Dynamics of informal office groups

To better understand the dynamics of informal office groups, Michelle interviewed three individuals. Michelle approached one of these groups within her office and asked to interview the group’s untitled leader, as well as one of the groups’ members. Person A was the “leader” of the informal group of five women at the company. She had a strong personality, organizes out of office events, and usually handles most of the communication for the group. She had worked at the office the longest of the five women, which also gave her seniority within the office.

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Person B was the “group member” and is one of the five women within the office group of friends. She was in the highest-ranking position within the group, and worked long hours. She enjoyed the group, but did not take any initiative to plan events. She also had a family outside of the office, and enjoyed her time outside the office. The expert Michelle interviewed has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in a private practice. She provides professional treatments to patients who have workplace stress.

After interviewing each person about group and how they deal with conflict, Michelle revealed some interesting results. When conflicts arise some members of the group are often so clueless that they created the conflict in the first place. Once they are made aware of the situation, they feel bad and do anything they can to remedy the situation. For some women, the group of women is her main social outlet, yet others have different opinions of the group. Because this informal group is comprised of women in different departments with different responsibilities, conflict often arises.

Michelle explained how each woman, along with the expert deal with conflict and ways to avoid conflict in future situations. Communication, teamwork, defining roles and responsibilities, common personalities, compromise, support, and respect were all common themes from the group members and the expert. Rachel’s Experience The original reason that Rachel chose to take this class was also one of the reasons that she decided to take on the topic of group dynamics and conflict. After beginning to work in her first job, she quickly began to experience a situation with a co-worker that could only be defined as a personality conflict.

It was such an uncomfortable experience for her and her team mates that it caused her to want to learn more about effectively managing and resolving these types of situations. Furthermore, after receiving the syllabus and looking over some of the topics that we would be studying during the semester, the word conflict and the articles under the topic seemed the most interesting to her at the time. When the group met for the first time, it seemed that many of us had similar experiences with conflict. This led her to feel that her own discomfort with conflict was shared with the other members of my group.

For the interviews, Rachel chose members of a self-managed team that was within the same organization as her. She thought that this team would be interesting to compare with the workings of her own team, because it shared many of the same organizational structures and issues yet had a different manager. During her interviews with the members of this group, she found that they were the polar opposite of her team. Her interviewees had a much longer history of working together as a team, and were all much more established in their careers.

Furthermore, they had a manager that had much a much longer history of managing teams that created successful products. During the interviews, it was apparent that this long history of working together had created a group that worked well together. When asked about conflicts in the past, the interviewees could not think of any issues to bring up. The one experience they mentioned involved a new hire who did not work well with their group because she did not possess the same qualities that the other team members possessed.

It seemed that conflict did not arise because the team did not change often. There was a common group that could easily collaborate on decisions, and that often reached a consensus due to common goals developed through their long history of working together. Reflective Observation The Group Dynamics group is composed of members that are all highly motivated and determined to get the project done in a professional manner. Although each member had busy schedules of both work and study, they all agreed that regular meetings, throughout the semester, were of great importance.

Not only was this group successful in completing all requirements of project, they also incorporated insightful findings by going beyond and above the requirements. Individually, each group member had his or her own approach to the project. Mike appreciated the candor and quality of the group discussion. After reviewing his interview findings with the group, it was obvious that he was very open to suggestions and even took notes so that he could reflect more on the discussion later. Fellow group members mentioned that there seemed to be lack of collaboration between his interviewees in defining an overall vision and goals.

At the same time there seemed to be a lack of accountability and way too much autonomy. Mike reflected on his interviews and felt that since the two members had to discuss this problem with him it suggested a lack of transparency in the group and a non-working feedback mechanism. When the two members finally did discuss the problems with their PM, Mike elaborated that the PM was not supportive of their opinions due to accountability and performance issues. Similarly, Rachel also joined the group with an interesting interview. She was always willing to get done what needed to be done for our meetings.

Rachel was willing to lead when necessary or to go along with the decisions made by others. Rachel was a team player even though there were points when she was unsure of our project’s goal. Rachel openly expressed her confusion, questioning what we were attempting to do. Rachel shared her interview findings and the group agreed commonalities are important within any group. The group Rachel interviewed all had the same personality, goal, and way of doing business. Rachel discussed with our group the importance of commonalities and how successful her interviewee group was because of the many similarities.

