I’ve spent the last two weeks in week-long immersions with groups and I feel like I have fallen back in love with group working again. This experience has reminded me of the HUGE potential that exists when people truly collaborate together and the work that needs to be done to get there.
This chart is a summary of just some of the key theories around group dynamics and the factors that influence group development, and yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. People, as individuals, are intriguing – who knows why we do the things we do in our complex systems of thoughts and feelings. When we then compound that by bringing groups of people together, we create even more complex systems of behaviour that range from the predictable to the bizarre.
I have spent my entire career working with groups and still experience a range of emotions in these spaces, from fear and frustration to heartfelt admiration for the pure tenacity of humanity.
What never ceases to amaze me is that groups are still thrown together in the workplace, and expected to collaborate effectively without any care or expertise in group dynamics. Just think what this means for the decisions that are made in senior leadership teams, when they come together! What wrangles go on in these groups for power and authority? How conscious are they of their decision making processes, and therefore the efficacy of the decisions they make? How much attention is given to the maintenance of relationships in these groups, versus the tasks they are expected to work on?
And yet the magic of groups is that when we work with a group to understand and embrace differences, face into the conflicts arise, and focus on robust collective decision making (rather than individually needing to be ‘right’), we can do amazing work together – that is where the magic happens, and that is the work I love!