Question from Community Care – Teams and morale of staff benefit from groupwork

Teams and morale of staff benefit from groupwork

By Mark Doel

* What concerns might a potential member of a group have? If you are already involved in facilitating groups, how do you find out about the concerns that potential group members have about coming to the group? (GUIDE TIME FOR DISCUSSION: 20 minutes)

* How might you know if a group (or team, for that matter) is working well? Consider the indicators below and apply them to a group or team in which you are a member. Score 0 (not at all ) – 5 (all of the time) for each factor and develop indicators that you could use to judge whether and how the group is growing.

1. Participation
 Group members take part actively in all the group’s activities. Discussion is increasingly balanced, so that people who were initially less active in the group become more so.

2. Decision-making
 The group is able to develop its decision-making processes so that these are understood and agreed by all the group, and seen as fair. Increasingly, the group refers to these processes to make and review its decisions.

3. Leadership
 The group takes increasing responsibility for itself, organizing the physical environment, deciding the content, managing itself.  Group members are able to make appropriate challenges to the group leadership, and assume authority.

4. Honest communication
 Feelings are discussed openly and differences are respected. Members do not avoid conflict, but are able to face it without offence or threat. Difficult and taboo issues are opened up, increasingly by group members themselves.

5. Trade
 There are increasing levels of ‘trade’ between the world inside the group and the world outside. That is to say, the growth in the group is reflected in individual members’ improved relationships and experiences in their everyday lives (or, for team members, in the work that they do ‘outside’ with service users).

6. Achievement
 Individual members are able to point to specific achievements as a result of their involvement in the group. The group as a whole is able to enjoy these successes and to value the group’s contribution to them.


* How can you develop a groupwork service?

It is important to aim at developing a groupwork service, not just an individual group. You will need champions in the agency in order to secure backing for groupwork. Which of the factors below is likely to attract champions for groupwork at a senior level in your agency? Give each one a score out of 5 (0 = not at all persuasive to 5 = highly persuasive) and add any other factors about groupwork which you think might be attractive to your agency’s senior management team.

– Groupwork can provide a service to more people at one time than individualized forms of work.
– Groupwork can enhance the quality of the agency’s services by bringing service users together with other people in similar circumstances.
– Groupwork is more transparent than individual work.
– Groupwork can support mentoring and coaching, with more experienced staff helping to develop less experienced colleagues as co-workers.
– The skills of groupwork (‘group literacy’) are transferable and can benefit teams and teamwork, and are likely to help staff morale.
– ‘Group literacy’ is important in continuing professional development and other forms of staff development which rely on small groupwork.
– Groupwork can be used to supervise staff, with group supervision supplementing individualized forms of supervision.
– Groups can provide aggregated information about large numbers of service users.
– Evaluation methods in groupwork are often more transparent, robust and systematic than individualized evaluations.
– Groups can be co-led by staff from different agencies and different professional backgrounds, thus encouraging inter-professional and inter-agency working.


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