Teams Concept

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Team Building, Organisational Management, AIM, 2005-06

Team Building, Organisational Management, AIM, 2005-06

TUCKMAN'S FIVE-STAGE THEORY OF GROUP DEVELOPMENT

Adjourning
Performing

Return to
independence

Norming

Storming

Forming

Independence
Individual
Issues

"How do I fit
in?"

"What's my role
here?"

"What do the
others expect
me to do?"

"How can I
best perform
my role?"

"What's next?"

Group
issues

"Why are we
here?"

"Why are we
fighting over
who is in
charge and
who does
what?"

"Can we agree
on roles and
work as a
team?"

"Can we do the
job properly?"

"Can we help
members
transition out?"

THE FIVE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Groups and teams in the workplace go through a maturation process, such as one would find in any life-cycle situation (e.g., humans, organizations, products). While there is general agreement among theorists that the group development process occurs in identifiable stages, they disagree about the exact number, sequence, length, and nature of those stages. One often-cited model is the one proposed in 1965 by educational psychologist Bruce W Tuckman. His original model involved only four stages (forming, storming, norming, and performing). The five-stage model shown above evolved when Tuckman and a doctoral student added "adjourning" in 1977. A word of caution is in order. Somewhat akin to Maslow's need hierarchy theory, Tuckman's theory has been repeated and taught so often and for so long that many have come to view it as documented fact, not merely a theory. Even today, it is good to remember Tuckman's own caution that his group development model was derived more from group therapy sessions than from natural-life groups. Still, many in the OB field like Tuckman's five-stage model of group development because of its easy-to-remember labels and common-sense appeal.

Team Building, Organisational Management, AIM, 2005-06

Let us briefly examine each of the five stages in Tuckman's model. Notice in Figure above how individuals give up a measure of their independence when they join and participate in a group. Also, the various stages are not necessarily of the same duration or intensity. For instance, the storming stage may be practically nonexistent or painfully long, depending on the goal clarity and the commitment and maturity of the members. You can make this process come to life by relating the various stages to your own experiences with work groups, committees, athletic teams, social or religious groups, or class project teams. Some group happenings that surprised you when they occurred may now make sense or strike you as inevitable when seen as part of a natural development process.

Stage 1: Forming During this "ice-breaking" stage, group members tend to be uncertain and anxious about such things as their roles, who is in charge, and the group's goals. Mutual trust is low, and there is a good deal of holding back to see who takes charge and how. If the formal leader (e.g., a supervisor) does not assert his or her authority, an emergent leader will eventually step in to fulfill the group's need for leadership and direction. Leaders typically mistake this honeymoon period as a mandate for permanent control. But later problems may force a leadership change. Stage 2: Storming This is a time of testing. Individuals test the leader's policies and assumptions as they try to determine how they fit into the power structure. Subgroups take shape, and subtle forms of rebellion, such as procrastination, occur. Many groups stall in stage 2 because power politics erupts into open rebellion.

Stage 3: Norming Groups that make it through stage 2 generally do so because a respected member, other than the leader, challenges the group to resolve its power struggles so something can be accomplished. Questions about authority and power are resolved through unemotional, matter-offact group discussion. A feeling of team spirit is experienced...
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