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Productive work groups are of strategic importance to modern organizations. The purpose of this paper is to briefly outline the significance of group process factors. These process factors cover areas such as group norms, group cohesiveness, and group development. The different group factors are all interrelated and have an effect on other group factors. A work group is a gathering of two or more people working together towards the achievement of a common goal. The process factors which influence the operation of groups can be instrumental to whether the group functions as a positive synergy or a negative synergy, and the effectiveness of the group as whole.

The first group process relates to group norms. Norms are a common occurrence in most aspects of society. Group norms are rules or standards of behaviour that are collectively shared by a group in order to develop a sense of uniformity among the membership of a group. Group norms illustrate a consensus of common values relating to a variety of different issues such as socialising. Socialising plays an important role in forming the norms of a group. Group norms can determine the type of socialising that the group might engage in. Other facets of group norms are the distribution and allocation of materials, equipment, workspace, and worker remuneration (Bartol, Martins, Tein & Matthews, 001, p.468).


There are four mechanisms through which group norms are typically formed; they are explicit statements, critical events, primacy, and carryover behaviours. Explicit statements illustrate the expectations placed upon a group member. Normally an explicit statement is a directive from one member of a group to a new member of what sort of standard or behaviour the group requires. Critical events are precedents that dictate the future direction of the group. Critical events are seen as en event that has occurred in the past and has predetermined the course of action in relation to such an event occurring in the future. Primacy is a mechanism by which the group adopts a pattern of following the primary actions and behaviours of the group as a norm. Carryover behaviours are norms that have been introduced to the group that the members of the group have experienced as norms in previous group situations (Bartol et al., 001).

The significance of group norms to the performance of a group is of immense importance. Groups need norms to help facilitate group participation. If a member fails to accept the norms of the group, the member may become ostracized from the group. Group norms also help unite groups by providing a common bond between workers. A negative aspect of group norms can be that individuals may go against the rules of the organization to conform to the norms of a group (Smith & Bell, 14). However, a group that has acceptable norms may operate more efficiently and will help the group develop a sense of cohesion.

The second group process factor relates to group cohesiveness. Group cohesion deals with how a group sticks together and the impact that group cohesion can have upon the work level of a group. Riordan and Weatherly (1, p.10) state that group cohesiveness is important to the functioning of the group, and depends upon a worker having some form of identification with the group. Groups that have strong cohesion and a sense of group identity have better greater communication within the group than a group that has little cohesion. Members of cohesive groups demonstrate sensitivity to other group members and feel more satisfied with their profession (Bartol et al., 001).

Group cohesion and identification also have an impact upon the performance of the group. Work group cohesiveness is derived from the personal cognitive connection between an individual and the work group. One of the benefits of group cohesion is a reduction in absenteeism (Goodman & Atkins, 184). Groups that are well formed and respectful of one another tend not to be absent for menial reasons, as individuals feel that they have a responsibility to the group. Negative aspects of strong group cohesion be that the group might attempt to makeup for an under achieving worker, or if a group has good communication the group might engage in more talk than work.

Group cohesion and group norms have a significant impact upon the performance of a group. Groups that display strong cohesion and high performance norms tend to be the most efficient performers. In contrast, groups that are highly cohesive with low performance norms tend to deliberately lower performance levels as a group. Group cohesion is determined by factors such as workers having similar values, attitudes and personalities. Groups that are cohesive tend to develop a group understanding of events and circumstances that can exert a positive influence upon work performance (Bartol et al., 001, p.470).

Group development is the final aspect that influences group processes. Tuckman (165, p.p. 84-) established that there are five distinct stages to the group development process. The first of the five stages is called the forming stage. The forming stage involves the formation of a group of people that are to work towards a common task. In the forming stage the members try to gain an understanding of the task at hand and attempt to work out the best method for completing the task. Members also try to gain an insight into the other members of the group, and establish the basis of how the group begins to interact.

The second stage of group development is the storming stage. The storming stage could also be called the conflict stage, as it the stage of development where conflicts usually occur. Conflicts can range from a difference of opinion over key issues involved in achieving a task, to personality conflicts between members of the group. It is important for the group to find some common ground and resolve the conflicts at this stage, as the group needs to cooperate. Unresolved conflicts can lead to an impact in the effectiveness and efficiency of the group. The storming stage can lead to the emergence of a group leader who can either resolve disputes or can manage to be the most persuasive in arguing their case.

The third stage of development is the norming stage. It is at this stage that group starts to develop group norms and attempts to build a sense of group cohesion. Members begin to identify with the group, and each member gathers an understanding of the role they are expected to play within the group. The norming stage is crucial for the group to unite and attempt to build upon the areas that the group has in common.

The fourth stage of the development process is the performing stage. At this stage the group focuses collectively on accomplishing the task. It is important that group norms have a positive influence on the group in relation to expected levels of performance. Group norms and cohesiveness will determine whether the group develops a positive or negative synergy. The individual members of the group need to identify with the group in order for the group to be able to effectively solve problems. Each individual needs to work towards accomplishing their individual goal while also working towards the task of the group.

The final stage of group development process is the adjourning stage. At this stage the group should have accomplished all of the tasks that the group was attempting to achieve. The group normally breaks up and members prepare to disengage from the group. The group may hold some form of social event to celebrate the group’s achievement and bring closure to the workgroup cohesion. The desire for some form of celebration will depend upon the cohesion of the group, the time spent together, and the complexity of the task (Bartol et al., 001). [ words]

It is important to note that not all researchers are in agreement with the group development theory of Tuckman (165). Seeger (18, p.68) argues that the group development process apply only to groups that have never previously met. Patton & Giffin (17) claim that many groups do not follow a sequence of predetermined events, but follow a sequence that is determined by the various elements that constitute the group. Wanous, Reichers & Malik, (184, p.674) suggest that the integration of a newcomer to a group begins a complete new cycle of group development.

To sum upAs we have seen, group norms, group cohesiveness, and group development are significant to the performance and functioning of a group. Group norms should create a positive environment for the workers to form a cohesive group. Group cohesiveness will lead to the group achieving a greater level performance. Group development is essential for the group to establish norms and cohesiveness before completing the goals of the work group. For organizations to create and maintain productive work groups, the organization should follow the theories of group norms, group cohesiveness and group development.


Bartol, K., Martin, D., Tein, M., & Matthews, G., 000, Management, A Pacific Rim Focus, rd Edition, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.

Patton, R., & Giffin, K., 17, Problem-solving group interaction, Harper & Row, New York.

Riordan, C.M., & Weatherly, E.W., 1, ‘Defining and measuring employees identification with their workgroups’, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Vol. 5, No. , p.p. 10-4.

Seeger, J.A., 18, ‘No innate phases in group problem solving’, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 8, No. 4, p.p. 68-68

Smith, J.M., & Bell, P.A., 14, ‘Conformity as a determinant of behaviour in a resource dilemma’, Journal of Social Psychology, Vol.14, Issue .

Tuckman, B.W., 165, ‘Developmental sequence in small groups’, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 6, p.p.84-.

Wanous, J.P., Reichers, A.E., & Malik, S.D., 184, ‘Organizational socialization and group development Toward an integrative perspective’, Academy of Management Review, Vol. , No. 4, p.p. 670-68.

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