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It takes time for any new team to get its act together. 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. Issues that arise are questions of whether each person feels like they belong to the group, whether members can be trusted and who is in charge.
The individual tends to wonder whether he or she will be accepted and is careful and polite in order to make that happen. The leader's task is directing, so that the group can get coordinated in their efforts. Orientation is an important task in the forming stage.
This is also a good time to look at how the group is organized. Because the group has not yet molded into a strong, effective unit, it's still relatively easy to reorganize, get people trained in new skills and look at how the processes in the group work. It's also helpful 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. In short, the supervisor has a wonderful opportunity to be sure that the right people are in the right place using the right process.
Resources for the Forming Stage
Supervisory Training Program
Tips for the Forming Stage
Setting Team Ground Rules
Defining Norms (pdf)