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Working In Groups Management Essay

2395 words - 10 pages

1. Working in groups is often cited as an essential part of workplace but something students often either really like or loathe as part of their course assessment. Using the information from chapters 8 & 9 of the text as a starting point, how do you explain the differences between group work at university and in the workplace and how could university group work outcomes be improved?

Working with groups of people at university can be quite diverse and troublesome at times, however, understanding how people function in these groups is essential in the workplace and can save us much hassle later. Many theories have been proposed to explain the benefits of working in groups and why it is ...view middle of the document...

“A group is defined as two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives” (Robbins et al. pg 214). At university, students need to be immersed in learning environments that promote real-life learning in real contexts that would be beneficial to them in the future work place situations. Group work helps to promote a deeper understanding of what is being learnt as it occurs through interaction, problem solving and collaboration. It is proven that students retain knowledge and gain a better understanding of study material when it is embedded in a social experience within a group environment.

Although the terms of group and team are often used interchangeably, there is a clear distinction between the two. Robbins et al defines that a “work group is a group that interacts primarily to share information and make decisions to help each group member perform within his or her area of responsibility”. Work groups performance is simply the summary of each group member’s individual contribution. Whereas, a work team is a group whose individual efforts result in performance that is greater than the sum of the individual inputs. (Robbins et al, pg 246). In essence, group work is a superior technique for theoretical learning and increasing oral language proficiency. Furthermore, it can improve social relations within a group by increasing cooperation, trust and by developing new friendships. It will also teach students skills for working in groups that can be transferred to many real life work situations.

There are two distinct models that describe the different stages in the forming of groups; the five-stage model and the punctuated-equilibrium model. Tuckman (1965) developed the four-stage model, and later added a fifth stage in the 1970s. The five stages are forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning stages. This model is often used when groups have a clear deadline and groups tend to proceed through the stages of group development at different rates. Groups with a strong sense of purpose and strategy rapidly achieve high performance and improve over time, whereas those with less sense of purpose actually see their performance worsen over time (Robbins et al, page 217). In the first stage, Tuckman explains this is the forming of the group and there is a high level uncertainty about the groups direction, leadership and purpose. The second stage, the storming stage is characterised by intragroup conflict, cliques form and there may be power struggles over who will be the leader within the group. The norming stage follows, and by this stage the group has developed close relationships and cohesiveness. Roles and responsibilities are accepted and the big decisions have been agreed upon. The fourth stage is performing and the group has a clear vision of what they are doing and what they need to achieve. Finally, for temporary groups there is the adjourning stage, which is the...

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