Competition, Conflict & Group Cohesiveness
Influence of the Workgroup

(Summarizing Weinbach, 2008, p. 142-144).

Competition:
  • Pros: Can promote identity, group loyalty, task-oriented behavior, and structure.
  • Cons: Too much can cause antagonism, hostility, decreased communication, wasted energy, and stereotyping members of the other group.
  • Zero-sum game: Where gain in one group = loss in another.
    • Some will perceive this is the case even when it’s not true. If one exists, be up front about it to the group. If not, point out the reasons it is not.
    • The example Weinbach (2008) uses to explain this concept is budget (p. 143). If one group winning a project means the other will have less cash, acknowledge that as the manager. If this simply means the second group will have to look for a grant or utilize another budget, point this out, too.

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Conflict:
    • Pros: More involved staff, less apathy, highlight disagreements. Reveal if worker is more concerned with self than interests of clients or organization.
    • Cons: Reveals the worst, preoccupies staff, arguments interfere with decision-making, and personal loyalty trumps client and organization’s interests.
    • Methods for reducing conflict:
      • Identify a common goal.
      • Identify a common enemy (such as budget cuts, “the system”).
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Group Cohesiveness:

    • Cohesiveness: Identifiable factors existing in the workgroup.
      • Sense of group solidarity, pride in membership, and social desirability of belonging to the group.
      • Looks like cooperation, “team”, helpful, loyalty, respect, interest, open communication, and relaxed atmosphere.
    • Promote cohesion through structure, raise awareness of compatibility between group and agency goals. Collaboration yields appreciation of other’s knowledge, talents, and abilities.
    • Cohesiveness is not ideal if group values are not the same as organizational goals. For example, a group of people who gossip may be cohesive, but is destructive to the agency’s goals.