TERM PAPER NUMBER FOUR: DECISION MAKING IN GROUPS AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION by (Christopher Ruper) February 24, 2010 Argosy University PSY320 Industrial and Organizational Psychology
INTRODUCTION As a consultant hired by Celia Jane, a furniture design firm, one would be asked to helpimprove the company’s productivity. This paper is concerned with the effectiveness of thecompany’s group work program and improving the program in order to become more productive.The advantages and disadvantages of group work will be weighed against one another in order todraw conclusions about which is more effective. Suggestions will also be made in order toimprove group work and be more productive. Ineffective Decision Making and Productivity Ineffective decision making in groups can lead to many consequences including lowerproductivity, which is very important. Work groups will face work that they need to get done;they also can face challenges that can prevent them from doing the work they are trying toaccomplish. When something prevents the employees from doing their work the organizationwill suffer the losses. It is important for owners, who use group work, to see the potential hazardsof using a group work system. Some group hazards include: Social loafing- This is when one or more members of a group decrease their contribution to group work and force the other members to pick up the slack. They can also work more slowly than the other members, causing the others to work faster than normal. This usually happens when all group members get paid the same amount regardless of the workers output. Social loafing can cause low productivity because the work might not get done on time, the good workers can be over worked, which can cause low morale and low quality of work from the good workers on the next group project. It is also called “free riding” when an employee does little to no work to help the group and still gets the same reward. Production blocking- This is when group members get into each other’s way and prevents the group as a whole from accomplishing tasks. When this occurs hardly any production can be accomplished. Group-maintenance activities- These activities can help preserve the group’s functions and solve disputes. However, taking time to minimize conflicts takes away from group activities, which effects the production of the group. This is also called process loss. Groupthink – Thinking as a group can be a good thing. However, when members are reluctant to accept outside information and become poor decision makers or even worse, than the company will suffer production losses.
These group hazards are important to understand and look out for when a company islooking to incorporate the use of work groups. These hazards can cause major problems inproduction and sometimes even worse results for the company. Being aware and looking out forthese hazards are important in maximizing production. Designing groups that work well togetheris also a way to stop them from forming in a group. Determining the Stage It is important for an owner using a work group system to understand the stages of groupdevelopment. It is also important to know what stage each of the groups is currently in, so thatthey can be moved along to the next more efficiently. Using the five-stage model will make iteasy to determine what stage a particular group is in.The Five-Stage Model (Argosy University Online, 2010): Stage 1: Forming - Group members get to know one another. - They identify how they should act. - However, they may not yet think of themselves as a group. Stage 2: Storming - There is a high degree of conflict. - Group members may resist any control exerted by the group’s leaders. - The group is not complete until conflicts are resolved. Stage 3: Norming - The group becomes more cohesive. - The members identify with the group. Stage 4: Performing - The group is ready to work. - Group relations improve and there is an acceptance of leadership. Stage 5: Adjourning - The group may cease to exist because the group members have met their goals. - The adjourning may be gradual with the members leaving or norms no longer being effective.
Finding which stage a work group is in is important to making further decisions about agroup. The work group needs to be prepared for a task rather than under prepared. If a workgroup is under prepared then their production will suffer. The group must also become familiarand cohesive with one another before they are ready to perform. A company must make sure thatthey reach the performing stage as soon as possible so that the group becomes more productivefaster. Suggestions A professional consultant would make the following suggestions to a company whowants to use work groups. Although there are many drawbacks to using work groups to increaseproduction, there are also ways to use it to an advantage. Doing so will create more productionout of one’s workers which means more production for the company. Ways to maximizeproductivity of work groups include: working in small groups, setting group goals, improvingcommunication, selection of group members, brainstorming, and constructing cohesive groups. Using smaller work groups can increase production, they are less impacted by productionblocking with fewer members, social loafing is also less prominent in small groups becauseindividual work is more identifiable, and they are usually more productive than larger groups.Setting specific and difficult group goals, along with rewards, can also improve production.When rewards are used properly, either distributed evenly to the whole group or distributedbased on individual performance, this too can increase the group’s productivity. Making sure thegroup has effective communication is very important to overall production output of a workgroup. Either establishing a chain of command, where one person talks to the next person andthen the second person communicates to a third person or some other communication structurewill increase the productivity of the group. The selecting of group members is also important to agroup’s overall productivity. Combining the right abilities and personalities as well as trainingthem effectively is important to achieving more productivity in groups. When selecting the rightmembers for groups it is also important to know the strengths of the group members and assignthem an effective leader; these leaders should also have the power to give out tasks to the othergroup members. Brainstorming can be an effective group tool when creative ideas or solutions are soughtafter. “The basic rules in brainstorming sessions are: (a) No idea is too far out; (b) criticism ofany idea is not allowed; (c) the more ideas the better; and (d) members should try to build oneach other’s ideas” (Argosy University Online, 2010). Electronic brainstorming is a new andmore effective version of brainstorming. This has the group members on computers and has thegroup members communicating ideas through a computer network to each other. This eliminatessome of the processes that hinder the group’s ability to create new ideas. Cohesive work groups are the most productive work groups. Cohesive groups aresomething a company with work groups should seek to have. These are groups where themembers are attracted to one another and want to stay together. These groups have members thatshare interests, attitudes, and values; agree on group goals; have frequent interactions; and whoare small. Cohesive groups will become more cohesive if they receive rewards as a group. Theserewards include the group receiving favorable evaluations, the group feeling threatened by
another group, or being isolated and share a common fate. Since cohesive groups can think alikeand be very influential work can get done more efficiently. However groupthink can become aproblem in a cohesive group and this should be closely monitored by the group. Conclusion Creating a work group environment can help improve a company’s production. One mustexecute and maintain this system in the right fashion, such as watching out for and correcting thehazards if they come up. Otherwise a company will be faced with receiving production lossesinstead of production maximization. There may also be other ways to increase productionwithout implementing work groups such as using machines to assemble furniture or increase thecompanies advertizing. All possible ways to increase production must be looked at in order tosee which gives the most gain for the least amount of money. Knowing ones products andcustomers can help a person devise new way to increase production.
ReferenceArgosy University Online (2010). Industrial/Organizational Psychology Lecture Notes. Retrieved on February 24, 2010 from http://www.myeclassonline.com.Riggio, R.E. (2007). Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology (5th Ed.). (Online) URL http://www.argosy.edu Module 7