Kurt Lewin, a change management expert, and social psychologist coined the term “group dynamics” in the early 1940s. He noted team members have distinct behaviors and roles when they work in a group. “Group dynamics” relates to the effects of these behaviors and roles on other team members and on the group.

A group which has a positive group team dynamic is easy to spot. Team members work towards a collective decision, trust one another and hold each other accountable for making things happen. Also, research has found that a positive dynamic team is near twice as creative as a normal group.

Whereas people’s behavior disrupts work in a poor dynamic group. Hence, the group may take a wrong decision, or not come down to any decision, because group members could not search for options effectively.

What Causes Poor Group Dynamics?

  • Weak leadership: when the group lacks a strong leader, members who are dominant will often take charge of the group which would lead to focus on the wrong priorities, lack of direction, and internal fighting.
  • Excessive defense to authority: this happens when people want to be seen as agreeing with the leader and hence hold back from expressing their own views.
  • Blocking: this happens when team members act in a way that disturbs the information flow in the group. People can adopt the following block roles:
    • The aggressor: this person is inappropriately outspoken or often disagrees with other
    • The negator: this group is generally negative about other’s ideas
    • The withdrawer: this person doesn’t engage in the discussion
  • Free riding: some group members leave all the work to their colleagues and would take it easy. Free riders may work hard on their own, but would limit their offering in a group situation, also known as “social loafing”.

Approaches for Improving team Dynamics

Know your team

Role of a leader is to guide the development of the group. Start by learning about the stages the group goes through in development. When you understand these stages, you would be able to anticipate problems that could occur, including concerns with poor group dynamics. Also, understand positive and negative group roles and how they can affect the group. All this will help you strategize how to deal with possible problems.

Define roles and responsibilities

Teams who develop poor dynamics often lack direction or focus, a team member struggles with their role in the group. This can be solved by creating a team charter, defining group’s mission and objectives and everyone’s roles and responsibilities as soon as you form the group.

Break down barriers

Make use of team-building sessions so that everyone knows each other especially when new members join the organization. These sessions ease new employees into the organization gently and also aid in fighting the “black sheep effect”, which occurs when team members turn against people which they consider to be different.

Focus on communication

Open communication is the key to good team dynamics, so make sure every team member is communicating openly. Make use of all the forms of communication your team uses – shared documents, meetings, emails – to avoid confusion. If the status of a certain project has changed, or if you have any information to pass on, let team members know as soon as possible. That way it is ensured that everyone is updated with the same information.

Explore: communication skills training benefits

An effective team is way more than a group of people combined to accomplish a goal. Because teams are an intrinsic part of how we work, we easily believe that we know what makes a team perform well, but that is mostly not the case. Team leaders must put on effort to form a good dynamic team.

Therefore, for improving team dynamics you can follow these suggestions.

Contact us if you are interested in a team-building-related training program that is tailored to the needs of your organization or team.