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Group: Its Definition and Functions, Types of Groups

Groups are collections of individuals who coordinate their efforts to achieve a common purpose. They can fill in gaps in manager’s abilities, solve work problems, and improve coordination, as well as meet the basic personal needs of each member. Group work also has benefits, such as breaking complex tasks into parts and steps, planning and managing time, refining understanding through discussion and explanation, giving and receiving feedback, and more.

A group is a collection of people or objects that function as a unit or form a complete entity. Essentially, it is a collection of objects that have been gathered together for a common purpose or rationale.

A group is a collection of people or objects that are treated as a whole. It is defined as an operation that combines any two set items to produce a third set element.

Let us now consider this in terms of business. When we talk about group dynamics in the workplace. This could be anything from a salesperson to a customer service agent.

Being a part of a group can be very beneficial for both individuals and Organizations. By working in a team, individuals can share their ideas, knowledge, and skills with each other and also provide a good relationship with team members. It can show to increased productivity and better decision-making ability. And also, being a part of a group can provide a feeling of happiness and purpose, which can be incredibly motivating.

Characteristics of groups

Some Key Characteristics/Features of groups in organizational behaviour.

Groups in the workplace can be formed for a variety of reasons, such as to achieve a goal or provide support related to a specific topic.

The main features of groups include the number of members, influence, goals, norms, structure and interaction.

To set goals for groups, determine objectives, write goals, meet regularly to determine progress and provide positive recognition for accomplishments.

Group interaction is purposeful. As Cragon, Wright, and Kasch note, purposeful interaction can take on different forms, including problem-solving, role-playing, team building, and trust building. Without purposeful interaction, a true group does not exist.

There are task-oriented and relationship-orient roles within a group. Task-oriented roles focus on how members work together for the group, such as clarifying information or summarizing key points.

Relationship-oriented roles focus on how members interact with each other, such as compromising or being favourable to others.

Groups also have certain properties, including closure, associativity, and identity. And of course, groups are made up of two or more people who engage in social interaction.

But what does all of this mean for organizations? In short, it means that effective group dynamics can be critical for achieving organizational goals.

By fostering purposeful interaction and understanding the different roles within a group, organizations can create a culture of collaboration and innovation.

3 Primary Functions of Groups

So there are three Primary functions of groups socialization, the accomplishment of goals, and problem-solving.

Socialization

Groups provide individuals with opportunities to interact with others and develop social skills, attitudes, and values. They offer a space for people to share experiences, thoughts, emotions, and to learn from others. It helps individuals to form and keep relationships, build networks, and develop a sense of happiness.

For example, a book club provides an area for people who share a love of reading to come together, discuss books, and form friendships.

Accomplishment of goals

Groups are often formed to achieve specific objectives, such as completing a project, reaching a target, or making a decision. Members of a group work together to pool their knowledge, skills, and resources, and to coordinate their efforts towards a common goal. This allows them to achieve outcomes that would be difficult or, you can say, impossible to attain alone.

Problem-solving

Groups can be used to address complex problems that require the input and cooperation of multiple people. They provide a platform for individuals to share their ideas and perspectives. Identify and analyze problems, and to generate solutions. So by bringing together various perspectives, groups can often come up with more creative solutions/ideas than individuals working alone.

For example, a brainstorming session involves a group of individuals coming together to generate new ideas for a project or a problem. So they share their different perspectives/views and knowledge to come up with solutions.

Two Categories of Group

2 major categories: formal groups and informal groups.

Formal groups

These are the groups that are officially recognized and established by an organization. These groups have a specific purpose/goal and are usually created to perform a task.

A formal group is a collection of persons who come together gradually and intentionally to achieve a specified goal or task.

Examples of formal groups include the military, government agencies, corporations, schools, and universities.

Within formal groups, there are sub-categories. Such as command groups and task groups, which are determined by an organization’s hierarchical chart.

The advantages of formal groups are that they have a clear structure, specific objectives, and established rules and procedures. This makes it easier for members to know what is expect of them and how to achieve the group’s goals. But formal groups can also be inflexible and can stifle creativity and innovation.

      • A formal organisation is a system of arrangement which clearly defines mutual relationships, rules and procedures.

      • Division of work is established to achieve objectives in an easy manner.

      • Formal organization is impersonal and more stable.

      • Changes cannot be introduced due to the needs of individuals.

    Informal groups

    These are those that form spontaneously among individuals who share common interests, attitudes, or goals. These groups are not officially recognize by an organization and may exist outside of formal group structures. Examples of informal groups include social clubs, sports teams, and online communities.

    The advantages of informal groups are that they are flexible, adaptable, and can be more creative and innovative. Members of informal groups can share ideas and opinions freely, which can lead to new and unique solutions. However, informal groups can also lack structure and organization, which can make it difficult to achieve specific goals or objectives.

        • Promoting social and cultural values

        • Relieving top managers of responsibilities

        • Supplementing manager’s capacities

        • Providing social satisfaction and security

        • Facilitating communication

        • Developing better relationships

        • Solving work-related problems

        • Promoting creativity

        • Encouraging self-control

        • Restraining manager’s discretion

        • Providing quick feedback to managers

      Both formal and informal groups have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to organizations and individuals to decide which type of group is best suited to their needs.

      Other Different Types of Groups

      Let’s talk about different types of groups in an organization.

      Command groups

      First off, we have command groups or functional groups. These groups are established by management to carry out specific tasks, and they grow to be permanent. An example of a command group would be the sales department in a company.

      Comparison of formal and informal groups

      Task groups

      On the other hand, we have task groups, which are temporary and formed for a specific project or goal. Think of a group of employees from different departments coming together to organize a company-wide charity event. That would be a task group.

      Interest groups

      Interest groups, which are formed by employees who share a common interest or goal. For example, a group of employees who are passionate about sustainability might form an interest group to promote eco-friendly practices in the workplace.

      Reference groups

      Reference groups are those that individuals look to as a basis for self-evaluation and decision-making. This could be a professional association or a group of successful entrepreneurs that an individual aspires to emulate.

      In-groups and Out-groups

      Now in the last there is in-groups and out-groups are social groups that we form within an organization based on our personal identity or status. In-groups are those we identify with, while out-groups are those we don’t.

      This can lead to biases and favouritism within the organization, so it’s important for management to be aware of these dynamics and promote a culture of inclusion.

      CharacteristicGroupTeam
      OutputSeparate work for managers to judge separatelySingle, collective work or project assessed in its entirety
      Decision-makingIndividual decisionsCollaborative decisions
      Individual AccountabilityIndependentShared
      GoalIndividual goalsShared common goal
      RolesIndividual rolesCollaborative roles
      BasisFormal GroupsInformal Groups
      DefinitionA designated work group with assigned tasksA group that forms spontaneously based on shared interests or social connections
      StructureDefined by the organization’s hierarchyNot defined by the organization’s hierarchy
      LeadershipDesignated leaders with formal authorityInformal leaders emerge based on social connections and expertise
      PurposeTo accomplish specific tasks related to the organization’s functionTo fulfill social and psychological needs of group members
      SizeSmall to largeSmall to moderate

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