What are the differences between formal and informal groups? Why should managers pay attention to informal groups?
According to Carpenter, Bauer, Erdogan, and Short (2014), formal work groups are defined as groups comprised of an organization’s managers and/or subordinates that have a direct influence on the individuals within the group, whereas informal work groups are defined as groups that consist of individuals that are associated with one another but not arranged by the organization (Carpenter, Bauer, Erdogan, & Short, 2014, p. 332).I look at informal work groups as voluntary participation while formal work groups are involuntary. For instance, even though we have a small number of employees at my current job, the number is even smaller for those of us who occasionally gather after work for happy hour. We share a similar purpose when we hang out, and that purpose is to vent if need be while enjoying a cocktail or two. This group is considered an informal work group, because we choose to hang out with each other not because our employer tells us to do so.
Managers should pay attention to informal work groups and try to gain an understanding of why these individuals chooseto be a part of this work group, and what makes this work group work. Informal work groups affect productivity, increase morality among employees, and can contribute greatly to a manager’s success. The same satisfaction and morality amongst the individuals in the informal work group should be learned and applied to the formal work groups to improve their work efforts. As a result, the individuals in the formal work group may feel more willing to participate.
Carpenter, M., T. Bauer, B. Erdogan & J. Short. (2014). Principles of Management Version 2.0. Washington, DC: Flat World Knowledge.
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