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Group Development Stages

Success is best when it's shared.

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Group Development Stages

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Success is best when it's shared.

- Howard Schultz 1

There is no wonder that teamwork always makes the dream work. Especially in the complex world of business, the notion of 'if you want to do it well, do it yourself' simply does not work. Behind any successful brand lies strong, united, and talented teams and groups. Have you ever wondered how you can create your dream team? Let's have a look at typical group development stages!

Tuckman's Group Development Stages

In 1965, the famous psychologist Bruce Tuckman first proposed a theory known as Group Development Stages Theory.2 Ever since then, group development, together with its diverse stages and strategic importance, has become a chief focus for both academic researchers and real-life business practitioners.

According to Tuckman's group development theory, a group cannot start performing effectively when it is just formed.

The formation and operation of a successful group development process are similar to establishing social relationships.

According to Tuckman's group development theory, there are five main stages in a group development process:

  • forming,
  • storming,
  • norming,
  • performing, and
  • adjourning.2

Group Development Definition

Daily, we all stand a high chance of experiencing some type of group development whether we recognize it or not;

so it is useful to comprehend its definition.

Group development involves forming and operating a productive team towards a shared goal.2

While it requires a lot of time and effort, the group development process also drives the group's members through various recognizable stages to unite them toward the group's common goals.2

Examples of group development processes in daily life

If you are a university student, perhaps you are familiar with group assignments and group projects! Let's think about those first initial moments when you and other random students are put in the same group. How do they familiarize themselves and contribute to the group's shared goals? Then, think about those final moments when your group finally hands in the assignments through group coordination and communication. Isn't it a group development process when strangers are placed together and create a collaborative piece of work as a group?

Group Development Importance

Since its first appearance, group development has gained importance as it has formed the backbone of various successful organizations worldwide. While there are massive benefits brought about by an appropriate understanding of group development, there are three prominent ones that are of great importance for businesses:

  1. Increased trust: an apparent benefit of group development at workplaces involves the concept of trust among individuals. Accordingly, as individuals learn to become effective and active parts of larger groups, they can also build relationships with others. Also, the more people trust one another, the more likely they will perform effective collaboration, adequate information exchange, and united decision-making at work.

  2. Enhanced communication: in learning and applying group development stages, individuals also learn how to communicate and coordinate with others in their groups effectively. Thus, the chances of poor communication, which involves undesirable elements such as limited morality and misunderstanding, can be reduced.

  3. Increased productivity: as group development stages help form groups with united goals, companies can benefit from engaging their employees with defined business objectives. Therefore, employees are equally motivated to produce desired business outcomes together, thus leading to business productivity.

Stages of Group Development with Examples

According to Tuckman's group development theory, there are five main stages in a group development process: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.2 These are illustrated in the graphic below. Let's consider some examples of each group development stage!

Forming Stage of Group Development

What is the forming stage of group development? Forming stage of group development is the first stage of group development, often surrounded by general anxiety and uncertainty.

The forming stage is the time the group begins to come together at the initial development stages.2

Often, during this forming stage, group members are highly cautious of and discreet with their thoughts and behaviors because they seek acceptance from other members.

What do group members usually avoid during the forming stage of group development?

At this stage, members make efforts to get to know each other. Thus, they will try to avoid conflict, misunderstanding, controversy, or opinion statements. The general goal is to get to know the group and make a good impression on each other.

Indeed, the forming stage of group development is critical in encouraging group members to understand each other and the group's shared purpose. Accordingly, at this point, group members focus on figuring out what they have to do, how their groups operate, what is expected from them, and what is acceptable to other members.

Which activities do students usually perform in their first group meetings?

At the university level, students are often required to collaborate on group projects.

Thus, during their first group meetings, students aim to execute the following activities:

  • Exchanging their names and contact phone numbers,
  • Establishing individual roles within the group,
  • Planning timelines for upcoming meetings,
  • Deciding on the group projects' outlines and objectives,
  • Creating a common communication channel for the group.

Storming Stage of Group Development

After the forming stage, groups transition to the second stage of group development, called the 'storming stage.'

