Nov 10 2011

Signs of a Healthy Group

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What are the signs of a healthy, functioning group? Here are 12 signals to look for.

1. Trust and respect
When individuals trust and respect one another, an abundance of positive feelings and thoughts proliferate through the groups and a healthy, productive atmosphere is created. Trust, I believe, is based on what we feel about another person; respect is base on what we think of someone else. Trust is affective; respect is cognitive.

2. Balance between tasking and maintenance
Functional groups usually require a balance of tasking and maintenance. You’ll find yourself spending time guiding the group to stay on task and helping it to get along. Both are needed. When you are able to assess and respond to task and maintenance needs in an on-going way, you balance the group’s needs for tasking and maintenance.

3. Humour quotient
Are we having fun yet? When participants enjoy a joke or a humorous story, the group bonds. Too little humour leads to a dull group that takes itself too seriously. Too much humour and the group can upstage itself.

4. Process Observing
Individuals who spontaneously observe and articulate the process they are a part of are aware of their own needs and the needs of the group. They help to empower themselves by monitoring group interaction and group progress.

5. Energy Level
An appropriate level of energy is vital to group productivity. A stimulating environment helps those who are low key to get involved and keeps those with excess energy in check. Energy vitalizes the group.

6. Body Language
Body language can tell you a lot about the group’s ability to function productively. Your healthy group will smile, nod, and have open body stances that suggest comfort and compatibility. Closed body language gestures, like crossed legs, folded arms, and alack of eye contact usually characterize a group that is not open to working with one another.

7. Tension indicators
Tension erupts naturally as a group grows. If this tension is used as a constructive force and monitored, it actually helps a group to bond. The tension is vitalizing and strengthens the group as individuals and collectively.

8. Cognitive-Affective views
Healthy groups have a balance between the head and the heart. Not everything can be objectified or quantified, nor is everything wow and fantastic. Groups with a cognitive-affective balance have learned to balance these perspectives. Enlightenment and enthusiasm are both high on the list of group values.

9. Leadership factor
Healthy groups share leadership. They balance dependent tendencies and independent ambitions with an interdependent attitude towards leadership.

10. Clarity of purpose
Healthy groups articulate a clear purpose as early as possible in the meeting. They will even monitor activities based on the established purpose. They ask themselves; “Does this discussion contribute to the ends we’ve establish?”

11.  Conflict Management
Healthy groups have learned to manage conflict in a variety of ways, depending on circumstances. Generally, conflict is managed in one of five ways, depending on the situation. Any of the following options may be valid. The options include compete or I win- you lose; collaborate or win-win; compromise or win a bit, lose a bit; avoid or I lose- you lose and accommodate or I lose - you win.

12. Follow through
Healthy groups have members that speak to one another and stay in touch following the meeting. With all of the networking that takes place at a meeting, members follow through by keeping in touch.




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