Home Concepts Strategy Coaching with Groups and Teams The Journey from Group to Team: Stages of Development and the Human Spectrum

The Journey from Group to Team: Stages of Development and the Human Spectrum

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There is also the matter of trust in the intentions of those given (or acquiring) authority in the group. Is this person (or these people) aligned with the convening purpose of this group? Is this person (or these people) interested in the welfare of all group members—or only in their own welfare? How do we know what the intentions of those in authority really are? The “real” intentions of those in authority and those taking control may be hard to discern at this point in the development of the group—but there must be an initial assessment of these intentions. This requires a discernment not just of words that are spoken, but also initial actions that are taken.

The third domain of trust concerns the perspectives being held by group members. Can we trust that everyone is seeing the world in similar ways? If nothing else, can we feel confident that we all share a common understanding of the words that are being spoken and actions being taken? This third domain of trust is particularly important if the group is composed of people from different cultural, racial and/or socio-economic backgrounds. On the one hand, the diversity of perspectives in a group can be of great value (Page, 2011); on the other hand, this diversity can be a source of misunderstanding and (ultimately) conflict.

At a fundamental level, we boil it all down to several basic principles about trust, as offered by Patrick Lencioni (2002). Great Teams tend to build trust by debating well (managing conflict) and getting results (finding good reasons to trust in the competence, intentions and shared perspectives of group members and the overall group). Here is a useful list of factors to review at this second stage of development:

  1. Is the group already beginning to deliver some preliminary results?
  2. Has mutual accountability been established?
  3. Is there clear evidence of commitment to the group’s purpose by all group members?
  4. Is constructive dialogue taking place (rather than combative discussion)?
  5. Is the group able to surface and successfully resolve differences or conflicts?
  6. Is there clear and compelling evidence of trust and respect in this group that will enable it to move on to the third stage.

Stage Three: Norming

The third stage of Team development is characterized in both areas by increased openness and communication, as the Team realizes that its prior conflicts point out the areas in which they need to establish some ground rules, agreements or “norms”. In the area of task behavior, the third stage will be characterized by the open exchange of relevant interpretations. Information, ideas, and opinions relevant to the task will begin to be negotiated by Team members as they settle down in earnest to getting the task done.

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