Defining and classifying Groups

A group is defined as two or more individuals, interacting and Interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives. Groups can be either formal or informal. By formal groups, we mean those defined by the organization’s structure, with designated work assignments establishing task. If formal groups, the behaviors that one should engage in are stipulated by and directed toward organizational goals. The six members making up an airline flight crew are an example of a normal group. In contrast, informal groups are alliances that are neither formally structured nor organizationally determined. These groups are natural formations in the work environment that appear in response to the need for social contact three employees from different departments who regularly eat together are an example of an informal group.

It’s possible to further sub-classify groups as command, task, interest, or friendship groups. Command and task groups are dictated by the formal organization whereas interest and friendship groups are formal alliances.

A command group is determined by the organization chart. It is composed of the individuals who report directly to manager. An elementary school principal and her 18 teachers form a command group, as do the director of postal audits and his five inspectors.

Task groups, also organizationally determined represents those working together to complete a job task. However, a task group’s boundaries are limited to its immediate hierarchical superior. It can cross command relationships. For instance, if a college student is accused of a campus crime, it may require communication and coordination among the dean of academic affairs, the dean of students, the registrar, the director of security, and the student’s advisor. Such a formation would constitute a task group. It should be noted that all command groups are also task groups, but because task groups can cut across the organization, the reverse need not be true. People who may or may not be aligned into common command or task groups may affiliate to attain a specific objective with which each is concerned. This is an interest group. Employees who bond together to have their vacation schedules altered to support a peer who has been fired or to seek improved working conditions represent a united body to further their common interest.

Groups often develop because the individual members have one or more common characteristics. We call these formations friendship groups. Social alliances, which frequently extend outside the work situation can be based on similar age or ethnic heritage, support for Notre dame, Football, interest in the same alternative rock and, or the holding of similar political views, to name just a few such characteristics.

Informal groups a very important service by satisfying member needs. Because of interactions that result from the close proximity of workstations or task interactions we find workers often do things together –like play golf, commute to work, take lunch, and chat during coffee breaks. We must recognize that these types of interactions among individuals even though informal deeply affect their behavior and performance.

Here is no single reason why individuals join groups. Because most people belong to a number of groups, it’s obvious that different groups provide different benefits to their member.

Working in groups requires a certain amount of trust. Are you a trusting a person? The Self Assessment Feature will tell you.

Why Do People Join Groups?

Security : By joining a group, individuals can reduce the insecurity of ‘standing alone’ people feel stronger, have fewer self doubts, and are resistant to threats when they are part of a group.

Status: Inclusion in a group that is viewed as important provides recognition and status for its members.

Self esteem: Groups can provide people with feelings of self worth. That is, in addition to conveying status to those outside the group, membership can also give increased feelings of worth to the group members themselves.

Affiliation: Groups can fulfill social needs. People enjoy the regular penetration that comes with group membership. For many people, these on-the-job interactions are their primary source for fulfilling their needs for affiliation.

Power: What cannot be achieved individually often becomes possible through group action. There is power in numbers.

Goal Achievement: There are times when it takes more than one person to accomplish a particular task – there is a need to pool talents, knowledge, or power in order to complete a job. In such instances, management will rely on the use of a formal group.

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