The stages of group development are the forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning stages. Forming is when the group members are at the stage of getting to know each other. Storming is when each of the group member’s tasks are defined and when tensions are dealt with. Norming is when relationships are built and when the group members already work together. Performing is when the relationships in the group and the performance of tasks have matured. This stage is when the group is pretty much stable on all aspects. Finally, adjourning is when the group’s purpose has ended and the group celebrates their accomplishments.
In the case of Christine Spencer’s group, the group is already at the norming stage. Team members are already working together at this stage. However, this does not mean that problems are no longer encountered; rather, this stage requires more effort in trying to maintain the group’s balance.
At this stage, Christine’s group is already starting to work together in that the members meet regularly, have their own assigned tasks, and have started working on these tasks. However, the main problem that the group is experiencing at this stage is the lack of cooperation from Mike in that he is unable to attend most of the meetings and is unable to deliver his assigned tasks. However, adding to the problem is the fact that Christine and the rest of the members seem to be indifferent to Mike’s plight and don’t make much effort to involve him. As a result, Mike feels left out, which results in social loafing where Mike all the more becomes uncooperative and distant.
With an understanding of the different stages of group development, Christine would have learned that just because the team has started working together, this did not mean that she could already rest on her laurels so-to-speak. She would have learned that she needed to become even more vigilant in watching out for possible problems or conflicts at this stage and be able to resolve them before they get out of hand. Such conflicts can affect the group’s output; hence, they should be addressed as soon as possible.
Although the primary problem in Christine’s group is the lack of cooperation and involvement from Mike, this is caused by secondary problems such as the lack of communication and the lack of resources that would enable each team member to perform their assigned tasks. The lack of communication added to the problem in that Mike’s opinions or suggestions, particularly about his preferred meeting schedule, was not sought and considered. Given the difficulties he was going through, he could have also used some words of encouragement or motivation from Christine. In addition, Christine should have tried harder in persuading Mike to cooperate. Christine seeking Mike’s feedback would have made Mike feel that his contributions were valued, which in turn would have motivated him to participate.
In addition, the lack of resources became a problem in that Mike was not given the resource – particularly, time --- that he needed to be able to actively participate in the group’s meetings. Without this problem being addressed, the group members’ interaction with each other and the group’s cohesion as a whole was negatively affected, in turn leading to the team becoming ineffective.
Two courses of action that can be taken to resolve the problems in Christine’s group include adjusting the group meeting schedules to a time when Mike would be available or making Mike feel involved by communicating the group’s discussions with him and asking for his feedback via email.
With the first option, Christine could have asked Mike for his available schedule when he reacted negatively to the morning schedule. Christine could have also suggested holding the meeting during lunch breaks, as everyone would surely be free at this time. Having lunch together would also enable the group to bond. Alternatively, the group’s preferred meeting schedules could be retained for the most part but some of these schedules could have been adjusted to accommodate Mike’s availability. This would make it easier for Mike to adjust to some of the meeting schedules and would make him feel valued in that the group was making an effort to accommodate him, in turn motivating him to participate more.
The disadvantage of this option is that the other group members might feel that they’re unnecessarily going out of their way for Mike or that Mike is being given special treatment, which might in turn cause some resistance from them.
The other option is for Christine, as the Team coordinator, to keep Mike in the loop at all times. For example, if Mike missed a meeting then Christine could send him some notes on what was discussed during the meeting via email. Christine could also ask for his feedback regarding what the team had discussed and could use this as an opportunity to follow up on the status of Mike’s task and to inform him of the group’s next meeting schedule. This would make Mike feel that he was a part of the group and that his contributions and opinions were important, which would motivate him to participate more. As well, sending the message via email would enable Mike to read and reply to the message during his available time, which would somehow help him in allotting time for the group project amidst his other responsibilities.
The disadvantage of this option is that it would take extra effort and time from Christine who would have other tasks and responsibilities of her own. It might also make Mike miss more of the meetings, knowing that Christine would send him notes about the meetings anyway.
Christine was not an effective group leader because she was not able to facilitate the group members’ contributions. For example, she was not able to effectively ask Mike to contribute his talents and skills to the group’s work. She also failed to encourage and motivate Mike, given that she knew about the difficulties he was experiencing. Similarly, she failed to seek Mike’s feedback and suggestions and failed to communicate with Mike the group’s discussions whenever he missed a meeting. She didn’t persuade Mike to cooperate; rather, she let Mike be and did not try to resolve the conflicts. There was obviously one team member who was not satisfied but Christine failed to address this in a timely manner, which led to the possibility of their project not being completed on time.