Types and merits of Groups in organisations

This article gives information regarding groups in organizations. A group should be distinguished from a casual crowd. It should have characteristics of continued interaction, awareness of each other's presence and actually perceive themselves as a group. Formal groups have well defined structures while informal groups come up from people interacting for a period of time.

A group is a collection of people who are united in common interests and activities. It may comprise of a number of people who interact continuously and are aware of one another's presence and in such take themselves as group members. As people share in activities they interact with one another. As their shared activities increase you find that the bond between them increases and the relationship becomes more and more personal.

Types of groups.

Formal and informal groups.

Groups formed under legal authority are referred to as formal groups. They include companies and enterprises or any other form of organisation which derives its existence from the laws of a country. In most cases this organisations are divided into layers of authority so that we have the top level management down to the lowest level of management. The workers have to follow laid down procedures and also adhere to the laid down authority-responsibility structure. Everyone in the formal group is aware of their responsibility and the person to report to. It therefore means that formal groups are permanent in nature. On the other hand informal groups come up whenever people interact continuously with one another. They develop gradually over time and have no written down rules or structures. Informal groups can die at any time and new ones created which means that they are not permanent in nature. These groups in most cases come up in order to retain friendship amongst people. Informal groups bring about a sense of security within the group and help members interact with one another. Members of the group use it to try and solve their work related problems.

Primary and secondary groups.

When people have been in a relationship for a long duration of time, such groups are referred to as primary. These are like family setups or neighbourhoods.The code between the members of the group is quite strong. When the code between members of the group is not that strong such groupings are referred to as secondary. These can be like student population in a university or a sizable secondary school. In such cases the relationship between the members of the group is not that personal.

Informal groupings.

Causes of informal groupings.

Man being social finds himself in need to associate himself with fellow workers. This is especially in modern day production industries where there is a lot of specialization. Each worker is assigned a specific duty so that they are unable to know exactly how their role is helping in the eventual final produce. The repetitive nature of specialization ends up boring the worker. The fact that in organisation chain the top level managers are a distance off the lower level managers and workers cause communication breakdown. These top level managers communicate through rules and procedures which have to follow through the levels of management by use of delegation of power and authority. It therefore means that the lower level managers and workers get the impression that the distance between them and the top managers makes it difficult for their worries and aspirations to be solved and met by the top level managers. All these makes the workers lean on the informal groups to be able to discuss their problems and aspirations with their peers in the company set-up.

Merits of informal groups.

Formal organisations are impersonal in nature and their large size also makes it difficult for group members to have their psychological and social needs met. Informal groups come in handy to meet these workers' needs. As the workers go about their duties the informal grouping encourages them to work to the company's satisfaction. Any person who does not do this is rejected in the grouping because there are some sorts of job settings which necessitates hard work from the whole group for better earnings. The informal groups are also used in favourably altering the way work is handled in that slow workers can be assisted and also in specialized jobs although the company might not allow it, workers can alternate positions of work to minimize cases of monotony due to continual repetitions of same process. Informal groups also serve as a sense of security amongst the workers in that it is possible to resist any changes that may be deemed risky to their job security. This means that any attempt to mechanize or introduce new technology is resisted. The fact that in a formal organisation information is hard to pass through the ranks due to the delicate procedures involved means that informal groups are used to speed up communication in a formal organisation.

Demerits of informal groups.

Informal groupings have been known to resist any change in the organisation which is deemed to be an alteration of the status quo. This means that for a company to introduce new rules or technology they must first find a way of breaking through these informal groupings which will surely oppose their development plans. At times members of the informal groups are refrained from obeying and respecting the formal authority-responsibility structure in the enterprise. Any member against such orders is discarded from the group. Supervisors and lower level managers have to choose between being members of the informal grouping or the larger formal grouping because the two usually are at loggerheads with one another. Due to the fact that communication in formal organisations is a preserve to the privileged, the informal group ends up spreading rumours anytime they are unable to understand a company's stand on an issue.


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