Understand group dynamics

Related areas
TL;DR recommendations
—Pick one model of group dynamics, and understand the different stages groups go through, and what they might need for each —Conflict is a natural part of any group development. Groups cannot move into productivity flow, it they don’t pass through some sort of conflicting situations —Group dynamics heavily influence the development of trust, relationships, and group cohesion

Group dynamics refer to the patterns of interactions, relationships, and behaviors that occur within a group. It encompasses how individuals in a group communicate, collaborate, make decisions, and influence one another.

They play a crucial role in shaping the overall functioning and effectiveness of a group.

Recognising the different dynamics and knowing how to leverage them is essential for a series of reasons:

—You can leverage group dynamics to foster collaboration and cooperation among participants.

—Conflict is a natural part of group dynamics. By understanding the underlying causes of conflict, facilitators can facilitate discussions, mediate disagreements, and help the group find mutually beneficial solutions.

—Skilled facilitators can create a safe and inclusive space where all participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and perspectives. By understanding group dynamics, facilitators can identify barriers to participation and employ strategies to encourage active engagement from all members.

—Group dynamics heavily influence the development of trust, relationships, and group cohesion. By fostering positive group dynamics, facilitators create a supportive environment where participants feel connected and committed to the group's objectives.

How you can recognize the group development stages in a workshop?

Here are the five team development stages based on Susan Wheelan's model, which we learned from Katharina Jacobi, from Mischief Makers, during one of our ButterMixer events.

Learn how to identify in which stage is the group, and how you can support he group to navigate each stage productively.

  1. Dependency and inclusion stage:

—Behaviors: Group members may be polite and cautious, seeking to understand each other's roles and responsibilities.

—Tips: Facilitate icebreaker activities to help members get to know one another. Clearly communicate the group's purpose, goals, and expectations. Encourage active listening and open communication.

—Tools: Check-in and IDOARRT

  1. Counter dependency and fight Stage:

—Behaviors: Conflict and disagreements may arise as group members express differing opinions and vie for influence or control.

—Tips: Encourage open and respectful dialogue. Establish ground rules for constructive conflict resolution. Facilitate active listening and empathy to foster understanding among group members. Provide guidance on effective communication and negotiation skills.

  1. Trust and structure stage:

—Behaviors: Group members start to develop trust and cohesion. They collaborate more effectively and become more comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.

—Tips: Foster a supportive and inclusive environment. Facilitate team-building activities and exercises to strengthen relationships and promote collaboration. Encourage active participation and value diverse perspectives. Provide positive reinforcement for cooperative behaviors.

  1. Work and productivity stage:

—Behaviors: The group experiences a sense of identity and camaraderie. They reinforce positive behaviors and uphold established norms.

—Tips: Recognize and acknowledge the group's achievements and progress. Reinforce positive behaviors and adherence to agreed-upon norms. Encourage members to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. Foster a sense of pride and shared identity within the group.

  1. Final stage:

—Behaviors: The group focuses on continuous learning, growth, and adaptation. They seek to improve their processes and outcomes.

—Tips: Encourage reflection and self-assessment within the group. Facilitate discussions on lessons learned and areas for improvement. Promote a culture of innovation and openness to change. Support the group in setting new goals and developing strategies for ongoing development.

🧰 For your toolbox:

đź“š There are several models explaining team development phases, and how dynamics are shifting within groups. Here's a list with 11 of the most common ones you can explore.

📚 ”Group Dynamics and Behaviour” by Hüseyin Gençer, published in Universal Journal of Educational Research 7(1): 223-229, 2019

🎥 Rethinking group dynamics: How to be better together | Daria Vodopianova | TEDxUniMelb

🎥 Group Dynamics—A mischievous exploration with Katharina Jacobi from Mischief Makers