Group dynamics have many manifestations. Groups could be small teams, large armies or simply rampaging mobs. There is something in a group that amplifies everything about an individual-good as well as bad characteristics. Groups can reduce inhibitions, whet intra-group rivalry and increase insecurity.
Mobs are equally capable of both ethnic cleansing and regime-changing revolutions. A mob is an extreme form of a group that allows free expression to hitherto suppressed instincts of cruelty and courage, hostility and camaraderie. Similarly, joining a theatre group reduces your stage fright by several basis points.
An organisation is another form of a group. Most work related organisations act differently from your average group. They amplify opposite feelings in individuals in different settings. People join companies for security in their personal lives. But at the cost of insecurity in their professional lives. A genuinely decent person in personal life can behave in an utmost despicable manner in an office surrounding. It is not uncommon for his colleagues to be pleasantly surprised when meeting him in a more informal setting. Most employees are insecure, unless they have a genetic propensity for security. In fact, most secure employees are those who are in denial. Employees live a schizophrenic life- a different man at home and in office. The aim of good organisations should be to resolve this split personality, or at least, to reduce it to a level which nurtures good workplace behaviour. How can we do this?
We can do this be periodically exposing employee groups to informal interaction settings-like picnic, outing, recreation, group-work unrelated to work, games etc. Another good method would be to make communication, policy making and reward system more transparent. People should be made to feel less threatened of each other. As far as possible, the personal growth of an employee should not depend on the quirks and fancies of another individual.
— first written on 9 September 2004.