Stages of Group Development
Understanding the various stages of group development is important for effective group management as it fosters a productive and harmonious work environment.
Groups do not form easily they undergo a standardised sequence in the process of their evolution. This sequence is called the five-stage model of group development. Although not followed rigorously, they represent a general trend that can be observed and predicted during the process of group development.
The stages of group development are as follows:
The five-stage group development model given by Tuckman and Jensen characterises groups proceeding through five distinct stages as shown in the figure.
During the first stage, there is a lot of ambiguity related to the purpose, structure and direction of the group. Members are trying to judge acceptable behaviour. This stage is finished when members begin to view each other as part of a group. Supervisors of the team should take the lead to be directive during this phase. This step of forming a team is essential because, during this stage, the team members start to know each other, share their personal information and make new friends. This is also a good chance to see how each member of the team works as an individual and how they handle the pressure.
Storming is the second stage of group formation. It takes place because members of a group experience conflict within groups. Although members have agreed to the group’s existence, they resist the limitations imposed by the group on their individuality. Additionally, there is a dispute over who will exercise control over the group. As soon as this stage is completed, a clear hierarchy of directions will appear in the group.
During this phase, supervisors of the team may be more approachable but tend to remain directive in their advice in matters related to decision-making and professionalism. Hence, the team members will be able to resolve their problems and discuss the matter more easily. The principle is that the members will not feel judged and hence will be able to share their opinions and views freely.
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During this stage, there is the formation of close relationships and the group shows cohesion. Now, there is a strong sense of group identity and fellowship. At this stage, the team succeeds in having a purpose and in coming to a reciprocal plan for the team. Some members may have to sacrifice their ideas and agree with others so that the team functions effectively. This stage is characterised by, all team members taking responsibility and having the ambition to proceed in such a manner that the team’s goals can be successfully attained. This norming stage is finished with the strengthening of the group structure and the group has assimilated a common set of expectations which demonstrates correct member behaviour.
The structure at this stage is well-designed and accepted. The group’s energy has moved from getting to know and understand each other to executing the given task. For permanent workgroups, execution is the last stage in their development. On the other hand, for temporary committees, teams, task forces, and similar groups that have a limited task to perform, there is an adjourning stage.
Team supervisors are almost always participative during this phase. The team will make most of the important decisions: Nonetheless, even the most high-performing teams will go back to earlier stages in some situations. Many long-standing teams go through these cycles repeatedly as they respond to altering situations. For example, a change in leadership may lead the team to go back to storming as new people confront the current norms and team dynamics.
During this stage, the group gets ready for its disintegration. The priority of the group has now shifted from high task performance to winding up activities. It includes the termination of roles, the completion of tasks and the reduction of dependency. The procedure can be stressful in cases of unexpected disintegration. Group members’ response differs in this stage. Some members are optimistic and rejoice in the group’s accomplishments while others may be upset due to the loss of friendships earned during the work group’s life.
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Importance of Group
Groups are important because they perform a variety of functions for the benefit of their members and for the organization, which are as follows:
1) Performs Complex Task
Groups help in performing difficult and independent tasks that cannot be performed by an individual effectively and which cannot be broken further.
2) Generates New Ideas
A group acts as an important source for developing new ideas and creative solutions to problems that cannot be solved by a single individual. Multiple skills which are required for carrying-out tough jobs are present within the group.
3) Serves as Liaison
Groups act as a linking pin between various workgroups whose work is not dependent on each other.
4) Serves as a Problem-Solving Mechanism
Groups can play the role of problem-solving mechanisms when a problem requires the processing of complex information, interaction among members with different information and critical review of possible choices.
5) Facilitates Complex Decision Making
In every organization, there are various problems, conflicting views, etc., for decision making. There must be a way to resolve these problems after due consideration. It is only a group that can provide solutions to these problems. Thus, groups can be used to assist in making difficult decisions.
6) Serves as a Vehicle of Socialisation
Groups can be used as a medium of socialisation and training. By combining several people in training conditions, a standard message can be given and a common group perspective is formed.
7) Acts as an Agent
Groups can be very useful for sharing the common values and beliefs of the organization with new employees. The group helps educate the newcomers more effectively and efficiently than the managing authority.