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MAY/JUNE 2014
 
Employees in Focus
 

MONIKA MILLER ON

GROUP DYNAMICS
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Monika Miller has been part of the IMP Austria group from the very beginning. She is therefore well familiar with the ins and outs of group dynamics over long periods. In addition to her STRATEGIC consulting focus, Monika is also deployed on customer projects as a COACHING professional to support groups and teams in their efforts to achieve common goals. Her work as a consultant on "normal" projects naturally also includes establishing the foundations for contextual work IN and WITH groups.

Manuela Kirchler and Alexander Ettinger (IMP Austria) wanted to know more of the specifics about "group dynamics". The three got together in a SMALL GROUP and had a DYNAMIC discussion…as you are about to see.

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The group: a sanctuary of common goal achievement

Alexander: Monika, perhaps we can first look at the term GROUP before we get to the dynamics associated with them. What requirements have to be fulfilled in order to speak of a group or a team in the first place?

Monika: The primary requirement of a group is having a common goal. A group is therefore a sort of sanctuary for achieving mutual objectives. One challenge is of course KNOWING what the goal is. Only when a team has a clear vision and a clear idea of where the desired change should take them will the group be able to take its first steps in that direction.

Manuela: In addition to CLARITY, there also surely needs to be UNANIMITY within the group, which must be a challenge in itself. Add to that the fact that every group is made up of individuals, which means that INDIVIDUAL GOALS and GROUP GOALS won't always coincide. Is this where the role of a coach comes in? And does Schulz von Thun's statement still retain its validity:


"Group dynamics is when things really get heated up!"

Alexander: That statement has a very negative tone for me, by the way! As if the swell MUST rise for things to be productive. But the term "dynamic" comes across as quite positive, something full of energy and POWER. Or how do you see that, Monika?

Monika: For the consulting work I do the goal is always to harness the existing dynamic, to focus and guide it. And yes it can be compared with ENERGY and POWER. The individuals provide the group with the most basic elements: individual and personal goals. But the structuring of these elements, that is, the ordered collaboration within the group, is the actual result, which theoretically becomes MORE than the sum of the group's parts.

Alexander: So the things that need organizing – with the help of a coach in some cases – are the various goals that the members are looking to achieve?

Monika: Correct. Only when you manage to bring all of these goals under one roof, which in turn represents a satisfactory consensus for all participants – the so-called group contract – will the prospect of long-term future success be possible. I don't mean a legal contract here, by the way. A group contract is simply the HOW and WHAT of an agreement.

  • The WHAT represents the goals.
  • The HOW is basically agreeing on how the group will work together. The point here is to establish rules of engagement and decision-making processes…things like that.

Manuela: We all know how interpersonal factors influence group dynamics and the satisfaction of individuals. Those who don't feel valued and respected in a work group will tend to withdraw. Has that happened to you in customer projects?


Respect, appreciation and involvement


Monika:
Yes, being respectful to one another, valuing the input of others and involving all of the participants. Those are all factors of success that are often undervalued, unfortunately by a lot of managers as well. A coach or consultant definitely has a role model position in such situations. Our job is to recognize what's happening in the group, and more importantly what's happening behind the scenes. That requires powers of perception. You have to pay special attention to the nonverbal signals people are sending and address those actively. The art of it lies in releasing control, encouraging the open exchange of forces and awakening any hidden sources of inspiration. Only once you have struck a BALANCE between "controlling" and "letting things happen" will the true added value of group leadership be revealed.

Manuela: What are some of the things you should pay attention to in groups? In your many years of experience, what things have been consistent in this context?


Mixed teams lead to greater success


Monika: All I can say is: mixed teams. On the one hand I mean you should be aware of the ratio of MEN and WOMEN. Studies have proven at this point that mixed gender teams are more successful and more creative than homogeneous ones. Unfortunately the reality in many companies doesn't reflect that, especially at the management level where a lot of homogeneous teams are at work. On the other hand I mean bringing people together with different WAYS OF THINKING. As one of many models, the one I'll mention here is the HBDI Model**, which focuses on the advantages of combining different styles of thinking, such as

  • visionary
  • people-oriented
  • structured/sequential and
  • analytical

INTENTIONALLY bringing people from all four of those styles together has always proven successful in groups and teams. The reason is because when everyone is thinking the same way, new ideas fall by the wayside.

Alexander: Thank you for the interesting conversation, Monika!
 

 
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MONIKA MILLER
IMP AUSTRIA

Manuela Kirchler and Alexander Ettinger did the interview with Monika Miller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** The HBDI Model, or the four-quadrant model of the brain (HBDI: Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument), is a model developed by Ned Herrmann (1922–1999) for analyzing the different ways people think. The model states that different people can have different ways of thinking. According to the model you can – without placing value on one or the other – assign people to different categories or measure the affinity of their thinking in a specific direction. It is therefore a modern typology based on the neurosciences. This typology can be helpful for selecting careers, for example, or for putting teams together or selecting employees.

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