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My Three Favorite Group Effects and How to Mitigate Poor Team Dynamics

Understand team dynamics, group effects, and synergy for better performance. Are you Communicating with FINESSE?  The second S in FINESSE stands for synergy.
Understand team dynamics, group effects, and synergy for better performance.

Several group effects can arise when teams work through business issues. Synergist organizations work to mitigate poor group dynamics caused by group effects. Team members, facilitators, and trusted advisors need to improve their ability to work to spot and mitigate negative group effects.

Team performance can exceed individual effort. Yes, in groups, two plus two can equal five. But two plus two can also equal three. These are three of my “favorite” group effects and what you can do about them.

Team Dynamics, Group Effects, and Synergy

Not understanding terminology can confuse. These are a few concise definitions.

Team Dynamics

People act differently in a group than they do in a group.

Group Effects

Group effects are the consequences of group dynamics on individual behavior, attitudes, and performance.


Synergy relates to the combined output of a team.

In theory, neither synergy nor group effects are inherently positive or negative. In practice, synergy is viewed as positive and group effects refer to negatives.

Three Common Group Effects

I call these three group effects my favorites because I see them as the most important to mitigate. Manage these three, and team dynamics will be good.

1. Groupthink:

Groupthink happens when the team prioritizes consensus and harmony over critical thinking. This results in narrow focus and flawed decision-making. Consider the following tips to overcome groupthink:

  • Encourage dissenting opinions and alternative viewpoints.

  • Designate someone to challenge the prevailing assumptions and arguments. In other words, play the role of devil's advocate.

  • Regularly use small groups reviewing the same issues, and then share each group’s findings with the entire team.

2. Social loafing (“free riding”):

Some team members exert less effort when working collectively compared to when working individually. To mitigate social loafing, consider the following tips:

  • Clearly define individual tasks and expectations.

  • Balance the sub-team work assignments evenly. Make sure sub-teams have three or fewer members.

  • Recognizing individual efforts in front of the group,

3. Conflict and disagreement:

Conflicts and disagreements are bound to arise in business. While conflict can be constructive, unresolved conflicts will slow things down and fracture the group. These are a few tips to mitigate conflict and disagreement:

  • Encourage open communication within the team, emphasizing empathetic listening.

  • Establish a consistent approach to resolving conflicts.

  • Bring in outside parties to give outside opinions on sticky issues.

Other Group Effects

JD Solomon reminds me that other group effects are just as important. These include group polarization, exclusion, dominant participant effect, and ingroup-outgroup effects (one group looking down on another). There are some fixes that facilitators use for these effects. But I stick to addressing the three discussed above.

Mitigating Group Effects with FINESSE

Team dynamics matter most when big problems are complex, and uncertainty is high. Positive outcomes require team members, facilitators, and trusted advisors to improve their ability to work to spot and mitigate negative group effects. Commit to understanding team dynamics!

The second S in FINESSE stands for Synergy.


Founded by JD Solomon, Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.


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