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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A new leader might be brought in who wants to do everything in a different way, or several members of the group share information with people outside the group that was supposed to remain confidential. This sense of betrayal is likely to be even more painful when the group has been in operation for a long time. Ironically, it is when there is a fair amount of trust in a group that the sense of betrayal often occurs. If there was never much trust established in the group, then members will expect that individual agendas are running the show and that everyone is on their own.

The Newcomer Phenomenon: while low inclusion scores are likely when there is burnout or betrayal, we find that high Inclusions scores can be precipitated by those people who are entering a new group, organization or community. Most people are not like Sarah. They don’t take the risk of offering a pig roast, but instead sit back and wait to be invited to the dance. They often want to be included and may yearn for the days when they were solid members of a community (that they have recently left). With the high need for inclusion that is reactive in nature, the newcomers will often be highly sensitive to anything in their group, organization or community that they consider to be a slight, a bit of indifference, or even subtle hostility.

Under these conditions, the newcomer is unlikely to be a productive member of their group, organization or community – even though they may have a unique perspective to offer or hidden talents to contribute. Furthermore, as we shall note later regarding openness, the low level of trust on the part of the newcomer can often prevent the group, organization or community from achieving shared trust. As a result, the group, organization or community will never move to a sustainable level of collective productivity—let alone offer a setting of safety that can foster individual growth and development among its members.  Without this trust, neither is there a way in which the group, organization or community can successfully address the challenges associated with matters of control and authority.

Inviting Safety

While the group during its forming stage might not yet be producing tangible results or establishing a climate of enduring trust, it can at least set the conditions for members of the group to feel safe. Ultimately, for many people, this initial decision regarding inclusion in the group is based on a fundamental concern about safety. Here is a checklist of initial group functions that enhance the prospects of members feeling safe:

  • Purpose: why has this group been formed or what is the mission to which it has been assigned and to which its members should be committed? Why would someone want to join this group in order to embrace this mission and work toward accomplishment of related tasks?
  • Impact: what difference would it make if we were successful (or unsuccessful) in achieving this purpose for our own group, for our stakeholders, for our organization? The group leader might want to pose this question to the group members for their own responses. It is important to move beyond the obvious (e.g. job security) or just short-term (e.g. increased quarterly revenues)
  • Introduction of Group Members: each member should offer a little bit more than just name and position–such as offering something about their background that would surprise other group members or providing more task-related information about expertise and experience related to the group’s purpose (though important not to set this up as a credentials competition)
  • Food (if in-person then at least offer a beverage): This offering can create an emotionally welcoming climate and potentially reduce initial anxiety
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