This article throws light upon the three main factors affecting group functions. The factors are: 1. Group Size 2. Group Composition 3. Group Goals and Tasks.
Factor # 1. Group Size:
Group size is an important factor that affects functions performed in a group. Smaller groups complete tasks faster than larger ones. They are also more productive than large groups. Large groups, on the other hand, generate more facts, collect diverse and open viewpoints, generate more solutions to problems.
However, with increase in size of the group, contribution of individual member tends to decrease. The responsibility for group goal gets dispersed amongst larger number of members and members, therefore, tend to slacken in their individual performance. Relationship between individual input and group output cannot be maintained as group results cannot be attributed to any single person.
This tends to reduce efficiency of the group. Large groups also develop sub-groups, restrict participation by some members, take too much time in making decisions, promote dominance by few etc. Thus, the optimum group size should be large enough to invite diverse viewpoints and small enough to fix responsibility of each individual and promote inter-personal interaction.
Following points help in arriving at the optimum group size:
(a) Groups should have odd number of members. It eliminates the possibility of ties when decisions are taken by a system of vote. Odd number facilitates decision-making.
(b) Five or seven members make the optimum size. It is neither too large nor too small. It allows diverse inputs and avoids the negative outcomes often associated with large groups.
Factor # 2. Group Composition:
It consists of the kind of individuals that make a group. Group composition plays important role in affecting group performance. Groups can be heterogeneous or homogeneous. Heterogeneous groups are composed of dissimilar individuals, in terms of age, gender, education, work experience, skills, culture etc.
Homogeneous groups, on the other hand, are composed of similar individuals in terms of these attributes. Heterogeneous groups are generally more effective as they have people with diverse activities, skills and backgrounds. Though there may be conflicts of opinion, they perform more effectively than homogeneous groups.
Factor # 3. Group Goals and Tasks:
Groups are formed for some goals and perform tasks to achieve the same. These goals promote cooperation amongst group members and may also result in role conflict. The tasks performed by members to achieve group goals also vary in their skills, complexity, competence, etc.
These factors affect group performance in the following ways:
(a) Group size affects unity in group activities, formation of sub groups, interaction amongst group members etc.
(b) Group composition affects assignment of roles to group members, quality of group leadership, group satisfaction etc.
(c) Groups goals and tasks affect group decision-making, group communication, group cohesiveness etc.