Something that I have noticed at my work is the use of small groups on projects. It seems like everywhere that you turn you see a small group popping up to solve some type of problem or that has a specific task. I work at a large chemical plant in Michigan and there are a lot of rules and procedures to follow. Unfortunately people will occasionally get hurt and there is a small group that is tasked with finding out what went wrong and how to prevent this from happening again. These small groups change with every occurrence. The members of the group are determined by the type and area of the injury. In most cases the individual that was hurt is involved in the group as well as a member or two of management the over see that particular are or department and lastly the plant manager or plant director will be in the group. These groups are good ways to help prevent another injury from occurring but there is some negative feedback when it comes to the members of the group.
A small group defined as 3 to 30 individuals (PSY 533, 2018) rather than two or a dyad relationship is a great way to enhance the ability of solving a problem in the best way possible if performed correctly. In my work place I feel that it isn’t justifiable to have only the individual hurt two managers and a high level manager there to review the issue. “Narrow focuses can limit the perspective of small groups, and these groups may ignore the bigger picture of their organization. They may also hyper-focus on a goal that leads to mistakes or ethical quandaries” (PSY 533, 2018). The specific group has a specific task to solve and they may not think of the greater good of all the employees. The members of this group are majorly members who never have or will ever perform the task that the individual was hurt in. This causes an ethical dilemma because how can a group that never does a task know the proper way to do the task? This sounds frustrating to you I’m sure, because it is to the employees and me. The group now forms a cohesion of how to fix this issue and causes a “groupthink” mindset which is “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action” (Janis, 1983, p. 9). The group has only higher management mindsets and create new policies or changes to the work area to prevent an injury but may greatly impact production or efficacy of the employees.
I feel that the team needs to involve more operators or employees that perform the job regularly in order to get a realistic understanding of the tasks needed and performed. Some other ways that can help prevent “groupthink” and help create more ethical decision making are: setting up a couple different groups that observe the same issue and come up with individual solutions, discuss group decisions with some that is involved in the work, bring in outside experts in the tasks to help challenge the group, assign a role as devil’s advocate to a member of the group, and have multiple meetings on the issue (PSY 533, 2018). Creating an environment that is open to all options is important in forming the best most ethical solution or plan to a problem. I feel that my work needs to implement this style of thinking prior to making new rules and procedures.
Janis, I. L., (1983). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
PSY 533 (2018). U05 L11: Ethics and small groups. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l11-ethics-and-small-groups?module_item_id=23792049