The effectiveness of the organization is largely determined by the joint activities in groups. However, to achieve effective results of team working, it is necessary to correctly form the group and ensure the presence of the skills of teamwork in all its members, as well as the ability to combine and concentrate efforts on solving common problems. By participating in the work of a group, an employee can significantly change personal behavior, but this change does not always happen in a positive direction, and without effective teamwork skills, team functioning can lead to entropy. This determines the importance of a practical study of the problems of the formation and functioning of groups. The corresponding practical case will be considered below using the implications of organizational behavior theory and the foundations of group dynamics.
A situation which will be analyzed is related to a job I had as a teacher. Some other teachers and I would always be confused with the way the front office would operate. In particular, the managers would have information about a contiguous student or something being wrong with the facility, and they would not let us know until the last minute or until the “crisis” was over. They never gave us the option to say what conditions we could or could not work in, never suggested any participation in decision making, and we (teachers) were always ‘left in the dark.’
This situation is the result of the ineffective communication system in the organization, the absence of an encouraging participation culture, as well as the wrong leadership style. The reason for the front office behavior is the lack of a scientific approach to organizational governance and the implementation of “common sense” management with the simultaneous application of an authoritarian leadership style. The managers’ behavior was determined by concern for ‘production’ and lack of interest in the opinion of subordinates. Distance is maintained between the leader and the team members; the manager believes that work efficiency depends on a strict organization and excludes people from decision-making processes. Such management represents the worst combination in a post-industrial educational institution, the performance of which depends on creativity, talent development, and intangible motivation of employees. My behavior was attributed to the forced acceptance of the imposed leadership style and the inability to change the situation without resorting to explicit conflict. It was certainly a mistake to put up with this managers’ attitude, but I understood that we lacked group cohesion and communication skills, as well as an informal distribution of roles in the group, to develop appropriate proposals for change and present them to the front office. Other teachers also had negative experience because of managers’ attitude. Their behavior was determined by the needs of lower levels in Maslow’s pyramid, and they did not make the necessary efforts to ensure the realization of striving for full professional development through participation in decision-making and even solving issues related to workplace optimization.
Groups play an important role in improving the efficiency of the organization as a whole and each of its employees separately. The development of group forms of work makes it possible to integrate the specific knowledge, skills, and experience of individual employees to achieve the goals facing the organization and quickly adapt to a rapidly changing external environment (Neck et al., 2019). Groups have synergistic potential, can foster creativity, increase employees’ engagement, and contribute to the individual development of group members through knowledge sharing.
Thus, according to the systemic concept of an organization, group work is capable of creating an obvious synergy effect, and vice versa, in the case of a poorly adjusted and inconsistent balance of power in the team, groups can become a source of entropy both within the group itself and throughout the organization. Consideration of the diversity of communication and its intergroup aspects represent one of the directions for the development of research in the field of organizational communication. Factors that can enhance or weaken cohesion and thereby influence the quality of group decisions include cooperative behavior, team goals, and similarity in value orientations and attitudes. In the case under consideration, despite similar values, cooperative behavior is absent, and group goals are vague.
The successful performance of a group depends largely on good management and interpersonal relationships within the group; often, decisions made by the team jointly and unanimously are implemented faster. This has a positive effect on team spirit and overall performance, increasing productivity (Levi & Askay, 2020). Additionally, group interaction is largely mediated by the concept of normative behavior of its members (Forsyth, 2018). The communication scheme of the leader with the group in the case under consideration is directive in nature, and communication between group members is characterized by inconsistency, uncertainty, and chaos. The normative behavior of team members is characterized by the lack of the culture of participation, but there is a desire for it, constrained by an authoritarian leadership style.
According to the concept of engagement, employees should be actively involved in discussing the specifics of implementing changes in specific areas; the less this participation, the weaker their commitment (Fowler, 2017). The balance of group dynamics is maintained through the interaction of two opposing sets of forces: those that promote change, or driving forces, and those that support the status quo, restraining forces (Neck et al., 2019). Lewin’s force field diagram represents a model built on the idea that forces (people, habits, customs, and attitudes) both facilitate and inhibit change. In our case, Lewin’s force field diagram helped to understand that there is a bias towards restraining forces, which has a negative effect on group dynamics and the satisfaction of group members. Combining forces when drawing up a diagram helped to reveal systemic ties between them, thus ensuring comprehension of the reasons for behavior.
The analysis allowed understanding of the rationality of assessing and managing group dynamics in frames of system paradigm. In particular, mistakes showed that long-term implications of team dynamics and communication for organizational performance should be taken into consideration. In the next occurrence of a similar experience, it would be necessary to adjust intra-team communication, considering both functional roles. Specifically, a participant’s behavior expected by the group should be taken into account. This will allow combining efforts to show initiative and create a culture of involvement and participation “from the bottom.” The distribution of roles can be analyzed and addressed using Belbin’s theory. In this context, it seems appropriate to test own vector of direction, create a personal interaction balance map, analyze team role, as well as analyze the role interaction in the team, adjust it as necessary.
The group plays one of the decisive roles in organizational behavior since a well-integrated team can perform significantly more complex tasks and with much higher productivity than the same number of individuals separately. However, as it is obvious from the considered case, with the ineffective leadership and passive position of team members, the absence of a culture of participation both in the organization as a whole and at the team level, teamwork becomes ineffective. It introduces elements of entropy into the activities of the entire organizational system. Launching change to improve the situation requires team-level initiative, preceded by the acquisition of effective team communication and role distribution skills.
Forsyth, D. R. (2018). Group dynamics. Cengage Learning.
Fowler, S. (2017). Why motivating people doesn’t work and what does: The new science of leading, energizing, and engaging. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Levi, D. J., & Askay, D. A. (2020). Group dynamics for teams (6th ed.). SAGE Publications.
Neck, C., Houghton, J., & Murray, E. (2019). Organizational behavior: A skill-building approach (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.