Small Group Communication


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Small Group Communication

  1. 1. Small Group Communication A Presentation by Rajiv Bajaj
  2. 2. Definition of a Small Group <ul><li>Has 3 Characteristics – Size, Interaction & Goals </li></ul><ul><li>SIZE </li></ul><ul><li>Most researchers define a small group as having at least 3 and no more than 12 or 15 members </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to have at least 3 members, otherwise it would simply be a dyad </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>With 3 members, coalitions can be formed and some kind of organization is present </li></ul><ul><li>Too large a group (more than 12 or 15 members) inhibits group members' ability to communicate with everyone else in the group </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>INTERACTION </li></ul><ul><li>Group's members must be able to communicate freely and openly with all of the other members of the group </li></ul><ul><li>Groups will develop norms about discussion and group members will develop roles which will affect the group's interaction </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>GOALS </li></ul><ul><li>A group must have a common purpose or goal and they must work together to achieve that goal </li></ul><ul><li>The goal brings the group together and holds it together through conflict and tension </li></ul>
  6. 6. Use & Value of Small Groups <ul><li>68% of Fortune 1000 companies use self-managing or high-performance teams </li></ul><ul><li>Average supervisor spends around 40% of the workweek in meetings & conferences. An average executive spends almost 700 hours a year in meetings ! </li></ul><ul><li>Most large companies attribute major cost savings to solutions provided by such working-groups or Quality Circles </li></ul>
  7. 7. Why do people join a group? <ul><li>GROUP SYNERGY </li></ul><ul><li>Refers to the idea that two heads (or more) are better than one; OR </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,&quot; which also refers to group synergy </li></ul><ul><li>Groups are often capable of producing higher quality work and better decisions than can an individual working alone </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>SUPPORT & COMMITMENT </li></ul><ul><li>Group may be more willing to take on a large project than would an individual </li></ul><ul><li>With increased ability to perform work, group can provide encouragement and support to its members while working on a big project </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>INTERPERSONAL NEEDS </li></ul><ul><li>Individuals often join a group to meet their interpersonal needs </li></ul><ul><li>William Schutz has identified three such needs: Inclusion, Control, and Affection </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusion is the need to establish identity with others – the need to be accepted by others </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Control is the need to exercise leadership and prove one's abilities. Groups provide outlets for this need </li></ul><ul><li>Some individuals do not want to be leaders. For them, groups provide the necessary control over aspects of their lives </li></ul><ul><li>Affection is the need to develop relationships with people. Groups are an excellent way to make friends and establish relationships </li></ul>
  11. 11. Types of Small Groups <ul><li>Groups form to accomplish some objective </li></ul><ul><li>Objective may be to complete some kind of task or it may be to promote interpersonal relationships between group members </li></ul><ul><li>Many groups, however, fulfill both of these functions </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>SOCIAL GROUPS </li></ul><ul><li>While all groups will have both social and task dimensions, some groups are predominantly social in their orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of these groups would be families and social clubs </li></ul><ul><li>These provide for our safety & solidarity needs and they help us develop self-esteem </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>WORK GROUPS </li></ul><ul><li>Work groups function to complete a particular task </li></ul><ul><li>The task dimension is emphasized. Group members pool their expertise to accomplish the task </li></ul><ul><li>Examples - Workplaces, Campus Organizations, or Juries etc. </li></ul><ul><li>As per Ivan Steiner, there are several types of Work Groups </li></ul>
