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Group Dynamics -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
How can I encourage all members of our Family Readiness Group to participate?

Answer:
“Operation READY” materials include the Army Family Readiness Group Leader’s Handbook that replaced DA Pamphlet 608-47, A Guide to Establishing Family Support Groups. In this handbook, paraphrasing DA Pamphlet 608-47, the FRG is “an organization of family members, volunteers, soldiers, and civilian employees belonging to a unit/organization who together provide an avenue of mutual support and assistance and a network of communication among the members, the chain of command, and community resources.” Members include all assigned and attached Soldiers (married and single), spouses and children, extended families, fiancées, boyfriends/girlfriends, retirees, DA civilians, and other interested community members who have an attachment to the group. Although membership is automatic, participation is voluntary. Getting members to actively participate in the FRG can be challenging. However, command support, fun activities, good communication, and sincere and effective leaders can help to increase participation. As a leader, keep in mind that group members are diverse. They include individuals of all ranks, genders, ages, races, religions, and cultural backgrounds. Some members may be single, married, dual military or single-parent families. Make sure to plan activities that allow all members to feel included. More information on Family Readiness Groups can be found in the Army Family Readiness Leader’s Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Army Community Service website at www.armycommunityservice.org or consult the other references listed here.

Question:
How do individuals' needs impact group development?

Answer:
A group consists of a number of unique individuals - all of whom bring with them unique talents, personalities, and individual needs. Some individuals may choose to be part of a group to satisfy a need for socialization. They just want a sense of belonging and are likely to be the members who seek group cohesion in order to fulfill their need for friendship and affiliation. Other members may seek membership in a group to gain a stronger sense of self-worth. They may be motivated to take on tasks in order to gain a sense of accomplishment and respect from others. These individuals often take on leadership roles in the group or are responsible for motivating other group members to succeed with completing their tasks. Some people may join a group because of a need for attention and can often disrupt the group's development. Individuals unique needs can have both positive and negative impact (disruptive) on group development. Check with the references listed for more information on group dynamics.

Question:
How do you build team confidence and competency in a group?

Answer:
Leaders use many techniques to build team confidence and competency in a group to include team-building exercises and group problem solving. A leader’s respect and interpersonal skills also affect the group’s confidence level. It is important to empower group members, demonstrate trust in their judgment, and acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of your team. Learn more ways to build team confidence and competency through the resources listed.

Question:
How does one's rank or a member's spouse's rank impact the Family Readiness Group?

Answer:
The opinions, experiences and attitudes expressed based on a member’s position (e.g., Commander, 1st Sergeant, Commander's Spouse, Command Sergeant Major's, 1st Sergeant's Spouse, etc.) may influence group perception and the Family Readiness Group’s ability to function successfully. There are times when military leaders in the FRG are expected to demonstrate their leadership within the FRG (e.g., in terms of providing unit information or guidance). However, rank should not play a part in the FRG. Members should express opinions and attitudes in a manner that does not limit others' participation by exerting undue influence through their position or that of their spouse.

Question:
How is an individual's leadership style impacted by group dynamics?

Answer:
There are many ways that an individual’s leadership style is impacted by group dynamics. For example, the leader of a newly formed group, or one that is in the midst of learning a new activity (e.g., operating new equipment) may need to use a more directive style of leadership as described in the Situational Leadership model, created by leading management experts Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey. In this situation, the leader would act as an instructor with close supervision, and communication would generally be one-way. If the group is highly motivated and highly skilled, the leader may adopt a more “Laissez-Faire” (or hands off) style of leadership, providing little or no direction, but empowering the group to achieve their goals. In times of group conflict, the leader may need to adapt his/her style to resolve issues in the workplace. There are a number of resources available about leadership styles and group dynamics. Learn more about these subjects from the resources provided.

Question:
How should Family Readiness Group members relate to each other's rank or position in the unit?

Answer:
There is "no rank" among Family Readiness Group (FRG) members. Although the FRG is an official organization, its purpose is to provide a conduit for mutual support and assistance, a network of communication among members, the chain of command, and community resources. The unit commander may be senior in rank to the Soldiers in the FRG and serve in his official capacity at times during FRG meetings. However, he/she is an FRG member equal in status to all the other members of the FRG. He/she and the FRG leader should foster a climate of equality and respect for all FRG members. Membership in the FRG is equal, regardless of one’s rank, gender, marital status, age, race, or religion. This is fundamental to the success of Family Readiness Groups.

Question:
How should I deal with individuals in my organization who exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors?

Answer:
Passive-aggressive individuals tend to mask their internal aggressive emotions by indirectly expressing it in subtle, nonverbal ways to others. For example, these individuals are often resentful of authority figures (parents, teachers, employers, etc.) and may be bitter about others’ successes or positions. They may appear to be team players by agreeing to take on a task, but often sabotage it by purposely performing substandard work, or suddenly becoming sick or unavailable in order to avoid doing the task promised. Other behaviors associated with passive-aggressive people include having a negative attitude all the time, subtly criticizing authority figures, or purposely “forgetting” to do something. It is important to identify people in your organization who display this type of behavior so you can properly manage it and avoid group conflict. Individuals often display passive-aggressive behavior to get attention. As a leader, if you recognize this, you may want to find ways to give this person some attention to gain his/her cooperation. Find something the individuals are good at and ask them to take the lead on a project that would allow them to use their talents. However, check with the individual periodically (or work with him/her) to make sure the project is on schedule. Recognize the fact that this individual may be trying to manipulate you. It is not your responsibility to change his/her ways, but to work with different personality types and group behaviors as best you can in order for your organization to be cohesive and meet your goals. Check with some of the references listed here for more information on how to deal with varied and often disruptive behaviors in a group setting.

Question:
What are group norms and why is it important to establish them, particularly when the group is just being formed?

Answer:
Group norms are basically a code of conduct regarding what behavior is acceptable for the group. It is important to establish group norms – particularly when the group is initially being formed - because group members have different backgrounds, races, cultures, and experiences, group norms. Establishing a common ground for productive participation. An example of group norms for a problem solving group may include things like: respecting everyone’s opinion, limiting the amount of time a person can talk (so no one person monopolizes the floor), no smoking in the work area, what people say in the meeting room stays in the meeting room (to encourage everyone to speak up), and to keep an open mind.

Question:
What are some factors that have an affect on group decision making?

Answer:
No matter what method of group decision-making is used, it is important to understand the affects that certain factors can have on the process. For example, group members have different personalities. As a leader, it is important to recognize these different personalities and make sure you allow the diversity to support the process - not cause undue friction among group members. People often have hidden agendas such that they may try to sway the group one way or another in order to benefit their cause as opposed to making the best decision for the group. Other factors that could affect group decision-making are external loyalties, political affiliations, and social or religious reasons. Learn more about group decision-making through some of the references cited here.

Question:
What are some of the different roles portrayed by group members that influence the functionality of the group?

Answer:
There are a number of behaviors that group members display that affect the dynamics of a group. Some of them increase progress toward accomplishment of the group’s objectives, while others interfere with them and cause conflict in the group. For example, there may be individuals who help clarify or interpret ideas given by different group members. They may summarize or record them, helping the group stay on track. Others may clown around, try to manipulate the group or exhibit other negative behaviors that disrupt the progress of the group’s activities. A third type of role that some group members may play is one that helps to maintain group cohesion. These are the individuals who try to ease tension among group members and bring harmony to the group when conflict occurs. Learn more about group dynamics through the references listed.
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