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The Role of Formal and Informal Groups

The Role of Formal and Informal Groups Within the University of Phoenix Online By: Stephen Ruiz MGT 340 – Organization Theory and Behavior December 2011/January 2012 – Online Mondays Professor Robert Schlagheck, MS January 20, 2012 Formal and informal groups play a significant role within The University of Phoenix Online (UOP). A formal group would be “one defined by the organizations structure, with designated work assignments establishing tasks” (Robbins, 2011, p. 276).

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A typical organizational chart would be an example of a formal group, where places and roles within a hierarchical organization are clearly defined.

An informal group would be “neither formally structured nor organizationally determined” (Robbins, 2011, p. 276). Informal groups often “develop around social or project groups” (Schatz, 2012). An example of an informal group could be a few employees who chose to take a walk during their break time each morning. UOP has several formal groups. First, there is a leadership team that is comprised of a Vice President, Senior Directors, Associate Directors and Managers. Their roles are defined and collectively they are in charge of measuring and maximizing productivity and defining organizational objectives.

Lately this group has been focusing on employee satisfaction after it was revealed, through employee surveys, that there was a growing dissatisfaction among employees. Things like inflexible work schedules and inconsistent communication from the leadership team were to blame. To improve this situation I would do many of the things this group is doing now but in a more aggressive manner. In addressing the inflexible work schedules, employees are now able to flex time more easily. I would implement alternative work schedules, more specifically, 4-10 work weeks.

Regarding the inconsistent communication, we now have all division teleconferences to make the communication more uniform. Again, this strategy has been too infrequent and reactive instead of proactive. I would hold implement more frequent communication opportunities. Perhaps a weekly all finance or all enrollment communication. Next there are work teams. These are formal groups with a manager and ten employees. These team are formed based on the geographical regions that they service. The manager is responsible for motivating and providing support to the team members.

The team members or advisors are responsible for assisting students. In my case, processing financial aid files, and providing customer service to students, while maintaining acceptable retention and accounts receivable levels. An improvement I would implement would be similar to the Fiedler model discussed in the text. In the past year, I have had 5 different managers. I would try to establish manager-team that have styles that compliment each other. There are a plethora of informal groups at UOP. These groups are encouraged at UOP.

There are reading groups, walking groups, and even a ping pong group to name a few. Personally, I am a member of a small lunch group and a larger social group. The lunch group is made up of 3 others. We all are in the same position and have common interests such as movies and sports. I would refer to these employees as friends. The larger social group is less defined but is a network of past and present team members and we share information, “the grapevine”. I would refer to these members as acquaintances.

In the end, formal and informal groups can be both positive and negative. The structure and defined roles and objectives are positive. Personal conflict and gossip would be examples of negative attributes of groups References Robbins, S. P. & Judge, T. A. (2011). Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Educational, Inc. Schatz, T. (2012). Basic Types of Organizational Structure: Formal and Informal. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness. chron. com/basic-types-organizational-structure-formal-informal-982. html