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Groups And Teams

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The forming, storming, norming, performing model of team development was first introduced by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. He argued that these phases are all necessary and inevitable for the team growth, overcoming challenges and tackling problems, finding solutions, planning work and delivering results. Tuckman later added a fifth phase, adjourning, which is referred to by some as the mourning stage, which involves completing the task and breaking up the team. (Wikipedia, 2005) All teams, whether social, academic, or professional go through these five phases during team development (more permanent teams may not immediately face the adjourning phase) either consciously or subconsciously and the cycles are repeated throughout the life of the team.

In the first phase, forming, quite simply, is forming a new team. A group of individuals are to form a team. The text, Organizational Behavior, 9th Edition, states that a primary concern is the initial entry of members to a team. This stage may be uncomfortable to some. For instance, at the University of Phoenix (UoP) learning teams are formed in the beginning of each class. Most learning teams are formed when students first begin taking classes at UoP and are, for the most part, maintained throughout the students' time at the school. During that first class period it may be uncomfortable for a group of strangers to begin talking and forming a team. The text says that during this stage individuals ask a number of questions such as, "What can the group do for me?" "What will I be asked to contribute?" "Can my needs be met...?" (p. 268, ¶ 2) Individuals are getting to know each other and trying to determine where they fit best. Once the team is formed, the next step the team will encounter is storming. The storming stage begins when the team is presented with tasks.

"The storming stage of group development is a period of high emotionality and tension among the group members." (p. 269, ¶ 1) The team enters the storming stage as different ideas are presented for consideration. Topics that send UoP learning teams into the storming phase are, when and where to meet, which topic to do a presentation or paper on, or deadlines for assignments. During this phase team members become more familiar with the personality types of each other. The storming stage can also be very uncomfortable as feelings and emotions tend to run high when everyone is trying to present and establish his or her point. The storming phase of team development can either make or break a team. An effective and non confrontational way to enter the storming phase is by brainstorming. Putting everyone's ideas and thoughts onto paper and considering each idea equally. If team members are unable to agree to certain terms, the team is disbanded and moves immediately in the adjourning phase. If team members are able to agree and make "efforts to find ways to accomplish team goals while also satisfying individual needs" (p. 269, ¶ 1), then members have taken the first step towards norming.

The norming stage is the quiet after the storm. It is where team members begin to come together as one unit and adjust individual behaviors to each others' styles while developing habits that make the team work in a more natural and fluid manner (Wikipedia, 2005). An example of norming in action, which all UoP learning teams encounter, is creating the learning team charter. During the norming stage, the team agrees upon rules, guidelines, acceptable behaviors and consequences. The learning team charters at UoP are to be completed at the start of every new course whether the team has changed or not. The charter asks questions such as when and where the team will meet and how it will be decided, how the team will manage conflict, and what the goals of the team are. Once this stage is complete, the team is well on its way to effectively accomplishing tasks or assignments. Ground rules are set and personalities have been evaluated. The team is now ready to tackle assignments and perform tasks as a harmonious unit.

"The performing stage of group development...marks the emergence...of a well-functioning group"

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