Four ways to improve small group dynamics

“Generating a diverse set of possible solutions is not enough. The group must be able to distinguish good solutions from the bad.”

That’s how Marc Burt of Inspired Global Resources, the Expert in Residence for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, began the Council’s most recent meeting. The Partnership’s Diversity and Inclusion Council was established to empower employers by bringing awareness to the competitive advantage of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. A key part of the Council’s agenda is sharing best practices with employers and providing insight on how to implement those strategies.

During his most recent training session for Council members, Burt shared tips on having effective teams within organizations. There are four factors that Burt says help small groups become most effective:

  1. Groups are smarter than individuals, but diverse groups are smarter than all groups. Diversity of opinion can help boost innovative and creative problem solving. Having a group with a diversity of opinion can stimulate creativity and spur insights that can create more successful decision making.
  2. Remember that cohesiveness can give the appearance of consensus. Group members should be reminded that there is a range of expertise in a group and dissenting views are welcome and valued. All members should be encouraged to think independently. Remember that the desire for harmony in a group may result in dysfunction.
  3. Don’t emphasize consensus over dissent. Disagreements in ideas should not be seen as chaos, in fact, it is an opportunity for the group to discuss different ideas and produce the best one. Human nature is to prefer the illusion of certainty over the reality of doubt.
  4. Don’t sacrifice group effectiveness for the sake of expediency. As we often hear: “do not let speed sacrifice quality.” If the group is taking a longer time to come to a consensus due to high volume of diverse ideas and opinions, do not let that scare you. Your result may be the group’s most effective work.

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