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Groups and teamwork
Groups and teamwork

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2 Reading 1 Groups and teams

2.1 What is a group?

Our tendency to form groups is a pervasive aspect of organisational life. As well as formal groups, committees and teams, there are informal groups, cliques and cabals.

Formal groups are used to organise and distribute work, pool information, devise plans, coordinate activities, increase commitment, negotiate, resolve conflicts and conduct inquests. Group working allows the pooling of people's individual skills and knowledge, and helps compensate for individual deficiencies. It has been estimated that most managers spend 50 per cent of their working day in one sort of group or another, and for top management of large organisations this can rise to 80 per cent. Thus formal groups are clearly an integral part of the functioning of an organisation.

No less important are informal groups. These are usually structured more around the social needs of people than around the performance of tasks. Informal groups usually serve to satisfy needs of affiliation, and act as a forum for exploring self-concept as a means of gaining support, and so on. However, these informal groups may also have an important effect on formal work tasks, for example by exerting subtle pressures on group members to conform to a particular work rate, or as 'places' where news, gossip, etc., is exchanged.