According to Cannon, Griffith, and Guthrie (2006), “a group is a defined set of individuals who interact with each other for a common purpose” (p. 3). A group can be defined by the following characteristics and criteria:
- It has the capability to outperform sets of individuals doing similar work.
- It is able to make superior decisions because it draws on more information.
- It is more inspired because it can jointly brainstorm.
- The level of production is greater as synergies develop.
- Formal social structure.
- Face-to-face interaction.
- 2 or more persons.
- Common goals.
The Forming Stage
In the first stage of group development, a group of individuals come into the team with little knowledge of each other. In this stage, often referred to as the Forming stage, members want to be part of the group, but they also have some degree of reluctance because they fear the group may not accept them. The group must orient to each other and to the mission of the team.
In this stage it is recommended that group members partake in activities that will allow them to become better acquainted with each other. One such activity is the online (www.keirsey.com) temperament sorter developed by Dr. David Keirsey. Dr. David Keirsey identified four temperaments with their own unique qualities and shortcomings, strengths and weaknesses. Once the temperaments of the team members are identified, it is recommended that management acknowledge and share with the group observable personality traits, such as communication style, values, and talents. This activity will allow the group to become oriented with each other.
The Storming Stage
In the second stage of group development, often referred to as the Storming stage, members no longer question the value of the group, but want the members to notice their individual strengths. In this stage, role clarification must take place. It is recommended that management clearly define each member’s roles and responsibilities and how they contribute to the group. It is also recommended that each member is given an opportunity to air problems and issues. In addition, cross-training is advisable at this stage for further recognition and appreciation of each other’s roles and responsibilities.
Once the group moves past the second stage, it is recommended that members be allowed time to share creative ideas and brainstorm about ways to carry out the mission of the department more effectively. It is recommended that the group be allowed to establish group norms, such as attire, punctuality, verbal and non-verbal communication styles, etc. Consequences for violating the group norms should also be established by the group. This will allow the group to complete the third stage of group development, often referred to as the Norming stage, in which the group has begun to be effective.
The Norming Stage
During the Norming stage, members begin to trust one another and appreciate the diversity of the group. Individual goals are put aside, and group members focus on the things that would benefit the group. It is recommended that management support the group during this stage to ensure open lines of communication.
The Performing Stage
Once the group has moved past the Norming stage, management can expect that group members will reach the so-called Performing stage. In this stage, group members recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The ability to share strengths and weaknesses gives them the ability to address problems through the eyes of the group, and creates a relaxed working environment.
Effective organizations pay special attention to how members work together, which roles they fill and whether members are contributing equally. Through group process observation and analysis, problems can be identified before they escalate.
Cannon, M. D., Griffith, B. A., & Guthrie, J. W. (2006). Effective groups: Concepts and skills to meet leadership challenges. Allyn & Bacon
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A. Human Resource Development