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How to Manage Group Dynamics

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					How to Manage Group Dynamics by Barbara Stennes, CSP Managers have long viewed meetings as a necessary evil. This attitude is understandable but unfortunate, as a good meeting should be an active forum in which colleagues exchange ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. The fact that so many people abhor meetings is testament to managers’ inability to manage group dynamics. Groups function on two different planes: “content” and “process.” Content involves a group’s inputs and outputs, while process refers to the way those inputs and outputs are controlled and manipulated. It’s important to realize that these two planes are not independent, as the process controls the content. Thus, the conventional wisdom that meetings are pointless and mind-numbing reflects a misunderstanding of these two elements. The fact that meetings produce such poor content is actually symptomatic of a poorly controlled process. To be more concrete, process includes such factors as agendas (whether hidden or not), the personal needs of group members, feelings, norms, rules, and informal leadership. Lapses in a group’s process hamper the efficiency of the organization even when individual members competently carry the work. Again, managers have a significant role to play in this context. They have to study the various aspects of the organizational environment (e.g. quality of communication, decision making methods, etc.) to eliminate the hurdles. In this situation, the manager’s task is not to make decisions or boss his/her employees around. Rather, the manager should behave as a facilitator, working to improve the process that constrains the team’s outputs and productivity. This means guiding the meeting in such a way as to maximize the contribution of all participants and successfully resolve the issue at hand. In a group, different members take up different tasks, but the manager’s main duty is to ensure that the others can perform their jobs. This often-overlooked

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aspect of group dynamics and meeting management is a major obstacle to the effectiveness of many meetings.

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posted:8/18/2008
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Description: Conventional wisdom maintains that a team leader is the “boss,” but this belief is mistaken and shortsighted. Rather, the team leader’s role is to guide the process that the rest of the team follows, removing obstacles and enabling the team to flourish.
Barbara Stennes Barbara Stennes President www.ResourcesUnlimited.com
About Barbara Stennes is the president and owner of Resources Unlimited, a training and consulting firm based in Des Moines, Iowa. Since 1980 Barbara has conducted training sessions or facilitated meetings with 70,000 people throughout North America, South America, and Europe. Barbara is an authorized Inscape Publishing distributor who is certified in DiSC from Inscape Publishing. Resources Unlimited provides Inscape Publishing assessments, DiSC assessments, EPIC Account, DiSC Certifications, and other training materials. Barbara is also a lifetime certified master trainer in all of Edward de Bono's Creative Thinking Methods. She was personally trained by Dr. Edward de Bono to facilitate seminars on creativity and innovative thinking, including Six Thinking Hats, Lateral Thinking, and other de Bono Thinking Systems.