According to the Encyclopedia of management, “group dynamics refers to the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of a group” (Helms, 2009, p. 354). This definition allows us to dissect the subject in two broad categories namely, attitudes and behaviors. These two categories aren’t exclusive as attitudes certainly impact behavior. Similarly, other group members’ behavior can impact the attitude of group members. The four factors I would like to discuss in this answer are trust, physical means of communicating, similarities between group members and differences between group members.
Pinto described trust for teams as “the team’s comfort level with each individual member” (Pinto, 2015, p. 193). As this comfort level increases so does the productivity of the group. According to Hoover and Donovan, trust and perceived trust impacts an individual’s decision to join a group (Hoover & Donovan, 2008, p. 189). In my experience trust is the foundation of a good team. It begins with attitude and reinforced with group member behaviors.
For years the technology that was used to communicate was seen as a vehicle and not an actor. In The Computerization of Work the authors argue that technology functions as an agent and as an agent it acts (Taylor, 2001). Technology’s action or inaction can have a direct impact on the behaviors and attitudes of group members. If the conferencing application isn’t working trust of the system can be impacted and the trust of group member who suggested the technology significantly reduced.
Similarities between group members impact the behavior and attitudes of the group as well. Group members with a shared history can pull from a greater library of experiences in group communication that can impact other group members. A team with this dynamic stands as the single biggest piece of evidence the against popular understanding of Tuckman’s Developmental Sequence in Small Groups (Tuckman, 1965). The popularized versions of that model (forming, storming, norming, and performing) doesn’t accommodate the introduction of new group members even though Tuckman used the idea of family dynamics (where members appear over time) seven times in his research. This is due to his research being focused on teams in the military that have a definite start date. Without this static starting line the theory has less value and for teams with fluid start dates among team members it can impact their progression and effectiveness.
Differences between team members also impact the team’s dynamics. This not only impacts the skills they can bring to the team that transfer to their behavior, but also the attitudes towards teams. The persuasion techniques required to gather team members around a clear sense of mission may have to be more varied and engaging than if the team were more homogeneous.
Using the definition of team dynamics from the Encyclopedia of Management two broad categories of team dynamics were identified namely, attitudes and behaviors. I chose to review four factors that impacted group dynamics and referenced several diverse sources to illustrate my argument.
Helms, M. M., & Gale (Firm). (2009). Encyclopedia of management. Detroit, MI: Gale Cengage.
Hoover, K. R., & Donovan, T. (2008). The elements of social scientific thinking.
Pinto, J. K. (2016). Project Management: Achieving Competitive Advantage, (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Taylor, J. R. (2001). The computerization of work: A communication perspective. Thousand Oaks [u.a., CA: Sage Publ.
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-399. doi:10.1037/h0022100