From Members Point of View
The need for a relationship with other people is one of the strongest and most constant of human drives. Relationships give an individual, who earlier felt lonely and miserable, recognition and his work life pleasant and comfortable. Many research studies have indicated that the employees who have no opportunity for social contacts find their work unsatisfying and this lack of satisfaction often reflects itself in low productivity and high rate of absenteeism and turnover.
We try to understand ourselves through the behaviour of others towards us. If others praise us, we feel we are great. Groups provide many others who will laugh, praise or admire us. Workers get more identified in small groups and so small groups tend to enjoy high morale as compared to large groups.
The informal group to which a member belongs is a source of communication or information to him. A piece of information available to one member will nearly reach all the members in a short span of time. An individual comes to know about what is happening in an organisation even if he has been on leave or is otherwise away.
The group may develop a special code or language for speedy communication. The groups help reduce many of the psychological barriers to communication. Sometimes the group will amend, amplify and interpret the news, once it is released. Thus, each person gets a larger, more detailed and meaningful but at times, a distorted and erroneous picture of what is going on in the organisation.
The strongest reason for group formation is people’s need for security. By joining a group, a person can reduce his insecurity; he feels stronger, has lesser self-doubts and is more resistant to threats. A person always derives reassurance from interacting with others and being part of a group. The group protects its members from the arbitrary policies and orders of the formal organisations and provides a psychological buffer between the individual and the organisation. This often explains the concept of unions.
Membership in a prestigious group is a source of enhanced self-esteem. The members will feel good about themselves by virtue of the group’s power, prestige and social standing. They will get opportunities for recognition and praise that are not available outside the group.
Sense of Belongingness
It is an emotional need for friendship, love, affection and affiliation. Most people have a strong need for being with others who can understand, support and help them when they are in need and render them moral and emotional support in time of difficulty. The concept of family and friends fulfil this need. When people are new to an organisation, they are eager to find friends with which they can [check their perception of the new and uncertain environment.
Outlet for Frustrations
An individual may be faced with several problems relating to his family life and work life. At times, he feels tremendous stress in life and gets frustrated. If he shares his feelings and anxieties with someone, his tension is released to a great extent. Social relations provide an important outlet for frustration. Informal groups serve as safety valves and help release frustrations, thus avoiding any mental or physical breakdown of the individual. Organisations which don’t have the informal groups sometimes rely on the expensive system of employee counselling in which outsiders hear employees’ problems and advise them accordingly.
The perpetuation of Cultural Values
Common cultural background brings people together and is a strong cementing force. People, sharing a common culture, are able to maintain their cultural identity and even propagate their culture. A group with a particular cultural value often takes up activities which help perpetuate those values. This even gives psychological satisfaction to members.
Generation of New Ideas
Informal groups are a breeding ground for new ideas as they provide a supportive environment in which the members can engage themselves in creative thinking. Quality circles in Japan are an important example in this regard. Under quality circles, workers meet periodically and discuss problems relating to quality and come out with new ideas to solve the problems.
Groups help the members in evaluating themselves as against others. By employing any yardstick, an individual can judge himself against other members of the group. This will help him in having a realistic self-assessment and encourage him to acquire the plus point of others or inculcate a competitive spirit. The group also provides acceptable ways of compensating for an individual’s deficiencies.
Many jobs which appear superficially dull and routine are made interesting by the group and spontaneity is encouraged and protected by the group. Certain jobs can be done by the isolated workers, but working as a group often results in higher motivation to the workers.
Membership of the group offers power to members in at least two ways:
- There are sayings such as “united we stand, divided we fall” and “unity is strength” Workers enjoy much greater power collectively than they do as individuals.
- Leadership of a group enables an individual to exercise power over group members even if he does not enjoy a formal position of authority in the organisation.
From the Organization’s Point of View
Informal group satisfies some of the social and psychological needs of its members on the one hand, and on the other hand, it can also prove use full from the organization’s point of view. In fact, the findings of many social. researchers suggest that informal groups are essential for the organisational stability.
Such a group can prove useful in the following ways:
Lightening of Responsibility
A cooperate group can always be entrusted with some responsibility which will lighten the manager’s mental burden to some extent.
Filling the Gaps
An enlightened group can also fill in gaps in management’s abilities. Sometimes, a subordinate who has knowledge in the area can help the superior, who does not have adequate grasp over the problem. ‘
Restraining the Authority
A group also helps to keep checks and balances on the manager’s excessive use of authority. A manager is not allowed to cross his limits or bounds.
Proper and Careful Planning
A manager will be very careful in planning and other jobs for the fear of the presence of the group.
Groups act as a medium of information for the management. A set of information, which the management is reluctant to express in writing can be conveyed to the members through the informal communication channels of ‘ ‘ the group. On the other hand, it conveys to the management also what is in the minds of the employees. This information will help in avoiding resistance 10 change and aid in the implementation of decisions easily recruit formal
Potential Formal Managers
An Organization can easily recruit formal managers from among informal leaders. Informal groups provide a reservoir to the management for future managers. Since jobs in organisations are becoming more complex and interdependent, the use of group in performing task functions will become increasingly important. That is why; the above-mentioned list of functions is not comprehensive.