  14. 14. Types of Work Groups <ul><li>ADDITIVE WORK GROUPS </li></ul><ul><li>All group members perform the same activity and pool their results at the end </li></ul><ul><li>An example of this would be gathering signatures for a petition drive or mobilizing support for a particular cause </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>CONJUNCTIVE WORK GROUP </li></ul><ul><li>Members perform different, but related, tasks that allow for completion of a goal </li></ul><ul><li>Every group member must complete their individual task in order for the group task to be completed </li></ul><ul><li>Example of this would be an assembly line, in which each worker performs tasks that together build a completed car </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>DISJUNCTIVE TASK </li></ul><ul><li>Members meet to determine the best alternative for a problem or issue </li></ul><ul><li>There are two types of disjunctive tasks: </li></ul><ul><li>Judgment Task: Group members must choose one correct answer from all alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Decision-Making Task: Group members must choose best alternative from a set of options. There is no one correct answer for a decision-making group </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>CONTRIVED OR EMERGENT GROUPS </li></ul><ul><li>Some groups form spontaneously , such as a group of friends </li></ul><ul><li>Other groups are contrived , that is, they are formed for a specific purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Organized clubs, social groups, or committees are contrived groups </li></ul>
  18. 18. Small Group Development <ul><li>Researchers have studied groups to understand how they develop </li></ul><ul><li>Several different models have been suggested, but they all tend to follow a similar progression </li></ul><ul><li>LINEAR MODELS OF GROUP DEVELOPMENT </li></ul><ul><li>The most common models include Tubb’s Theory, Fisher’s Model & Tuckman’s Model </li></ul>
  19. 19. Tubbs's Small Group Development Theory <ul><li>1. Orientation 2. Conflict 3. Consensus 4. Closure </li></ul><ul><li>Orientation - Group members get to know each other, start to talk about the problem, examine the limitations & opportunities of the project </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict - A necessary part of a group's development. Allows the group to evaluate ideas and helps them avoid conformity & groupthink </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Consensus - Conflict ends in the consensus stage, when group members compromise, select ideas & agree on alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Closure - The final result is announced and group members reaffirm their support of the decision </li></ul>
  21. 21. Fisher's Small Group Development Theory <ul><li>1. Orientation 2. Conflict 3. Emergence 4. Reinforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Orientation - Group members get to know each other & experience primary tension – the awkward feeling people have before communication rules & expectations are established </li></ul><ul><li>Groups should take time to learn about each other and feel comfortable communicating around new people </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Conflict - This phase is marked by secondary tension, or tension surrounding the task at hand </li></ul><ul><li>Group members will disagree with each other and debate ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that conflict is good, because it helps the group achieve positive results </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Emergence - Outcome of the group's task and its social structure become apparent </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforcement - Group members bolster their final decision by using supportive verbal and nonverbal communication </li></ul>
  24. 24. Tuckman's Small Group Development Theory <ul><li>1. Forming 2. Storming 3. Norming 4. Performing 5. Adjourning </li></ul><ul><li>Forming - Group members learn about each other and the task at hand </li></ul><ul><li>Storming - As group members become more comfortable with each other, they will engage each other in arguments and vie for status in the group. These activities mark the storming phase </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Norming - Group members establish implicit or explicit rules about how they will achieve their goal </li></ul><ul><li>They address the types of communication that will or will not help with the task </li></ul><ul><li>Performing - Groups reach a conclusion and implement the conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Adjourning - As the group project ends, the group disbands in the adjournment phase </li></ul>
  26. 26. Poole's Small Group Development Theory <ul><li>1. Task Track 2. Topic Track 3. Relation Track 4. Breakpoint </li></ul><ul><li>Marshall Scott Poole & his colleagues have found that group development is often more complicated than the 3 previous models indicate </li></ul><ul><li>He has argued that groups jump back & forth between three tracks – task , topic, and relation </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>The three tracks can be compared to the intertwined strands of a rope </li></ul><ul><li>Task Track - Concerns the process by which the group accomplishes its goals </li></ul><ul><li>Topic Track - Concerns the specific item the group is discussing at the time </li></ul><ul><li>Relation Track - Deals with the interpersonal relationships between group members </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>At times, the group may stop its work on the task and work instead on its relationships </li></ul><ul><li>When the group reaches consensus on all three tracks at once, it can proceed in a more unified manner as the 3 previous models illustrate </li></ul><ul><li>Breakpoints - These occur when a group switches from one track to another </li></ul><ul><li>Shifts in the conversation, adjournment, or postponement are examples of breakpoints </li></ul>
