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“Process Consultation is a set of activities on the part of the consultant that help the client to perceive, understand, and act upon the process events that occur in the client’s environment in order to improve the situation as defined by the client” (Schein 1988). The purposes of this essay is to examine some of the contextual factors of how group dynamics evolve and the role of a process consultant, by exploring the similarities and differences that characterize, to established and effective process consultation when working with a group or team.
The systems approaches focuses attention on the relationship between a system or sub-system and its environment rather than trying to understand things automatically. It follows from this perspective that any enterprise aimed at studying group processes will be shaped by the environment in which it exists.
A well design process implies that the consultant should always select the proper intervention that will be the most helpful at any given time; the consultant should be familiar with a variety of questions, exercises and other forms of intervention when working with groups, at the same time is very important that the proper feedback is given as the group evolves during such process.
Group relations training creates multiple and at times conflictual role constellations. Proving an effective group dynamics process requires some of the multiple role relations that are contained within the consultant-team relationships.
Studying group dynamics in the here-and-now evokes primitive dimension of unconscious life and along with it powerful emotions that are often suppressed in natural work organizations.
Using as an example experiential group relations between students the efforts of introducing the Lewin’s model which was based on his observations of group dynamics and organizational development, “unfreezing-change-refreeze” the model focuses on how people can be motivated to accept organizational change and reject and replace the status quo with a new approach and the roles in organizational development by Schein based on a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, hat has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems, these two models are introduce to explore group dynamics into the classroom. (Kurt Lewin 1996) (Edgar Shein 1988).
While many of these experiments are either so cursory or sufficiently truncated in one way or another that they provide only a superficial taste of the aims of this experiential learning method, other efforts, such as those discussed in class, have succeeded in providing students with deep and intensive theoretical and experiential learning.
One reason teaching group dynamics has been more successful in school settings than in other sorts of work organizations is that there is a basic congruence between the primary task of the group relations in class and that of the school: both are concerned primarily with learning. The general task congruence tells only part of the story, however, because the most dramatic and important difference between the two models stems from the differences in the primary task or tasks that each enterprise pursues.
The defining characteristics of the freestanding group relations is that it can be designed and implemented with an extraordinarily sharp focus on a single primary task of providing learning opportunities. The consistent adherence to that focus provides a “work boundary” or referent against which interpretation of unconscious process can be made. The training program within the school, in contrast, does not pursue the learning task so single-mindedly, or ruthlessly, as it often seems to organization members.
The purposes of the course must conform to the mission of its immediate school environment, which includes not only teaching and learning but credentialing and, in the case of a professional school, professional socialization as well. By its very nature, the embedded group relations training program is more varied and diffuse in its purposes, a fact that creates a different array of opportunities and constraints than those of the freestanding work organization.
In systems theory it is axiomatic that the attempt to pursue more than one task diminishes the effectiveness with which any single task can be achieved. As resources-emotional, intellectual, financial, and material-are deployed against multiple tasks, fewer are available for each. Additional resources are required to manage the inevitable conflicts and strains that emerge in the effort to contain multiple aims. Understanding differences between the traditional modelled and the program embedded in the school environment requires an appreciation of this fact.
Differences in design choices-in the extent to which the more primitive aspects of group and unconscious constrains imposed on the enterprise-all flow from this essential difference, which can be understood in terms of the different environments accomplish the task through balancing protection and vulnerability takes on a different character in each context. The role of grading might be an instructive example. An important part of the school’s mission is to export students’ reason for matriculating.
Organizations in the school’s immediate environment that hire students often make decisions based on their performance. Grades are often used, at least on the surface, as a means of differentiating students according to performance. In keeping with the school’s multiple missions, professors in group dynamics must assign a grade to the students. This poses something of a dilemma: how can students are expected to challenge authority, explore persecutory anxieties, and explore their irrational processes if they are to be graded on their participation?
A structural solution is used to provide the protection necessary to experiential learning. Students are not graded on the basis of the study group or even on classroom behaviour, but on the basis of assigned papers alone. From the group-as-a-whole perspective, doing this ultimately begs the question because it implies the papers are less of“group product” than other instances of members’ behaviour. In fact, from this conceptual vantage point, a paper represents the group’s influence as much as the roles that individuals find themselves in.
For the purpose of grading, however, the whole-group focus must be relinquished, and for this part of the course the professor must work at the individual level of analysis. Thus the management school context creates a set of conditions that requires working at multiple levels of analysis. New avenues for learning are opened. To be sure, the tension between the individual and group levels mirrors an element of organizational reality that can offer important learning to students about the ambiguities and uncertainties of organizational life.