From the beginning of the project, Ester was an active member of the group. She attended all meetings on time. Ester also initiated discussion of the group project’s proposal. As a member with solid working experiences on group project, Ester was particularly helpful in the group meetings by sharing her own experiences with other members of the group. Ester volunteered to put members’ inputs into document and to submit the proposal form to instructor. One of the key contributions she provided was her constructive feedback in generating interview question list and determining group’s final study topic.

In general, Ester was both consistent and accountable. Ester interviewed three individuals, who had previous experiences in virtual groups. Her findings from the interview were important to the project. It was obvious that Michelle wanted to learn more about group dynamics. She had many specific examples as to why she needs to learn more in this area. By working within her family’s business, she has to deal with formal and informal groups all day long. She was excited to report her findings and what she had learned from the experience.

Michelle not only explained what her interviewees had said, but also explained why she felt they way she did while she was interviewing. Michelle reflected on her interviewees. She gave several examples with her theories and suggestions for not only the group, but also ways for Michelle to deal with the groups. After Michelle explained her findings, she listened to the other group member’s reports. She asked questions and took notes. Michelle felt engaged in the group project and was actively participating within the group. At several points, the group became confused on the overall focus of the project.

Michelle was confused as well, but tried to remain focused and figure out a solution. Overall the group did as best they could with the vague project guidelines they were initially presented with. A neutral observer would have noticed four willing students who wanted to learn about group dynamics. Each had their own personal issues with group dynamics and wanted to find better ways to deal with group conflict. Each group member took a different type of group and interviewed a group member, a group leader and an expert. The neutral observer would have seen how each group member relayed his or her own findings to the group.

Each interview provided different topics relating to conflict within group dynamics. Ideas and opinions were shared and each group member provided thoughts on their topics, as well as others. They would have also noticed how the other group members actively provided insight to the interviews and shared the common themes they noticed for each interview. Lastly, the neutral observer would have seen the confusion the group experienced regarding the expectations of the project. After receiving several emails regarding the project expectations, the group was thoroughly confused.

The neutral observer would have watched the group work through the confusion in hopes of putting together a well thought out project where each group member learned several new things in regards to solving conflict in group dynamics. Abstract Conceptualization For the problem presented by Ester’s interview, the article we found to be helpful was “Conflict Resolution in Virtual Teams” (Shin 2005). In this article, Shin identified several sources of conflict in virtual teams. In Ester’s interview, she found both spatial dispersion and culture dispersion between the two members of the group.

The author also developed conflict resolution system and suggested ways of training conflict resolution skills for virtual teams. In order to prevent conflict from happening, a trustworthy culture needed to be created. VNS (Virtual Negotiation System) was recommended to solve conflicts. In the case of the translation time conflict that mentioned above, the manager should have engaged “reframing and prioritizing issues” stage with the frustrated group member. Instead, due to culture dispersion, the manager did not pay enough attention to the time concern of the group member.

Had they re-prioritized their other tasks and added extra hands, the translation time could have been enough and a mistake could have been avoided. For our group project, we found effective communication tactics discussed by Fussel et al. (1998) to be useful. To ensure a positive group dynamics, team members need to coordinate through communication without becoming overload. Our group project accomplished our desired learning outcomes by making sure we had effective communication. Our group met early to get to know each other right after we were assigned to the same group.

This not only helped on building up trust among group members, but also created awareness of what other team members to build up trust. Throughout the project, we managed to have three face-to-face meetings, some phone calls, and numerous email exchanges. These communication techniques helped maintain awareness of what other members were doing and every member’s individual tasks. On the other hand, we also realized the trade-offs between awareness and overload. Given the fact that all four of us were working full time and had busy schedules, most of our communication was asynchronous (emails).

Since we could fit email information into our task schedules, a lot of email exchanges did not cause serious overload while maintained our awareness throughout the process. In order to discuss our perspectives and interviews it was determined that we should define how to participate in the group and what mechanism should be used to provide feedback to each other. Since the processes defined in “active listening” (Rogers et al. ) seemed to be the obvious way to communicate we began to use it as a way to facilitate our discussion. Each member would present their findings with group discussions commencing afterward.

During the discussion each person would respond to the presenter’s material by highlighting what he or she felt and interpreted. This tested for understanding amongst the group. Once we agreed to the meaning of the message we would then place our findings on the white board. This allowed us to define the organizations that we had just learned about and what their differences and similarities were. Once this task was completed we could begin developing models to further and define possible solutions to introduce to our various groups.