What are the advantages of small groups?

This blogpost will look at the various advantages of small groups. In addition, we shall also be examining the disadvantages of small groups and the different elements that affect the structure of such groups. Small groups have team members who are more closely connected to each and work well together as a unit.

What are the advantages of small groups?

The advantages of small groups are:

  • They have increased productivity
  • They lead to more engaged members
  • They encourage creative thinking
  • They promote learning of new skills
  • These groups understand diversity better
  • They are high performing groups

With the help of small groups, organizations, classrooms, and businesses can achieve great things. This is because small groups call for intense focus and commitment to the team. Thus, the team members work closely together in order to achieve a shared purpose, for which they show high ownership. The main advantages of small groups are discussed in brief as follows:

They have increased productivity

In small groups, the level of understanding and communication is much higher than in larger ones. The various team members understand their individual roles as well as the various responsibilities they need to fulfill. Since they understand their roles clearly, the team is highly productive and efficient in its work process.

They lead to more engaged members

When many groups have a problem with team member engagement, this is not so with small groups. In these groups, the various members are delegated the right tasks and roles. Since each team member knows the other person well, the tasks are delegated with the personas and working styles in mind. This ultimately translates to better engagement.

They encourage creative thinking

Small groups greatly encourage and motivate their members to think outside the box. The members are also more open to share unconventional thoughts and ideas in the group as they feel safe and comfortable. Through this manner, many new innovative ideas and solutions for new products and designs can be generated.

They promote learning of new skills

There is a better transfer of knowledge and skills between team members in small groups. The team also experiences better trust among themselves, and thus this can create interdependency in the group. The team members then share their knowledge and their resources with each other in a bid to fill in skill gaps and promote the overall efficiency of the group.

These groups understand diversity better

Understanding and celebrating diversity in a proper manner is becoming a major issue as organizations are going global. However, small groups can be beneficial for this particular issue.  Small groups have a safe working atmosphere which allows people to open up and share their experiences. In this way, diversity is understood and respected in a better manner.

They are high performing groups

Small groups also often show high performance as their team members are strongly committed to the goal. These groups also practice open and honest communication and thus the information shared is right and concise. This leads to better understanding and more transparency of work in the group.

The other important advantages of small groups are as described below:

Small groups can lead to better critical-thinking

When issues or topics are brought up for discussion in small groups, the team members can openly give their opinions as well as suggestions. The issue at hand is also viewed from many different angles and perspectives before a conclusion is made. Thus, small groups positively affect critical thinking.

They can make conflicts constructive

Though conflicts may arise in small groups, the conflict-resolution process is a whole lot smoother and efficient. Conflicts can also be used constructively here and can bring the different members closer together. They can also be seen as learning curves for the group who can use the information to work smarter.

They increase self-awareness

Self-awareness is the key element for personal growth and development. When an individual knows his/her own strengths and weaknesses, they have better self-esteem as well as self-confidence. Working in small groups can help the individual members develop better self-awareness through regular feedback and support from the group.

Small groups teach interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are not everybody’s forte. Those who wish to learn or develop their interpersonal skills can highly benefit through working in a small group. Since the climate is positive and supportive, and the feedback is open and constructive, learning takes place better here.

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Disadvantages of small groups

While small groups have their advantages, they also have many disadvantages. Some of these are examined in this section:

Small groups take up more time

Contrary to belief, small groups take more time to work than larger ones. This is because the group members discuss and interact closely before coming to any conclusion. This can be in relation to solving problems and also making decisions. Thus, the whole process can be time-consuming which might not always be feasible.

There can be too many conflicts in the group

While conflicts can be looked at in a positive light, too many conflicts between team members can lead to major disruptions in the work process and thus can delay achievement of milestones. Conflicts may arise too commonly if the group members have conflicting personalities and working styles.

Who should we blame?

Small groups show high levels of collaboration and team cohesion among the members. They literally rise and fall together. However, the question of accountability might be raised here. In events of mistakes and errors, the responsible team member needs to make up. However, this may be a challenge for the group members who might value the team cohesion more.

