Group Structure


Group structure is defined as the layout of a group. It is a combination of group roles, norms, conformity, workplace behavior, status, reference groups, status, social loafing, cohorts, group demography and cohesiveness.

  • Group Roles − The different roles a person plays as a part of the group.

  • Norms − The typical standard set by the group collaboratively that every member has to follow.

  • Conformity − The decisions or stand taken by majority in the group.

  • Workplace behavior − The ethics that one needs to follow while working with an organization.

  • Status − The designation of members in the group.

  • Social Loafing − The phenomena where group members put less effort towards achieving a goal than they would have while working alone.

  • Cohorts − Sharing common behavior in the group.

  • Reference Groups − Other groups to which a group is compared to.

  • Group Demography − Extent of sharing same behavior.

  • Cohesiveness − Extent of belongingness towards each other in the group.

Roles

Roles are a set of expected behavior patterns associated to someone occupying a given position in a social unit. There are three broad types of roles people play in small groups −

  • Task roles
  • Building and maintenance roles
  • Self-centered roles

Task Roles

Task roles are roles that focus on completing group’s goal. The different task roles of a group are stated below −

  • Coordinator − Links statements made by one group member to another.

    Example − “Gita’s comment relate well to what Ram was saying.”

  • Energizer − Provokes group to take action.

    Example − “How many of you are willing to bring in a video on dispute for the next session?”

  • Elaborator − Extends upon another’s ideas.

    Example − “I think what Niki and Anni are suggesting is that we first explain nonverbally before we turn to verbal communication.”

  • Evaluator-critic − Evaluates the group’s work against higher standards.

    Example − “This is okay, but I think Shree needs to give more feedback.”

  • Information-giver − Gives helpful information.

    Example − “Rohit has some books about conflict we could use.”

  • Information-seeker − Questions for clarification.

    Example − “Richa or Trishala, could you please tell me what you said about disconfirming responses?”

  • Recorder − Keeps notes regarding the meeting.

    Example − “Last session we did not get to A-P’s presentation. Rahul and Rohit had just finished theirs.”

  • Procedural Technician − Takes accountability for tasks.

    Example − “I checked out the VCR for Nigaar and Neha’s presentations.”

Group-Building / Maintenance Roles

It focuses on building interpersonal relationships and maintaining harmony. The various maintenance roles in a group are −

  • Encourager − Gives positive feedback.

    Example − “I think what Shyam was saying was totally right.”

  • Follower − Obtains ideas of others in the group.

    Example − “Let’s follow Adi’s plan—he had the right idea.”

  • Compromiser − Attempts to reach a solution acceptable by everyone.

    Example − “Pratik, Sid, and Nimmi have offered three great solutions. Why don’t we integrate them?”

  • Gatekeeper − Assists participation from everyone in the group.

    Example − “I don’t think we’ve heard from Madhuri yet.”

  • Harmonizer − Limits conflict and tension.

    Example − “After that test, we deserve a free meal!”

  • Observer − Examines group progress.

    Example − “I think we’ve learned a lot so far. Monica and Mona gave us great information.”

Self-centered Roles

These roles aim to impede or disrupt the group from reaching its goals. The various self-centered roles in a group are as follows −

  • Aggressor − Acts aggressively towards other group members and their ideas.

    Example − “Playing desert survival is the greatest idea I’ve ever heard.”

  • Dominator − Dominates group speaking time.

    Example − Interrupting—“I’m going to tell you seven reasons why this is a great idea.”

  • Blocker − Refuses to collaborate with other’s ideas.

    Example − “I refuse to play Family Swap.”

  • Help-Seeker − Acts helpless to neglect work.

    Example − “I don’t think I can put together a summary. Why don’t you do it for me?”

  • Loafer − Refrains from work.

    Example − “Why don’t we just go have coffee instead of finishing this project?”

  • Special Interest Advocate − Presents own viewpoint and requirements.

    Example − “I can’t meet today. I need to sleep early and call my mom.”

  • Self-confessor − Talks about the topics important to self and not the group.

    Example − “I really like tea. Yesterday I went to CCD. Their coffee is better than what you get elsewhere . . .”

Norms

Norms are the acceptable standards of behavior within a group that are shared by the group members. Every group develops its own customs, values, habits and expectations for how things need to be done.

These patterns and expectations, or group norms as they're called sometimes, direct the ways team members interact with each other.

Norms can help or block a group in achieving its goals.

