Formal Groups: A designated work group defined by the organization’s structure. A formal group is set up by the organization to carry out work in support of the organization’s goals. Examples include: a book-keeping department, an executive committee.
Formal groups may be subdivided as:
Command Group: A command group consists of a manager and the employees who report to him or her. Thus, it is defined in terms of the organization’s hierarchy.
Task Group: A task group is made up of employees who work together to complete a particular task or project. A task group’s boundaries are not limited to its immediate hierarchical superior.
Committee: A group of people officially delegated to perform a function, such as investigating, considering, reporting, or acting on a matter.
Informal Groups: An organization’s informal groups are groups that evolve to meet social or affiliation needs by bringing people together based on shared interests or friendship. Thus, informal groups are alliances that are neither formally structured nor organizationally determined.
Informal Groups may be sub-divided as:
Friendship Groups: These groups develop because the individual members have one or more common characteristics.
Interest Groups: People who may or may not be aligned into common command or task groups may affiliate to attain a specific objective with which each is concerned. This is an interest group.
Leadership: Almost every work group has a formal leader. This leader can play an important role in the group’s success. He is appointed by management and can exercise legitimate sanctioned power.
Roles: A role is a set of activities expected of a person occupying a particular position within the group. It is a pattern of behavior that is expected of an individual when he interacts with others.
Norms: A norm is a rule of conduct that has been established by group members to maintain consistency in behavior.
Status: Status is a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others.
Size: The size of a group can have profound implications on how the group behaves internally and with regard to other groups.
Composition: Most group activities require a lot of skills and knowledge. In other words, heterogeneous groups would be more likely to have diverse abilities and information and should be more effective.
Brainstorming: It is a good technique for generating alternatives. The idea behind brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as possible, suspending evaluation until all of the ideas have been suggested.
Nominal Group Technique (NGT): This method permits the group to meet formally but does not restrict independent thinking. NGT is a good technique to use in a situation where group members fear criticism from others.
Delphi Technique: It was originated at the Rand Corporation to gather the judgements of experts for use in decision making. Experts at remote locations respond to a questionnaire. A coordinator summarizes the responses to the questionnaire, and the summary is sent back to the experts. The experts then rate the various alternatives gathered, and the coordinator tabulates the results. Unlike NGT, it does not require the physical presence of the group’s members.
4. Electronic Meetings: In this technique, issues are presented to participants and they type their responses onto their computer screen. Individual comments, as well as aggregate votes, are displayed on a projection screen. This method blends the NGT with sophisticated computer technology.
5. Devil’s Advocacy: In this method, an individual or a group is given the role of critic. The person or persons called the Devil’s advocate has the task of coming up with the potential problems related to a proposed decision. This helps organizations avoid costly mistakes in decision making by identifying potential pitfalls in advance.
6. Quality Circles and Quality Teams: ‘Quality circles’ are small groups that voluntarily meet to provide input for solving quality or production problems. ‘Quality teams’, in contrast, are included in total quality management and other quality improvement efforts as part of a change in the organization’s structure.
Problem-solving teams: These teams consists of groups of 5-10 employees from the same department, who meet for a few hours each week to discuss ways of improving quality, efficiency and the work environment.
Self-managed teams: These teams includes collective control over the pace of work, determination of work assignments, organization of breaks, and collective choice of inspection procedures.
Cross-functional teams: These teams are made up of employees from about the same hierarchical level, but from different work areas, who come together to accomplish a task. It may be again subdivided as:
i. Task Force: is nothing more than a temporary cross functional team.
ii. Committees: composed of groups made up of members from across departmental lines.