Groups provide an important context for work activity. Boards of directors, management committees, planning groups, project teams, task forces, quality circles, safety committees and autonomous work groups are but a few of the many different kinds of group within which organizational members have to work. Handy (1985) estimates that, on average, managers spend 50 per cent of their working day in one sort of group or another and senior managers can spend 80 per cent. 
The ability to work effectively with a group of other people, either as leader or member, is an important interpersonal skill. Sometimes groups are very productive. They are valued because they create ideas, make decisions, take action and generate commitment in ways that might otherwise be difficult to achieve. On the other hand, groups can be anything but productive. They can waste time, make poor decisions, be ridden with conflict and frustrate their members.

The first part of this chapter identifies some of the main factors that influence group effectiveness and highlights the role group interaction processes can play in promoting better group performance. The second part of the chapter focuses on interaction processes and presents an approach to developing a range of diagnostic and action skills that can be employed to improve group effectiveness.

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