A group is defined as two or more people interacting with each other and are united by the fact that they share common objectives and want to achieve the same. For it to be defined as a group, the individuals participating have to accept the responsibilities, obligations and the expectations of the group. Any collection of people can not just be called a group, for example a collection of people waiting at a train station is not a group, groups need social cohesion and interaction to exist amongst its members (Sherif, 1916 – 1982).
Groups can either be classified as formal (secondary groups) or informal (primary groups). Informal groups have no clear organizational structure, a good example of this kind of group is family, these kinds of groups are generally smaller in size and permanent. Formal groups have structures laid down and documented which are designed to guide the individuals in the group so that they carry out their responsibilities in accordance with these guidelines so as to achieve the group’s goals (Hare 1962). They are larger than the informal groups and less permanent. They can last for several years or for a very short time. Usually they are disbanded as soon as the task is complete or rather the goal and objective is achieved. Groups formed in organizations to solve organizational problems are examples of formal groups. Face to face interaction is not necessary in these types of groups. In these kinds of groups, individuals who are far apart can work as a group to solve the tasks while interacting, through phones or by any other means unlike the informal groups.
Today most organizations have realized the importance of using team work in the solving of company problems and general running of their operations (Turner 2001). Teams exist within groups. A team is a group of people who work closely together to achieve a goal that is common to all of them. Formation of teams/groups is the best way to solve problems especially the ones that need multiple skills and judgement. Research shows that teams have been able to solve more difficult problems than individuals. For a team to be successful, it needs to be given the resources it requires by the management (Smith 2003). These resources are in terms of support, money and time. A team cannot be successful without the above resources. Designing jobs around groups has several advantages. The management of an organization usually form groups or teams to work on different tasks and solve the existing problems based on the knowledge and skills they posses. In good teams, the ideas and suggestions of every participating individual are usually respected and considered despite e of their rank. This is advantageous to the organization as there is diversity of views.
This improves the quality of the results achieved and the decisions made based on these results are reliable as they are made based on a reliable suggestion. Use of groups provides the management with alternative approaches to a problem. A team usually is composed of individuals with experience and skills and because human beings are diverse in nature, every member will have a different opinion of approaching the task. Some of these suggestions may be cheaper and faster ways of solving the problem. Others may improve the quality of the organization’s output. This aspect of offering alternative approaches to a problem is important for any organization as they eliminate the vice of putting all eggs in one basket. The organization does not have to stop operating in the event that one approach to solving a problem fails as it can turn to the other available alternatives. This could help in saving a lot of money and time which are vital resources for any organization.
Using groups to carry out tasks generates results that are more complete and knowledgeable (Rosen 2004). This is because it involves combing skills of many people. The participating individuals usually will exchange ideas and information. It is known that no man is an island and no individual can know everything in their field. To complement themselves, human beings need each other. The forming of groups brings together people of different talent to brainstorm hence the results they give in form of a solution to the specific problem in most cases is more complete and knowledgeable than the one that would have been gotten by an individual. Groups giver results and solutions that are of higher quality than those given by an individual. This is because the individuals take time to discuss the problem, all the ideas and suggestions offered are considered and none ignored and the decision reached by all the members of the group. The fact that it involves many brains makes the results to be of higher quality than the ones that would have been arrived at by one individual. It is argued that the use of groups to perform a task always outperforms even the most creative and intelligent individual considered to be the best (Richard, Byham 7 Wilson 1991).
Research has shown that Knowledge generated from group work is more complete and conclusive as compared to that generated by one individual. Group work information is viewed as more reliable hence the decision reached tat by a group is usually more accepted than that one from a single individual. This implies that there is more acceptance both internally and externally of a decision that is made by a group as it is seen to be more transparent and democratic than that of one individual. An organization can also use teams to develop and improve the skills and knowledge of the participating individuals. This is possible as the members learn from each other as they argue and discuss the solution to the problem. The different skills are exchanged and at the end of the project the individuals usually are better than they were before.
As much as team work is a good way of solving an organization’s problems and performing its task, employees should be involved in individual achievement and the organization should encourage competition amongst the employees. This is because employees are more motivated and work harder when they know that individual efforts are recognized. The use of groups usually has the disadvantage of the individuals being lazy as they know that the credit is shared. When individual efforts are recognized, the individual employee takes all the credit and benefits that come with it. This is motivating especially where reward strategy applies. The individual employees work harder and compete amongst themselves to achieve the reward which could be inform of promotion or increase in pay. Encouraging employees to work as individuals also saves time and decreases internal conflicts ( Huber 2006). This is because the employees have no opportunity to interact and interfere with each others work. Every one is focussed on their task hence eliminating time wastage that is very characteristic of group work as they argue to find a solution to a problem and sometimes fall apart creating internal conflicts. Encouraging individual work improves the output of the organization.
The encouragement of individual work minimizes the problem of pressure towards conformity of employees Cooper & Channon, 1998). The individual employees work at their own pace and in their own way. This encourages them to bring out their unique skills and talents which can be tapped by the organization to achieve its goals and vision. The employees are not suppressed by any pressure or any group leader as is the case with team work where one has conform with the norms of the group hence may not really bring out his best. When employees are involved in individual achievement, they become more committed to the organization. This is because they are their own control and also know that they have career objectives to meet. The individuals are driven to achieve these career objectives hence give their best when performing their tasks.
Their also is ownership of results in this system. It is easier to know who to hold responsible in case of any eventualities eliminating the existence of blame game. This is not the case with group work where there is no particular person to hold responsible. Individuals know that they are responsible for their decisions hence take their tasks very seriously. They will do proper research and make sure that the decision they are making is the best. This improves the quality of their work hence the organization’s performance. It also is easy for the management to know which step to tare as they have a particular person to hold responsible in case a mistake is committed (Morrison1998).Management individual assessment easier. It eliminates unfairness as the individuals are judged on their performance. It reduces the possibility of the management being biased as the individual results are evidence of their good or bad performance. The management also gets to who which training to give to which employee as their individual work can be assessed and evaluated. The employee’s weaknesses are evident hence they can be helped in improving them. The fact that competition is encouraged when individuals’ achievement is focussed on generally improves the performance of the organization (Simon 1976).
I believe that an organization should use both systems in its operation depending on the situation. The use of groups and team work is highly encouraged when a problem that requires multiple skills arises. Problems whose solution need to be given to an external institution should also be solved using a group This is because decisions reached at by groups are more accepted and believed to be more reliable than those made by individual. Groups are also important when the organization wants to develop some skills amongst its employees. This is possible as the individuals develop these skills during the discussions. They exchange information and ideas hence learn from each other. The use of groups is only successful if there is availability of resources. The management has to give the group all the equipment and time they require to carry out the task. They also need maximum support from the top management and the decision they come up with should be treated with seriousness so that they can feel important. There also has to be good communication amongst the group members. Care should be taken when selecting the individuals that form a group. This should be based on their experience and skills in relation to the problem. The team leader should also be well chosen so that the coordination of the group is professional hence the results are of high quality.
When the organization wants to do promotions and is evaluating its employees, individual achievement should be emphasized on. This enables the management to know what training to give to specific employees and who to promote, demote, fire and retain. This system also enables the organization to identify each individuals talent hence can utilise it to achieve its vision. It can therefore be said that both systems are should be used by any organization that wants to be successful as long as they are used in the right context.
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