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Group Dynamics Evolution

Essay by   •  September 3, 2019  •  Essay  •  1,330 Words (6 Pages)  •  76 Views

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(Session 4,5,6, themes: Anxiety and Authority)

Phase II Interdependence, Sub phase 4

The starting of the second day of the Valley Forge workshop marked the forming of consensus among group members. At this stage of its lifecycle, the group had already witnessed imperfect communication because of underlying anxiety. For example, in the final stages of the first day the group had demonstrated displaced aggression towards a Danillo by rejecting his attempts to lead the group closer to the work task. Through a process of sharing, the work group was able to identify that Danillo was in fact driven by his extreme intolerance to ambiguity. Subsequently, on Day 2, although members struggled to define the work task with specificity, the work group at the very least acknowledged the restoring internal communication was a priority.

In this stage, the group experienced two sources of anxiety which were influenced by1

  1. Its relationship to authority
  2. Its orientation towards other group members

The first contributing factor manifested itself in the fear of penalization through grades. The process of sharing clearly brought to surface, the nervousness of some members such as Danillo, Pedro and Rafael in failing the work task as a result of its ambiguity. This part of the work group was plagued by the punitive consequences that could be exercised by Dr Howard, our grader in such a scenario. These members of the group encouraged defining the work task into smaller tasks that were actionable and governed with clear rules e.g. a sharing activity related to past experience, discussing Myers Briggs personalities. The sharing conversations were focused on using a framework and executing on smaller tactical items. However, the unsuccessful socialization of these frameworks further exasperated the fear of failing the work task. Therefore, in this situation, the power held by Dr Howard, our consultant was an obstacle in facilitating the work task itself because it had the unintended implication of increased anxiety.

The second factor contributing to anxiety manifested itself in the fear of misrepresentation among group members or mistrust in the members capabilities. For example, Shawn, Brendon, Rafael and Geet shared about suffering from the imposter syndrome. They feared that their skills and qualifications did not deem entry to Wharton, and thereby the workgroup randomly put together by the authorities. Tammie and Brenden feared being misunderstood by wrong association to an ethnic clique. For this subgroup, the internal pressure to conform to the group’s qualifications and perceptions had the unintended effect of rising anxiety.

At this stage of the group’s lifecycle, the group bore a shared responsibility to reduce anxiety and restore communication2. Danillo’s reveal about fearing lack of structure opened the door to more sharing. After a proof of concept with Danillo’s sharing that led to better understanding and reduced anxiety, the group viewed sharing as a tool to solve the issue of anxiety collectively. As each member took turns to reveal his or her trigger, the group experienced an artificial sense of satisfaction that all communication hurdles were being eliminated3. The group seemed to make better sense of the intentions behind communication styles that members held and was converging to mutual acceptance. The sharing process reduced confrontations and fostered a feeling of harmony4.

As the group participated in sharing, the authority figure urged the group the stop ‘fleeing the work task’, in this moment the group collectively rejected authority and continued its course. The work group in this action demonstrated more unity than at any other point of the workshop. In reference to Bennis Shepard’s theory of group development, the group demonstrated resolution-catharsis, moving back to counter dependence phase of its lifecycle6. In overriding authority, the group was bounded by the shared experience of rejecting hostile leadership. The rejection of instructions was the instituting the autonomy of the group wherein the group no longer considered ceded authority to the staff member7. A group identity begins to form as members take action to reduce anxiety associated with authority and share an emotional experience of relieving stress8. The enhanced communication after sharing leads members to mutual acceptance.

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