  29. 29. Decision Making <ul><li>REFLECTIVE THINKING & STANDARD AGENDA </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by John Dewey, reflective thinking involves a careful, systematic approach to a problem </li></ul><ul><li>Groups who use reflective thinking to make their decisions use a six-step guide called the &quot;standard agenda&quot;. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>1. Problem identification - What is the problem? What is wrong with the current situation? </li></ul><ul><li>2. Problem analysis - View the current situation as a balance between restraining forces and helping forces. What are the forces in play in your group's situation? </li></ul><ul><li>3. Criteria selection - What are the goals of the final decision? </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>4. Solution generation - Generate as many solutions as possible. Avoid groupthink by listing many solutions </li></ul><ul><li>5. Solution evaluation and selection - Measure each solution against the criteria from step three </li></ul><ul><li>6. Solution implementation - Enact the chosen solution </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>BRAINSTORMING </li></ul><ul><li>Another option for decision-making </li></ul><ul><li>Group members encouraged to generate as many ideas about a particular topic as they can </li></ul><ul><li>For instance, group members may use brainstorming to generate as many solutions as they can in step four of the standard agenda </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>Group members should be encouraged to say anything that comes to mind when brainstorming </li></ul><ul><li>Every idea is written down and judgments about ideas are saved until later , when the group returns to all of the ideas and selects those that are most useful </li></ul><ul><li>NOMINAL GROUP TECHNIQUE </li></ul><ul><li>A group decision-making tool used when the group must rank order a set of options </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>In order to use this technique, group members work individually to list all alternatives to a problem or issue </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes, this technique is used after a brainstorming session is held </li></ul><ul><li>Then, the group facilitator asks each group member to individually rank all options from lowest to highest priority </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>Finally, the facilitator computes an average score for each idea </li></ul><ul><li>The lowest score is the highest priority for the group </li></ul><ul><li>Nominal group technique is a good way to have all of the group members voice their opinions and discussion is not dominated by a few vocal group members </li></ul>
  36. 36. Final Decision Making <ul><li>Many ways that a group can make a final decision, decide on a solution, or come to agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Most popular ways of making the decision include – </li></ul><ul><li>Consensus : Group members all agree on the final decision through discussion and debate </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>Compromise : Through discussion & readjustment of the final plan, group members come to agreement by giving up some of their demands </li></ul><ul><li>Majority Vote : Decision based on the opinion of the majority of its members </li></ul><ul><li>Decision by Leader - The group gives the final decision to its leader </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitration : An external body or person makes a decision for the group </li></ul>
  38. 38. Groupthink <ul><li>Groupthink concept identified by Irving Janis that refers to faulty decision-making in a group </li></ul><ul><li>Groups experiencing groupthink do not consider all alternatives and they desire unanimity at the expense of quality decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Occurs when groups are highly cohesive and when under considerable pressure to make a quality decision </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>Negative outcomes of groupthink include : </li></ul><ul><li>Examining few alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Not being critical of each other's ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Not examining early alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Not seeking expert opinion </li></ul><ul><li>Being highly selective in gathering information </li></ul><ul><li>Not having contingency plans </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>Some symptoms of groupthink are : </li></ul><ul><li>Having an illusion of invulnerability </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalizing poor decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Believing in the group's morality </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing stereotypes which guide the decision </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>Exercising