Expert Guide to Managing Online Meetings

(Joanna Rotary) #1
A group can be defined as a minimum of two people interacting, in a
network of relevant communications, with shared goals and identities,
however temporary.

According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar and his social brain
hypothesis, 150 people is the largest number an efficient networked
group can be.^3 Larger groups tend to split or not cohere well. (150 is for
‘meaningful contacts’, although people can have up to 500
acquaintances and 1500 people they recognize.)

6 key features of groups

1. Interaction : includes physical, verbal, non-verbal and emotional
2. Structure : includes patterns of relationships, roles, status, attraction
relations and communication networks
3. Size : Larger groups can suffer process loss (effort put into activities
not related to the task) and social loafing , where effort per person
decreases as group size increases.
4. Goals – the basis of a group’s existence
5. Cohesiveness – the strength of the relationships linking group
members. It affects task performance and satisfaction with the group.
6. Temporal change. Groups change over time. There are several
models, but it is easy to see the parallels between them. This one is from
Kormanski and Mozenter^4


Stage Task outcome Relationship outcome
Forming/ awareness Commitment to the task Acceptance of the group
Conflict Clarification Sense of belonging
Co-operation Acceptance of norms Support
Productivity Achievement Pride
Separation Recognition Satisfaction^5

(^3) Dunbar’s number
(^4) Work Groups and Teams in Organisations Digital Commons
If you have a choice,
consider group size
carefully.
The larger the group,
the harder it is to
maintain meaningful
interaction.
For exercises,
brainstorming tasks
etc., find ways of
creating sub-groups
with separate sessions
or use asynchronous
platforms.

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