Groups often have norms, and a measure of cohesiveness, Both of these concepts will be discussed so that their importance becomes more apparent.
Norms are rules for standard behavior in a group. For example, one group may value being on-time while another may value avoiding confrontation. Norms can be written, but they are often unwritten and grow overtime naturally in response to different situations are problems within the group.
All norms may not apply to all members. For example, new members often have to undergo a socialization process by completing a less desirable task. In contrast, seniors members are expected to set a good example and guide new members. This is highly common in social groups found in sports.
Group norms serve several purposes. First, the development of norms enhances the survival of a group by ensuring goal-directed behavior. If a group is under stress, it will focus on the norms to survive the stressful situation. Norms also help the group to know what is important or valued by that group. For example, if a group prides itself on high standards, this becomes a way to identify this group’s members.
Third, norms help members to avoid embarrassing actions. When it becomes clear what is acceptable behavior, it also becomes clear what is unacceptable behavior. If members know they are in a high-standard group, they will not dare submit low-quality work to the team. This prevents such a person from embarrassing themselves.
So far, it has been assumed that groups would have positive norms. However, this is not always the case as criminals also form groups with norms that encourage lawless behavior. Students can also create groups that are antithetical to learning. Despite their negative connotation, even bad groups must have some form of norms to survive.
Group cohesiveness is the level of closeness or camaraderie in a group. Several factors can affect group cohesiveness. For example, homogeneity or how similar members are to each other. If all the members are female and from the same country, the cohesiveness could be higher than if they are mixed because members already have a similar background.
The size of the group affects cohesiveness as well. A smaller group will usually have higher cohesiveness than larger ones. This is due in part to another factor of group cohesiveness and this interaction. The more time people can interact with each other, the better the cohesiveness is. Maturity is another factor. As time goes by, groups develop more robust relationships through having endured various hardships and successes together.
Goals also improve cohesiveness. When group members know why they are coming together and have a shared mission, this can strengthen the bonds within the group. Lastly, external threats can rally a group together to defeat an obstacle that endangers the team. For example, the danger of a department closer will bring people together to protect their jobs. Even people who may not like each other.
Benefits of cohesiveness
Group cohesiveness can lead to several benefits. Satisfaction is a significant benefit of group cohesiveness. People are social creatures, and the pleasure of a strong relationship is delightful for most. Loyalty is yet another result. When people enjoy a particular group, they will often find ways to maintain membership whenever possible and defend themselves from outsiders.
A darker benefit to group cohesiveness is the power the group has over other members. When group membership becomes too valuable for members, they can be pushed to do things that may be questionable. Anyone who has fallen victim to peer pressure knows what this is about. Other examples could include the rise of various violent groups that some people commit acts of violence to maintain membership.
Norms and cohesiveness are two dynamics in a group that people need to be aware of to succeed when collaborating with others. Groups need clear rules as well as other things such as interaction while being mindful of the size. When group membership is enjoyable, production is also often higher.