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Stages of Team Development

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The first stage of team development is the forming stage. In this stage, there's lots of exploration as group members get to know one another. There's a focus on similarities and differences and first impressions are key as people try to figure out the similarities and differences. Because everything is new there is a fair amount of confusion and anxiety as people try to put their best foot forward. As a result, productivity will be lower. The second stage of team development is the storming stage. This stage is characterized by a bid for power. Each group member is wondering whether or not he or she will be respected and this plays out in competition, tension and disunity. Relationships become strained and differences become uncomfortable. The leader is challenged for control. The third stage is the norming stage. In the norming stage, the group has begun to be effective. The focus of each individual is on "how can I help the group?" Because of this, there is increased cohesion and more collaboration. The fourth stage is the performing stage. At this point, the group is asking "How can we do our best?" and is filled with enthusiasm and focused on creative problem solving. Characteristics include harmony, productivity, effective problem-solving and full development of the potential of the group and the individuals in the group. Adjourning is the last stage and is the break-up of the group, hopefully when the task is completed successfully, its purpose fulfilled; everyone can move on to new things, feeling good about what's been achieved.

The group is in the storming stage at this point of the case study. When Mike showed up at the lunch table thinking that the other members were meeting without him, he didn't feel a part of the group. He also felt that way when the other members were joking around before class began. As the team leader, Christine is finding it hard to get everyone involved. Mike can't make it to most of their meetings, only to send rough notes to Christine. If Christine had an understanding of the stages of group development, then she would have known to set group ground rules, which are expectations about how work will be done, decisions will be made, and how people will treat each other. Knowing she was in this stage would have given her a wonderful opportunity to be sure that the right people were in the right place using the right process. The leader's main task in the storming stage is to coach group members to get them on board and organize work so that it can become effective. If she were familiar with the stage of group development she would have figured out her team was in this stage and could have focused on team building to ensure that people got to know one another and not got stuck in seeing each other as competitors. Christine would have talk to the Professor so they could directly address the conflict within the group and poor communication styles.




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