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Importance of Group Dynamics in Project Management

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 6/2/2011

Your team groups are most likely made up of all sorts of personalities, work habits and skill sets. Most of us don’t have groups where everyone agrees and gets along—all the time. This is why leaders need to understand the importance of group dynamics. Jean Scheid looks at developing a group.

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    Group Challenges

    Group Alliance Comparing your individual team members is more like comparing apples to oranges—everyone works different, has their own opinions, and ethics. You’ll have a range from the very outgoing to the very shy and reserved as far as personalities.

    Only a dream team (if one even exists) will work together, without deterring from the project’s goals—happy go lucky with the outcome you want in mind. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    Unfortunately, individual team members with exact matching habits are something you’ll never see so you need to understand the importance of group dynamics in order to make that group unit an effective unit.

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    Group Alliance

    Think Musketeers for Your Group Dynamics If it were only one for all and all for one, your job as the leader would be a piece of cake. Group dynamics are not where you sit everyone down and instruct them on the project’s goals, their task assignments and tell everyone to just get along. This autocratic style of leadership fails—almost all the time. So, what is the process of creating a group alliance?

    An important element of group dynamics is allowing team members to develop as a unit and that takes time. Overtime, however, individuals with different ideals, can become an effective group that works like a well-oiled machine.

    According to BrianMac Sports Coach, one way that groups learn to work well together is through a “cohesion” process. To implement this into your group dynamics, let’s take a look at how this process works.

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    Healthy Differences

    Smaller Groups Learn Faster Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.” This is also true when looking at the importance of group dynamics, especially in how they develop and mature. Because everyone in your team group is different, how does the “cohesive” process work?

    Basically, there are elements to the cohesive process that help to align groups without the harmful groupthink dilemma. An example might be looking at the culture/lifestyle of an individual who was born in a large metropolitan city and moved in their adult years to a small town—after a while, they do indeed assimilate—and perhaps like the small town even more. Frustrations of slow-moving small towns turn into acceptance and the person might even regard those frustrations as being quaint or just a normal part of life. This can also happen via the cohesive process in groups, but as a project leader you can do things to help move this process along.

    • Sameness – This happens when team members have been working in the same group for a period of time—after a while, the sameness brings security and trust.
    • Group Size – The number of team members within your team groupings can make a huge difference. Often, the smaller the group, the faster the cohesive process will fall into place.
    • Personality – You’ll never be able to put together a group where everyone has the same personality. You can, however, mold groups that are of the same generational style, age, and skill sets.
    • Effective Leadership – This means you, as the leader, have to monitor your teams to ensure they are aligning with each other and often includes conflict resolution skills.
    • Content Members – This part of the cohesive process develops usually on its own as the team experiences success as a group and they start to enjoy those successes in a “go-team” style.

    So we can see this process called cohesiveness is relevant and should be considered in the importance of group dynamics. As the project manager, following this or a similar style process will ensure your groups mold into dynamic, constructive, and quality-producing teams.

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    References

    1. Group Dynamics (BrainMac Sports Coach – Accessed 11/18/2010) - http://www.brianmac.co.uk/group.htm
    2. Mahatma Gandhi Quote - http://thinkexist.com/quotation/honest_differences_are_often_a_healthy_sign_of/11445.html

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