As human beings, we are faced with many situations where we have to work in a group environment so as to achieve certain goals. A group is defined as a number of people who carry out various tasks together in a bid to achieve predetermined goals and objectives. Groups are commonplace in the class environment where collaborative working is encouraged. Recently, I was a member of a group and experienced firsthand the effects that effective communication can have on the working of a group.
In this paper, shall provide an analysis of my experience while working with a group in preparation for a presentation in class. I shall in particular highlight the role that good cooperation and effective communication played in making the group project successful. In addition, I shall discuss the various issues that could have had a negative effect on my group if they were not properly handled.
The Group’s Constituents
In the recent past, I served as a component of a 5 member group while making preparations for a presentation in class. This particular group comprised of 3girls and 2boys (including me). We were all from different countries of origin and had varied cultural backgrounds. In addition to this, none of us had any prior well-established relationship with each other and as such, we were like strangers. In spite of this, we were able to work in harmony and achieve the desired results in a timely fashion.
Positive Attributes of my Group
As a group, we had a number of meetings to discuss our project. During the initial group meetings, we as the group members shared a number of brief talks with each other about our courses and other things related to the university and social life. While these talks were not relevant to the presentation we were preparing, they helped bring about group cohesion. Huszczo (2004) states that group performance relies on the strength of the relationship that exists between members of a team. As such, this friendship can be deemed as a natural force that may affect individual performance either positively or negatively.
For example, if members of a group have a strong friendship, this would mean that they communicate a lot amongst themselves. This in turn may pull other group members into such discussions. As such, a social atmosphere is created within the group and this enables group members to enjoy being in a group. This type of satisfaction ensures that the group members are motivated and committed to group tasks. These positive attributes further increase the level of performance exhibited by individual members of a group (Gottlieb, 2003).
Effective communication is deemed as the cornerstone on which any successful relationship, be it business or personal, is built (Adair, 2009). This is the case in group settings where communication issues may decrease the productivity of the group and even cause conflicts among group members. As such, it is vital to develop relevant messages and ensure that his correct information is passed on through an appropriate channel.
There exist various factors that one should always consider when setting up effective communication strategies (Hargie, 2006). The strategy adopted is especially significant since it may result in the success or failure of the communication efforts. In our case, we chose to use cell phones, emails, and face to face communication. Our choice of emails and cell phones as the desired modes of communication was due to a number of reasons.
Emails enabled us to send multiple messages to every member of the group in a fast manner. In addition, emails gave the sender the opportunity to properly articulate themselves so as to avoid any misconceptions. Cell phones proved to be very handy when delivering urgent information such as the convening of an urgent unscheduled group meeting.
In my experience, all members of the groups exhibited a high level of commitment to the project. Commitment can be defined as the level of determination and loyalty exhibited by an individual towards achieving particular goals and objectives. According to Malhotra (2000), commitment in a group is promoted through the problem-solving mechanism being employed. As such, the author suggests that finding the problem and solving it increases the commitment levels exhibited by group members towards the solution. For example, if group members are actively involved in the decision-making process, the solution found gives them a sense of ownership.
Overcoming Common Group Process Issues
A common issue in groups is dominating which is where a group member dominates the discussion or finds ways to make the discussion centered on their own issues or interests. Kolin (2009, p.87) rightfully declares that the group process is about “sharing and responding to ideas, not about taking over”. When one member of the group dominates; the group process suffers since dominance is accompanied by aggressive and territorial behavior.
Having a member dominate can easily derail the group from important issues as the issues of concern to the dominant member are addressed. My group did not suffer from this since none of its 5 constituents dominated group discussions. Instead, we each participated in an equitable manner and divided work according to each member’s competencies.
An impressive attribute about my group is that we did not experience sub-grouping. Sub-grouping is defined as the formation of subsets to the main group which may operate in or out of harmony with the objectives of the main group. This occurs when members maintain out-of-group contact and socialization for the well being of the group (Guffey, Rogin & Rhodes, 2009). While there are instances where sub-grouping may be beneficial by forming stronger ties within the group, it is most harmful since members of the group form cliques which sometimes take priority over the main group. This sub-grouping may prevent the group from attaining the desired level of cohesion.
We had a number of group meetings during which we discussed the finer points of our presentation. A major advantage in my group was that no member declined to participate. In some instances, some members fail to participate in the group due to a lack of confidence or because the individual group member fails to see the significance or importance of the group to him/her. Declining to participate hurts the group since all members are deprived of the chance of hearing the viewpoint of the member who refuses to speak out (Webne-Behrman, 2008). My group, therefore, gained from the positive input of every member.
A unique feature of my group was the different multicultural backgrounds that each member had. Each participant, therefore, brought into the group their own unique perspective on life. While this resulted in some interpersonal conflicts as these heterogeneous people converge in the group setting, it also resulted in new insights being gained by the members of the group as well as a possibility for coming up with new solutions to problems.
These varied views result in enriched groups and the effective resolution of the conflicts may assist in strengthening group cohesion. The multicultural setting of my group also had other inherent merits since as Brown (2000) contends, diversity offers a great understanding of how different people perceive things leading to a better understanding of the human race.
To ensure that we were well prepared, we did a practice run twice before the class presentation. The practice sessions were very important since they gave us an opportunity to criticize each other. Admirably, the individuals being criticized took the criticism well and reacted favorably to this constructive criticism. This is as opposed to most group settings where members mostly view the opinions of others as ill-motivated or as a personal attack (Greene & Burleson, 2003). Resisting constructive criticism can bring about issues in the group. By the end of the group work, we came up with a presentation that was satisfactory. From the positive remarks we obtained from our tutor and the reactions of the classmate, I can conclude that our group work was impressive.
In this paper, I have reviewed a group experience that I had while preparing for a class presentation so as to demonstrate the role that good cooperation and effective communication played in making the group project successful. From this paper, it is clear that my group overcame most of the issues such as; dominating, reacting negatively to criticism, and sub-grouping, which are common to the most group. My group also made use of appropriate communication means so as to ensure that the communication process took place effectively. As a result of this, my group was able to favorably achieve the results that we had set out to achieve.
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