How Small Group Formation can Benefit Onboarding -

How Small Group Formation can Benefit Onboarding


By Kris Lea, PsyD OD (ABD)

Have you ever entered a large organization and felt a little lost? As individuals enter existing organizations or especially large corporations or networks, it can be a bit daunting.

Introverts and extroverts alike can feel overwhelmed and it can limit successful organizational growth or the assimilation of new members. This can happen with any organization, whether a knitting club or a high-tech corporation.

As a member of the national Organization Development Network (ODN), I helped co-create a small-group program called the Welcome Group, designed to assist graduate students, post-graduate students, and new ODN members in building close relationships within a safe setting.

Small group participation like the Welcome Group can help any organization to encourage relationships and reinforce company culture among new employees. I recommend a short program, about three-weeks-long in length, which is enough time to build these relationships while not taking too much time away from your new employees’ work assignments.

Research has shown that the best number of participants is seven. These participants have the opportunity to get to know six new people, find common ground, and explore cross-mentoring opportunities. This creates a platform for organizational learning and bonding in a non-competitive way.

These types of groups are different from teams, as teams are assembled to meet specific goals, whether in sports or in the workplace. Teams have a natural pattern and lifecycle (see the Tuckman model of Forming, Norming, Storming, and Performing), which always includes a period of competition.

While competition is not necessarily negative—in fact, if there is a high degree of trust, it can propel organizations to increased performance—groups, especially small groups, can maintain cohesion through affinities and relational support. This cohesion builds trusting relationships and minimizes the risk of unhealthy competition.

Small group formation programs are one of the many types of OD methods that can help organizations to become more effective and healthy places to work. Consider putting together welcome practices for your new employees; for more information, please contact us at

About the Author: Kris Lea, PsyD OD (ABD), is a professional Organization Development Consultant and Curriculum Developer/Trainer. She received her MS in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco, CA and is finishing her doctoral studies with Alliant University in Fresno, CA. Currently, Kris works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc. as a contractor working a variety of California State Departments. She is the Executive Director of a start-up non-profit, the American River Parkway Conservancy (ARPC), which intends to focus on a partnership with the City and County of Sacramento in the day-to-day operations of the parkway. Kris has lived in Sacramento for the past 15 years and is a fan of Old Sacramento, valuing both the history and present social capital of Sacramento.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

KAI Partners, Inc.

1512 Eureka Rd. #215 Roseville, CA 95661



© 2023 KAI Partners, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy
Terms of Service.