We all have seen this on the sport field more than once – teams that play as a group always defeats a teams that play as individuals. There is a certain magic that happens when a group reaches the critical mass needed to become more that the sum of its members – SYNERGY.
I suggest corporate captains revisit the basics of group dynamics.
Knowledge of aspects that increases and decreases group cohesion is sometimes ignored to push through agendas without contemplating the impact it may have on an organisation. In my experience the greatest threat for a functioning enterprise is passive aggression.
Passive-aggressive behaviour is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
Warner in the ad for his online ebook says: “The worst case of passive-aggressive behaviour involves destructive attitudes such as negativity, sullenness, resentment, procrastination, ‘forgetting’ to do something, chronic lateness, and intentional inefficiency.” If this behaviour is ignored it could result in decreased office efficiency and frustration among workers. If managers are passive-aggressive in their behaviour, it can end up stifling team creativity. De Angelis says “It would actually make perfect sense that those promoted to leadership positions might often be those who on the surface appear to be agreeable, diplomatic and supportive, yet who are actually dishonest, backstabbing saboteurs behind the scenes.” (Wikipedia).
So – back to groups.
Factors that increase the group cohesion:
1.1 Group norms
All groups to a lesser or greater degree, subscribe to rules that govern membership and participation in group activities. For example, to become a member of a motorcycle fraternity the individual must identify with the norms of the particular group, be it the Hell’s Angels or the Christian Bikers Association. The extent to which members of a group, with the group values and norms, is an indication of the cohesion within the group.
Often employers mistakenly believe that during times of industrial action where employees are stranded outside the gates of a factory either in the blistering sun or in the winter’s cold, that their morale is low. This is wrong, as during such period of collective action the individual participants identify and support the collective norm strongly.
On an individual basis, no two individuals are the same and it is fair to say that beliefs and values range from the one extreme to the other. Often the group is a safe haven for participants to live out their needs, for example stamp collectors or drinking friends.
Studies have shown that the attraction between members of a group (group cohesion), is significantly higher where members had to go through a rigorous initiation process. In so doing membership was earned, is exclusive and causes a sense of lasting accomplishment.
Theoretically speaking, army going to war, who has gone through rigorous initiation, has a better chance to conquer than an army that has not gone through such a process.
Initiation into colleges and universities remains contentious mainly due to exploitation and a miss use of power but the sociological benefits remains unchallenged.
1.3 Prestige and standing
The higher an individual’s standing is within a group and the more validation receives, the more the individual will be attracted to the group. In certain instances, a person with a lower social standing may attain a higher social status by taking up membership of a particular group.
Studies have shown that the more a person is accepted within a group, the more they will feel attracted to group membership and the group.
Various examples can be cited where individuals who are shunned by society by large can find acceptance and comfort by taking up membership of specific groups.
1.5 Competition and cooperation
Human nature dictates that individuals feel more attracted to groups with a high degree of cooperation between its members, as to groups who are in disagreement.
1.6 Clear goal
Individuals feels greatly attracted to groups with a clear goal. For example, membership of a golf club, motorcar club or a religious association.
1.7 Frequency of interaction
A higher frequency of interaction between group members enhances the attraction of the group for the members. “If the frequency of interaction between two or more persons increases, the degree of their liking for one another will increase, and vice versa.” G.C. Homans 1950.
1.8 An external threat
Experimental studies have shown that group cohesion greatly increases where the group is threatened or under attack from another group. This phenomena makes containing gang wars particularly difficult.
An interesting finding that where group members hardly new each other, but identified with the particular group, and identified with the perceived threat or attack from a rival group, the cohesion between the strangers was very strong.
1.9 Group size
Studies have shown that the cohesion between members of smaller groups are much greater than those of large groups.
1.10 Relationship with other groups
Group cohesion increases where the particular group gains recognition and approval from like minded other groups.
Factors that decreases group cohesion:
Group cohesion decreases where disagreements arise in a manner in which a group must resolve challenges.
2.2 Unpleasant experiences
In cases where an individual had an unpleasant experience or where the individual can not comply with the expectations of the group, group cohesion decreases.
2.3 Members being dominated by others
Where an individual feels that the group is dominated excessively by some member, membership of the group will become less attractive.
2.3 Other groups can provide for the needs
Where individuals do not get an opportunity for emotional discharging or displaying antagonistic feelings, the attraction of the group will decrease.
2.3 If the status of group membership is negatively perceived by others
In certain instances, very specifically group cohesion can decreased by society’s negative perspective thereof.
If conflict is unaffectedly suppressed or addressed it may result in an escalation thereof.
Hopefully this insight will allow you to build better groups and stronger teams.