Not everyone is a team player

Small groups can have individuals with varying personality types. However, not everyone in the group will be a team player. There are plenty of people who prefer working by themselves and do not wish to collaborate with others. When these personality types are there in the group, it can lead to a breakdown in the process and can reduce the team effectiveness.

 

Groupthink can occur

Small groups are great for sharing ideas and feelings. Since the bond between members is very strong, the team members are open to sharing thoughts and opinions. But what happens when these run out? It can lead to groupthink in the team and also a recycling of older ideas and plans. And thus, this can negatively affect the creativity of the group as a whole.

Factors that affect structures of small groups

The structure of small groups can be affected by many factors. Some of these factors are:

  • The personal characteristics and personalities of the group members
  • The aim and purpose of the group
  • The time allotted for the work process
  • Understanding and accepting of individual roles and responsibilities
  • The number of members in the group
  • The communication strategy used for interaction
  • The leadership in the group
  • The resources allocated to the group
  • The autonomy that the group has

Conclusion

This blogpost has examined the various advantages of small groups. Additionally, we have also run through the disadvantages of small groups and the different elements that affect the structure of such groups.

Frequently asked questions: (What are the advantages of small groups?)

What are the advantages of small group discussion?

Through small group discussions, students and team members can gain the following advantages:

Small groups can help in the information sharing process

When students work in small groups, they can learn easily from each other and also share information willingly. Small groups promote an environment of openness and support that can help students be more comfortable in a group setting. In this environment, students can easily bridge gaps in their knowledge and also retain information for longer periods of time.

They can enrich and multiply perspectives

Members of small groups are more willing to discuss their personal experiences and opinions with the rest of the group. Through this sharing of multiple perspectives in relation to a topic or concept, students can broaden their horizons and learn from different points of view. Through this, students can also learn to be non-judgmental and open-minded.

Small groups can develop attitudes to learning

While learning can seem like a tedious chore for many, small groups can enrich the process. Students may not only discuss a certain concept or topic but can also debate it in a healthy manner. They may also share their real-life examples with each other, which brings in a more practical approach to the learning process.

Students can easily give and receive feedback

Students can also give and receive feedback in a constructive and open manner. The key word here is trust. Since the group members trust each other greatly, they value the feedback and try to understand it clearly. They also don’t hold back in giving feedback as they know that it comes from a place of dignity and support.

Small groups can also impart interpersonal skills

Through working in small groups, students can easily learn about the various interpersonal skills. Since they are working with fewer people, they can also try out these skills and get feedback. Once they develop them and add them to their skillsets, they can easily translate these and use them in other areas of life.

What are the disadvantages of group activities?

Group activities, while very useful for any industry, can have many disadvantages as well. Some of these disadvantages are:

  • Group activities can take up longer periods of time for completion
  • There can be many sleeping members in the group might not contribute
  • Group Groupthink can happen leading to lesser creativity and innovation
  • There can be obstacles in the form of organizational policies and structure
  • Performance assessment can be difficult to conduct in this setting
  • Conflicts may arise from members who have different working styles
  • There can be problems in leadership such as wrong leadership style, too many leaders and informal leaders
  • The communication strategy might not be accepted by all

What are the 5 importance of communication?

The importance of communication can be explained through the following points:

  • It can improve the teamwork between various group members
  • It leads to better organization and coordination of work processes
  • It makes the workflow smooth and efficient
  • It is the foundation of decision-making and problem-solving
  • It can improve the effectiveness of leadership

If you like this blogpost, please leave your questions and comments in the space below.

Citations

https://www.teaching.unsw.edu.au/small-group-teaching
https://blog.keatschinese.com/4-benefits-of-collaborative-small-group-learning/
https://blog.innerdrive.co.uk/advantages-disadvantages-group-work
https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/instructionalstrategies/groupprojects/benefits.html
https://everythingwhat.com/what-are-the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-small-group-communication

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