In the storming stage of group development, dispute and competition arise and accelerate within a group.2

Dominating group members will emerge in this stage, and less confrontational members will stick to their comfort zone.2 As people have completed the 'ice-breaking' phase in the forming stage, they have accumulated a growing feeling of belonging towards their group. Issues in leadership, power, and structure emerge to guide the flow of organizing tasks and processes within the groups at this stage.

What are common question themes in the storming stage for groups?

During the storming stage of group development, group members are concerned about questions related to leadership, rules, norms, responsibilities, structure, reward system, or authority.

Some people believe that the storming stage is the most complex and controversial stage for group members to sail through.2 As conflict and competition occur regularly, individual natural personalities and traits also arise more frequently.

What does a storming group development stage look like in a real-life context?

For example, after getting to know each other, your project group discusses possible ways to approach the project's problems. At this point, group members disagree on theories and tools to address such problems. While some members remain neutral and avoid discussing, others are more fierce in asserting their opinions and protecting their ideas. Consequently, conflicts arise as your group struggles to achieve a compromise.

Norming Stage of Group Development

Good news: no storm lasts forever! If groups sail through the storming stage, they will embark on a more enjoyable stage known as the 'norming stage' of group development.

In the norming stage of group development, group members learn how to be effective together. Thus, the group attains better cohesion and shared leadership.2

As the name suggests, in the norming stage, groups return to the new normal pace in which members have a higher trust in one another and flexibly share leadership roles. Thus, as group communication and interaction get easier and more productive, group members feel more comfortable working together.

What are the outcomes of a successful norming stage of group development?

In learning how to effectively work together and lead each other, group members can build a stronger sense of give-and-take, empathy, and mutual respect. Further, group members can practice open communication and constructive feedback as they feel more comfortable.

It is worth mentioning that whenever conflict and competition take place, groups still run a risk of returning to the previous storming stage. However, thanks to their learning experiences, groups can presumably overcome the storming stage more easily and harmoniously to get back on the right track.

Performing Stage of Group Development

Both personally and professionally, the performing stage of group development is a highly productive and beneficial one.

In the performing stage of group development, groups adopt a true sense of interdependence while enhancing their flexibility and adaptation to meet the needs of team members.2

Accordingly, groups become more mature, more organized, and more well-functioning during this performing stage. With a stable and well-defined group structure, group members engage with the group's overall mission and objectives. While there is still a chance of problems and conflict, members can now deal with them more constructively and systematically.

What can you expect from group members during the performing stage of group development?

During this stage, group members possess a high level of morality. Accordingly, they can positively acknowledge the contribution and experience made by each member to the group's collective effort. Further, their sense of belonging is mature, with each being driven towards realizing the group's common goals. Moreover, each member is highly flexible and trustworthy; thus, the entire group is willing to learn and unlearn according to spontaneous needs and conditions.

Adjourning Stage of Group Development

The adjourning stage of group development wraps up the group's final tasks and reflects on the entire group's effort and results.

The adjourning stage of group development occurs when most of the group's goals have been accomplished.2

During this stage, group development comes to an end. Thus, common activities involved in the adjourning stage of group development include Performance Evaluation, Performance Feedback, ceremonial acknowledgment, and so on.

What are common feelings and tasks in the adjourning stage of group development?

In this stage, groups are tasked to conclude some final topics, such as the evaluation of the group work, the accomplishment of final steps in group work, recognition, reward systems, etc. Further, this stage is, indeed, a party of mixed feelings. While some team members are sad as their groups are about to disband, some are eager to take on new challenges and begin new cycles of group development stages. Sometimes, some members simply feel a sense of relief when they get to the end of their group's journeys.

By understanding Tuckman's group development stages, you can definitely prepare yourself for the various opportunities and challenges of forming and operating efficient groups. While a dream team is never easy to conquer, it is by no means an impossible mission!

Group Development Stages - Key takeaways

  • Bruce Tuckman first proposed a theory known as Group Development Stages Theory.
  • Group development involves forming and operating a productive team towards a shared goal.
  • The group development process has five main stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.
  • There are three important benefits of understanding group development stages: increased trust, enhanced communication, and increased productivity.

