Group relations conferences

Our iconic conference aims to increase your personal effectiveness in any organisational role. Development happens through experiential learning. 


What is a group relations conference?

A group relations conference is not a didactic conference but rather an experiential one. It offers members the chance to understand more about group processes and how they behave in a variety of group settings. This includes areas such as leadership, followership, authority, diversity, hierarchy and power structures, in a live way and how they impact on individual responses and group behaviour.

The conference is a world within a world and provides a structure in which a temporary organization is co-created by members and staff. This can then be studied by all members and staff of the conference; it is a place to experiment, to play, and to try and better understand the dynamics of organizational life. There will be opportunities to look differently, to listen with imagination, and to understand the impact when this isn’t possible. As with any organisation, this ‘temporary organisation’ will present the tensions of working in particular roles, in different levels of authority, and with differing assumptions about the task and about each others’ capacities to lead and to actively follow. 

Participating in a group relations conference offers the potential for deep and transformational learning about both oneself and the dynamics of groups and organizations. 

Upcoming conferences in 2022/2023

Please see below for our upcoming conference: 

The ‘extraordinary ordinary’: curiosity, connection and responsibility in organisational life

Type: Conference Location: The Tavistock and Portman Date: Full days December 12th-16th 2022

Postponed conferences

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we've had to postpone the events below. Please keep checking back for updates or follow us on social media

We've also helped compile a set of reflections about how Group Relations thinking can assist people and systems to explore the COVID-19 pandemic. Download the GRC response to COVID-19 guide.

Back to the Future: Authority, vulnerability, continuity and change: A Group Relations Conference celebrating 100 years of Tavistock thinking

NB. This conference has been postponed. However, we are currently we're trying to collect views on how and when to reschedule it via this survey:...

On whose authority? - exploring leadership in contemporary organisation, Geneva group relations conference 2020

A Group Relations Conference in Geneva

We're living in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and fragmentation, conflict within organisations and the society we live in, and between nations; we're facing a lot of conflict. You could say we're constantly all of us living in 'group relations'.

So what's the difference between the way that we live and a group relations conference?

The task of a group relations conference is to give the whole membership the chance to notice, to understand and to reflect on what is going on between people and between groups within the whole conference. We form what's called a 'temporary organisation' for the duration of the conference. So it's not a conference in a traditional sense where you have papers and experts and speakers and an audience, it involves the whole group trying to understand some of the complicated and difficult things that go on in organisations, as well as some of the creative things that can happen.

Staff are there to manage the event, and also to consult. This involves observing the group, helping to notice the kinds of things that are taking place and putting forward some hypotheses about how these can be understood. It's a chance to have a relationship within an organisation, and have a chance to think about that. They get to have some strong feelings about that, as they are in group and organisational life; people get confused, competitive, excited about what they're doing.

The difference in this context is there is a chance to reflect on that and understand it. So there's  an opportunity to really develop your leadership and try things out in a different way - think about what goes wrong in the organisations that you currently inhabit. Perhaps more importantly at the moment, especially in the public sector, the chance to really think about robust followership; how is it possible to both support and challenge when you're working in the middle of an organisation – 'leading from the middle'.

Our experience is that having an opportunity to learn about leading from the middle, and learning in the middle of a complex organisation, is something that a group relations conference really allows you to do.

Past conferences

Discovering Leadership: The Challenge of Belonging

‘If a new result is to have any value, it must unite elements long since known, but till then scattered and seemingly foreign to each other, and...

Discovering Leadership: Inside Out - Outside In

Leadership? Energy? Empowerment? Creativity? Co-operative endeavour? Infighting? Destructive competition? Lethargy? Cynicism? How many of these...

Exploring the complex realities of inter-agency working: a Group Relations Conference

This is an applied 3 day group relations conference exploring complexities in caring for the emotional and psychological well-being of adults,...

Courage to Connect: Navigating the Complexities of Organisational Life - a Group Relations Conference

We live and work in complex formal and informal organisational contexts. The liveliness, energy, interest and respect that we can bring to each...

Discovering Leadership: The State we’re in and the State within - a group relations conference

Organizational life is more complex and difficult than ever. Globalisation, technology, and the rapid pace of environmental change sets us in a...

Identity, culture, and class in group and organisational life: a group relations conference

Join us in creating a three-day experiential learning institution, designed to explore ways in which groups, inter-groups and organisations...

On whose authority? - exploring leadership in contemporary organisations, Geneva group relations conference 2019

Type: Conference      Location: Geneva      Date: 17 to 19 May 2019

Exploring the complex realities of inter-agency working: a group relations conference

This is an applied four-day group relations conference exploring complexities in caring for the emotional and psychological well-being of adults,...

Strength and vulnerability: exploring authenticity and risk in contemporary organisational life

Conference Director: Lydia Hartland-Rowe

Discovering Leadership: Authenticity, Action and Responsibility – a group relations conference

Conference Director: Ben Neal

Working in organisations – the unconscious at work – a group relations conference

How can you take up your professional role at work with a stronger sense of freedom and authority ? The conference is a three-day intensive...

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A short history of group relations at the Tavistock

Snippets of Group Relation's past and how it has shaped the iconic conference.

Download an international GRC response to COVID-19 guide

Download now

Tripod Patchwork response to GRCs during COVID-19

Tripod patchwork Group Relations Conference