Team-Working, Groups and Meetings
Unfortunately for anyone who is not very keen on other people, there are very few jobs or situations in life that don’t involve some contact with others.
While not everyone is required to work in close-knit teams, being able to function effectively in a group, and manage group situations, are essential skills for getting on in today’s workplaces and in life more generally.
Working well in groups and teams requires some understanding of how teams and groups function, and the way that familiarity changes group dynamics.
Our pages on teams, groups and meetings provide essential information about theories on group functioning, as well as practical advice on setting up and managing group situations such as meetings.
Our pages are split into two main areas:
- Team- and group-working, including difficult group behaviour, and
Teams and Groups
Our pages on team- and group-working are divided into two main themes: understanding groups and operating in groups.
The word ‘team’ is used fairly loosely to mean a group of people working together to achieve a common aim. Some academics, however, suggest that this is a better definition for ‘group’, with ‘team’ being reserved for much closer relationships, such as that seen in a small military unit.
Our page An Introduction to Teams and Groups explains more about this distinction, and also covers different types of groups, and communication within groups. Our page on Strengths and Weaknesses of Groups provides a useful summary of the good and less good aspects of working in groups.
It also helps to understand that group dynamics can change greatly over time. As people get to know each other, the way that the group operates will change.
Our page on Group Life-Cycles describes how groups change over time, and the processes and dynamics that are likely to be happening at each stage of the group’s development. Our page on Building Group Cohesiveness explains more about the early stages of group development, and how those involved can help the group to develop closer ties.
Our page on Group Processes describes some of the processes going on within a group. It provides some models that may help group members to become more aware of what is happening. This should enable them to work better together. The page on Group Dynamics explains more about the behaviours and psychological processes that are going on in any group and provides some ideas for making them more effective.
Operating in Groups
Group behaviour is very interesting.
Although groups can sometimes seem to take on a life of their own, they are, of course, made up of individuals. Each individual within a group can take on a number of different roles, both formal (such as chairing or leading) and informal (such as interceding when there is any conflict).
The most effective groups are diverse, and contain people with a wide range of skills and role preferences.
Our page on Group and Team Roles explains more, while our page on Effective Team-Working Skills shows how this operates in practice. The page on Diversity in Groups explains why diversity matters so much.
Remote Working in Groups and Teams
Over the past couple of years, many of us have all had to learn a lot more about working remotely than has previously been required. As many of us have discovered, it is often significantly harder to work in groups and teams when working remotely.
There is more about these issues in our pages on Managing Remote Teams and Working with Others Remotely. As we move back into offices, you may also like to read our page on Rebuilding Teams after Remote Working.
Most of the models and behaviours that we have described so far are effective ways of working within groups. But it is also important to understand that there are also a number of difficult group behaviours that may occur.
Knowing how to manage these difficult behaviours can be a key skill in many organisations and informal groups.
Our page on Difficult Group Behaviour explains more.
One of the most important areas of group working is decision making. The received wisdom is that groups make better decisions than individuals. However, our page on Group Decision-Making explains why this may not always be the case—and how you can help groups to make better decisions.
There are some very specific dynamics involved in joining an established team. Many of these are associated with team culture and norms. The issues differ slightly for team members and managers, but are set out in our pages on Joining an Established Team, and Joining an Established Team as Manager.
There are different but related issues associated with building new teams, or building up established but demoralised existing teams, and these are discussed in our page on Team Building.
Finally, one of the most important skills when working with groups is knowing how to resist the group gracefully when necessary.
Our page on Peer Resistance describes this in the context of ‘peer pressure’, but the skills involved apply equally to groups in a workplace setting.
Meetings are a very specific example of a group situation.
Many people dread having to go to meetings, because they very often seem like a waste of time, or they are very uncomfortable because of the group dynamics.
Our pages on meetings aim to help you reduce this time-wasting and run effective meetings. These pages include how to set up and run meetings, and some specific roles within meetings.
Setting Up a Meeting
The first step to running an effective meeting is to plan it well. This means understanding and being clear to others about the purpose of the meeting, and doing all the necessary preparation, including setting an agenda.
Learn more about this from our pages on:
When thinking about an agenda, you may also find it helpful to read our page about Ice Breaker Activities. These are activities designed to help the meeting attendees to get to know each other and work together more effectively.
Within any meeting, two of the attendees have very clear roles: the chairperson and the secretary. The chairperson’s role is to run the meeting in a way that means that it achieves its objectives. They are therefore key to a meeting being judged effective.
There is more about the chairperson’s role in our page on Conducting a Meeting.
Potential chairs may also find it helpful to read our page on Mindful Meetings, which explains how the chairperson can help to make meetings more effective by using the theories of mindfulness.
The secretary’s role is to manage the process of the meeting, and sometimes the group. They are therefore responsible for making sure that attendees know what will happen, by sending out papers in advance, and then recording the meeting.
Find out more on our page The Role of the Secretary.
As many of us have also found out in the last few years, there is a particular art to managing remote meetings, both as chair and as a participant. You can find out more about this area in our page on Remote Meetings and Presentations, which also covers the skills needed to present effectively during a video meeting.
The Importance of Good Interpersonal Skills
While there are some skills that are particularly important in group- and team-working situations, perhaps it is even more important to stress that good interpersonal skills will take you a long way.
You may therefore find it helpful to take our Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment which can help you to identify areas that you can improve.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Learn more about the key communication skills you need to be a more effective communicator.
Our eBooks are ideal for anyone who wants to learn about or develop their interpersonal skills and are full of easy-to-follow, practical information.