We participate in groups and teams at all stages and phases of our lives, from play groups, to members of an athletic team, to performing in a band, or performing in a play. We form groups based on personal and professional interests, drive reduction, and for reinforcement.
Through group and team work we can save time and resources, enhance the quality of our work, succeed professionally, or accomplish socio-political change.
As you recall, a group is composed of three or more people who interact over time, depend on each other, and follow shared rules and norms. A team is a specialized group which possesses a strong sense of collective identity and compatible and complimentary resources.
There are five general types of groups depending on the intended outcome. Primary groups are formed to satisfy our long-term emotive needs. Secondary groups are more performance based and concern themselves with accomplishing tasks or decision making. Personal growth groups focus on specific areas of personal problem solving while providing a supportive and emotionally positive context. Learning groups are charged with the discovery and dissemination of new ideas while problem solving groups find solutions.
Once a group comes together, they go through typical stages (forming, storming, norming, performing, and terminating) to develop roles, create a leadership strategy, and determine the process for decision making. While numerous specific group roles exit, the four categories of roles include: task, social-emotional, procedural, and individual roles. It is likely that members will occupy multiple roles simultaneously as they participate in groups.
There are three broad leadership styles ranging from least to most control—laissez faire, democratic, and authoritarian. Also related to power and control are options for decision making. Consensus gives members the most say, voting and compromise may please some but not others, and authority rule gives all control to the leader. None of the options for leadership styles and decision making are inherently good or bad—the appropriate choice depends on the individual situation and context. It is important for groups not to become victims of groupthink as they make decisions.
You apply the principles of interpersonal communication in many settings in your daily life. A common setting is while working in small groups or teams. This type of communication happens casually as you interact with family and friends as well as more formally when you attempt to solve a challenge at work, at school, or while volunteering for a service activity. This Course will focus on the principles of small group communication.
Completing this course should take you approximately 8 hours. Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Identify specific competencies of the interpersonal communication process used in facilitating small group communication;
- Identify the stages of small group development;
- Identify typical setting for small group communication;
- Explain the roles of people in small groups;
- Apply the theories of communication to the small group setting; and
- Identify ethical and unethical applications of communication in small groups.