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Although people may work or perform other roles individually, there comes a time when they have to cooperate with other individuals. Groups are a common phenomenon not only in workplaces but also in other areas of life. For groups to function effectively, certain conditions must prevail. Group process determines the way individual members of a group are able to contribute to the overall goal of a group.
It actually refers to development and changes in relationship among members of a group and therefore dictates how well the members are able to work together. Workgroups cannot be avoided in today’s global economy.
The way workgroups members are able to coordinate towards an organization’s goals and objectives contribute highly to the organization’s performance. In this essay I will analyze my observations on a group in a work setting. I observed Bank of America Philadelphia branch employees in one of their weekly meetings.
Definition of a Group
Group is a commonly used term. This makes it problematic to define. Many definitions of a group try to set out the difference between a group and a team. A group is mostly defined as a collection of individuals with common characteristics such as workers in a particular department in an organization (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2008, p. 17).
In comparison to a team, a group has relatively larger number of members and it’s easier to form. In context to Bank of Africa Philadelphia branch, the group consisted of operations employees at the branch. Membership in the group is as a result of being Bank of America employee and working at the branch. Members were brought together not by their complementary roles but their individual responsibility to the bank.
Operation Staff Group
The group meeting is a weekly meeting held every Monday from 9:15 AM. The meetings usually last for about 45 minutes therefore ending at 10:00 AM or some minutes after. The particular meeting that I observed was hosted by the branch operations manager. The manager usually attends the Monday meeting at least twice in month. The operations manager chairs the meeting when she attends.
Other participants in the meeting were the branch’s operations staff that includes underwriters, processors and closers. The main objective of the meeting was reviewing performance in the previous week and setting the objectives for the starting week. Although the meeting was formal there was high interaction among members, indicating that the group was in an advanced stage of group formation.
Leadership is an important factor in group process (Wheelan, 1994, p. 57). In the meeting, the operations manager’s leadership was overt. The rectangular sitting arrangement set her apart from the other members of the group. Apart from the sitting arrangement, the manager’s sense of authority was obvious from her tone and the way she related with other members.
The manager started the meeting by welcoming and thanking everyone for attending the meeting. She appreciated the staff’s hard work during the previous week. She noted that the branch’s success was a contribution of all members of staff.
Apart from recognizing overall contribution, she appreciated members of staff that had gone over and above call of duty in the previous week. By recognizing overall and individual contribution to the bank, the manager gave the participants a sense of belonging. The manager was able to highlight the common objectives that brought the group members together.
A group has common characteristics or objectives that bring them together. Although a group is defined above just as a collection of individuals with common characteristics, it takes time for group members to work together effectively. Different groups have different expectations and experience, but four stages of group development are observed in most groups.
The stages consist of forming, storming, norming and performing (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2008, p. 37). Other authors recognize a fifth stage of development: Mourning. Forming is the initial stage of group development. At this stage individual members come together in order to make a group. After formation a group enters the second stage of formation referred to as storming.
This is the most challenging stage where group members may face crisis before they settle. Norming is the group formation stage indicating a process towards settling. In this stage group members identify their leaders, duties for every member and rules and regulations that would guide the group. Norming stage gives way to performance stage which indicates maturity of a group (Wheelan, 1994, p. 111-113).
The operations staff group could be said to be at performance stage of group formation. Members of the groups were observed to be comfortable in the group. They had a sense of belonging to the group as indicated by their level of enthusiasm. All members had taken their seats by 9:15 AM and were enjoying light talk before the meeting started.
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The members were at ease with one another and there seemed to be no conflict among them. There was active participation from all group members during the meeting. When invited for suggestions, members contributed in calm and friendly manner. Leadership role of the manager was felt and respected. Although group members felt free to put forward their suggestions, they respected the final verdict of the operations manager.
A work group needs to be strongly unified in order to meet its objectives. Since group members may have different interests and world views, there must be some factors that lead to group cohesion. Cohesion refers to the bond that unifies and enhances members’ commitment to the group. Group cohesion seemed to be high in the operations staff group. No splits or subgroups were observed.
All members seemed enthusiastic and identified with the group. Various factors could explain the high level of cohesion in the group. Existence of good communicating within the group is one of the unifying factors. The members were informed about progress and expectation in workplace.
Members were as well invited to express their suggestions. The Manager’s leadership style was the other major factor to the high group cohesion (Wheelan, 1994, p. 63). The manager was consultative in all decisions.
Although she maintained the final say on decisions, she invited and paid attention to suggestions from other group members. Decisions were viewed not as manager’s decisions but as group decisions. In addition, the manager would delegate duties to other group members. For instance in the meeting the manager invited volunteers to research on training needs and other topics of interest to the group.
Workgroup is an important tool in management today. Individuals have to work together towards an organization’s common goals and objectives. Group process in a particular group determines its success or failure. It determines relationship among group members and the way the members contribute to the group’s objectives.
The Bank of America Philadelphia branch operations staff group that I observed is a mature group. The group is at performance stage of group formation. High group cohesion and good leadership and communication were observed in the group.
Corey, M., Corey, G. & Corey, C. (2008). Group: Process and Practice. New York: Cengage Learning.
Wheelan, S. (1994). Group Processes: A Developmental Perspective. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.