Why doesn’t group work always work as expected?

In any group, even when a beautiful chemistry between the members takes place and even when the facilitator is concerned about getting everyone to participate, a group dynamic insidiously sets in and tints the exchanges. Inevitably, inequalities of participation can be observed between those who tend to take up a lot of space and those who are naturally more discreet. This situation has an impact on the group itself, on the organization and, from a more human point of view, on the participants.

Effects on the group

As soon as three or more people are brought together, a group is formed. Automatically, a dynamic is created. Some dominate exchanges, while others fade away… Whether it is because of each other’s personalities, their skills (e.g. ability to communicate ideas clearly, quickness of reflection, expertise, etc.) or their appearance or title, some members of a group are more esteemed than others. Their point of view has a greater impact in the group than that of others, regardless of the quality of the ideas expressed. The simple fact that an idea is shared by a more influential person in the group has a profound effect on the whole discussion that follows… The answers generated take on the shape of the group leaders, without everyone necessarily having had the opportunity to express themselves. The quality of the result is variable – it depends on the relevance of the responses shared by those who have a greater influence on the exchanges. The group thus benefits from a smaller number of ideas than if all members had contributed to the exchanges. It deprives itself of the richness of everyone’s contribution and the diversity of points of view. This dynamic reduces the sense of belonging to groups. Participants more or less identify with the generated solution, since not all of them have contributed to it. The unity in the group is gradually fading away.

Effects on the organization

The group dynamics that naturally develop in a team also have undesirable consequences for the organization. Considering the significant costs generated when managers and/or employees are grouped in the same room in a meeting to solve an issue, it is important to have access to everyone’s knowledge. Otherwise, wasting time and money becomes inevitable. In addition to the minority of participants who share his ideas, the others – more passive – demobilize, feel ineffective and consider themselves more useful elsewhere. In this way, the organization loses the strength of the collective work and the richness of the sharing of each other’s respective skills – despite the efforts made to involve all of its members in the consultation process.

Effects on the Individuals

From a more personal point of view, the dynamics in place within a group are too often harmful to the individuals who compose it. In addition to being demotivated, feeling like they are wasting time and feeling useless, many participants depreciate themselves when they see others taking the place. They feel less effective and their perception of others increases: those who are considered good are perceived even better and inversely for those who are left out… The self-esteem of some can be negatively affected by the way others look at them – especially if an unhealthy dynamic has set in step by step. The scars left by such situations sometimes even inhibit some individuals from sharing their ideas in other circumstances, on other topics affecting the organization. As a consequence they often feel, often wrongly, that others are in a better position to do so. This disengagement undermines their motivation and job satisfaction.

In short, the dynamics that naturally settle in groups cause inequalities of participation. This situation undermines the quality of the result of the collective work done; it generates significant waste of time and money for the organization, in addition to de-motivating and/or demeaning the members of the group. We can then ask ourselves if it is possible to intervene to resolve this situation. Fortunately, the answer is positive. There are several cooperative strategies to promote a real contribution from everyone. Moreover, the strategies deployed in the Mindstack.io collaborative platform are aimed at positively influencing these group dynamics to encourage the active participation of everyone. Thus, the innovative process, at the core of the application, encourages commitment from each of the participants and allows everyone to contribute to the emergence of the most appropriate solution in a given context.

Comments are closed.