Group Dynamics Group Issues Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1353 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

Group Dynamics

Group issues usually revolve around conflicts, disagreements, personality clashes and different values of the members. It is important to understand what a group is before we can focus on group dynamics in an educational setting. A group consists of two or more people who freely interact with each other and have chosen to be part of a group largely out of their own free will.

According to Oxford American Dictionary (2001, p. 752) a group is "a number of people who work together or share certain beliefs." Similarly other thinkers maintain that a group is any number of people who have come together with a shared goal that makes them interdependent to some extent. In these definitions we notice that a group needs to have a common goal or interest or anything that makes them want to work together.

Without these shared interest, a group becomes a refugee camp as Mike Freeman of Hewlett Packard's Electronic Division felt when his group developed conflicts: "We were like a refugee camp. We worked for the same company but spoke different languages. Shock resulting from a downturn in our industry permeated everyone. We were confused and without organizational homes. Survival meant creating a new way of life." [5]

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Bruce Tuckman is considered the pioneer in the field of study of group dynamics. In 1965, he developed his Forming-storming-Norming-performing model of team development that focused of better understanding of group dynamics. This model was similar to some other team development models that emerged around the same time including Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum and Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership model.

Tuckman maintained that groups pass through four important stages as they gain maturity and establish important connections with each other. The leader is the one who plays a crucial role in team development as he moves from coaching to participating to delegating and later detaches himself from the group. This progression of group leader is critical for the understanding of group dynamics. The four stages forming, storming, norming and performing help us understand the role of other team members.

Term Paper on Group Dynamics Group Issues Usually Revolve Around Assignment

In the first stage, a group is highly depended on the leader who directs and guides them since they are not familiar with their roles. There is usually low agreement on what the team should achieve and how. Roles are ambiguously defined and thus chances of conflicts are bright. In the second stage of storming, team members fight for their place in the group. Each tries to vie for the best position or more authority as they ease into their new roles as team members. In this stage, power struggles are common.

The group then moves on to the third stage of norming. This is an important stage since this determines the success of the task undertaken by the group. At this point, members have a clearer idea of their role in the team, they mostly agree on bigger issues while minor decisions rest with individual or sub-groups. Leader is seen as the head of the team and he is accorded due respect. Members open up to each other and may also enjoy social activities together.

The last stage of performing is when the team actually achieves its goal. By now the team has understood what the group is trying to accomplish and thus share common goals and values. The members have grasped their roles and responsibilities well and thus are less dependent on the leader. They enjoy greater autonomy and more freedom to make decisions on their own. Team members share camaraderie and this helps them achieve their goals with minimum conflict and disagreements.

Almost a decade after this model was developed; Tuckman added a fifth component to this cycle known as adjourning. Adjourning refers to the period when after the successful completion of given tasks, the group breaks up. This is a mourning stage as people who had come closer to each other during the project are forced to bid farewell to each other and the team officially comes to an end.

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