In Hay (2004) I produced an issue in Fenman’s Train the Trainer series that was about groups. In that, among other things, I wrote about interaction charts and group imagoes. I also included a warning.
A word of warning
Analysing and feeding back group behaviour can leave some people feeling threatened, especially if they are not used to thinking about how they behave and the impact they have on others. Make sure you set up adequate groundrules for the process – think about some of the frameworks in this issue and apply them to the group in terms of its task being to review its own process. Facilitate in a way that provides appropriate stages of group development for the review. Don’t assume that, because the group were effective at their work task, there is enough trust and openness for doing something quite different.
Analysing individuals in groups
As well as looking at group dynamics, we can usefully analyse individual behaviour within groups. For instance, we could simply note the number of times each participant interacts with each other participant and use this interaction chart to review what is happening – there will almost certainly be patterns emerge that demonstrate clearly when alliances form or arguments develop, who is treated as the group leader and who is not really involved. Or we can add to this by analysing styles of behaviour (e.g. assertive, aggressive, acquiescent), types of interactions (e.g. questions, opinions, ideas), personality indicators (e.g. introvert or extravert, thinking or feeling).
An alternative to Tuckman is the notion of group imagoes proposed by Berne. He suggested that we all have some form of image, or imago, of a group, usually out of our awareness, that this imago goes through recognisable stages, and that this heavily influences our behaviour in groups. If we were to capture our imagoes on paper, they might look like those in Figure 1 (although they might look quite different – this is a very personal thing!)
Changing the names of the stages to make them more memorable, we have:
We can analyse group behaviour by inviting group members to sketch out their imagoes at the various stages and then to review these with each other. This can be a powerful way of bringing into consciousness some of the assumptions and prejudices we all carry. Seeing people for who they are rather than what we unwittingly imagine them to be can significantly improve our relationships. And don’t forget that you too, as trainer/facilitator, are running your own imagoes – which may contain slots for that participant who always causes trouble, or asks too many questions, or sulks, or whatever else you regularly find hard to deal with.
Hay, Julie (2004) Analyzing Group Behaviour Train the Trainer, Fenman 13
© 2018 Julie Hay
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