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Communication in Business

Lecture 6 – Group and Team Communication


The lecture material contains content owned by KOI and other materials copyrighted by Eunson, B. Communicating in the 21st century, John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd, Milton, Qld



Learning objectives

  • Identify the reasons why people join and leave groups
  • Explain the concepts of synergy and social loafing
  • Explain the dynamics of roles and norms within groups
  • Identify different phases or stages of group development
  • Define real and perceived differences between groups and teams


Learning objectives

  • Explain the similarities and differences between sports teams and work teams
  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of work teams
  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of virtual teams
  • Explain the types of communication skills that can best be deployed in groups and teams


Communicating in informal and formal groups

In modern organisations:

informal groups are formed spontaneously to accommodate people’s interests.

formal groups are established by authority to accomplish organisational goals.


Groups and teams

In modern organisations:

informal groups are formed spontaneously to accommodate people’s interests.

formal groups are established by authority to accomplish organisational goals.



Groups and teams

Groups can be:

  • Small or large
  • Official or unofficial
  • Permanent or temporary
  • Task-oriented or relationship-oriented
  • Strongly or weakly cohesive
  • Physically concentrated or dispersed
  • Effective or ineffective




A group has advantages over someone working alone, because a group:

its able to deal with more information, so it has better quality decision making

allows a wider range of alternatives to be explored, and experiences to be shared

involves a number of people in the making of decisions, giving greater chances of a decision being accepted and implemented

creates improved morale & motivation of employees, by providing empowerment and greater job satisfaction





Not effective if inequality is inevitable and decisions are really in the hands of someone else

Potential for destructive relationships to develop and dominate

Not suitable for all decisions

Good and Bad teamwork



Some features of groups

Groups feature a number of people who:

know each others’ names

share common interests

interact together

call themselves a group

are regarded by others as a group.



  • Synergy

Group performance is greater than the sum of its parts

  • Social loafing

Some group members tend to put in less effort if they believe that their under-performance will not be noted

The phenomenon of one group member getting a ‘free ride’ while others do the work

Adidas and good team work:




Group norms

  • Can be negative and punitive, or positive and rewarding
  • Formed to preserve the group and its collective self-esteem
  • Deviation may be punished by various group behavioural mechanisms


Group norms



Antecedents –

high levels of cohesiveness, structural defects

Concurrence seeking – members openly agree

Symptoms (expanded next slide)

Decision-making defects – – incomplete discussions, don’t consider alternatives

Poor decision outcomes



Illusion of invulnerability


Belief in inherent morality


Direct pressure


Illusion of unanimity




Groups demonstrating ‘groupthink’ are:

pleasant company to work with

show feelings of ‘we’ is very high

often friendly with each other


the more cohesive the group, the greater the chance of groupthink occurring


Reduce the impact

  • Examine alternatives
  • Generate contingency plans
  • Appoint devil’s advocate
  • Increase group size – intro diverse people
  • Remove physical isolation – them & us
  • Facilitate organisational graffiti – blogs

Examine alternatives, generate contingency plans: Don’t be trapped into thinking that there’s only one solution.

Appoint a devil’s advocate who is empowered by the group to always present a critical, worst-case scenario without the group thinking any the worse of that person.

Increase group size, heterogeneity: Break the cosy dynamics of the group by making it bigger, and introduce people who are from different backgrounds, opinions and problem-solving styles.

Remove physical isolation: Physically reintegrate the group with the rest of organisation. Break down over-territorial ‘us-and-them’ mentality.

Facilitate organisational graffiti: Officially sanction space on organisational computer system for a graffiti bulletin board where people may anonymously input unpopular ideas and heresies so all might consider.

TEACHER NOTE: Refer to Table 18.2 for other examples suitable for class participants.




  • Watch this promotional video and in groups of 3 discuss and write down in point form 5 things that the featured group of young employees does to be a dynamic and successful team:


Group development
(Tuckman’s 5 stages)


  • Getting to know you, ice-breaking stage
  • Attempt to identify just what tasks they should be working on
  • Begin to develop a sense of the group’s independence
  • Task (job-oriented) and socio-emotional (interpersonal) roles may be unclear


Group development


  • Conflicts over leadership, control and influence — ‘who’s in charge?’
  • Misunderstandings about:
  • Role and style behaviour and norms
  • Conflicting goals
  • Poor feedback and listening
  • Ineffective group decision-making
  • Problem-solving processes


Group development


  • Formal and informal norms emerge
  • Cohesion begins to develop
  • Opinions are now stated more readily and are received in a less defensive manner


Group development


  • Balance of rules (norms) and roles emerge
  • Synergy develops via positive role-playing
  • Optimal mix of task (job-oriented) and socio-emotional (interpersonal) roles
  • Destructive role-playing under control
  • Begins to produce solutions to the problems it is focusing on


Group development


  • Reaches closure on tasks
  • Members may leave for a variety of reasons
  • Destructive role-playing may become more prevalent


Group development

  • All groups – all five stages?
  • No, because they:

Are ‘immortal’

May move between different stages

May self-destruct before reaching stages


May have no storming phase at all

Many groups are ‘immortal’ — that is, the group lives on, even though membership may change. Some groups may never reach stage 5, or are in stage 5 and not know.

Groups may, in fact, move back and forth between different stages. Sometimes groups self-destruct before reaching stages 3–5

Sometimes groups have no storming phase at all. That is, there is little or no conflict because cooperative spirit is greater than adversarial behaviour and/or rules/norms are already in place to regulate behaviour.



Belbin’s Team Roles



Completer finisher.


Monitor evaluator.




Resource Investigator

Uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team. 

Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic. Explores opportunities and develops contacts.

Allowable weaknesses: Might be over-optimistic, and can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might forget to follow up on a lead.


Helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team.

Strengths: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be indecisive in crunch situations and tends to avoid confrontation.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might be hesitant to make unpopular decisions.


Needed to focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately.

Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be seen as manipulative and might offload their own share of the work.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might over-delegate, leaving themselves little work to do.


Tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways.

Strengths: Creative, imaginative, free-thinking, generates ideas and solves difficult problems.

Allowable weaknesses: Might ignore incidentals, and may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be absent-minded or forgetful.

Monitor Evaluator

Provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.

Strengths: Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately.

Allowable weaknesses: Sometimes lacks the drive and ability to inspire others and can be overly critical.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be slow to come to decisions.


Brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team.

Strengths: Single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. They provide specialist knowledge and skills.

Allowable weaknesses: Tends to contribute on a narrow front and can dwell on the technicalities.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They overload you with information.


Provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.

Strengths: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be prone to provocation, and may sometimes offend people’s feelings.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done.


Needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.

Strengths: Practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organises work that needs to be done.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be a bit inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might be slow to relinquish their plans in favour of positive changes.

Completer Finisher

Most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control.

Strengths: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polishes and perfects.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be inclined to worry unduly, and reluctant to delegate.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be accused of taking their perfectionism to extremes.



Recognising diversity in groups and teams

Recognise that diversity in group/team membership can result in a wealth of perspectives that can benefit group/team process.

Males and females in a group/team may define and approach issues differently.

Members from different cultural backgrounds may have conflicting values and personal preferences.

Seek to understand individual differences.

Regard diversity as opportunity.


Activity: Reflection

Watch the video and:

Choose 1 quote from the video that you have found useful and write down why you have found it useful and 2. How could you use this quote to help your group work?


Ch 18
Team communication

  • Summary:

Groups and teams

Group effectiveness

Roles people play

Group norms


Stages of group development

Teams — pro and con

Virtual Teams


Group communication



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