Types of Norms

There are four different types of norms that exist in a group −

  • Performance norms
  • Appearance Norms
  • Social arrangement norms
  • Resource allocation norms

Performance Norms

These are centered on how hard a person should work in a given group. They are informal clues that help a person understand how hard they should work and what type of output they should give.

For example − Team leader puts various posters in the firm to motivate employees to work efficiently and give their best performance.

Appearance Norms

Appearance norms updates or guides us as to how we should look or what our physical appearance should be, like what fashion we should wear or how we should style our hair or any number of areas related to how we should look.

For example − There is a formal dress code we need to follow while working in a organization, we cannot wear a wedding gown to a board meeting.

Social Arrangement Norms

This norm is basically centered on how we should behave in social settings. Again here, there are clues we need to pick up on when we are out with friends or at social events that help us fit in and get a closer connection to the group.

For Example − We cannot take our official work to a friend’s birthday party just for the sake of completing it.

Resource Allocation Norms

This norm focusses on the allocation of resources in a business surrounding. This may include raw materials as well as working overtime or any other resource found or needed within an organization.

For Example − If the client needs the project by tomorrow then anyhow it has to be completed by using available resources or doing over time.

Conformity

Conformity can be stated as “accommodating to group pressures”. It is also called as the majority influence or we can say the group pressure.

It is widely used to indicate an agreement to the majority position, brought about either by a desire to fit-in or be liked or because of a desire to be correct, or simply to conform to a social role.

Types of Social Conformity

Three types of conformity can be identified −

  • Normative Conformity
  • Informational Conformity
  • Ingratiational Conformity

Normative Conformity

Yielding to group pressure because an individual wants to fit in with the group. Conforming usually takes place because the individual is scared of being rejected or neglected by the group.

This type of conformity usually includes compliance like where a person publicly accepts the views of a group but privately rejects them.

Informational Conformity

This usually happens when a person lacks knowledge and looks to the group for guidance. Or when a person is not clear about a situation and socially compares one’s behavior with the group.

This type of conformity includes internalization like where a person accepts the views of the groups and adopts them as an individual.

Ingratiational Conformity

Where a person conforms to gain a favor or acceptance from other people. It is relative to normative influence but is encouraged by the need for social rewards rather than the threat of being rejected.

In other words, group pressure is not always the reason to conform.

Harvard psychologist, Herbert Kelman, identified three different types of conformity −

  • Compliance − Socially changing behavior in order to fit in with the group while disagreeing privately. In simple words, conforming to the mass, in spite of not really agreeing with them.

  • Internalization − Socially changing behavior to fit in with the group and also agreeing with them privately.

  • Identification − Agreeing to the expectations of a social role. It is similar to compliance, but there is no change in private opinion.

Reference Groups

It is a group to which a person or another group is compared. Reference groups are used in order to examine and determine the nature of a person or other group's features and sociological attributes.

It is the group to which a person relates or aspires to link himself or herself psychologically. It becomes the individual's frame of reference and source to derive his or her experiences, perceptions, needs, and ideas of self.

These groups act as a benchmark and contrast needed for comparison and evaluation of group and personal characteristics.

Status

Status is a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others. A group structure status includes group norms, culture, status equity. All these factors when combined presents the status of members of the group.

Social Loafing

It is the phenomenon of people exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work as a group than when they work alone.

This is one of the main reasons why groups are sometimes less productive than the combined performance of their members working as individuals, but should be recognized from the accidental coordination problems that groups sometimes experience.

Many of the causes of social loafing arise from an individual feeling that his or her effort will not matter to the group.

Cohorts & Group Demography

Individuals who, as a part of a group, share a common attribute are known as cohorts. Group demography is the level to which a member of a group can share a common demographic attribute with his fellow team members. Group demography is a successful ploy in increasing the efficiency of a team in the long run.

For Example − Age, sex, religion, region, length of the service in the organization and the impact of this attribute on turnover.

Cohesiveness

Extent to which group members are attracted towards each other, and are encouraged to stay in the group. Group cohesion is the aggregate of all the factors causing members of a group to stay in the group or be attracted to the group. Group cohesion acts as the social glue that binds a group together. Some people think that work teams illustrating strong group cohesion will function and perform better in achieving work goals.

Group cohesion is not attributed to one single factor, but is the interaction of more than one factor. While group cohesion may have an impact on group performance, group performance may create or increase group cohesion. Thus, group cohesion can actually have a negative impact on group task performance.

The most influential factor that creates a positive relationship between group cohesion and group performance is the group members' commitment towards the organization's performance goals and norms.

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