Group Savvy

If you work as an employee, manager, or volunteer, you have to work with and within groups of people. Reading and understanding what is going on in a group is essential to being Group Savvy.

Groups are an important part of your life. Understanding how groups function and how to work effectively through groups or teams can mean the difference between success and failure, especially within complex organizations. It helps to remember when working in groups that interpersonal relationships are crucial and that all interactions are compounded — that is, there is you and me, what I thought of our interaction, what you thought of the interaction, and how these reactions affect not only us but other group members.

Group savvy means knowing how to initiate contact with all group members, gauge their interests and needs, identify and understand the various dynamics among group members, facilitate discussion around group expectations, manage conflict as it arises (and it will) and use the unique energy and creativity that emerge in groups to accomplish team goals while ensuring that all members feel satisfied and committed.

If any of these behaviors are true of you or associates with whom you work, you’ll find action tips at

  • Makes no effort to listen or show interest in others’ needs in the group
  • Needs to control or else appears uninvolved in the group conversation
  • Misses opportunities to use a team approach
  • Demonstrates a disdain for group activity
  • Fails as a team leader to motivate others, manage conflicts, or consistently achieve goals

Action learning tips and learning assignments on the job are a click away at

You might also consider (a sampling of suggestions from ):

Levi, Daniel. Group Dynamics for Teams. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2010.

Webne-Behrman, Harry. The Practice of Facilitation: Managing Group Process and Solving Problems. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2008.

Schholtes, Peter R., Brian L. Joiner, and Barbara J. Streibel. The Team Handbook. Madison, WI: Oriel Incorporated, 2003.

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