University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Work Group Development

One way to think about how to structure and develop your work group is to look at the various stages that every team will go through. Each team will have predictable needs, depending upon how long it has been in existence or how effective it has been in working through problems that have arisen. Understanding these stages and what to do to move through them can be extremely helpful to a supervisor.

Stage One: Forming

In this stage, there's lots of exploration as group members get to know one another. 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. Orientation is an important task in the forming stage. This is also a good time to look at how the group is organized.

Stage Two: Storming

When group members get to know each other better, the storming stage begins. This stage is characterized by a bid for power. This is an excellent time to focus on team building to ensure that people can get to know one another and not get stuck in seeing each other as competitors.

Stage Three: Norming

In the norming stage, the group has begun to be effective. Trust begins to emerge and differences are appreciated. The issues become how to strengthen relationships, open communication and provide positive and constructive feedback.

Stage Four: Performing

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. This is the stage where customer service will be excellent.