Group structure


Work groups are not unorganized mobs. They have structure that shapes the behavior of members and makes it possible to explain and predict a large portion of individual behavior within the group as well as the performance of the group itself. What are some of these structural variables? They include roles, norms, status, group name and the degree of group cohesiveness.

Role Identity

There are certain attitudes and actual behaviors consistent with a role, and they create the role identity. People have the ability to shift roles rapidly when they recognize that the situation and its demands clearly require major changes.

For instance, when union stewards were promoted to supervisory positions, it was found that their attitudes changed from pro-union to pro-management within a few months of their promotion. When these promotions had to be rescinded later because of economic difficulties in the firm, it was found that the demoted supervisors had once again adopted their pro-union attitudes.

Role Perception

Our view of how we’re supposed to act in a given situation is a role perception. Based on an interpretation of how we believe we are supposed to behave, we engage in certain types of behavior.

Where do we get these perceptions?
We get them from stimuli all around us friends, books, movies, television etc. Many current law enforcement officers learned their roles from reading some reputed novels written by prominent authors; many of tomorrow’s lawyers will be influenced by watching the actions of attorneys in ‘Law & Order’ or ‘The Practice’, and the role of crime investigators, as portrayed on the television programs CID is directing thousands of young people into careers in criminology. Of course, the primary reason that apprenticeship programs exist in many trades and professions is to allow beginners to watch an “expert�, so that they can learn to act as they are supposed to.

Role Expectations

Role expectations are defined as how others believe you should act in a given situation. How you behave is determined to a large extent by the role defined in the context in which you are acting. For instance, the role of a High Court Judge is viewed as having propriety and dignity, while a football coach is seen as aggressive, dynamic, and inspiring to his players

In the workplace, it can be helpful to look at the topic of role expectations through the perspective of the psychological contract. There is an unwritten agreement that exists between employees and their employer. This psychological contract sets out mutual expectations- what management expects from workers, and vice versa. In effect, this contract defines the behavioral expectations that go with every role. For instance, management is expected to treat employees justly, provide acceptable working conditions, clearly communicate what is a fair day’s work and give feedback on how well the employee is doing. Employees are expected to respond by demonstrating a good attitude, following directions, and showing loyalty to the organizations.

What happens when role expectations as implied in the psychological contract are not met? If management is derelict in keeping up its part of the bargain, we can expect negative repercussions on employee performance and satisfaction. When employees fail to live up to expectations, the result is usually some form of disciplinary action up to and including firing.

Role Conflict

When an individual is confronted by divergent role expectations, the result is role conflict. It exists when an individual finds that compliance with one role requirements may make it more difficult to comply with another. At the extreme, it would include situations in which two or more expectations are mutually contradictory.

Let us the take case of one Mr.Sen who had to deal with his wife, children and employer. His interaction included several role conflicts.—for instance. Sen’s attempt to reconcile the expectations placed on him as a husband and father with those placed on him as an executive with his employer. The former, as you will remember, emphasizes stability and concern for the desire of his wife and children to remain in a particular city. Employer on the other hand, expects its employees to be responsive to the needs and requirements of the company. Although it might be in Sen’s financial and career interest to accept relocation, the conflict comes down to choosing between family and career role expectations.

In practice the concerned person in the role conflict can always find an amicable solution satisfying all concerned that is employer, wife, and children. He can ask the employer to give him some more time for relocation and find out another job in the same city. Alternately he must convince his family about not getting another job easily in the same city and salary is essential to look after the family needs, relocate for the time being and come back to the desired city after getting a suitable job.

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