Group Development and Interaction Theory

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Group Development and Interaction Theory
Within the business setting, the shift from yesterday’s “singular” culture to today’s “team” culture has brought about a new era of learning, development, and innovation. However, this shift has also brought with it a certain amount of dissatisfaction, conflict, and confusion. This paper will focus on the Tuckman Theory, and discuss how Tuckman’s five stages of group development and interaction applies to the work environment and leadership effectiveness. The Tuckman Theory

Tuckman’s theory maintains that groups enter four foreseeable and elementary stages of development, and each of these stages contain both task and maintenance functions. These stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Later, in 1977, Bruce Tuckman, in collaboration with Mary Ann Jensen, updated his model with a fifth stage called “adjourning” (Smith, 2005). To this Tuckman stated: We reviewed 22 studies that had appeared since the original publication of the model and which we located by means of the Social Sciences Citation Index. These articles, one of which dubbed the stages the 'Tuckman hypothesis' tended to support the existence of the four stages but also suggested a fifth stage for which a perfect rhyme could not be found. We called it 'adjourning' (Tuckman 1984).

The Five Stages of Development
Forming. Forming consists of the orientation of team members, the testing of boundaries between team members, and gathering information about the task and how the team should approach it. Team members are also busy deciding on the organization of the team, roles, and schedules. During this stage, individual team members are assessing his/her acceptance among other team members as well as avoiding any controversy or conflict. While this may be a more social and comfortable stage for team members, not much work is accomplished because of the members’ avoidance of threat or conflict. Storming. When important issues are beginning to be addressed within the team, the patience of some team members may begin to break down and confrontations begin. The majority of these initial confrontations may relate to the work of the group itself, or to roles and responsibilities within the group. However, most of these minor confrontations will be taken lightly or dealt with promptly. In order to progress to the next stage, group members must move from a "testing and proving" mentality to a problem-solving mentality. Hopefully, everyone will agree that the most important thing is to finish the work and agree to work together to solve their problems. It is important to note that to move on to the next stage group members need the ability to listen to each other (MacLeod, 2002).

Some team members may welcome these minor squabbles in that they can reveal the real issues among the team, while others will wish they were still in the comfortable confines of forming. This is also the stage when team members will look for ways to avoid or mediate conflicts more effectively. Norming. With conflicts resolved, and the rules of the team established, and the scope of the teams’ responsibilities and tasks clear and agreed-upon, the team can get to the business at hand. Team members are once again comfortable with each other as well as his/her skills, knowledge, and abilities. These feelings will set the stage for a cohesive and effective work environment. Performing. During this phase, the groups’ energies are focused on the accomplishment of the task(s). “A collective, interdependent organism is the final outcome of the group development process where the whole of the team is greater than the sum of its respective parts” (The Leadership Handout Series, 2006). The roles and responsibilities of team members may change and interact, and this will occur seamlessly as the basic structure of the group is supported by their trust in each other’s skills and abilities. Adjourning. This final stage addresses the completion of the team...
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