The following sample essay on The Forgotten Group Member Case Analysis discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
The “facilitator”, Christine, is assumed to embrace the same roles and adhere to the equivalent theories defined for a “leader”. Also, it is believed that the principles taught within Professor Rasmussen’s Organizational Behaviour class are consistent with those discussed by Dr. Keeping. The outcomes associated with the alternative solutions are based upon the likelihood of their interpretations within the group meeting corresponding with our interpretations of the theories utilized and are not explicitly applied with certainty.
Statement of the Problem
Due to lack of: clearly defined team roles, demonstrated leadership qualities, effort by all members and acknowledgment of communication barriers, conflict was imminent within the group. Immediate problems to be addressed by all members of the group include Janet’s feelings of exclusion from the group and Christine’s lack of insight into the apparent causes of Janet’s loss of motivation to be a group member.
Professor Rasmussen must decide whether to resolve the feelings of inequality between the group members and if delegating a further assignment to Janet is appropriate.
Analysis of the Problem As stated in the course outline received by all students at the commencement of the term, group work is considered to be the primary medium through which applying the theories learned in class is to be implemented. Causes of animosity within the group may be attributed to group dynamics, norm formation, leadership inefficiencies, perceptions, conscientiousness and communication barriers.
As explained by Professor Rasmussen during the second class, all groups undergo four stages of interaction: forming, norming, storming and performing1.
These four phases are also referred to as mutual acceptance, communication and decision making, motivation and productivity and control and organization. Interaction amongst those who have had no previous relations together is facilitated through the first stage; where personal preferences and work schedules are exchanged, strengths and weaknesses made apparent and expectations clarified2. The first group meeting held was used to recognize these necessities. The second stage, where norms, goals and performance ideals are mutually established through discussion, should not occur without careful consideration and input by all members.
The formation of the group failed to fully complete this stage however, allowing the ambiguous actions of members to be perceived incongruently. Norms are behaviours that social groups deem proper when interacting, so that actions may be consistent and activities made predictable3. To be effective, all must clearly understand and adhere to these expectations for there to be cohesiveness. At the commencement of the semester, Professor Rasmussen defined his norms for the groups and required all students to sign a contract, indicating that all expectations have been acknowledged.
Unfortunately, within Christine’s group, not all members abided by the norms. One member in particular, Janet, failed to fulfill the contract to its fullest extent, however, one should not fault the lack of cohesiveness strictly to Janet. The group accepted the norms delivered by Professor Rasmussen but did not redefine or set out norms to be suitable for them selves. Nor was the contract or its contents reviewed during the group meetings. Therefore, it may be inferred that the group failed to establish strict rules or guidelines, causing the situation they are presently in.
Christine, as facilitator, should have ensured that the norms were set as they are a vital aspect of a successful group4. Christine’s style of leadership throughout this situation may be described using the theory of Leader-Member Exchange. This theory focuses upon the unique relations between a leader and their subordinates. Greater personality similarities contribute to closer relations, allowing for stronger bonds to be forged5. These strong personality connections cause the subordinate to be designated a member of the “ingroup”.
The ingroup consists of those who receive special preferences such as inclusion within social activities that occur outside of the organization. Those subordinates who do not receive this special treatment are considered the “outgroup” members. As facilitator, Christine did not form a strong inter-personal relationship with Janet, her ‘subordinate’. As sole member of the outgroup, Janet did not satisfy the need to relate to her colleagues as defined by ERG; a theory first proposed by Clayton Alderfer that defines the needs of existence, relatedness and growth as essential to human motivation.
The need of ‘relatedness’ is the ability to identify with ones peers and establishing a sense of belongingness6. Janet was not able to experience the cohesiveness established through the extracurricular social interactions. The rest of the members were able to receive these benefits and become highly cohesive due to their designated statuses as members of the ingroup. Because Janet was excluded from the ingroup and was allocated to the outgroup, she was lead to encompass unmotivated behaviours. She was lead to feel unmotivated, as she was a victim of the fundamental attribution error principle.
This theory states that one may have their preferences and ideals seen as the primary cause of their actions although situational attributions may be the proper cause7. Janet experienced this bias by the members of her group, as she chose to help her boyfriend with his project instead of meeting with the group at the designated time, as she previously agreed to. From her perspective, she did not intentionally choose to spend the allotted time with her boyfriend, however the group feels that her actions were a blatant attempt to avoid contributing further.
This principle was also used by Janet, as she attributed Christine’s lack of social inclusion to the general dislike of her personality. Due to the diverse personality composition of the group, it is imperative that the leader manages the situation with care to ensure that conflicting ideals do not affect the group’s cohesiveness. Stereotypes attributed amongst the members of the group lead to distrust as well as communication problems. A leader must recognize these issues and allocate the required time towards helping the group unify8.
When Christine first met with her group, she made stereotypical assumptions about each individual based upon her first impressions and the brief biographies supplied to her. One may describe representativeness heuristics as a method in which a person evaluates others based on characteristics or previous occurrences9. Christine utilizes this principle when she assumes that Janet is unmotivated and uninterested with the group project; as she was late to the first meeting and mentioned all her free time was spent with her boyfriend.
This causes the group to feel as though Janet does not want to work with them, which leads her to feel unwelcome. Although Janet has contributed her allotted portion of the assignment, Christine still holds negative feelings due to selective perception10; the ability to omit information, which does not correspond to, established beliefs. Despite the fact that Janet was a fully contributing member, the group continued to hold a negative bias due to her lack of social activity. Also, Mike had the tendency to put forth less effort than other group members, which is looked upon as free riding.
A free rider is one who tries to maximize their outputs while minimizing their level of inputs11. Due to his lack of focus and recurring need to bring humour to all situations, Mike is seen as a fully contributing member because of his constant presence. Christine’s lack of leadership contributed to the differing ways in which each individual was treated, causing the group to have a lack of respect for her position. A person’s conscientiousness defines the range of tasks they wish to sustain and the variety of activities in which they chose to involve themselves.
A person who appears to focus on effectively completing a small number of goals is viewed as displaying ‘high-conscientiousness’. They value the characteristics being responsible, organized and self-disciplined. Anchored at the opposing end of the continuum are those whom are regarded as exhibiting ‘low-conscientiousness’. They apply themselves to a large number of responsibilities that often cause them to become overwhelmed by the volume and incapable of applying the effort required.
People within this category tend to be careless, irresponsible and lack self-sufficiency12. In applying this theory to the case, it is apparent that Janet tends demonstrate characteristics consistent with a less-conscientious person. She is studying at a university, maintaining two jobs and is fully committed to a serious relationship. Therefore, Janet’s time is greatly consumed with a larger variety of activities than others within her peer group. This detracts from her performance in the group-case study.
Communication is an essential element for coordinating efforts and sharing information within any interpersonal atmosphere13. Barriers to communication arose concerning Mike’s free- riding tendencies and Janet’s failure to attend group meetings regularly due to Christine’s failure to fulfill the role of facilitator. Instead of avoiding the conflict, Christine should have resolved the issues as they became apparent, for they caused stronger concentration upon Janet’s individualized status.