Group dynamics can strongly influence how the team reacts, behaves or performs. Groups can come from all different aspects of life, from family, to friends, to coworkers and careers, our lives are filled with groups. The characteristics of effective groups can be learned about the art of building an effective group.
Our group in this class, known as the “The Fantastic Five” is a reflection on what people can do when they work together, and anything is possible. Together, we came together, along with the help of our five emotions from Inside Out were able to create a group that can acknowledge our difference, and yet still be effective when working together. Our individual identities that make us who we are and our cultural differences made each and every day an adventure.
One of the theories and concepts we learned through out group dynamics was leadership. The book defines a leader as “a person who can influence others to be effective in working to achieve their mutual goals and maintain effective working relationships among members”. Leadership isn’t something that is always taught, but it is a practicable skill. It is the ability to help anyone within your group to make sure they achieve their goals. Leadership is something that matters to everyone and is something that can shape people’s lives during good and bad times. Everyone has a leader that they look up to or has somehow influenced their lives. When it came to our group, leadership occurred when we listened to each other and what our differences were as well as our needs. We each learned what our own form of leadership was amongst our group. It was never about who was going to take over or speak for the group, who was in charge, or who had the best ideas, it was more about how we listened to one another and found our own skills within our group to achieve the ultimate goal on whatever activity was being conducted.
Also, our effective communication to one another and our ability to express any ideas made it much easier for us to work together. We may all agree for the most part that we have experienced one person that acts as a leader for the entire group, but what was interesting and different in our group was that we were all leaders individually, and if we thought someone excelled in a certain task, we made sure we expressed our thoughts, which were most if not all positive. When it comes to group decision making, it can be said that the majority rules, in most cases. “The purpose of decision making is to decide on well-considered, well-understood, realistic action toward goals every member wishes to achieve”. In this class, we found that depending on the case, groups can be stronger or better than individuals. Johnson and Johnson explain that groups try to make their decisions as effective as possible for the entirety of the group which comes with five major characteristics: the first, of these characteristics are the resources of group members are fully utilized.
The second characteristic is to make sure time is well used. They list the third as the decision is correct or of high quality. The forth is said that the decision is implemented fully by all the required group members; and finally, the last characteristic is the problem-solving ability of the group is improved, or at least not lessened. “A decision is effective to the extent that these five criteria are met, if all five are not met, the decision has not been made effectively”. Johnson and Johnson list many group decision making methods in the book, as well as what we learned in class. A few examples are decision by expert, decision by averaging individual opinions and decision by majority vote or by consensus, to name a few but there are a total of seven. Some of these methods were applied within our group which I believe made our group more effective when it came to decision making. Understanding that within some groups, there can be conflicts or differences but that is what makes it that much more interesting and the outcome is greater when the goal is reached. Competition and cooperation was another topic discussed during group dynamics. Johnson and Johnson state that cooperative learning is working together in small groups to achieve or accomplish shared goals, while competitive learning is when students work to achieve a goal that benefits themselves, such as an A, or striving to achieve a higher status than others amongst the group.
Though this stuck out to me with my own personal experiences, I cannot say that I experienced much of a competitive atmosphere within our group. Only during one activity did I felt the need to be competitive, and that was when the professor introduced the activity as a competition, or “whichever group finishes their list first, wins.” In this group, we were able to share items within our packets with the other group since we weren’t given the exact same items, but neither group showed much effort to share what they had. In the end, no one showed any negative emotion or animosity toward the other group. We only came together and shared our experience through the activity and how we used the resources that were available within our packets to complete our list.
Our group “The Fantastic Five” had many different characteristics and personalities that collaborated and proved to be successful. Each person portrayed characteristics that made the group work together effectively. If I had to choose a leader in our group, I would say it was Sandy. Not because she is the “oldest”, but I do believe her experiences and her way of thinking held qualities and characteristics of what a leader has. She was usually the first to volunteer to go first or the first person to pitch out ideas if you had the honor of working with her in an activity. Sandy also had excellent feedback to the group when it came to processing the activities at the end. Within our logo, she is Joy, who is considered the “leader” in the movie Inside Out. Matthew was the one who was the most passionate about whatever he was working on. At times he pitched his ideas, but he was more laid back and more of the type to be told what to do in our group. But once he has his task, he would get it done. There were times he was a bit hard on himself because he didn’t accomplish his goal the way he wanted to, but this just proved even more that he was the most passionate. He is considered Anger from Inside Out, though he wasn’t “angry” he was one of the most stable in our group. You definitely felt secure when he was on your team in activities. Lourdes was characterized as Disgust from the movie. Even though she is friendlier more open to suggestions than the character, she did prove to work well under pressure in the group. When it came to the mystery activities and communication, she always excelled. Last but not least comes Mariama, who was given the character Fear from Inside Out. Though she was “fear” she was far from being afraid to tackle anything that was handed to her. She did seem like the quietest in our group, but she picked up on things quickly and to me seemed the most competitive, in a good way.
