Monday, October 5, 2009

Stages of Group Development

As you run begin to develop a team of employees around you it is useful to know some basic information about groups and group formation.

Bruce Tuckman developed a 4-stage model for group development back in 1965, and it has been a major component of the study of group dynamics since.

He labels the stages:
  1. Forming: the group comes together and gets to initially know one another and form as a group
  2. Storming: a chaotic vying for leadership and trialing of group processes
  3. Norming: agreement is reached on how the group will operate
  4. Performing: the group practices its craft and becomes effective in meeting the objectives
The first consequence of this is to note that even if you are 'the boss' there will still be a vying for leadership and contention about the group processes. We have all been in situations where the group seems to operate in ways opposite to management expectations!

The second consequence is that how you generate the culture of your organization is going to have a large effect on the way it operates. Culture is the norms, values and methods of interaction between the group. As the employees come together, they will take on the character of the organization.

Once settled in, a culture can be very difficult to change. In fact, short of removing all the employees,I would argue it cannot change - and that businesses that seem to 'run down' or fail after a number of years are suffering from some form of cultural sickness.

By being aware of the process of group formation, you can try to influence the way the group comes together. And of course, since you will likely be the person hiring new employees, it is important to consider how they are going to fit into the group, and how the group will react to those changes. Don't be surprised if the addition of a new employee causes the entire organization to reach in unexpected ways.

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