- Published: November 25, 2021
- Updated: June 26, 2022
- Language: English
- Downloads: 38
1. Orientation and reorientation9
2. Dynamic Group Settings10
Communication is generally considered as one of the most important parts of every organizational or institutional process. When a particular task cannot be completed by only one person, then there is no other choice but to delegate that particular task to more than one person, perhaps two, three, or even more, depending on the difficulty and the volume of workload involved in completing such task.
Whenever there are more than one people involved in a particular task, the list of factors that may affect the quality of the output of that task would most likely involve communication. Naturally, a task or process completed by a team that has a high level of communication and coordination would outshine those that have been completed by teams or groups that have poor communications or worst did not communicate at all. This is why it is being pointed by academicians that working in groups, be it in an educational or a professional setting, ay either be a stressful and anxiety-filled experience or one that can be described as great and fulfilling.
Communication is just one of the key determinants of the success of the group in whatever project it is working one. Some other factors that might be important and at the same time, are related to intra-group communication include but may not be limited to the level of trust developed within the, the level of respect that they show to one another, and of course, their willingness and desire to not only complete their work but also exceed the expectations of the person who will evaluate the outcome of the work of the group.
It is important to consider, that a trusting, respecting, and a smoothly going group atmosphere do not appear automatically. At some point, there will always be friction, misunderstandings, and even arguments within the group and while that goes against the fundamental principles of improving the level of communication, the existence and or emergence of such occurrences can be considered inevitable. In a highly competitive group environment, everyone would most likely have this strong desire to participate and contribute as large an effort, resources, and ideas to the group as possible.
However, a group is only considered as a single entity and single entities can only go and follow not three, not two, but one direction at a time. This is why there is a leader. The purpose of the leader is to lead the entire group to the direction that offers them the highest chance to achieve their goal or their target outcome. Part of the job of the leader is to consider not only his ideas but also that of his group mates in making important decisions such as the direction where the group will go and the mechanism how they are going to finish their work.
The objective of this paper is to discuss the effects of developing trust and cooperation within the group in making students communicate better in a group setting. Sure, there are numerous ways that the literatures propose how students can improve the level of communication inside a particular group or any multi-person setting, but in order to narrow down the rather broad topic of ways how educators can improve the level of communication among students within a group, the author of this paper has decided to include only a single pair of variables namely: the development of trust and cooperation within the group, and its effect on the dependent variable that is the level and or quality of communication within any single group. This paper will focus on the analysis of case studies and other viable forms of literature in answering the research question.
It has already been established in the introductory part of this paper how communication is considered as an important part of the group cooperation process. “ trust in a person, a group, or an institution is based on the reliability, truthfulness, ability, or strength of that person, group or institution and is essential for individuals to work effectively in committees, clubs, communities, offices, or families” . Unfortunately, most people or group members consider trust as a form of commodity that can be readily given to anyone. Unfortunately, it is not. It is something that can be earned and is most often given only to the rightful person. As an example, suppose there are two group members, who for the sake of this discussion will be referred to as Group Member A and Group Member B.
The main difference between GMA and GMB is that the former has a longer history of being able to complete the tasks assigned to him by his previous team or group leaders in a successful way (that is, with minimal to no errors and requiring no revisions) while the latter on the other hand has no history at all because it is his first time to work within a group setting. Between the two and considering the information provided about the two’s previous experiences in working in a group setting, it would certainly appear that Group Member A is more trustworthy compared to Group Member B.
However, that does not mean that Group Member B should automatically be considered as a liability. The purpose of this comparison is only to show how trust and cooperation affects the dynamics within a particular group. Now assuming that the subject group’s leader has decided that he will trust Group Member A more than any other member of the group, it would only make sense for other members to see him being delegated to a larger volume of tasks and even the harder ones.
Cooperation can be considered as an abstract concept of working together—which by the way often involves more than one person, towards a common purpose, intention, or goal . Just like trust, cooperation is an important aspect of group communication and over the long run, the success of the group’s effort. In fact, in some studies about group dynamics, the exact pair of trust and cooperation has been used to describe how badly or effectively members of a group have been communicating with each other.
In an academic journal published by the Academy of Management in 1998, the authors reviewed the relationship between experience and trust and these two’s implications for cooperation and teamwork . Specifically, they analyzed the different mechanisms how trust evolves within a group or an organization and how the newly evolved form of trust within the group influences the way how its members cooperation and make team efforts and complete group tasks.
It is generally acknowledged that trust affects the different functions within a group. In a group where the level of trust between individual members are significantly low or worse, nonexistent, for example, the leader may have tendencies to not do their job properly especially if they are somewhat thinking that the other members of the group are not doing their prescribed share of the workload.
The most probable end result of this kind of intra-group mentality would be low productivity for the entire group. Groups, regardless of the type or purpose are composed of individual functional units in the form of group members and these groups, in terms of performance, are only as good as their functional units. The way how these individual functional units integrate the work they have completed and the efforts that they have contributed may also be a key variable in determining the future performance or outcome of the group collaboration.
This is where cooperation comes in. a high level of trust within the group stimulates a highly cooperative environment . When everybody trusts one another, they would be able to focus on the real tasks at hand instead of the intra group trust issues. As a result, the group would be more productive and the quality of their output will be boosted as well. On the contrary, distrust may fuel friction, misunderstanding, and a low productivity environment within the group. This environment is the opposite of what group leaders should work towards.
In an academic journal published in the British Journal of Management, the authors investigated the role of individual group member affects in the relationship between trust and cooperation. They used an empirical type of study to describe, quantitatively and descriptively the role of individual group member affects in the relationship between trust and cooperation. Basically, the hypothesized that in an ideal work group environment, positive group member affects promote trust and trust, in turn, affects group cooperation by facilitating it.