References

  1. Hayden Field. 'Success Is Not an Entitlement; You Have to Earn It Every Day,' Howard Schultz Says. 2019. https://www.entrepreneur.com/leadership/success-is-not-an-entitlement-you-have-to-earn-it-every/329983
  2. Suzan Last. Five Models for Understanding Team Dynamics. https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/technicalwriting/chapter/understandingteamdynamics/.

Frequently Asked Questions about Group Development Stages

There are five main stages in a group development process, which are: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

There are three most important benefits of understanding group development stages for a business: increased trust, enhanced communication, and increased productivity.

There are five main stages in a group development process, which are: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

In the performing stage of group development, groups adopt a true sense of interdependence while enhancing their flexibility and adaptation to meet the needs of team members.

In 1965, the famous psychologist, Bruce Tuckman, first proposed a theory known as 'Group Development Theory'.

In the norming stage of group development, group members learn how to be effective together. Thus, the group attains better cohesion and shared leadership.

If you are a university student, perhaps you are familiar with group assignments and group projects! Let's think about those first initial moments when you and other random students are put in the same group, how do they familiarize themselves together and contribute to the group's shared goals? Then, think about those final moments when your group finally hands in the assignments through group coordination and communication. Isn't it a group development process, in which strangers are placed together, and they will then, together, form a collective work as a group?

Final Group Development Stages Quiz

Group Development Stages Quiz - Teste dein Wissen

Question

Fill in the Blank:


Success is best when it ____ 

Show answer

Answer

is shared.

Show question

Question

Who first introduced the 'Group Development Theory'?

Show answer

Answer

Bruce Tuckman.

Show question

Question

When was the Group Development Theory introduced?

Show answer

Answer

1965.

Show question

Question

Fill in the Blank:


Accordingly, the formation and operation of a successful group development process is quite similar to the establishment of social _________

Show answer

Answer

Relationships

Show question

Question

How many main stages are there in the group development process?

Show answer

Answer

Six.

Show question

Question

Is adjourning a stage in group development?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

Is norming the first stage in group development?

Show answer

Answer

Yes

Show question

Question

Group development involves the process of forming and operating a productive team towards a ________ goal.

Show answer

Answer

Shared.

Show question

Question

The group development process also drives the group's members through various recognizable stages to ____ them towards the group's common goals.

Show answer

Answer

Unite.

Show question

Question

Can group development stages increase the overall trust level within individuals?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

Which order is the forming stage in group development stages?

Show answer

Answer

First.

Show question

Question

During the forming stage, group members constantly seek for ____ by other members. 

Show answer

Answer

Acceptance.

Show question

Question

During which stage are group members concerned about leadership and authority?

Show answer

Answer

The storming stage.

Show question

Question

What is presumably the most difficult and controversial stage for groups members to sail through?

Show answer

Answer

The forming stage.

Show question

Question

Will a better cohesion be developed in the norming stage?

Show answer

Answer

Yes

Show question

Question

During the norming stage, group members feel:

Show answer

Answer

More comfortable.

Show question

Question

Can groups still run a risk of returning to the storming stage from their current norming stage?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

In the performing stage of group development, groups adopt a true sense of _________:

Show answer

Answer

Interdependence.

Show question

Question

The adjourning stage of group development occurs when most of the group's goals have been ____:

Show answer

Answer

Accomplished.

Show question

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

Fill in the Blank:Success is best when it ____ 

Who first introduced the 'Group Development Theory'?

When was the Group Development Theory introduced?

Next

Flashcards in Group Development Stages19

Start learning

Fill in the Blank:


Success is best when it ____ 

is shared.

Who first introduced the 'Group Development Theory'?

Bruce Tuckman.

When was the Group Development Theory introduced?

1965.

Fill in the Blank:


Accordingly, the formation and operation of a successful group development process is quite similar to the establishment of social _________

Relationships

How many main stages are there in the group development process?

Six.

Is adjourning a stage in group development?

Yes.

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