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Group work has become very common not only in learning environment but also among workers in organizations. The common believe is that working in a group is more productive than working alone. Institutions emphasize on group and team work and invest heavily in team building among their members. Formation process of a group may determine its success. Tuckman & Jensen (1977) suggests that a successful group should be formed stepwise following stages like forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
Advantages of working in a group
Firstly, working in a group fosters an environment for learning since the individuals can learn from the experiences and expertise of each other. They learn different ways of approaching issues from his colleagues (Duch, 2000). Managers working in groups get more insight in solving problems as they interact with each other.
Another advantage is synergy creation i.e. group decisions tend to create synergy that combines and improves on the knowledge of the group to make decisions of high quality than the sum of individual decisions. This synergy results when each individual brings additional knowledge and skills to the decisions.
It also ensures that tasks are completed within the fastest time because duties are shared depending on the capability of a person in accomplishing a certain task (Traker, n. d.) As people possess different skills and capabilities, group work enhances the sharing of ideas and this has the effect of ensuring that best results are attained. Decisions made are also well thought out.
Creativity is enhanced as a result of working in groups because the diversity in culture, behaviours and attitude enables the members to become more innovative in dealing with difficult tasks.
Group work leads to the acceptance of decisions made as opposed to individual decisions because group decision making reflects acceptance. Group work also reduces the chances of intrapersonal conflicts i.e. conflicts that arise within an individual mainly about what is right and what is wrong (Belbin, 1981). Deciding the right things to do in certain situations as an individual can be quite stressful.
Group work ensures that members participate well unlike in working as individuals whereby employees can decide to sabotage work. An individual may decide not to work as effectively as would be considered reasonable and attempt not to get even the targets as opposed to a group situation (Traker, n. d.).
Also, the members of a group ensure that the resources are shared well and that there is no misuse of organizational resources for personal use.
Disadvantages of working in a group
Working in a group implies longer time frame than working as individuals because groups generally need more time to make decisions than individuals because a group has to exchange information among many individuals so as to obtain a consensus.
The decisions that are made while working in a group tends to be more extreme i.e. they are a bit riskier because no single person would be willing to shoulder the consequences of the decisions.
Also individual expertise is ignored while working in group and the group members may opt for group consensus instead.
Working in a group enhances decision making in an organization as opposed to working as an individual in which case there is information deficiency. The resources of the organization are shared and this minimizes the costs.
Belbin, M., 1981. Management Teams, Why they Succeed or Fail. Heinneman: London.
Duch, B., 2000. Working in Groups. USA: University of Delaware. Available at: http://www.physics.udel.edu/~watson/scen103/colloq2000/workingingroups.html
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Traker, H.B., n. d. Social Group Work: Principles and Practice. New York: Association Press N.Y.
Tuckman, B. W. & Jensen, M. A., 1977. Stages of small-group development revisited. Group Org. Studies, vol 2. pp. 419-27.