Some groups are formal with designated titles and rules. Other groups are informal, organized casually and have unwritten or flexible rules. For purposes of this paper, I chose to observe a district meeting of the Med Pay Unit within my company. I have highlighted my observations and thoughts below:
The meeting was held in a conference room large enough to hold 30 people, however there were only 12 members on the team. The seating arrangement was U-shaped with chairs around the outside. The manager sat in the center.
The composition of the group was comprised of seven women and five men whose ages ranged from 22-mid 50’s. The racial makeup included ...view middle of the document...
The majority of the unit appeared to be very outspoken freely discussing issues with workload, and their distaste for the customer service surveys.
There was a lot of laughter and light bantering throughout the meeting between the manager and the team members. One young man—the youngest on the team was very quiet, however, he laughed and the teasing did not seem to bother him. Members were very respectful of one another. This unit has been together for six years except for the young man who started a few months ago. Despite the fact that he is a newcomer, they seem to have all embraced him, which is evidenced by their teasing and communication.
The unit also discussed their plans for their month team outing. Everyone seemed to be in agreement with bowling. There was no evidence that any of the members might be vulnerable to groupthink. This is a group that does not appear to have a problem with speaking up or going against the grain. There were a couple of times during the meeting when one or two completely disagreed with what was said and spoke out. At one point, one member agreed to disagree on the subject of warm transfers.
There are times when subordinates are not strong enough to speak up when it comes to leadership. Concerning group acceptance, some members suppress any thoughts that may go against the group’s opinions. In the group observed, there was never any feeling of two or more against one during the meeting. Instead, they appeared comfortable enough to air any differences and welcomed comments and suggestions from the other members. Actions like this can prevent groupthink.
In my opinion, the collective group behaviors did influence individual attitudes and the group's effectiveness but not in a negative way. This is a unit that loves to have fun while working and they are a great example of working as one team. Social psychologists have found that the adage: “There is no I in team” to hold true to a certain extent. When in the presence of others, individuals are more aroused and energized, and dominant behaviors are strengthened. This phenomenon is called social facilitation, (Cash, 2008). Social facilitation has a positive effect on an individual’s performance. Terence Mitchell (1982) stated, “Groups can affect the behavior of an individual in a number of ways. An individual's performance is facilitated by its presence in a group.”
The district meeting observed was informal but very organized and well-planned. The U-shaped layout style of seating is often used for committee meetings or discussion groups where there is a speaker, audio-visual presentation or some other focal point. This setup also allows for group interaction. The manager opened the meeting with an ice breaker designed to lighten the mood.
Although there were no obvious signs of groupthink, it was evident that there were group norms that were implicit. For example, arriving early and coming prepared to take notes. It...