Formal and Informal Workgroups in Organisations

Groups are a basic part of social life. A group exists when two or more people define themselves as members of it and when its survival is familiar to at least one other. Workgroup means “Two or more individuals who routinely function like a team, are interdependent in the achievement of a common goal, and may or may not work next to one another or in the same department.”

  • The main types of workgroups are:
  • Formal workgroup.
  • Informal workgroup.

Formal work groups are clearly constituted by organisational decision-makers to achieve a specific duty. Formal workgroups are the groups or teams of employees who are assigned by management to related activities or locations with the intent that they work jointly in a prescribed way towards goals recognised by management. Its leaders are appointed, and the group’s arrangement, rules and events are often codified. Historical patterns of performance are often based on ideas about the separation of labour constituting formal groups. Formal work groups are mainly two types that are:

  • Command group.
  • Task group.

The command group: The command group is specified by the organisational hierarchy, usually outlined on the organisation chart. The relationship between a department manager and his three supervisors in a machine shop, for example, is indicated in the organisation chart. As the span of control of the department manager increases, the size of the command group also increases.

The task group: A number of employees who work jointly to complete a specific project or job are measured task group. For example, it is a manufacturing or office work process that requires a great deal of interdependence. For example, suppose that three office clerks are required to:

  1. secure the file of an automobile accident claim;
  2. check the accuracy of the claim by contacting the persons involved; and
  3. type the claim, obtain the signatures of those involved, and refile the claim.

The activation of the file and things that must be done before the claim is refilled constitute required tasks. The process creates a situation in which three clerks must communicate and coordinate with each other if the file is to be handled properly. Their interactions facilitate the formation of a task group.

“The characteristics of an effective formal workgroup are their shared beliefs, aims and objectives; there is a commitment within the group. There is a high level of acceptance of values and norms within the group. These groups are efficient and effective; they obtain the goals that management has set them. This is the ideal scenario when planning and forming groups.”

Informal groups are the groups that form instinctively among employees who work near one another, who have common personal interests, or who work towards common job goals, whether or not these goals are the ones set down by management.

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