In an organizational context, groupthink and group behavior are important concepts as they determine the cohesiveness and coherence of the organizational culture and organizational communication. For instance, unless the HRD function communicates the policies clearly and cogently, the employees would not participate and comply with them wholeheartedly. Hence, molding group behavior is important for organizations. However, this cannot be construed to mean that all employees must think and act alike. On the contrary, innovation cannot happen when group behavior is the same across all levels. The point here is that while organizations must strive for cohesiveness and coherence, they must not sacrifice the principles of individual creativity and brilliance that are at the heart of organizational change and innovation. In these turbulent times, there is a need for individuals to take a stand and be firm on the direction that the organization seeks to take.
Of course, group behavior needs to be inculcated in organizations for the simple reason that employees must conform to the rules and regulations that govern organizations. Hence, there is a need for uniformity and consistency in the way organizational group behavior has to be molded. Towards this end, groupthink and group behavior must be encouraged by the HRD function as a means to ensure cohesiveness in the organization.
In the technology sector, we often find employees straight out of campuses behaving as though they are still in college. While some of this freethinking and freewheeling spirit is good for innovation, the HRD function must guard against the tendency to be flippant with the organizational rules and procedures. Further, competitiveness can be encouraged but it should not come at the expense of collaboration and cooperation that are at the heart of organizational success.
On the flip side, group behavior can be detrimental to the organizational health as well. This happens when the decisions of the top management are not challenged or are followed blindly leading to the leadership thinking that whatever they do is right. We do not mean to say that there must be fractious fights in the organization. On the other hand, there must be a space for free expression of ideas and thoughts and true democratic decision making ought to take place. Only when organizations inculcate these elements in their DNA can they succeed in the competitive business landscape of the 21st century.
Finally, group think can be a powerful motivator as well as inhibitor. The motivating aspect happens when because of group think; employees feel bonding with their peers and colleagues and hence ensure that they give their best to the job. The inhibitor works when employees feel that their individual creativity and brilliance are being sacrificed at the altar of conformity. Hence, the leadership as well as the HRD function has their task cut out to ensure that group behavior does more good than harm. There is a need for a nuanced and balanced approach towards group behavior to leverage the individual creativity and at the same time not sacrifice organizational cohesiveness and coherence.