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Informal Groups an Assets or Liabilities to Organizational Success: Managerial Perspective

Do informal groups help or inhibit business success? This may be a question that the business and management practitioners and scholars have to scratch their heads to accommodate. But is it really an issue worthy ‘wasting’ or ‘spending’ company’s resources pondering over? Should the organizational leadership incorporate informal groups as a bridge to achieve business success?

But what are the informal groups in the context of organizations?

Informal groups emerge naturally due to the response and common interests of the members of an organization who can easily identify with the goals or independent activities of the group.

Principally, they are not the groups that are formed in response to any organizational requirement nor have a formally defined structure of relationship between the group members.

They operate in invisible structure built on relationships which create influential channels that differ from formal but operate within organizational boundaries. At times group’s activities spill over outside the organizational boundaries.

Recently, the social media platforms have played a catalyst to existence of such informal groups.

Leadership must have a clear picture of the relationships within their organization that extend beyond the defined organizational structure. This means understanding the dynamic web of connections that have an impact on work, their leadership, and the leadership culture of their organization.

Leaders must be discerning to know of existence of such groups found throughout the organization, no matter their level; and, their critical roles to any organization’s success.

The underlying issue is to identify and use such distinct patterns of relationships and people to foster business success—and those that will inhibit or undermine it. As assets, informal groups may be enablers of change and progress while as a liability, they may impede or prevent change and progress.

After identifying such patterns, leaders must tap into social networks to achieve any outcome.

In other words, leaders must operate in both worlds! There are instances where leaders intelligently influence the directions of such groups. Just like an intel community leaders may have to ‘plant’ their people within those networks!

Often “behind the scenes,” informal groups’ bridge functional departments, assure processes are effectively implemented, or suggest innovative ideas, different perspectives, even reality checks.

These individuals may be a comforting presence of friendship or invaluable mentorship, or are trustworthy, inspiring role models who do things passionately.

How can organizations increase the likelihood that the informal groups in their organization are assets rather than liabilities?

Gain an understanding of group dynamics in formal and informal gatherings. The significance of this is to identify the leadership of such networks.

These are individuals who asserts themselves and to whom people listen. Possibly, they offer what the formal structures fail to do.

Informally, the managers/leaders need support of this class of people. This is the way to go! Engage their partnership. Have their inputs in decision making process. This will make them the advocates of the organization decisions within their groups. It’s all about sense of inclusion and ownership!

Ensuring the leadership of informal groups is on your team requires effort, foresight and adroit leadership skills… and is essential to the success of your organization.

Last modified on Saturday, 07 November 2015 10:33
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