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5. Controlling Group Performance

Controlling group performance is an important but often misunderstood function of leadership. To some, control implies that a whip-cracking boss is in charge. Good control is far more subtle.

A group needs control to keep its members moving in the same direction for best results. If a plan is to be properly carried out, someone must direct the effort. Controlling is a function that the group consciously or unconsciously assigns to the leader in order to get the job done. Skillful control is welcomed by the group. The expression "Come on, you guys, let's get our act together" is a plea for someone to take charge and bring the group under control.

Control of group performance involves six basic operations.

1. Observing. The leader should be in a position to see the group, communicate with its members, and be available, but not appear to dominate. Coed work is praised. Suggestions, rather than orders, are given for improvements.

2. Instructing. The leader must often give instructions as the work proceeds and the situation changes. The leader must communicate well, apply the skill of effective teaching, and allow members to use their own initiative. As long as the work is progressing well, the leader should not intrude.

3. Helping. When a group has decided that it wants to perform a task, the leader must help the members be successful. The leader does a good job personally, takes a positive approach, and gives a helping hand when needed. Care is taken to see that an offer to help is not implied criticism.

4. Inspecting. The leader must know what to expect to see. The leader should know the plan and the skills involved. A checklist is valuable. If the work is not correct, the worker is led to the proper performance of the task. Again, a positive approach with helpful suggestions for improvement is vital.

5. Reacting. How the leader reacts to the efforts of the group is important. Praise the person if the work is good, but the praise must be sincere. If the work is not correct, praise the parts that were done well and accept responsibility for work not done well. A reaction such as "Gosh, I guess I didn't explain it very well" doesn't hurt the leader but makes the person feel good about corrections that are suggested. React to the total job--do not focus on obvious weak points.

6. Setting the example. The most effective way of controlling group performance is the personal example of the leader. How the leader observes, instructs, helps, inspects, and reacts is vital.

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