direct pressure on others </li></ul><ul><li>Not expressing your true feelings </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining an illusion of unanimity </li></ul><ul><li>Using mindguards to protect the group from negative information </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>Some solutions include : </li></ul><ul><li>Using a policy-forming group which reports to the larger group </li></ul><ul><li>Having leaders remain impartial </li></ul><ul><li>Using different policy groups for different tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Dividing into sub-groups and then discuss differences </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>Discussing within sub-groups and then report back </li></ul><ul><li>Using outside experts </li></ul><ul><li>Using a Devil's advocate to question all the group's ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Holding a &quot;second-chance meeting&quot; to offer one last opportunity to choose another course of action </li></ul>
  44. 44. Leadership <ul><li>Leadership is concerned with control and power in a group </li></ul><ul><li>Can be aimed at either maintaining the interpersonal relationships in the group or prodding the group to achieve its task </li></ul><ul><li>Groups will sometimes have two leaders - one for the social dimension and one for the task dimension </li></ul><ul><li>The three main perspectives on leadership are - </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>First - Some people are born with traits that will make them a good leader </li></ul><ul><li>Second - The group's leader selects an appropriate leadership style for the given task </li></ul><ul><li>Third - To some degree, leaders are born with traits that make them good leaders, but that they also learn how to become a leader and use strategies appropriate to a given situation </li></ul>
  46. 46. Good Leaders Are Born <ul><li>This approach says that people are born with traits that make them effective leaders </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge for the group is to find a person with these traits </li></ul>
  47. 47. One-Best-Style <ul><li>This approach says that in a given situation, one particular style of leadership is most effective </li></ul><ul><li>There are four main styles - </li></ul><ul><li>Autocratic : Leader uses his or her authority to make decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic : Authority is shared and all group members help make decisions </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>Laissez-faire : A &quot;hands-off&quot; style in which the leader allows the group to make its own decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Abdacratic : No one in the group exercises leadership. This style, says researchers, leads to group disintegration and is followed by autocratic leadership </li></ul>
  49. 49. Contextual <ul><li>This approach says that leaders are to some degree born with leadership traits </li></ul><ul><li>But the situation, personalities of other group members, pressures on the group, and group norms also determine leadership </li></ul>
  50. 50. Roles in Groups <ul><li>Task-Oriented Roles – </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers Benne & Sheats identified several roles which relate to the completion of the group's task: </li></ul><ul><li>Initiator-contributor : Generates new ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Information-seeker : Asks for information about the task </li></ul>
  51. 51. <ul><li>Opinion-seeker : Asks for the input from the group about its values </li></ul><ul><li>Information-giver : Offers facts or generalization to the group </li></ul><ul><li>Opinion-giver : States his or her beliefs about a group issue </li></ul>
  52. 52. <ul><li>Elaborator : Explains ideas within the group, offers examples to clarify ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinator : Shows the relationships between ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Orienter : Shifts the direction of the group's discussion </li></ul>
  53. 53. <ul><li>Evaluator-critic : Measures group's actions against some objective standard </li></ul><ul><li>Energizer : Stimulates the group to a higher level of activity </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural-technician : Performs logistical functions for the group </li></ul><ul><li>Recorder : Keeps a record of group actions </li></ul>
  54. 54. <ul><li>Social Roles – </li></ul><ul><li>Encourager : Praises the ideas of others </li></ul><ul><li>Harmonizer : Mediates differences between group members </li></ul><ul><li>Compromiser : Moves group to another position that is favored by all group members </li></ul><ul><li>Gatekeeper / expediter : Keeps communication channels open </li></ul>
  55. 55. <ul><li>Standard Setter : Suggests standards or criteria for the group to achieve </li></ul><ul><li>Group observer : Keeps records of group activities and uses this information to offer feedback to the group </li></ul><ul><li>Follower : Goes along with the group and accepts the group's ideas </li></ul>
