Small Group Communication

Types of Small Groups-

Intimate and Social
Task oriented

Social Groups

Membership in the group offers an opportunity to form relationships

Primary Groups

Most Common
Long lasting
Form around important relationships
Shape social identity
Family, friends, gangs, clubs, etc.

Formal decision-making groups

Juries, executive boards

Problem solving/Discussion groups

Have the specific goal of helping group members

Support groups

A set of individuals who come together to address personal problems while benefiting from the support of others who share these issues.

Study groups

A set of individuals who seek to gain the same knowledge

Teams

Work together to carry out a project or compete
Self-directed work team
Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group, a social group, and a problem-solving group all in one.

Self-directed work team

Skilled workers who take responsibility for producing high-quality finished work
Team members are all equally in control
Conduct peer evaluations
Members have complementary skills and experiences
Empowers its employees and encourages change and growth

Small Group Effects-

Social Facilitation
Social Loafing

Social Facilitation

Group members benefit from one another
More work gets done as a result of group collaboration

Social Loafing

Group members distract one another
Less work gets done as a result of distractions
"Too many cooks in the kitchen

Group Size Effects-

Larger groups
Optimal size

Larger groups

Harder to divide work and coordinate
Brings out a leader
Certain members dominate
Longer decision making periods
More formal and less intimate
Less opportunity to contribute

Cliques

form which can cause conflict
Counter Coalition
One subgroup poses itself from another subgroup

Optimal size

5-7 people

Group Cohesiveness-

The closeness, connection, and mutual liking of group members
Increases participation and satisfaction
Increases productivity until the group becomes too social

Stages of Group Development-

Forming
Storming
Norming
Performing
Adjourning
Termination Ritual

Forming

Members negotiate goals and who will be in charge
Friendships form
Individuals try to fit in

Storming

Conflicts begin over leadership and group roles

Norming

Norms emerge among members that govern expected behavior
Roles solidify
A leader emerges

Performing

Members combine skills and knowledge to work toward goals
Hurdles are overcome

Adjourning

Members reflect on accomplishments and failures
Members determine whether group should disband or continue

Termination Ritual

Celebration of achievements

The Punctuated Equilibrium Model

Groups do NOT proceed in stages like above, but instead progress in a punctuated equilibrium process.
Groups realize as deadlines near that they must rush and revise plans.

Group Networks-

Networks
Chain Networks
All-Channel Networks
Wheel Networks

Networks

Patterns of interaction governing who speaks with whom in a group
Centrality
The degree to which one sends and receives messages to and from other group members
Isolation
When a group member sends and receives fewer messages than other members

Chain Networks

Information passed from one member to the next rather than shared among everyone
Can lead to high level of miscommunication
EX: Forwarding e-mails

All-Channel Networks

No leader
All members interact with one another
Useful for brainstorming
Can make group tasks difficult to complete
EX: Round table discussion

Wheel Networks

All members share info with one person, who shares that info with the whole group.

Task Roles

Roles that must be carried out for the group to achieve its objectives.
Information giver
Elaborator
Initiator
Administrator

Information giver

Asks for additional input and clarification

Elaborator

Provides further clarification

Initiator

Helps the group move toward its objective
Presents new ideas and perspectives
Proposes solutions

Administrator

Keeps the group on task

Social Roles

Roles that reflect a member's personality traits and interests
Harmonizer
Gatekeeper
Sensor

Harmonizer

Smooths tension
Settles differences among members

Gatekeeper

Ensures everyone contributes

Sensor

Expresses group feelings, moods and relationships
Capitalizes off of- and changes- the climate

Antigroup Roles

Roles that create problems by focusing on individual needs and not the group.
Blocker
Avoider
Recognition Seeker
Distractor
Troll

Blocker

Destructive communication
Opposes all ideas
Reintroduces previously rejected ideas

Avoider

No participation
Expresses cynicism towards ideas

Recognition Seeker

Calls attention to self
Focuses on personal achievements

Distractor

Goes off on tangents and tells irrelevant stories

Troll

Specific to online communication
Intentionally inserts relevant commentary to spark controversy

Groupthink- is bad

Occurs when group members strive to maintain cohesiveness and minimize conflict by refusing to critically examine ideas, analyze proposals or test solutions

Individual Differences-

Cultural Factors
Communication Apprehension

Role Conflict-

Conflict arises when the expectations for a member's behavior are incompatible

Communication Apprehension

Feeling uncomfortable participating in a group
Lack of self esteem
Status differences
Unbalanced Participation

Symptoms of Groupthink

Members don't express disagreement
Members try to avoid hurting each others feelings
Tough questions are ignored and discouraged
More time spent justifying decisions than testing them
Conforming to majority view

Cultural Factors

Individualist and collectivist relations
Gender relations

Gender relations

Men show focus on power
Women focus on group relations

Individualist and collectivist relations

Individualists speak over collectivists with their opinions.
Collectivists silence their own opinions to prevent group tension

Group Leadership-

Can be assigned or emergent, have any personality, and lead in any manner.
None of these indicate good or bad leadership.
Traits of a good leader
Ability to persuade

Task orientation

Amount of attention placed on the assignment.

Telling

High task orientation
Low relationship orientation
Least mature level

Situational Leadership

The leader should analyze and adapt to the group's needs and talents.
Their success is determined by the ability to fit the needs with the talent by adjusting the aspects of leadership.
The leader can adapt and does so depending on maturity level

Selling

High task orientation
High relationship orientation
Slightly more mature
The leader must provide motivation to encourage the group

Relationship orientation

Amount of attention given to the group members' relationships, conflicts and emotions.

Participating

Low task orientation
High relationship orientation
The leader is not involved with the task but is still part of the group.
The leader mediates conflict

Delegating

Low task orientation
Low relationship orientation
Work falls more on group
Less focus on leadership

Managing meetings

Arrive prepared
Maintain focus
Summarize periodically
Manage time
Follow up

Nonbinding Straw Poll

Informal vote on a decision to help move the group forward

Using technology in meetings

Effective when directly tied to information
Can be distracting

Sources of Power-

Legitimate
Coercive power
Reward power
Expert power

Legitimate

An elected or appointed leader
EX: President

Coercive power

Ability to threaten or harm others
EX: President can fire other elected officials

Reward power

An individual's capacity to provide rewards
EX: A presidential pardon

Referent power

The admiration, respect, or affection that followers have for a leader
EX: Patriotism

Problem Solving Process-

Identify the problem
Analyze the problem
Generate solutions (brainstorm)
Evaluate and choose solutions (pros and cons)
Implement solution
Assess the results

Expert power

An individual's capacity to provide rewards
EX: A presidential pardon

Group Decision Making-

Forces that shape group decisions
Cognitive forces

Cognitive forces

Members' thoughts and beliefs

Psychological forces

Members' personal motives, emotions, attitudes, and values
EX: Fear of losing your job and peer pressure

Social forces

Group standards for behavior that influence decision-making