culture Diversity Occurring In Sell-formed Work Groups. Journal of Managerial Issues . Broochers, T. (1999). Why Join a Group. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from Small Group Communication: http://www. abacon. com/commstudies/groups/join.html
- Chan, C. C. (2006). Conflict Management Styles of Male and Female Junior Accountants. International Journal of Management .
- Claese, M. -T. (1999). Women, Men and Management Styles. International Labour Review . R. R. V.
- Suppiah, W. (2006). A competence-based view to conflict management. American Journal of Applied Sciences .
- Robbins, S. P. , & Coulter, M. Understanding Groups and Teams. In S. P. Robbins, & M. Coulter, Management 8th Edition (pp. 385-386).
- Sogunro, O. A. (1998). Leadership Effectiveness and Personality Characteristics of Group Members. Journal of Leadership Studies .
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