Business Filming Method

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Improving Employee Engagement by Group Dynamics Principles

In recent years many organizations have begun to implement creative training tools, inspired by work techniques from theater, cinema, visual arts and music production and based on certain aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EI). These tools are implemented mostly during formal corporate group training workshops and team meetings and informal group conversations and even during lunch time breaks. These tools are based on group dynamics which is developed in these occasions.

Analysis of these meetings shows significant improvement of the participants' level of motivation and active engagement long after the sessions ended. Studies conducted over the past decade examined this phenomenon and have proved the following claim: A group activity, based on collaborative and creative problem solving, creates higher emotional involvement of the participants. The level of emotional involvement created during these group processes is directly related to the participants' motivation level and thus improves business performance.

To explain this claim we must first examine the main principles of group dynamics:

1. The individual need vs. group's need

Naturally, every group consists of individuals. Every group aims to achieve and accomplish goals, willing to produce a tangible product or result. Individual members of the group often desire to play a major role in the group, to influence and contribute. Participation in the group enables them to affect the progress of the group towards its goals and take joint responsibility for the group's results.

2. The emotional aspect of group behavior

In his early studies Freud has noted the difference in behavior between individuals and individuals as group's members. Belonging to a specific group makes people feel, think and behave in a more complete and clear manner. Uniform intensity prevailing at the group during activities increases emotional involvement of the group members and makes them want to take part in the group's unique atmosphere.

3. The organizational benefit

Another aspect of group dynamics is act of supportive leadership with an emphasis on collaborative creativity. This aspect was observed in many organizations. Participation in these processes develops both the employee and his manager, since it has advantages and benefits to both parties. When participation is active and the involvement of employees is consistent with the goals of the organization - both parties benefit. Therefore, one of the organizational challenges is to explore these standards and adapt them in various group programs.

4. Emotional involvement and inter-personal conflicts

Despite what was said before, one must consider also the flip side - the degree of emotional involvement of the group members has direct impact on the processes and results issued by the group - sometimes this effect is positive but in some cases it can also be negative. One should consider the existing connection between the group's tasks and the inter-personal relationship of group's members. The assumption is that conflicts associated with the task are significantly influenced by the group's ability to fulfill its goals, unless these conflicts lead to inter-personal conflicts and negative results. In this case, the task relies on team leader / facilitator's shoulders: he needs to recreate an atmosphere of team cooperation, listening and positive approach.

In this context, it's important to comment and say that the group leader's efforts shouldn't necessarily concentrate on achieving unanimity. A research on creative processes in the group by Theodor Adorno, a German sociologist, psychologist and musicologist, pointed out, that we shouldn't necessarily aim to create harmony of unanimity, which sometimes is in fact false, but rather to enable the appearance of conflicts and contradictions, which creates a valuable statement for the group and for the entire organization.

Let's examine one of the leading models of group dynamics and try to figure out the possible ways to raise the emotional involvement of employees in the organization based on this model.
The model is based on 4 stages and was developed by Dr. Stuart L Tubbs, Professor of Management Darrell H. Cooper Chair in Leadership, author, leading leadership consultant and a contributing editor for the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies.

1. Orientation: Group assembly, diagnosis of the problems to be solved and an initial assessment of options for solving. In this stage, the individual becomes aware of the opportunities for self-fulfillment and personal mark. He's able to actively participate in the discussion regarding problem solving, explore its various aspects and examine the source of this specific recurring problem.

2. Conflict: The group's members discuss and suggest possible solutions. The discussion is active and energetic, includes variety of opinions and contradictions and involves all the group's members. As the following stage of orientation, the individual is already part of the group, and is affected by the groups' atmosphere. He feels completely free to legitimately express his opinion and to take the opportunity to influence the rest of the members to identify with his thoughts. There is a role-playing recommended technique, taken from an actors' coaching exercise, which allows participants not only to express themselves but to experience the ability to adopt various points of view.

Some guiding questions that could occur at this phase and promote the work progress towards the next phase (consensus or agreement) are:
How the character might have thought about this situation?
What means would he use?
What action would he choose to take?
How would he try to explain the problem to others?

3. Consensus: This is the right time for the group to settle down, agree on alternatives and discuss the conclusions of the implementation process. During the consensus stage familiar feelings of "group pride" is formed. In fact, after the group has faced all the conflicts and contradictions in a positive way, and managed to get to a unified agreement, members experience mutual understanding and empathy. They realize that each participant has a personal part in the group task success. These feelings lead the group to formalize a tangible and applicable product.

4. Closure: This stage occurs after the group finished its tasks. The group's outputs are ready and now the executives expect to begin the process of implementation and integration. This phase is very challengeable for management level in the organization. The goal is to leverage the motivation created during the three previous stages and to execute all the decisions and conclusions being made. At this stage the individual expects to take an active part in the process, continue to influence and express himself.

Corporate leaders, who understand the significance of group dynamics stages in producing a culture of positive employee engagement, are able to increase effectiveness, improve performance and provide better business results in their organization.

Yulia Reinshmidt is CEO, Director of Training and Lecturer at CastEffect, cutting-edge training company specializes in innovative and unique training method for employee engagement and knowledge retention of leadership, sales and customer service skills.

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