Strategies for improving group dynamics

21/10/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Team dynamics are critical for your organization’s success. Without positive team dynamics, you can’t fully leverage your employees’ potential, skills and experience and will not reach your goals.

Imagine that you’ve brought together a diverse group of skilled people in your department to solve a problem. You have high hopes for the team, so you feel frustrated when they can’t come to a decision.

Several factors are holding them back: one person is very critical of colleagues’ ideas. You suspect that his fault-finding is discouraging others from speaking up. Another has hardly contributed to the sessions at all: when asked for her opinion, she simply agrees with a more dominant colleague. And yet another group member constantly makes humorous comments at unhelpful times, which upsets the momentum of the discussion.

  1. Weak leadership: when a team lacks a strong leader, a more dominant member of the group can often take charge. This can lead to a lack of direction, infighting, or a focus on the wrong priorities.
  2. Excessive deference to authority: this can happen when people want to be seen to agree with a leader, and therefore hold back from expressing their own opinions.
  3. Blocking: this happens when team members behave in a way that disrupts the flow of information in the group. People can adopt blocking roles such as:
  • The aggressor: this person often disagrees with others, or is inappropriately outspoken.
  • The negator: This group member is often critical of others’ ideas.
  • The withdrawer: This person doesn’t participate in the discussion.
  • The recognition seeker: This group member is boastful, or dominates the session.
  • The joker: this person introduces humour at inappropriate times.
  1. Groupthink: this happens when people place a desire for consensus above their desire to reach the right decision. This prevents people from fully exploring alternative solutions.
  2. Free riding: here, some group members take it easy, and leave their colleagues to do all the work. Free riders may work hard on their own, but limit their contributions in group situations; this is known as “social loafing.”
  3. Evaluation apprehension: team members’ perceptions can also create a negative group dynamic. Evaluation apprehension happens when people feel that they are being judged excessively harshly by other group members, and they hold back their opinions as a result.

Strategies for Improving Team Dynamics

Use these approaches to improve group dynamics:

Know Your Team

As a leader, you need to guide the development of your group. So, start by learning about the phases that a group goes through as it develops. When you understand these, you’ll be able to preempt problems that could arise, including issues with poor group dynamics.

Tackle Problems Quickly

If you notice that one member of your team has adopted a behavior that’s affecting the group unhelpfully, act quickly to challenge it.

Provide feedback that shows your team member the impact of her actions, and encourage her to reflect on how she can change her behavior.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Teams that lack focus or direction can quickly develop poor dynamics, as people struggle to understand their role in the group.

Create a team charter; defining the group’s mission and objective, and everyone’s responsibilities as soon as you form the team. Make sure that everyone has a copy of the document, and remind people of it regularly.

Break Down Barriers

Use team-building exercises to help everyone get to know one another, particularly when new members join the group. These exercises ease new colleagues into the group gently, and also help to combat the “black sheep effect,” which happens when group members turn against people they consider different.

Also, explain the idea of the Johari Window to help people open up. Lead by example: share what you hope the group will achieve, along with “safe” personal information about yourself, such as valuable lessons that you’ve learned.

Focus on Communication

Open communication is central to good team dynamics, so make sure that everyone is communicating clearly. Include all of the forms of communication that your group uses emails, meetings, and shared documents, for example to avoid any ambiguity.

If the status of a project changes, or if you have an announcement to make, let people know as soon as possible. That way, you can ensure that everyone has the same information.

Opinionated team members can overwhelm their quieter colleagues in meetings. Where this happens, use techniques such as Crawford’s Slip Writing Method, and make sure that you develop strong facilitation skills.

Pay Attention

Watch out for the warning signs of poor group dynamics.

Pay particular attention to frequent unanimous decisions, as these can be a sign of groupthink, bullying , or free riding. If there are frequent unanimous decisions in your group, consider exploring new ways to encourage people to discuss their views, or to share them anonymously.