My character was Sadness, which at first sounds nothing like me, but sadness, like Susan Storm, becomes fearless. I had no issues with taking on activities, but like Sadness, I had a lot of questions before we started. During the activity I conducted regarding communication and importance of detail, I notice that all forms of communication are important. We each have a different way of communicating with one another, but our end result is always the same: accomplishing our goal. When it came to group communication, my group made sure we all understood what was expected of us and asked questions if needed. We also made sure that we explained the specific details of the group if we didn’t have a clear understanding of the rules. When group decision making came into play, I believe we used the method of decision by consensus more often: we would all agree on the same course of action. Whether we worked all together, or if we had one or two partners, we all made sure that we were effectively communication our thoughts to make a clear decision. Any questions or concerns were laid out on the table, and if there was a disagreement, we would make sure to clearly state why we decided what we decided on. For example when it came to the activity regarding the ship wreck and choosing who would “live or die” my group members and I had some disagreement on who would be saved and who wouldn’t be saved. There was a particular disagreement when it came to a young drug addict being saved, myself and one other group member decided she wouldn’t be saved, while the other group member fought for her because she was young and still had her life ahead of her. We ultimately decided to save those who would be an asset and help in any given situation regarding the survival of the group. As Johnson and Johnson state, consensus involves open communication and social support that all members believe they have a chance on influencing the decision in one way or another.
With each of us having separate leadership qualities and communication styles, we were able to push and support one another and shine in different areas. We now understand the principles that create the proper environment in which groups can succeed in any task. Personally, I consider myself very open-minded and outgoing in most or any given situation. I try to be the person who will always make everyone know that “it will be ok”. I like knowing that people feel comfortable around me and I strive for feedback, whether it be negative or positive. When it comes to communication, I believe I tend to over communicate if there is such a thing. I like to make sure that everything that I am thinking of is communicated so I can be sure I understand what is being said to me. With this, I usually want the same in return, but this is not always the case.
When it came to our group, I think our personalities worked together well. I sometimes think that my personality can be overwhelming to others, but I won’t know unless I am told. I felt there were times where I would take control of the group during activities without trying. I am not one to take control easily nor try to be the leader, but I am one who if I know what I am doing, then I want to share my skill with others so we may all succeed. While having quite a bit of experience working in teams, facilitating, and even leading teams, I wanted to serve as a regular team member and not make too much of my experience and rather really learn more about all of the aspects of team dynamics. As station before, I found myself at times being overwhelming to others or taking over, so I then held back more to make sure I listened to my group members and their detailed information. One key assumption I had about working with groups conflict within the group was negative. Now after working with my group, I see that there is healthy conflict such as a difference in understanding or difference of opinion. I have a much clearer picture of the elements and factor that influence successful groups and decision making within a group. Some things I would like to work on when it comes to working with groups is I would like to be more mindful and make more efforts in the use of the theories and reflecting on how I may use them in real life situations. When I think of groups, I tend to only think of the professional aspect of groups, and leave out the personal aspects. I tend to forget that in your personal life, you also have groups you deal with and there will be times you need to work together to solve a misunderstanding. The times I have experienced conflict within a personal group, such as my family, I tend to not pay mind to it, thinking it will fix itself, or I will completely disregard it and avoid confrontation all together. This method has proven nothing but making things worse for my family.
As I had mentioned earlier, I am one who needs to communicate what I am feeling, but assuming that since its family, we will “get over it.” Now, there were times during this class where I held back my feelings or thoughts so I wouldn’t feel stupid or feel like I was overreacting. My group members would never make me feel that way, but that is a personal trait that I wish to get rid of. In the future I would like to feel more confident and know that no question is a stupid question and if I disagree with something or have any issues to make sure I speak up, as I expect it from my group members.
I enjoyed my experience with working in my group “The Fantastic Five” in the class group dynamics. I think that I can say that we worked effectively as a group according to criteria for group effectiveness and theories and criteria within group dynamics such as leadership, cooperation vs competition and decision making. One of the things I found very effective in this class was the learning within teaching by learning and experiencing about the dynamics of groups and teams while facilitating our own group activities. With all that I have learned, I will carry with me the valuable insights I gained to my future encounters with the groups and teams I will be a part of.