A small group is a combination of more than two people who are interdependent on one another. So communication among the members of a group consisting of small number of members is known as small group communication.
Every organization employs small groups to collect, process, and produce information, solve problems and make decisions.
Small group communication helps to get synergistic benefit. Synergy means combined efforts of a group result in greater output than the sum of the individual output.
That is, groups can do more for the individuals than the individuals can do for themselves.
Study reveals that small group communication and decision making is usually motivational for the individuals, conducive to attitude change, improves thinking and results in group decisions that are superior to individual decisions.
According to Stewart Tubs, “Small group communication is defined as the process by which three or more members of a group exchange verbal and nonverbal messages in an attempt to influence one another.”
Small group communication is crucial to success of an organization.
Small group communication occurs in business organizations but also in churches, in social situations, and so on.
Group dynamics and self-directed-work-teams are the examples of small groups. These groups are directed to improving organizational performance.
However, an ideal small group should possess the following three elements:
- Size: A small group must have at least three members and no more than twelve or fifteen members.
- Interaction: The members of small group can exchange their views freely and liberally with each other.
- Goal: Every small group must have a common purpose or goal and the members work together to achieve that goal.
People join groups for a number of reasons. Some group members are motivated by working in group and others are motivated by creating interpersonal relationships with other members of the group.
The possible reasons for which people join in groups are discussed below:
- Group Synergy.
Group synergy refers to the idea that two heads (or more) are better than one.
There is a saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” which also refers to group synergy. Groups are often capable of performing higher quality work and making better decisions than an individual can make alone.
- Support and Commitment.
A group is generally always being more willing to undertake a large project than would an individual.
In addition to its improved ability to perform work, the group can provide encouragement and support to its members while working in a big project.
- Interpersonal Needs.
Individuals often join a group to meet their interpersonal needs. William Schutz has identified three such needs: inclusion, control, and affection.
- Needs for inclusion
Needs for inclusion is the need to establish self-identity with others.
- Needs for control
Needs for control is the need to exercise leadership and prove one’s abilities.
Groups provide opportunities for this need. Some individuals do not want to be a leader. For them, groups provide the necessary control over aspects of their lives.
- Needs for affection
Needs for affection is the need to develop relationships with people. Group is an excellent way to make friends and establish relationships.
- Needs for inclusion