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Bruce Tuckman proposed a four stage model in group development: Forming, Storming, Norming and performing. This has become the basis for many future works that came up. Additional stages like Adjourning, Transforming and Mourning were added later to the group formation stages. According to Bruce Tuckman these stages are essential for the groups to go through and inevitably they will. These are akin to growing process for groups to plan their work, rise to face challenges and difficulties, tackle issues, find solutions as well as be productive. The duration of each phase is not fixed and some groups are known to vacillate between stages back and forth.
As part of this paper, each phase of the group formation is defined and explore and subsequently examples are given to highlight how groups flow through each of the phases.
There are multiple factors that had caused poor functioning of both the teams under discussion. Leadership and communication are the two most important factors that have resulted in poor functioning of both the groups under discussion. There was a common feeling among the members of the group that there were either too many people who had taken the role of a leader or there are no leaders who are properly guiding the teams. Telephonic interviews of the group members revealed that a few felt that too many people were leading the teams and thus the members were being misguided, while a few others felt that there was no proper understanding or consensus about who was the legitimate leader of the group. This variation in perceptions among the group members was an added reason for the improper functioning of the groups. Normally, in groups that are well-functioned, all the members are of the common consensus on whom the leader would be the individual roles of the group members as well as the communication structures of the group.
The second issue that was identified as a reason for the improper functioning of the group was lack of proper communication. There were different perceptions regarding the fact whether team interaction was limited to online interaction or is there a scope and permission for face to face meetings with the other group members. The Discussion tool was decided to be the primary communication tool among the members of the group and this was agreed mutually by a few members but not all. It was assumed that all the members of the group are aware of this decision wherein reality this was not the case as the discussion tool was used sporadically by a few members as a tool for communication. Moreover, the various decisions which were taken during face to face meetings were not communication using the discussion tool thus creating a gap in the communication among the members of the group. It was very clear from the observations and the telephonic interviews that the decision to have face to face meetings was certainly a unilateral as not all the members were consulted about their preferences about the meeting venue and time. A lot of chaos was created due to lack of proper communication and also lack of adherence to the agreements. Al this is with respect to Team A.
The case of Team B was such that, Team B was slow since the beginning of the project and essentially displayed a sense of laid back attitude. There were hardly any messages that were posted on the Discussion Tool in the initial weeks. However, after a few weeks, a few messages were seen on the Discussion tool which comprised of reporting a plethora of issues. All the issues posted were apparently indicated lack of commitment or focus on the task at hand. After a month of prolonged laid back attitude, one member proposed to have face to face meeting and even in that meeting very few people were seen in attendance.
Tuckman’s Group Development Process – Analysis of the two groups
According to most behavioral theories, people are motivated to achieve a goal either when meeting the goal results in the satisfaction of a need, or when the incentives for achieving the goal are attractive. Nevertheless, this is not as unsophisticated as it looks. A particular member or members of the team might hold contradictory or differing perceptions or they might need have to overcome numerous barriers to accomplish the team goals. Thus, the process of achieving goals is a complicated one. In the process of achieving his goals, an individual may experience stress and frustration and may face internal conflict. This is defined as intrapersonal conflict (The ICFAI Centre for Management Research (ICMR), 2004). People always try to sustain their image and esteem. When the same is threaten or jeopardized, people normally tend to retaliate and this results in interpersonal conflict. Different individuals have different levels of tolerance, and this depends on their individual personalities.
“Conflict may be defined as the disagreement between two or more individuals or groups over an issue of mutual interest (Davis, 1997).” Conflicts may arise between two parties when:
- One party, say, an individual or a group, feels that the actions of the other party will either affect its interests adversely or obstruct the achievement of its goals;
- The goals of both the parties differ significantly or are interpreted differently;
- The basic values and philosophies of the two parties are different
The conflicts that occurred in both teams can be defined as intergroup conflicts. Both the groups are essentially competing for achieving the task at hand with the available resources. This competition time and again results in conflict. Sometimes, conflicts occur when one group attempts to take the entire credit for the successful completion of a task, to the completion of which another group may have also made significant contributions. Perceived inequitable treatment in matters of working conditions, rewards and status, in comparison to other groups can also lead to intergroup conflict.
Resolution for the conflicts
This is the first stage in group formation. This is the first essential stage. This is a stage when each member of the team seek acceptance of everyone else in the team. Serious issues and any form of abrasion is avoided at all costs. Individuals try and gather information and try and form perceptions about others in the group.
Since everyone avoids conflict and wants to do so, not much of work gets accomplished because everyone is hesitant to express opinions candidly. Everyone in the group tries to lean about the group tasks that need to be achieved. Finally Bruce Tuckman model of group building is one of the management models that has stood the test of time and one of the most widely accepted models of group and team work. This model is the basis for any other team building models and all other models that have come after that have been built based on this model. This is a model that every team passes through and is an essential component of corporate productivity. Despite the fact that teams keep vacillating between phases. This model is the most established team work models and is a subject of discussion in the corporate world.
Davis, J. W. (1997). Organizational Behavior - Human Behavior at Work. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill.
The ICFAI Center for Management Research (ICMR). (2004). Intorduction to Human Resource Management. Hyderabad: The ICFAI Center for Management Research (ICMR).