PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology
Chapter 8: Group Dynamics
Group Development / Stages of Group Formation
The appointment of individuals to a group based on their compatibility, diversity, or expertise does not assure effectiveness in achieving group goals. A group is initially a collection of personalities with different characteristics, needs, and influences. To be effective, these individuals must spend time acclimatizing themselves to their environment, the task, and to each other. American organizational psychologist Bruce Tuckman presented a model in 1965. According to this model all groups pass through five stages. These stages have been identified as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.
At this first stage of development, members are preoccupied with familiarizing themselves with the task and to other members of the group. This is sometimes referred to as the dependent stage, as members tend to depend on outside expertise for guidance, job definition, and task analysis. There is a level of formality, some anxiety and a degree of guardedness. At this stage, members are uncertain about the group’s purpose, structure, tasks and leadership. This phase is usually short in duration, perhaps a meeting or two.
At this stage, the group encounters conflict as members confronts and criticize each other and the approach the group is taking to their task. Issues that arise include identification of roles and responsibilities, operational rules and procedures, and the individual need for recognition of his or her skills and abilities. This stage is also referred to as the counter dependent stage where members tend to “flex their muscles” in search of identity. In some cases, the group may have problems getting through this stage. This may occur if the group encounters difficulty clarifying their task, agreeing on their mission or mandate, or deciding how they will proceed. Lack of skills, ability or aptitude can also contribute to their inability to get beyond this stage.
At this point, members start to resolve the issues that are creating the conflict and begin to develop their social agreements. The members begin to recognize their interdependence, develop cohesion, and agree on the group norms that will help them function effectively in the future.
When the group has sorted out its social structure and understands its goals and individual roles, it will move toward accomplishing its task. Mutual assistance and creativity become prominent themes at this stage. The group, sensing its growth and maturity, becomes independent, relying on its own resources.
Just as groups form, so do they end. For example, many groups or teams formed in a business context are project- oriented and therefore are temporary. During this phase, the group will resort to some form of closure that includes rites and rituals suitable to the event. These may include socials and parties, or ceremonies that exhibit emotional support or celebration of their success. The feelings of members vary at this stage. While some may be happy about the group’s accomplishments, others may be depressed that they would be losing each other after the group is dispended.