Human Groups In An Organization (Characteristics, Reasons And Types)

Table Of Contents

  • Definition Of A Group
  • The Reasons Why Grouped Are Formed
  • Characteristics Of A Group
  • Types Of Groups

Definition Of A Group

A group is two or more persons having some common characteristics who perceive themselves as a distinguishable entity, are aware of the independence of some of their goals or interests and interacts with one another in pursuit of their interdependent goals. (International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences).

Groups are a critical feature of organizational developemt. The organization and the operational units are made of groups of people. The functions of the organization are coordinated through the operation of working group. Office managers need to understand the nature of groups in order to influence the behaviour of people in the work situation. The office manager must be aware of the impact of groups and their effects on performance in the achievement of organizational goals.

The Reasons Why Group Are Formed

Groups are formed for the following reasons relating to work performance and social processes:

1. Companionship, Friendship And Mutual Understanding

Group membership gives one a feeling of belonging where one fits in. By joing a group, a person acquires companions with whom to interact and share experience. The group provides a sense of identity and the chance to acquire role recognition and status in the group. This can help in solving work related problems and reduces stressful working conditions.

2. Economic And Security Reasons

People group together because their combined efforts can afford them greater financial gains than any amount of individual efforts. Also, many people find security and social esteem through membership.

3. Administrative Convenience

Group membership instills discipline and control. It is easy for management to exercise administrative controls through organized groups than to deal directly with individuals workers.

4. Interflow Of Communication

It serves as a good network for receiving and passing on information to members in an organization. A group usually develops its own communication network known as grapevine. Messages are transmitted through grapevine to the members by word of mouth ot by symbols. It helps people to adjust to new developments as they occur.

5. Ease Of Negotiation

Group formation makes it easy for management of an organization to enter into negotiation with appointed leaders of the workers.

6. Feeling Of Pulse Of Opinion

Group provide avenue for asking for ideas, values, consensus testing and seeing how group members feel or react to given issues or situations. These make for industrial peace and harmony.

7. Initiating Task

A group is useful in suggesting new ideas, new definition to problems and new ways of looking at a problem.

8. Harmonizing

Groups help in recounciling disagreements and getting others to explore differences. It helps to clarify ambiguous situations.

9. Standard Settting

Groups are needed in testing group attitudes toward laid down procedures and supporting standards. Thr group may decide the extent to which official rules and regulations are expected to be adhered to in practice by members.

Characteristics Of A Group

1. Identity

A group is identifiable by its members and usually by those outside. This may be by the mode of dressing or their greetings.

2. Norms Of Behaviour

It requires its members to conform to establish norms or pattern of behaviour. For a group to function effectively each member needs to understand and obey the group’s rules of behaviour. When a member breaks a formal or informal norm, appropriate punishment is meted to him.

3. Purpose

It has aims and objectives either clearly defined or intuitively understood which direct its activities. On the other hand, individuals may form a froup for the purpose of mutual friendship, and shared interests.

4. Hierarchy

It evolves either formally or informally a leadership or role relationships which its members accept. The hierarchy whuch evolves helps to identify functions of members, and communication channels.

5. Exclusivity

It has the power to grant or deny admission and also to expel anyone from its membership. For example, the Rotract “demembers” erring members, the Keggites “dekerg”, the church “excommunicate” erring members.

6. Solidarity

It demands loyalty of its members and is capable of experiencing internal conflicts while displaying an external front. Members necessarily have to go along with the decisions of the groups, even if such decisions are not agreeable to some and show support for the group in the face of external aggression.

7. Capacity For Change

Its life may be either long or short. It may form, disintegrate and re-form depending on the external circumstances and forces.

8. Interactions

All group members must interact with or at least have psychological awareness of each other. Larger groups may interact through networks rather than in one-to-one relationships.

Types Of Groups

There are several types of groups such as:

1. Peer Group e.g. Meeting of Directors or meeting of Administrative Secretaries.

2. Work Group e.g. Labourers or individuals performing relatively unskilled low paid jobs.

3. Formal Group e.g. NASU, ASUU, ASUP, etc.

4. Informal Group e.g. Association of concerned lecturers.

5. Trade/Professional Group e.g. ICSA, NBA, ICAN.

1. Necessity For Peer Group In An Organization And Its Implications To Organization Development

Peer group in an organization arise when two or more people of equal rank either by merit or quality voluntarily relate to one another in a distinctive collective identity for a common purpose, e.g. Directors meetings, Clerks, Managers, Administrators meeting.

