Stages of Group Process & Development

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Group of employees looking at laptop during meeting.
Group of employees looking at laptop during meeting. (Image: Nick White/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When management forms a group to complete a goal, the group enters the beginning stages of process and development. These progressive stages -- forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning -- outline the member’s interpersonal professional relationship development as it applies to the group. Understanding these stages allows management to determine how close a group is to completing the goal.

Forming

The first stage in group process and development is the forming stage. This is when the team members get to know each other professionally and learn about the group goal and the information management has provided to help them. The general group rules of behavior and task completion are also formed. Members learn each other’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Natural leaders emerge. The group should be generally excited and positive about completing goals.

Storming

The second stage, storming, occurs when the negative aspects of the group halt progress. For example, the emerging natural leader may have a bullying attitude that was present in the forming stage and that becomes a topic of discussion in the storming stage. Members become resistant to the previously agreed-upon group rules and approach to task completion. Interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict also occurs, and management must step in to resolve these conflicts. Confidence and production is low.

Norming

Norming is the third stage in group process and development, when conflicts are resolved. Group rules, approaches to tasks and leadership roles may have changed to better fit the members. Confidence in goal accomplishment is renewed. It is still possible that conflicts cause the group to bounce back and forth between storming and norming, but eventually the group stays in the norming phase through maturity. Conflicts eventually are resolved by more constructive means. Management may see more productive work and task completion.

Performing

Performing, the fourth stage, is when the team is at its peak production. Performing teams rarely fall back into storming because they prevent most problems and are able to resolve any conflicts quickly. New tasks are no problem for performing teams, and confidence is at an all-time high. Newly introduced members do not upset the team’s productivity.

Adjourning

The fifth stage, adjourning, is when the team’s goal has been reached and the team begins to disband. Teams feel a sense of accomplishment, and some relationships formed within the team continue after goal completion.

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