Teachers and administrators must relate to both individual’s behaviour represents his or her group, and they must develop ways of handling the tensions. The added complexity of the credentialing process has costs in terms of depth of inquiry into the group as an entity. Important data and experience from the group as a whole gets channelled into a connection between student and professor. Sometimes students use the movement between levels of analysis defensively by lodging their capacity for inquiry and self reflection largely in the papers and avoiding the exposure of bringing in into the experiential sessions.
At the same time, establishing an individual level relationship creates learning opportunities that are precluded when working solely on the group-as-a-whole level. Students are able to refine their capacity to work conceptually, to work on linking experience and theory, and to deepen their capacities to formulate hypotheses through their based relationship to the professor (which typically develops through the papers). Managing the movement between different levels of analysis and working to prevent defensively motivated oscillations between levels are challenges to students and teachers alike.
The context creates a need for teachers of these courses to develop and refine this skill. To be sure, the contextual environment intrudes into the school-based group training program as well. These self-study groups serve equally as social holograms, bringing in all of the salient group, institutional, and intergroup relationships that are represented by the group membership of students. But in this model, the self-study group’s experience is mediated by a powerfully complex, interdependent, and unmanageable transactional environment- the school itself.
Moving back and forth between different processes can be daunting for the group or team. For example: if we mentioned the student/ teacher relation, the tendency to confuse the differing role requirements of student/ group member and consultant /teacher is strong, and the quite different emotional textures underlying the different role relations pose important ambiguities in student-teacher relations. Students take the course for credit as well as for learning, and the consultant is in the position, at the end of the course, of evaluating students.
Often group members experience interpretation as judgment and attack, leading them to create in fantasy an image of authority as punitive and critical. Interpreting those can lead to fruitful exploration of persecutory anxieties that underlie authority relations in group life. However, interpreting the image of consultants as evaluators is complicated by the close proximity of the formal evaluator role, which is filled by the same person. Question of the consultant/teacher’s capacity to keep the two roles distinguished comes sharply into view in this type of design.
Will the professor be able to contain his feeling within the experiential subsystem and use them in the service of learning? Or is he likely to act out his feeling toward student in experiential groups by unconsciously downgrading the student’s thinking in the papers? If so, then it is hardly safe to explore this possibility, and an essential element of the necessary protection is covertly removed. Consultants along with the professor in the experiential sessions are expected to work with the same range of intense projections.
The authority boundary between consultants and student in those groups attracts fantasies and projection and puts the teacher in the Position of having to adhere to the same sort of emotional abstinence and detachment that any group consultants must. Group relations courses posit a set of inter group relation with the other classes, faculty, and student. The transactional environment of the course is a complex and density interdependent one, comprising a wide variety of individual and groups; some groups like departments are permanent, and other, like classes area temporary.
The conditions required to conduct a traditional course. To extend to which these condition can be negotiated, the course will adopt procedures. Making these choices and judgment goes against the grain of typical class enrolment procedures, and as one might expect it evokes powerful emotional; dynamic. Sometimes student feel unjustly excluded and will mobilize a network of support for their cause, which can involve other faculty, student, or administrations.
The pressure brought to bear can be strong, especially for faculty members, and all of these exchanges involve not only the effort to exert interpersonal influence, but whatever intergroup relations or interdepartmental rivalries exist, these issues can serves as an irritant , or vehicles for historic tension between groups. Pressures to make alternation or special arrangement for certain students during the entry process can be great for junior faculty members when approached by senior ones.
The disturbing feelings that can be evokes around this process can execute tensions between groups, especially where there are pre-existing tensions grounded in ideological, methodological, and political issues, In addition, other class exists in the transactional environment of group dynamics course that are affected by what is happening in the group dynamics course. That are subgroups of student from other course bring their shared experiences from earlier terms into the class, and subgroups of the student are also simultaneously taking other course together.
I have often wondered what it means for another class to contain a small group, say four or five, students who are in the midst of such an interpersonally intense experience. While there has been almost inquiry into this, partly because of the norm of confidentiality, I am sure quite sure the reciprocal influence is great. Another part of process consultation that needs to be considered is the part of being also a coach as group dynamics take place.
When coaching is applied from the process consultant, it tends to portray certain kinds of benefits that could not be seen before in the individual, skills are sharpened thus they become highly skilled individuals, through coaching areas that need development are identified thus room for improvement is created, coaching provides an avenue through which guidance can be accessed by an individual or team, coaching tends to support continual learning which is a process that should be undertaken daily by the team or individual, lastly it instils the team work spirit as well as enhances the productivity level of the team or individual.
Process Consultation as a business has widely taken root; most people want to have the best when it comes to organizations, when it comes to proper learning skills and having the proper tools when working with groups. Being just skilled is not the answer but how well you tackle your client’s unique problem is the ultimate goal for each consultant in any arena.