Group Cohesion: Breaking It Down
Cohesive groups work together to achieve the group goals. They can be considered as valuable assets to the organization if the group’s goals coincide with the organization’s goals.— Suresh Murugan
- Cohesion refers to the extent of unity in the group and is reflected in the members’ conformity to the norms of the group, feelings of attraction for each other, and wanting to be co-members of the group.
Attraction, cohesion and conforming to norms are all interrelated. The more the members feel attracted to the group, the greater will be the group cohesion.
The greater the cohesion, the greater the influence of group members to persuade one another to conform to the group norms. Similarly, the greater the conformity, the greater the identification of the members with the group, and the greater the group cohesion.
Cohesive groups work together to achieve the group goals. They can be considered as valuable assets to the organization if the group’s goals coincide with the organization’s goals.
The following factors can facilitate to increase the cohesiveness of the work group.
- Agreement on Group GoalsIf the group agrees on the purpose and direction of its activities, this will serve to bind the group together and structure interaction patterns towards successful goal accomplishment.
- Frequency of InteractionWhen group members have the opportunity to interact frequently with each other, the probability for closeness to develop will increase. Managers can provide opportunities for increased group interaction by calling frequent formal and informal meetings, providing a common meetings place or physically designing the facilities so that group members are within sight of one another.
- Personal AttractivenessCohesiveness is enhanced when members are attractive to one another if mutual trust support already exists. Personal attraction also helps group members to overcome obstacles to goal accomplishment and personal growth and development.
- Inter-group CompetitionCompetition with other groups, both written and external to the organization is a mechanism that acts to bring groups closer together for attaining a common purpose.
- Favorable EvaluationIf a group has performed in an outstanding manner, some recognition for its performance by management serves to elevate the prestige of the group in the eyes of the group members and other members of the group. Favorable evaluation helps make group members feel proud being members of the group.
- Group SizeAs the size of the group increases, the frequency of interaction each member has with other group members decreases, thus decreasing the probability that cohesiveness will develop. Past studies have shown the groups of four to six members provide the best opportunity for interaction.
- Pleasant Experiences with the GroupWhen group members are attracted to each other or there is a full trust and cooperation, interaction may become a pleasant experience resulting in high level of cohesiveness in the group.
- Lack of DominationWhen one or few members dominate the group, cohesiveness cannot adequately develop. Such behavior can create smaller “cliques” within the group or identify individual members as isolates or deviates.
- Gender of MembersIt is reported that women tend to have greater cohesion than men. A possible reason is that women are more likely to be feeling types than thinking types.
- Previous SuccessIf a group has a history of success, it builds an spirit de corps that attracts and unites members. Successful organizations find it easier to attract and hire new employees than unsuccessful ones.
- HumorHumor has been linked to increased cohesion in several studies.
Research results have shown that the greater the cohesion, the greater the influence of the group over the behavior of members and subsequently group performance. As groups are composed of individuals who are attracted to the goals of the group and to each other, one would expect to find a strong relationship between cohesiveness and group performance.
The major difference between highly cohesive and low cohesive groups would be how closely members conformed to the group norms. Further, the group performance would be influenced not only by cohesion, but by the level of group norms.