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Table of ContentsSmall Group Dynamics

Small Group Dynamics - 6 / 2 / 2002
group maturity
    - the ability and willingness to set goals and work towards them
    characteristics of a mature group
        an increasing ability to be self-directed
        an increased tolerance in accepting that progress takes time
        an increasing sensitivity to their own feelings & those of others
        improvement in the ability to withstand tension, frustration and disagreement
        perception of the common denominators which bind the group
        perception of areas of individual difference
        a better ability to anticipate realistic results of behavior
        a better ability to channel emotions into more acceptable expressions
        an increased ability to change plans & methods as new situations develop
        a decrease in time needed to recover from threatening group situations
        increased efficiency:
            in locating problems
            engaging in problem solving
            providing help to individuals as needed
        a willingness to face one's own responsibilities
        a willingness to assist others when help is needed
        an acceptance of the right of the other person to be different
    the style of leadership depends on group maturity
        immature group: needs direction
        mature group: nondirective leadership is usually best
        in-between: democratic leadership is usually best
social style
    try to assess each individual's social style
        you gain a greater understanding of the person
        helps you provide the type of interaction the person will respond to
    there are four basic social styles
        based on long-term studies of the way people behave in their social interactions
        how people seem:
            warm & outgoing, or cool & reserved
        how people manage time:
            either fast-paced or slow-paced
        what they value in responses from others:
            being liked
            being right
            being in control
            being appreciated for accomplishments
        amiable type
            - warm & easygoing pace
            wants to be liked
        analytical type
            - cool & methodical pace
            wants to be right
        driver type
            - cool & quick-paced
            wants to be in control
        expressive type
            - warm & energetic pace
            wants to be recognized for achievements
transactional analysis
    Games People Play: The Psychology Of Human Relationships - Eric Berne
    social transaction between individuals
    three ego states
            - protective, nurturing, controlling, critical, or guiding role
            refer to policies or standards
                "You know the rules, now follow them"
            - rational, calculating, factual, and unemotional
            decision-making relies on:
                research, facts, data processing, and estimating probabilities
            - rebellious, spontaneous, dependant, or creative
            looks for approval & immediate rewards
        interactions may be contradictory or complimentary
        behavior affects the performance of individuals in group
content vs. process
        what is talked about
        how communication is handled
task oriented vs. relationships oriented
        people who are concerned with the task:
            make suggestions as to best way to proceed or deal with problem
            attempt to summarize what has been covered or what has been going on
            give or ask for:
                facts, ideas, opinions, feelings, feedback, or search for alternatives
            keep the group on target
                prevent going off on tangents
        people who are concerned with relationships:
            be more concerned with how people feel than how much they know
            help others get into the discussion
            try to reconcile disagreements
            encourage people with friendly remarks and gestures
            focus on process / relationships in building community
    assigned roles
    emergent roles
    behavior can be of three types:
            seeking information or opinions
            giving information or opinion
            clarifying & elaborating
            consensus testing
        relationships / maintenance
            gate keeping
                group feelings, sensing moods and relationships, atmosphere
            Standard setting
        self oriented behavior
            dominator / manipulator
            degativist / blocker
            aggressor / belittler
            hair splitter
            poor me
    patterns of communication
    who talks? how long? how often?
    who are people looking at?
        single out others
            support / lieutenants
        scanning the group
    who talks after whom
    who interrupts whom?
    the style of communication is used
        assertions, questions, tone of voice, gestures, etc.
    do people change their participation?
    how are silent people treated?
        is silence due to consent, disagreement, disinterest, fear, fatigue?
    who leads whom
    who influences whom
    feedback (negative)
        criticism must be neutral
            focused on the task and not the personality
        criticism should be accompanied by positive suggestion for improvement
    feedback (positive)
            reenforces commendable actions
            mollifies the negative feedback
        progress should be emphasised
    high in influence
        some people speak very little, yet capture the attention of the group
    low in influence
         others talk a lot, but others pay little attention
    shifting of influence
    rivalry / struggle for leadership
conflict [see Conflict Resolution]
    review conflict in terms of the goal
    lack of structure & purpose
        impose both in terms of goal
    disputes between alternative courses of action
        negotiate in terms of the goal
    are generated by the interactions between members
    are seldom talked about
    have to be guessed at based on:
        tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and other nonverbal cues
    signs of feeling
    attempts to block the expression of feelings
    revealed in a general impression
        work, play, satisfaction, taking flight, sluggish, tense, etc.
