Type of Groups
Types of Groups Found in an Organisation
There are two important groups found in an organization, i.e, (1) Formal Groups, and (2) Informal Groups.
1. Formal Groups:
By formal groups, we mean those groups defined by the organization’s structure, with designated work assignments and establishing tasks. In formal groups, the behaviours that one should engage in are stipulated by and directed towards organisational goals.
The features of formal groups are as follows:
(i) Formal groups are part of the organisational structure.
(ii) These are created deliberately and consciously by the management to perform the assigned duties.
(iii) The pattern of communication is also defined and the rules are laid down to regulate the behaviour of group members.
(iv) These groups may be either permanent in the form of top management team such as Board of Directors or staff groups providing specialized services to the organisation and so on; or these formal groups may be constituted on temporary basis for fulfilling certain specified objectives. When such objectives are fulfilled, these disappear. These may be in the form of temporary committees, task force etc.
The Formal Groups may further be sub classified into the following groups:
(i) Command Groups:
The command group is the most frequent type of formal group. It is relatively permanent and is specified by the organisation chart. It comprises of managers or supervisors and subordinates, who meet regularly to discuss general and specific ideas to improve product or service. In business organisations, most employees work in such command groups.
Thus, a manager and his supervisors reporting to him form one command group. The supervisor and the subordinates reporting to him from other command groups.
(ii) Task Forces:
Task groups are also organisationally determined. But it is a temporary group representing the employees who are working together to complete a job task or particular project. However, a task group’s boundaries are not limited to its immediate hierarchical superior. For example, if a problem involving many departments arises, a task force made up of representatives from each of the affected departments, might be formed to examine the problem and suggest solutions.
The committees are also set up for some special projects. These can be permanent such as planning committee or a budget committee and may become an integral part of the organisational structure. A committee can also be temporary such as a special task force which is set up for a particular purpose and is disbanded when the purpose is achieved. For example, the committee constituted to elect the president of the company is temporary and is disbanded after the election.
2. Informal Groups:
Informal groups are alliances that are neither formally structured nor organisationally determined. These groups are natural formations in the work response to the common interests of the organisation members such as self defense, work assistance and social interaction.
The features of these groups are as follows:
(i) The informal groups are formed by the members of such groups by themselves rather than by the management.
(ii) These groups arise spontaneously in the organisation because of social interaction between the people.
(iii) These are based on common interests, language, taste, caste, religion, background etc.
(iv) These groups exist outside the formal authorities system and without any set rigid rules.
(v) Though officially unrecognized, these groups exist in the shadow of the formal structure as a network of personal and social relations which must be understood and respected by the management.
(vi) These groups have their own structure, with their own leaders, and followers, group goals, social roles and working patterns. They have their own unwritten rules and a code of conduct which every member accepts implicitly. Members trust and respect each other.
(vii) The informal groups are more flexible than the formal groups. Rules and procedures being unwritten, they can change from situation to situation.
(viii) Since these groups concentrate on the personal contact between the members, they represent the human side of enterprise as compared to technical side represented by the formal groups.
Since informal interaction is spontaneous it can take place in any way.
Consequently, informal organisations may be of different types as explained below:
(i) Interest and Friendship Groups:
People who may or may not be aligned into common command or task groups may affiliate to attain a specific objective with which each is concerned. This is called an interest group. For instance, the employees who group together to pressurize the management for subsidized transport constitute an interest group.
A friendship group includes close friends or relations. These groups arise because members know each other very well before joining the organisation and in the initial stages, they recognize each other only. These social alliances, which frequently extend outside the work situation, can be based on similar age or ethnic heritage or for holding similar political views or for having the same hobbies etc.
Another type of informal groups is called cliques. These groups consist of colleagues or those who commonly associate with each other and observe certain social norms and standards, but the number of members tends to be smaller, and only rarely exceeds five or six. The objective is to provide recognition to each other and exchange information of mutual interest.