Personal Work Group Evaluation – Instructions
Write an investigative paper that applies group-related communication theories to a selected group.
There are many ways to improve interpersonal effectiveness, and the benefits of doing so are profound. Many studies point to interpersonal effectiveness as the leading predictor of future success. Derailment studies (Lombardo & McCauley, 1988) found lack of interpersonal communication skills to be a key factor in the likelihood of a manager to derail, or be removed from his or her job.
- Competency: Analyze the interrelationships of communication within organizational systems.
- Describe the characteristics of a group.
- Analyze the roles of group members.
- Describe the group stages experienced.
- Analyze group norms.
- Describe positive and negative participation behaviors.
- Describe group’s use of technology for communication.
- Competency: Communicate effectively.
- Consistently apply appropriate APA style and formatting.
The Importance of Good Listening Skills
Many misunderstandings occur in organizational communication. One of the reasons for this apparent problem may rest on listening skills.
Are you a good listener? Can you identify a few personal listening skills that you could improve upon? Please reflect for a moment on the following:
- Is the effort you put into listening different depending upon who is doing the communicating and the context?
- Do you listen differently to a police officer than to a salesperson?
- Why do these differences exist?
When we take a moment to think about this, we begin to realize that many of the previously discussed themes regarding shared realities, noise, and channel are important influences. However, focus for a moment on the effect rather than these communication process components.
When communication takes place, the sender usually intends an effect. This effect is to be achieved through the receiver acting upon the message in a specific manner. Here is an example:
- There is a car accident on the road and a police officer is stopping traffic.
- The intent of the police officer is to protect those involved with the accident.
- This effect is achieved by communicating “stop” to the other drivers.
If we follow this logic, we see that it is primarily in the sender’s interest to ensure that the receiver is receiving the correct message so that the desired effect is generated. Good listeners often are found in contexts where the receivers make a specific effort to communicate as effectively as possible in order to achieve the effect. Additionally, good listeners are genuinely interested in helping receivers achieve their effect; this relates to the concept of shared realities.
Groups in Organizations
A trend in today’s organizations is a movement toward team-based structures. Organizations form groups to fulfill diverse organizational needs based on the assumption that the efforts of a group exceed those of individuals for completing certain tasks.
There are many types of organizational groups or teams. Some of the most common types of groups include:
- Primary work groups, to which we are assigned to complete our typical job duties.
- Quality teams that identify ways to enhance quality or solve problems associated with products or processes.
- Task force teams that look into specific, limited projects.
- Steering committees that provide guidance and oversight to plans or programs.
- Focus groups that provide perceptions and inputs, often in a non-structured format, to be used to plan and implement projects.
- Geographically diverse groups that are groups linked across distances using technology.
The most important resource in any group is its members. Groups and group members have both social and task concerns. That is, as a group moves forward on tasks and assignments, there is an interpersonal dynamic present that should be recognized and used to its fullest positive potential.
Researchers suggest that groups go through stages of development. These stages are:
Individuals’ Roles in Groups
Individuals play roles in groups. There are three types of roles:
- Group task roles promote accomplishment of assigned objectives.
- Group maintenance roles promote and enhance team relations.
- Self-centered roles focus on personal goals and may or may not be compatible with the group goals.
As groups become an increasingly common tool for accomplishing work, it is important to have the key skills required to be a successful group member.
Oftentimes, opportunities arise to design organizational teams from scratch. Individuals with this task usually have solid skills in organizational communication, extensive experience within the specific context, and a sound knowledge of the way potential members of the sub-unit perform. Even with all of this knowledge, performance is not guaranteed. Why might this be? Are there points being overlooked? Are there concepts that need to be understood about fundamental human behavior, emotions, and interpersonal relationship patterns?
Required Resources (See Separate Attachments)
Complete the following:
- Choose a group in which you are currently involved or have been involved in the past. A group or team associated with a current employer often works the best, but you may also use group experiences from previous employers or community activities. If possible, choose a group that may be experiencing communication difficulties.
- Prepare an investigative paper that applies group-related communication theories to your selected group. Include the following in your paper:
- Describe the characteristics of the group using all of the criteria below:
- Describe whether the team is ongoing (permanent) or ad hoc (temporary).
- Is the group a short-term group that will only exist for 1–12 months or is the group a long-standing group that has or will exist for more than one year?
- Is the group formal or informal? For example, is the group an official (that is, formal) department or committee at a company or is the group an informal collection of people such as a book club.
- Is the group self-managing or does the group have a clear consistent leader?
- Is the group best described as a primary work team or a project team? A primary work team generally takes on a variety of tasks (for example, a Human Resources Department or a Maintenance Department). Project teams typically engage in a narrow set of activities such as organizing a specific event or a taking on a single project.
- Using the 2007 Benne and Sheats article, “Functional Roles of Group Members,” (Separate Attachment)analyze the formal roles and communication roles of group members:
- Group members’ task roles.
- Group members’ maintenance roles.
- Group members’ individual roles.
- Using Bruce Tuckman’s (1965) team stages model or Backlund’s 2001 article, “Team Effectiveness,” (Separate Attachment)describe the group stages experienced by the group.
- Analyze the group norms. Norms are the formal and informal rules groups develop. Many norms are never written down and many are not discussed openly but are still learned by group members.
- Describe positive and negative participation behaviors.
- Describe the group’s use of technology for communication, such as e-mail, texting, or the Internet.
- Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
- APA formatting: Resources and citations are formatted according to APA (6th ed.) style and formatting. Include a properly formatted title page and references page.
- Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.