    friendly congenial atmosphere
    atmosphere of conflict & disagreement
    degree of acceptance or inclusion, or exclusion
        outside the group
        move in and out of the group
decision making
    many decisions made without considering the effects they have on other members
    self authorized decision
    no decision
    majority decision
        results in greater satisfaction and acceptance among members
        when consensus decision-making works—and doesn't
            consensus decision-making has its place, but it doesn't work
                when members have fundamental differences
    support for decisions
    contributions that receive no response or recognition
    standards or rules developed to control the behavior of members
    clear to all members (explicit)
    known or sensed by only a few (implicit)
    operating completely below the level of awareness of members
    areas avoided
    overly nice or polite
    participation or the kinds of questions that are allowed
group formation
    appointment based on compatibility, diversity, or expertise
        does not assure effectiveness in achieving goals
    initially a collection of personalities
        different characteristics, needs, and influences
    must spend time acclimatizing themselves
        environment, the task, and to each other
leading a small group
    Procedures & Techniques  
5 stages of group development
    Developmental Sequence in Small Groups - Tuckman, B.
        - polite but untrusting
        formalities are preserved and members are treated as strangers
    storming /exploration
        - testing others
        members start to communicate their feelings
        still view themselves as part of their parent group
        they attack others insular attitudes while guarding their own
    norming /transition
        - valuing other types
        people feel part of the team
        realise that they can achieve goal if they accept other viewpoints
    performing /action
        - flexibility from trust
        not always reached
        the team works in an open & trusting atmosphere
        flexibility is the key
        hierarchy is of little importance
    adjourning / termination
        - termination of task behaviors
        recognition for participation & achievement
        disengagement from relationships
            can be traumatic
group structure & size
    group size should be kept to a minimum without jeopardizing goal
    larger size:
        increased possibility of conflict due to variety of viewpoints
        fewer opportunities for development of social relationships
        decreased participation levels
        lack of opportunity for individual recognition
individual skills & performance
    does group have all skill sets necessary for performance of task
    will task be slowed by a poor performer
    right combination of leaders & followers
        lessens the potential for rivalries & conflicts
    homogenous group may develop more quickly
        better able to communicate, set standards and grow as cohesive unit
        may not be diverse enough to meet all community needs
        more likely to possess blind spots
    a more diverse group may take longer to reach peak performance
        equally or more productive
        may even be more creative in problem-solving
            broader base of ideas for solutions
    more successful groups
        work as a unit
        share tasks 
        recognize the contributions of members
    less successful groups
        mired in conflict
        role ambiguity
        lack of motivation
    group cohesion makes it attractive
        for members to belong
        attracts high performers
        provides opportunities for individual recognition
    cohesion may result from:
        internal successes
        high social-emotional support
        external threats.
    one of the primary factors in group performance
    group size can affect cohesion
        too large
            members cannot get recognition they are looking fo
                can lead to the formation of subgroups or cliques
                    members to withdraw or withhold input
            members feel that they're being used by group
            members feel that others are not pulling their weight
                10% of people doing 90% of work
    reinforces the authority, hierarchy and reward system within group
    increases motivation (Maslowís esteem needs)
        a reward for loyal & productive service
        an acknowledgment of the level of decision-making
Once upon a time...
    A team of students that had four members called Everybody, Somebody, Anybody,
    and Nobody. There was an important job to be done. Everybody was sure that
    Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody
    got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody
    could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up
    that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
        Learning in Teams: A Student Guide - Graham Gibbs
Developmental Sequence in Small Groups - Tuckman, B.
Games People Play: The Psychology Of Human Relationships - Eric Berne
Groups that Work - article by Gerard M. Blair
Learning in Teams: A Student Guide - Graham Gibbs

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