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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Small Group Dynamics

I love small group dynamics. Like an engineer staring at a box of tinker toys, I just get my thrills out of observing people in small groups.

We just started having people over to our house as part of our church "life group" and aside from great discussion and participation by everyone, what I have enjoyed is watching different people react in the group.

An instant reaction of any time is often unguarded and uncensored. As a result, what you see is straight from their brain or heart and directly to the world. A truly uncensored reaction gives such insight into what motivates, influences and hinders an individual. This insight is useful when connecting with that individual. If you understand what motivates them, you can motivate them. If you understand what influences them, you can influence them. This is what leadership is all about.

In business, a management team is essentially a small group and therefore subject to small group dynamics. To get the most out of your team, you have to understand how small groups work.

For instance the 4 stages of small groups are:
  1. Forming - the group assembles for the first time
  2. Storming - the group struggles to assimilate everyone into the rules of operation
  3. Norming - the group accepts the rules of operation
  4. Performing - the group begins to accomplish what it was created to do

If you get frustrated in the storming stage because one individual seems to be struggling with a particular group parameter, you may alienate the individual by forcing the rule on them and not letting them resolve the issue them self.

Jerry Hampton, small group facilitator, writes some great answers to FAQ's of small groups. Everything from when to start and the day of the week to hold meetings to when and how to kick someone out of your group.