In the initial stage of group development, members begin to develop their relationship with one another and learn what is expected of them. Group members rely on safe, patterned behaviour and look to the group leader for guidance and direction. Group members have a desire for acceptance by the group and a need to be known that the group is safe (Corey, 1995). They set about gathering impressions and data about the similarities and differences among them and forming preferences for future subgrouping. Rules of behaviour seem to be to keep things simple and to avoid controversy. Serious topics and feelings are avoided.
The major task functions also concern orientation. Members attempt to become oriented to the tasks as well as to one another. Discussion centers around defining the scope of the task, how to approach it, and similar concerns. To grow from this stage to the next, each member must relinquish the comfort of non-threatening topics and risk the possibility of conflict.
The next stage, which is called the transition stage, is characterized by competition and conflict in the personal-relations dimension an organization in the task-functions dimension. As the group members attempt to organize for the task, conflict inevitably results in their personal relations. Although conflicts may or may not surface as group issues, they do exist. Questions will arise about who is going to be responsible for what, what the rules are, what the reward system is, and what criteria for evaluation are. These reflect conflicts over leadership, structure, power, and authority. There may be wide swings in members' behaviour based on emerging issues of competition and hostilities. Because of the discomfort generated during this stage, some members may remain completely silent while others attempt to dominate. It is important to work through the conflict at this time and to establish clear goals. It is necessary for there to be discussion so everyone feels heard... [continues]
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