Individuals have joined an eight-week psycho-educational group to learn and develop strategies and skills to manage their lives. During the first few weeks the group had been quiet, however, in the beginning of the third week a member of the group raised concern stating that they (the group) were not happy being lectured to each week. John, the group leader continued on without much acknowledgement, which resulted in another member becoming disgruntled. The member stated that perhaps if John did not listen to them, they would not listen to him. It appears that there are dysfunctions in the group’s functioning, which could hinder the group’s and leader’s ability to work together if issues are not resolved. It is hypothesized that there are issues in group cohesion, leadership, an imbalance and lack of task and maintenance needs and problems in the initial contracting and group structure. Suggested leader interventions and potential outcomes will later be discussed. When intervening, time, feedback and micro-counselling skills should be considered (Benson, 2001).
Dysfunctions in group dynamics can hinder a group’s ability to work together and can somewhat weaken the group leader’s efforts to maintain a productive, progressive and cohesive environment (Justice & Jamieson, 1999). One cause of dysfunction is group’s is a too much or a lack of cohesion. Cohesion plays a key role in the group’s success; it refers to the bond of a group characterized by the degree of members’ commitment and efforts to achieving the group’s goals (Harris & Sherblom, 2008). It appears that cohesion in this group has been slowly building, though members have been quiet it is believed that they have spoken amongst each other and built cohesion without the help of the John.
By the third week of this particular group, cohesion seemed greater than the previous weeks, resulting in groupthink; members voicing their concerns assuming a consensus among members. Harris & Sherblom (2008) suggest that although cohesion is a positive component of groups, too much of it can impair the process of decision-making resulting in groupthink. Groupthink refers the weakness of a group’s decision making due to a consensus tendency among members, which resulted from the pressure to conform (Harris & Sherblom, 2008). The occurrence of groupthink in this particular group is characterized by the belief that everyone is in unanimous agreement; that they were unhappy about the current structure of the group; and they did not like being lectured to. There is potential for groupthink to become a norm, which would not allow individuals to voice their own opinions, but instead, be spoken for by other members.
One distinct cause of dysfunction within this group is the leader himself; as a leader, he lacks the micro-counselling skills that are necessary for building rapport and a cohesive environment. It appears he was lacking the ability to reflect on immediate feelings, actively listen to what members were saying, and show respect for members. John has performed well in delivering the information that he has been asked to, but he has not maintained effective working relationships among members. John has taken on an a role in which he has been dictating the way the group is run without involving members in the process, resulting in hostility. He can be described as an autocratic leader; one who is perceived as predominantly concerned about achieving the tasks and goals (Goethals, Sorenson & Burns, 2004).
Groups progress through a series of developmental stages, which have their own characteristics where behaviour can be predictable and normalized (Virginia, Andrew & April, 2004). Virginia et al. (2004) suggest that looking at the developmental stages of a group helps leaders and facilitators understand particular behaviours and choose appropriate responses to group behaviour. In this particular type of group, is it quite normal for the group to be quiet during the...
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