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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Stage One: Forming

When a group is first established, it will inevitably go through a period of organization and orientation. In the area of task behavior, this is a period of orientation to the task. In this stage the potential Team will be concerned with identifying the task at hand and in deciding what information and experience will be relevant to that task. In essence, the forming stage will be devoted to establishing the preliminary ground rules under which the work of the potential Team will be conducted. A more informed set of ground rules are established at a later stage of development (norming), but there must be some in place for the group to get started.

Domains and Needs

The domain of Information is of primary importance at this point in the early development of the group. Golden Yellow pervades the Stage One landscape. Potential members of the group want to know more about what is going to happen in the group and why it has been formed before deciding whether or not to join. The interpersonal need for Inclusion tends to be dominant. “Do I want to become a member and if I do then how do I get included?” This doesn’t mean that potential members can physically opt in or opt out of the group. They might be required to attend the group as part of their job description or formal assignment to a task group. Social pressure might also push them to remain in the group. However, they are examining the conditions under which they can be fully engaged in the group’s activities, rather than showing up but contributing little to the actual work of the group.

How exactly does a potential member determine whether or not they wish to be included? Usually, during the forming stage, there is considerable testing and dependence. “Testing” refers to attempts by Team members to discover what kind of interpersonal behavior will be acceptable to other Team members and to the formal leader of the Team. As we already mentioned, the testing done at this preliminary stage is likely to be only partially accurate. The “real” and enforced behavioral norms are established later.  “Dependence” refers to the tendency of Team members during this early stage to rely on the formal or informal leaders of the Team to provide structures and guidelines for interpersonal behavior. Once again, this initial identification of leadership is subject to major changes when the group enters the second stage of development (storming).

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