Work groups are not unorganised mobs. They have a structure that shapes the behaviour 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.

Group structure and process in Organisational behaviour

Group structure includes: -

  1. Leadership: A major responsibility in working with groups is the recognition of leadership forces. Almost every work group has a formal leader. This leader can play an important part in the group's success. He is appointed by management and can exercise legitimate sanctioned power. The formal leader possesses the power to discipline and/or fire members of his work group. Informal leaders, on the other hand, tend to emerge gradually as group members interact. They emerge from within the group according to the nature of the situation at hand.
  2. The primary function of a leader (informal / formal) is to facilitate the accomplishment of group goals. He aids the group in accomplishing its goals. To survive, the group must gear its efforts to achieve its primary goals. Leader, constantly evaluates, directs and motivates member behaviour towards overall goals.

  3. Roles: A role is a set of activities expected of a person occupying a particular position within the group. It is a pattern of behaviour that is expected of an individual when he interacts with others. The understanding of role behaviour would be dramatically simplified if each of us chose one role and play it out regularly and constantly. However, Individuals play multiple roles adjusting their roles to the group in which they are. So different groups impose different role requirements on individuals.
  4. Characteristics of Roles

    1. Roles are impersonal. It is the position that determines the expectations not the individual.
    2. An organizational role is the set of expected behaviours for a particular position vis-à-vis a particular job.
    3. It is fairly difficult to pin down roles in exact terms. It is the most complex organized response pattern the human being is capable of making.
    4. Roles are learned quickly and can result in major changes in behaviour.

    Role Identity: Role identity is certain attitudes and behaviour consistent with a role.

    People have the ability to shift roles rapidly when they recognize that the situation and its demands clearly require major changes. For example, when a worker holds a position in a workers union is promoted as supervisor, his attitude will change from pro-union to pro-management.

    Role Perception: Role perception is an individual's view of how he or she is supposed to act in a given situation. Based on an interpretation of how we believe we are supposed to behave, we engage in certain types of behaviour.

    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.

    Role Conflict: Role conflict is a situation in which an individual is confronted by divergent role expectations. Role conflict, like other forms of conflict, can be a major source of stress. Excessive stress can cause problems for individual employees and for the organizations that employ them.

  5. Norms: Norms are shared ways of looking at the world. Groups control members through the use of norms. A norm is a rule of conduct that has been established by group members to maintain consistency in behaviour. orms tell members what they ought and ought not to do under certain circumstances. From an individual's standpoint they tell what is expected of you in certain situations. Norms differ among groups, communities, and societies, but they all have norms.
  6. According to Hackman, Norms have five characteristics: -

    1. Norms summarize and simplify group influence processes. They resolve impersonal differences in a group and ensure uniformity of action.
    2. Norms apply only to behaviour – not to private thoughts and feelings.
    3. Norms are usually developed gradually, but the process can be shortened if members so desire.
    4. Not all norms apply to everyone. High status members often enjoy more freedom to deviate from the "letter of the law" than do other members.

    Types of Norms

    A work group's norms are unique to each work group. Yet there are some common classes of norms that appear in most work groups.

    1. Performance-related processes: Work groups typically provide their members with explicit cues on how hard they should work, how to get the job done, their level of output etc. These norms deal with performance-related processes and are extremely powerful in affecting an individual employee's performance.
    2. Appearance Factors: Some organizations have formal dress codes. However, even in their absence, norms frequently develop to dictate the kind of clothing thatshould be worn to work.
    3. Allocation of Resources: These norms cover pay, assignment of difficult jobs, and allocation of new tools and equipment.
    4. Informal Social arrangement: These norms can originate in the group or in the organization and cover pay assignment of difficult jobs, and allocation of new tools and equipment.

    Factors Influencing Conformance to Norms

    As a member of a group, you desire acceptance by the group. Because of your desire for acceptance, you are susceptible to conforming to the group's norms. Considerable evidence shows that groups can place strong pressures on individual members to change their attitudes and behaviours to conform to the group's standard. However, conformity to norms is not automatic it depends on the following factors:

    1. Personality Factors: Research on personality factors suggests that the more intelligent are less likely to conform than the less intelligent. Again, in unusual situations where decisions must be taken on unclear items, there is a greater tendency to conform to the group's norms. Under conditions of crisis, conformity to group norms is highly probable.
    2. Situational Factors: Group size, communication patterns, degree of group unanimity etc., are the situational factors influencing the conformity to norms.
    3. Intra-group Relationships: A group that is seen as being creditable will evoke more compliance than a group that is not.
    4. Compatible Goals: When individual goals coincide with group goals, people are more willing to adhere to group norms.
  7. Status: Status is a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others. Individual group members are also distinguished by the amount of status they have within the group, that is, the degree of worth and respect they are accorded by group members. Status is an important factor in understanding human behavior because it is a significant motivator and has major behavioural consequences when individuals perceive a disparity between what they believe their status to be and what others perceive it to be.
  8. Formal Status: Status may be formally imposed by organizations through position and titles. We are all familiar with the trappings of high organizational status – large offices with impressive views, fancy titles, high pay etc.

    Informal Status: Status may be informally acquired by such characteristics as education, age, gender, skill and experience. Anything can have status value if others in the group evaluate it as status conferring.

    Status is an important characteristic of groups because it affects group structure and dynamics. Status figures in the allocation of roles among group members. In general, high-status group members get high status roles such as group leader or expert, whereas low-status group members get low-status roles. Furthermore, group members tend to pay more attention to input from high-status group members, including their contributions to group decisions.

  9. Size: The size of a group can have profound implications on how the group behaves internally and with regard to other groups. It is an important factor determining the number of interactions of individuals in a group. In a small group face-to-face interaction is quite easy and uncomplicated. Members can easily communicate with other group members. Research evidence confirms the fact that small groups are effective. On the other hand, in large groups members have a better chance of finding people they like to work with. The potential for greater variety of talents is also greater. But the disadvantages of size are more than offset its advantages. Larger group offer greater opportunities for differences between and among individuals.
  10. Composition: Most group activities require a variety of skills and knowledge. Given this requirement, it would be reasonable to conclude that heterogeneous groups would be more likely to have diverse abilities and information and should be more effective. When a group is heterogeneous in terms of gender, personalities, opinions, abilities, skills and perspectives, there is an increased probability that the group will possess the needed characteristics to complete its tasks effectively. The group may be more conflict laden and less expedient as diverse positions are introduced and assimilated, but the evidence generally supports the conclusion that heterogeneous groups perform more effectively than do those that are homogeneous.

    Conclusion: In interpreting behaviour of a particular group, it is important to recognize not only a broad pattern of development but also the unique characteristics of the particular group and the circumstances that contribute to (or detract from) its development. The behaviour of individuals in groups is something more than the sum total of each acting in his or her own way. Groups help in building synergy is necessary for an organisation's success.

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Principles of Management and Organisational Behaviour Topics