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Understanding Group Dynamics

A group is the conjoining of two or more people to complete a task. It is inevitable, at some point in your life, you will work in and be part of a group or team. Understanding group dynamics can help a group to successfully achieve desired outcomes.

Group dynamics are the processes involved when people interact with one another. Interactions whether positive or negative affect performance. When group dynamics are negative, morale is damaged, productivity is undermined, decisions are bad, and outcomes are unsuccessful.

There are five different stages of group development.

These phases exist within the lifespan of every group.  The five stages are:

  1. Forming–when the group first comes together. At this stage, the goals of the group are established and the plan and process for accomplishing those goals are determined. Members tend to be polite during this period and everyone is trying to figure out his/her role in the group.
  2. Storming–a phase where leadership may be questioned, and group members’ ideas may be challenged. This is often the most difficult stage because this is where group members can feel disconnected or overwhelmed and give up on the overall goal. Some members of the team may not want to do what is asked of them. Storming is the most stressful stage of group dynamics.
  3. Norming–when the group starts to come together to formulate a single plan for the common goal. Members will often give up their ideas for the better of the group and the individuals of the group start to understand each other better. Occasionally, at this stage groupthink can occur which hinders innovation. This occurs when people place a desire for cohesiveness and consensus above their desire to make the right decision or reach their goals. This prevents people from fully exploring alternative solutions.
  4. Performing–the stage in which the group is able to work together to accomplish the goal with little need of outside supervision or input. They understand each other’s needs and are able to understand how to work most effectively to accomplish the goal.
  5. Adjourning–the dissolution of the group and the opportunity to reflect on successful or unsuccessful outcomes and how those outcomes can help each member perform in future groups better later.

Members of a group pass through each of these stages at separate times. When a new member joins the group, the process may start all over again, as new members impact group dynamics. What stage of the process are the members of your workgroup or team in?

Group Member Roles

Another part of group dynamics is the individual roles group members play. Some of the roles may be healthy and productive, and some of those roles may be toxic and counterproductive. There are three categories that member roles fall under, task roles, maintenance roles and hindering roles.

  1. Task roles refer to actions individuals take that help the project/task to progress.
  2. Maintenance roles are the actions people take to help preserve the relationships between the group members.
  3. Hindering roles are the actions people take that hinder the group’s progress and process.

Stay tuned for future discussion about the distinct roles group members play.



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