Stages of Group Development

Group formation is not the spontaneous task or event. This takes a series of stages. Bruce Tuckman has provided us with what has become the staple of group dynamics, the 'Five Stages of Group Development' – forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. These phases are not always sequential, teams cycle through the different phases throughout their lives, missing out on a stage and reappearing later but all the stages are essential as well as important.

Different researches have reported different stages of group development. For example, Bernard M. Bass and Edward C. Ryterband report that groups typically develop through a four stage process: 
  1. Mutual acceptance 
  2. Communication and decision making 
  3. Motivation and productivity 
  4. Control and organization 

However, the most widely accepted five stages of group development are ones as reported by B.W. Tauchman and M.A. Jensen. These are:
Stages of Group Development

1. Forming Stages
The first stage for almost every group is an orientation stage. This stage is marked by a great deal of caution, confusion, courtesy and uncertainty about the group's purpose, structure, and leadership. The formal leader exerts a great influence in structuring the group and shaping member expectations. This stage is complete when members of the group have begun to think of themselves as part of a group. This is simply bringing together of a group of individuals. Those who are willing to join the group introduce each others. They may contain number of queries, confusion and uncertainties.

2. Storming Stage
This stage is characteristics by conflict, confrontation, concern and criticism. Struggles for individual power and influences are common. In case, the conflict becomes extremely intense and dysfunctional; the group may dissolve or continue as an ineffective group that advances to higher levels of group maturity. Group also experiences many changes in membership expectations interpersonal problems of group goals and individual's goals. There may be conflict regarding leadership authority and control. The group will be stronger with these things after the negotiation on the confronting matters. After negotiation, members start accepting the group norms and values.

3. Norming Stage
This is the stage in which close relationship among the members develop. The group evinces cohesiveness. The group now assumes to certain identify and camaraderie. The member of the group start co-operation and develop harmonious relationship among the group members. Group members begin to resolve differences and clarify the purpose of the group and the roles of group members. Their satisfaction level increases as they become familiar with the other members. They begin to learn more about the purpose of the team and the ways to work together. This stage completes after accepting a common set of expectation consisting of an acceptable way of doing things.

4. Performing Stage
This is the highest level of group maturity. This stage is marked teamwork, interdependence in personal relations, problem solving, role clarity and task accomplishment. This stage is highly task oriented and there is unity in the group. The group gains its identity, group morale is high and group loyalty is intense and becomes productive. All group members devote their effort for group output. Group goals will be generally satisfied in this stage. In this stage, conflict is identified and resolved through group discussion. The members of the group are aware of group's processes and the extent of their own involvement in the group. 

5. Adjourning Stage
This stage is recognized as end of group i.e. completing every task and the group will be automatically adjourned. Groups are adjourned for two reasons. First the group has completed its task. Second, the members decide to disband and close the group with sentimental feeling. A planned conclusion usually includes recognition for participation and achievement and opportunities for the members to say personal goodbyes. Some of them get satisfied whether some of other gets frustrated. This stage becomes background for the formulation of new group. As all member know to each other clearly, so some of them form new group. With the formal dissolution of the group formally, this stage will be end.
All the stages mentioned above can be better explained and differentiated on the following lines.
Member's Behavior
Characteristic of Group
Task Performance
Eager, anxious, gather impressions and data about the similarities and differences among members, keep things simple and avoid any controversies.
Uncertain about the group's purpose, structure and leadership.
Work output is low, focused on defining the goals and tasks.
Confront the differences, feel angry or frustrated, and resent formal leadership, lot of competition and hostilities.
Argument, conflict and a dip in morale
Clarify all misunderstandings
Less dissatisfied and a feeling of belongingness to the group
Leadership is shared, cliques dissolve and levels of trust increase in the group
Issues are resolved, group norms develop, such as setting of group policies, procedures and values
Interdependence in personal relations, tendency to get involved in and problem solving
The group gains its identity, group morale is high and group loyalty is intense
Highly productive
Upset and depressed
Disengagement from relationships
Termination of task

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