Whether you work alone or are part of a team or group, or leading and managing you probably spend a fair amount of time planning.  Preparing, organising and generally trying to work through the processes and strategies to meet existing objectives and create new goals are part of what helps things run smoothly.  You might be the kind of person that can frequently be found surrounded by pieces of paper and pens, scribbling down ideas, drawing up lists, creating beautiful mind maps or filling up a wall with post its. Or you might be the kind of person who likes tables and spreadsheets, digital templates and tools and on line plans.

However you process and plan, sometimes its good to do this alone. On the one hand you have the mental space of you and your pen, or maybe you and your keyboard, capturing ideas, considering, cogitating, reflecting and polishing. You might be untangling thoughts so that they look the way you want. It’s good to get ideas down and to lay them out in a way that enables you to think, to create solutions and concrete plans. It’s important to have this time, and maybe embrace the introspection. There is no one to tell you you are wrong, disturb your patterns of thought or tell you which direction you need to go in. You are am guided, moderated and powered by yourself.

You can in this way do what I want to do.

No one will complain about your handwriting or question whether your plans make any sense!

But what about your team?

Taking a step away from your own undistracted time to work alone, there is a different part of you that needs some feedback. You’ll want to discuss, throw ideas around, ask questions, and gather thoughts and ideas so you are not working in a complete vacuum. Sometimes bouncing ideas off one other person just won’t cut it – great for a few questions, to sound out something, but not so great for tackling those dilemmas, really getting into the nitty gritty of something. That’s when you might need to draw upon the power of working in a group.

Group facilitation

Working in a group can provide so many different opportunities:

  • To create room for discussion and bounce ideas and thoughts around, giving them some breathing space.
  • To get feedback on suggestions and specific ideas or projects.
  • To reword things, realign things and to test things out.
  • To gain different perspectives that might be wildly different from your own, but intensely useful.
  • Different people have different experiences even when working in similar roles which provides a rich mix.
  • People can really energise other people and if carefully managed this can be a motivating and fulfilling way of working.
  • It can also be fun, and when people are relaxed and happy they are far more likely to think in imaginative, creative and colourful ways.
  • If your work involves others, the likelihood is that whatever you are working on will impact upon them. Working in a group will allow you to discuss that impact first hand.

Working in a group can be less easy than working alone and seem more time consuming to start with. There can be power struggles, disagreements, lack of consensus and discussions can go on for hours. Some people will have more to bring to a particular group, and others much less, in the same way that different people will get different things out of the group. The right people are not always in the group in the first place. Some people will say they don’ t like working with others. And of course not everything can be done this way.

But when the time is right, the mix of people is right and everyone is working in a meaningful and productive way, a group of people working together is a really valuable and cost effective asset.

Your plans will have been tried and tested and perhaps rigorously challenged, so you know that they have a strong chance of succeeding.

When the dynamics are managed correctly and the function and purpose is clear and understood, then a group working together can produce a piece of work in a fraction of the time it takes and individual to do.

When there is a good structure and process to guide the group along, so that decisions can be made and discussions are fruitful, a group can be so much more efficient.

There often needs to be fine tuning and writing up and follow ups to group work, but a large body of work can be achieved through careful collaboration.

And everyone in the group will have been involved and made to feel part of your plans, which is great for helping people to buy in to ideas.

Working in a group is not always the way forward, but when it is, it is important to grab it with both hands and make the most out of it you can.

What do you love about working in a group?

If you have enjoyed this blog then take a look at this one on group communication.

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