Peer group helps to define the group norms i.e. those rules and shared beliefs which distinguish members of the peer and which foster the group’s goal and existence.


– Encourages team work.
– Creates the right atmosphere for better understanding and mutual respect for the peer group members and the organization at large.
– Makes for high level of productivity and quality control of goods and services to the organization.

2. Necessity For Work Group In An Organization And Its Implications To Organization Development

In business, work groups are the means by which people learn how to work together.

The desire to be accepted and to belong to a work group is strong in most persons. But when a work group becomes too large and its members do not know one another, it is unlikely that the group will be highly cohesive. The feature of Work Group is that individuals perform relativelu unskilled, low paid jobs, e.g. Labourers loading cargo in ships at the wharf.


a. Work groups are necessary for the effective running of the organization and for the achievement of set goals.

b. It supports management and the organizational goals.

c. When work groups work in harmony and effectively with the management, the managers job planning, directing, controlling to achieve set goals is easier to accomplish.

d. On the other hand when thr group is working on maintenance issues such as resolving conflicts which have arise during tasks, it cannot sustain its progress toward its task objective and it will be an ineffective unit.

3. Necessity For Formal Group In An Organization And Its Implications To Organization Development

A completely formal group exhibits the characteristics of a formal organization. The necessity for formal group includes: To make possible the mutual identification and solution of common problems through group effort. Formal groups in an organization serve as the vehicle through which members social needs are met, and strengthens group-members relationships and members identification with the group as a whole.


a. Plays major role in the smooth running of organization suggesting new ideas or new activity.

b. Criticizes management helps in reconciling disagreement of workers and management.

c. Maintenance of industrial harmony by giving useful information and getting others to explore difference.

d. Mobilizes group effort to attain set goals.

e. Curbs grapevine by seeking useful information or opinion, requesting for facts and making suggestions.

f. Increase productivity; Seeing to the maintenance of high morale for group members through demand for incentive and fringe benefits.

On the other hand, formal group activities should hamper the organizational development thus;

i. Precipitation of industrial actions: strikes, conflicts, irrational demands and destruction of property of the organization hinder the achievement of the organizational goal.

ii. Reduction of productivity: Member may decide to hold down productionto agreed levels in order to force the management to comply with certain of their demands or for other selfish reasons.

4. Necessity For Informal Group In An Organization And Its Implication For Organizational Development

Informal groups tend to form spontaneously as a result of people interacting at work. They are not sponsored, recognized or aproved by the formal organization.

The main reason for informal group is that members have social needs that can be satisfied only by associating with others. These needs are often satisfied on the job when an employee joins with fellow workers in a small social group. It is often easy to detect an informal group in an organization by the evidence of the “communication grapevine.”


It creates an atmosphere of comradeship among workers which cuts across tribal and religious differences; exercises stabilizing effect on the conduct and discipline of members; makes for increased productivity. On the other hand, informal group could undermine authority and loyalty to organization goal. This is so in time of strife and economic down turn in an organization.

5. Necessity For Professional Group In An Organization And Its Implication For Organizations

A professional group can be defined as a body of experts in a particular field, trade or craft. It can also be seen as a group of persons with specialized knowledge and technical expertise dedicated to the ideals of service.

The examples of professional groups are:

ICAN – The Institute Of Chartered Accountants Of Nigeria.

ICSA – Institute Of Chartered Secretaries And Administrator

NMA – Nigerian Medical Association

NBA – Nigerian Bar Association

ABEN – Association of Business Educators Of Nigeria

Necessity For Professional Group In Organization

a. Reduction and control of conflict among members in the organization.

b. Promotion of working standard.

c. Protect members against external threats.

d. Encouragement of collaborative and cooperative activities for social and economic benefits.


a. Helps to achieve the goal of the organization.

b. Makes for standardization and efficiency of the professional worker.

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