In a non-idea work group setting, however, the opposite of the initial group scenario we described is what they expected to happen; that is, an environment where there is no trust, and no cooperation, fueled by the existing negative affects between individual group members. According to the authors, their study “ testifies to the significant role that individual group member affect may play in keeping up cooperation in organizations and work groups when trust is withering” .
Most group leaders and organizational managers still consider the act of making students communicate better within a group setting as an unsolvable problem citing reasons such as the presence of barriers including but may not be limited to cultural and environmental barriers among others. However, there are already numerous proven and evidence-based ways how intra-group communication can be improved. One of the proposed ways to do so is through the use of technology. With the aid of technology, almost everything that had to be done manually before can be done easier today. Is the process of making students communicate more effectively within a group setting one of those?
This is what the authors of an academic journal about building trust and cooperation through technology adaptation in virtual teams published in the journal of Information Systems Management in 2008 discussed. Thomas and Robert (2008) argued that technological adaptation can improve the way how group leaders of virtual information systems development teams develop trust and cooperation, and therefore communication within the group or even the entire organization. The authors have concluded that with the use of modern information and communication tools, any group leader can alter the styles of leadership within the group, a stem which would enable them to achieve positive outcomes, communication-wise .
Groups with a low level of communication are not necessarily doomed to fail, although they will eventually be if the group members fail to make the active steps required for them to change the course where the entire group is going. It is already established that groups that have a high level of communication, both in terms of quality and efficiency, are the most effective groups. Below are some more specific ways that group leaders can implement to improve the level of communication within the students in the group.
– Orientation and reorientation
A large percentage of miscommunication or misunderstanding within the group is caused by low level of communication and oftentimes, misinformation. If misinformation is indeed the culprit why a good number of individual team members become constantly engaged in arguments about who is right and who is wrong, then there is no other way to address this but to ensure that the team members are all informed about the things they need to know within the group. Some examples of the most important information they have to be aware of include but may not be limited to the goals of the group, the individual roles of the members, the milestones that they have to achieve towards the completion of their tasks, and the chain of command.
This can be done by orienting the entire group and then reorienting them again at some other point during working hours . This way, the group members would have no reason to argue because everything has already been made crystal clear for them. A practice that everyone in the group and not just the group leader should adopt is the practice of taking time to explain.
Most people tend to assume that other people think the way they think and that other people (the group members) know the ideas that are running through their head. The truth is, leaders and group members have to assume that they are the only person who can think the way they do and that for other people or in this case, their group mates to understand them, they have to make a conscious effort to explain their side and ideas to them and also to ensure that their explanations were clear and that the people who listened to them got whatever they were saying.
– Dynamic Group Settings
The chain of command is a concept often used in highly centralized organizations or institutions. In corporations, for example, it is used so that workers assigned in different departments can determine who they should be following and who they should be directing. Within groups composed of students, however, this rather rigid concept of control and leadership may not work very well.
What is more likely to work is a dynamic group setting. In this type of group setting, there will still be a leader, however, his role will only be limited to doing the major responsibilities such as deciding which way to go or option to take whenever the situation requires the group to make such decisions. When it comes to tasks that involve generating ideas or the brain storming process, however, the leader’s role would be just like that of the other members—to share and to accept ideas. Two minds will always be better than one and if the all the group members’ minds are functioning during the brainstorming sessions, then there should really be no reason for the entire group to ace the performance evaluation in terms of creativity and innovation. In a way, the creation of a dynamic group setting is also similar to the act of creating a culture that shares feedback. By sharing the right to provide and receive feedback to everyone in the group, each group member would feel that they are an important part of the group and as a result, they would be very motivated to participate and contribute in more efforts for the successful completion of the group’s works.
In conclusion, trust and cooperation can indeed be considered as two important determinants of student group communications. This has been evidenced by the academic journals we have reviewed and analyzed. Collectively, the journals we have reviewed and analyze all corroborated with the fact that trust and cooperation has a directly proportional effect on the level and quality of communication within a group. That is, a high level of trust and cooperation among the individual group members would lead to improved levels and quality of communication within the group, and as a result of improved levels of communication, the facilitation of work can be more effective and the entire group can be more productive.
One limitation that this research may have, however, is that the literatures we have analyzed were originally intended for groups composed of professionals and not students. However, it is worthy to note that a group that is composed of professionals and a group that is composed of students do not really have that much of a difference when it comes to group social dynamics.
One important recommendation we would like to make is for future researchers to conduct a quantitative descriptive study about the effects of trust and cooperation on the communication level within numerous groups (depending on the target sample population or size that the researchers will select) that are composed mainly of students and not working professionals. That way, the findings and outcomes of their research would be more specific to the research question.
Jones, G., & George, J. (1998). The Experience and Evoluation of Trust: Implications for Cooperation and Teamwork Abstract. Academiy of management Review, 531-546.
Oliphant, K. (2011). Teacher Development Groups: Growth through Cooperation Abstract. Ikala, 67-86.
Shnall, T. (2014). Five Ways to Improve Communication with your Teams. Lead Change Group, 01.
Tanghe, J., Wisse, B., & Flier, H. (2009). The Role of Group Member Affect in the Relationship Between Trust and Cooperation Abstract. British Journal of Management, 359-374.
Thomas, D., & Robert, B. (2008). Building Trust and Cooperation Through Technology Adaptation in Virtual Teams: Empirical Field Evidence Abstract . Information Management System.
Walumbwa, F., Luthans, J., Avey, B., & Oke, A. (2011). Authentically Leading Groups: The mediating role of collective psychological capital and trust Abstract. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 4-24.