  56. 56. <ul><li>Individualistic Roles – </li></ul><ul><li>Aggressor : Attacks other group members, deflates the status of others, and other aggressive behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Blocker : Resists movement by the group </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition seeker : Calls attention to himself or herself </li></ul>
  57. 57. <ul><li>Self-confessor : Seeks to disclose non-group related feelings or opinions </li></ul><ul><li>Dominator : Asserts control over the group by manipulating other group members </li></ul><ul><li>Help seeker : Tries to gain the sympathy of the group </li></ul><ul><li>Special interest pleader : Uses stereotypes to assert his or her own prejudices </li></ul>
  58. 58. Conflict In Groups <ul><li>Conflict can be good for a group if it is managed appropriately </li></ul><ul><li>By airing differences, group members can produce quality decisions and satisfying interpersonal relationships </li></ul><ul><li>The first step in managing conflict is to identify the conflict </li></ul>
  59. 59. <ul><li>1. Do the group members know that a conflict exists? </li></ul><ul><li>2. Are the group members arguing over competing goals ? </li></ul><ul><li>3. Are scarce resources at stake? </li></ul><ul><li>4. Are the group members dependent on each other to solve the conflict? </li></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>Styles of Conflict Management – </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers Ruble & Thomas have identified 5 styles for managing conflict </li></ul><ul><li>The styles can be charted on 2 dimensions: assertiveness and cooperativeness </li></ul><ul><li>The five styles are – </li></ul>
  61. 61. <ul><li>Competitive : High in assertiveness, low in cooperativeness. Competitive people want to win the conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Accommodative : Low in assertiveness and high in cooperativeness. These group members are easy going and willing to follow the group </li></ul><ul><li>Avoiding : Low in assertiveness, low in cooperativeness. Avoiding people are detached and indifferent to conflict </li></ul>
  62. 62. <ul><li>Collaborative : High assertiveness, high in cooperativeness. These group members are active and productive problem solvers </li></ul><ul><li>Compromising : moderate in assertiveness, moderate in cooperativeness. Compromisers are willing to &quot;give and take&quot; to resolve conflict </li></ul>
  63. 63. <ul><li>Defensive Climate – </li></ul><ul><li>The climate in which conflict is managed is important. Groups should avoid a defensive climate , which is characterized by these qualities: </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation : Judging and criticizing other group members </li></ul><ul><li>Control : Imposing the will of one group member on the others </li></ul>
  64. 64. <ul><li>Strategy : Using hidden agendas </li></ul><ul><li>Neutrality : Demonstrating indifference and lack of commitment </li></ul><ul><li>Superiority : Expressing dominance </li></ul><ul><li>Certainty : being rigid in one's willingness to listen to others </li></ul>
  65. 65. <ul><li>Supportive Climate – </li></ul><ul><li>Groups should foster a supportive climate , marked by these traits: </li></ul><ul><li>Description : Presenting ideas or opinions </li></ul><ul><li>Problem Orientation : focusing attention on the task </li></ul><ul><li>Spontaneity : Communicating openly and honestly </li></ul>
  66. 66. <ul><li>Empathy : Understanding another person's thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Equality : Asking for opinions </li></ul><ul><li>Provisionalism : Expressing a willingness to listen to the ideas of others </li></ul>
  67. 67. Group Formats <ul><li>1. Roundtable – A small group discussion conducted in private by means of the Basic Problem Solving procedure </li></ul><ul><li>2. Panel Discussion – Involves a small group of well-informed individuals discussing a problem or topic of interest in front of a larger group </li></ul><ul><li>All panel members contribute freely & equally, and are usually guided through the problem-solving procedure by a leader or chairperson </li></ul>
  68. 68. <ul><li>3. Symposium – Composed of a small group of experts, also in front of a larger group. Instead of free exchange of ideas, each member presents a formal, 5 to 10 minute presentation on an area of the problem relating to member’s expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Chairperson introduces each presentation. When all presentations are finished, speakers may choose to discuss (agree / disagree with) the formal ideas presented by each speaker; or </li></ul><ul><li>Continue the discussion using basic problem-solving process </li></ul>
  69. 69. <ul><li>4. Forum – When those present are allowed to participate following a panel discussion or symposium discussion, the discussion is called a Forum </li></ul><ul><li>May involve a simple question & answer period, a general discussion, or organised buzz groups </li></ul><ul><li>Selecting the right group format will depend on number of participants, complexity of the problem, and the time available </li></ul>
  70. 70. QUESTIONS ? T H A N K Y O U