You have brought people together because you are concerned that a lack of customer focus is starting to impact performance for the worse. You have high hopes for the group, so you feel stuck when they can't or will not come to a decision.
Obviously, many factors are holding the group back. Here you will find traditional examples of dysfunctional groups and poor team dynamics.
One person is highly critical of the progress that is being made and is forever complaining that the group lacks focus. You know their negative comments are disruptive and halting progress in the group and leading to frustration.
Two people have contributed very little, and you are not so sure how to improve things. One member of the group always arrives late to meetings, infrequently reads the supporting notes distributed before the session and then spends much of their time texting.
Some group members seem to follow the dominant lead of two other members who have their own agenda. Finally, you have a comic in the group, they are forever making humorous comments and doesn’t take things seriously.
In this blog, I will look at what group dynamics are, and why they are so critical to improving performance. I will highlight some examples of poor group dynamics, and then outline some approaches in the accompanying article that create a real sense of teamness.
What Are Group Dynamics?
We know that people in groups take on distinct roles and behaviours when they work in a group. We are not talking about permanent functional teams here, but more informal working groups that may be brought together to work on special projects or Lean or Quality and Customer issues. ‘Group dynamics’ is the interplay of these roles and behaviours on other group members, and on the group as a whole.
A group with a positive dynamic is not the norm and stands out from the crowd. Most groups are left to evolve without proper facilitation, but strong positive groups trust one another, they work progressively towards a shared and collective vision, and they each ensure that they are accountable for making things happen.
It is not surprising to learn that when you have a positive dynamic, group, members are at least twice as creative as a typical group who are slowly evolving.
Poor group dynamics slow down progress, is disruptive and does nothing for harmony or the health of the group. It is no surprise that groups like this have difficulty debating all the issues, are slow to make decisions, progress slowly because the full dynamic of the group structure has never been stimulated and facilitated in the right direction.
Poor Group Dynamics – what are the principal causes?
These are some of the most common problems that can occur:
- Poor leadership: You get the leadership you deserve. If the group facilitator has not developed a clear brief and worked with group members you get leadership by default – that I,s the most senior group members or the more assertive or socially confident can take over. Without strong leadership there will be little direction, and priorities will not be defined or actioned.
- Deference to authority: this happens when the most senior person is deemed to be the leader rather than the most capable or those with most experience of the situation. Here, people may say what they believe the leader wants to hear and political motives soon outweigh logic and authenticity of views.
- Groupthink: this happens when the group is hindered in their choices because they would prefer to seek an artificial agreement in the group rather than dig deep and debate the real issues that are holding the group, from dealing with the real issues.
- Resisting: this happens when team members behave in a way that they resist talking about real issues stemming the flow of quality debate and discussion in the group.
- Apathethics: here, some group members leave their colleagues to do all the work and sit back and take it easy. ‘Apathetics’ limit their contributions in group situations.
- Freedom of expression: this can happen when group members' perceptions create a negative group dynamic. Here, the group may feel that there is a set, perceived, desired or favoured solution rather than a free and proper exchange of ideas resulting, in people holding back their true feelings and opinions.
Symptoms of Team Busting rather than Team Working
Poor team work in groups is a very common symptom of a dysfunctional organisation. It is more common than you think and often is evident when people from different groups or departments come together to work on a common problem. It requires careful and strong facilitation.
We can provide that facilitation for you as part of our work in culture change and implementing lean or continuous improvement. If you would like to know how to manage these situations please contact us and we will be happy to send you our published article that deals with these issues.