CHAPTER 4—Phases of Group Development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing
Forming: Hello, Orientation, and InclusionStorming: Conflict in GroupsNorming: Emergence as a GroupPerforming: Making Decisions and Solving Problems Adjourning: Terminating, saying “good‐bye” Usefulness of the Phase ModelModifications Organizational TeamsOverriding Influences Formal or Informal Group Task and Social DynamicsPrimary and Secondary Tensions Discussion QuestionsExercisesTest Questions
- Understand the four phases of group
- Explain the importance of the forming stage and its communication
- Outline the factors occurring in the storming
- Illustrate how the norming phase
- Discuss the performing
- Show how the termination phase
- Understand modifications to the phase
- Specify the kinds of communication occurring during each
- Introduce the role of organizational
Numerous models of group process development exist. Three major types: linear, cyclic, non‐sequential.For clarity use one naming convention: forming, storming, norming, performing.
Forming: Hello, Orientation, and Inclusion
(initial orientation phase, getting to know group members) Primary tension in initial group uneasiness, awkwardness Uncertainty about task, procedures, roles, group membersCommunication characterized by questions, listening, tentativeness.
- Group members develop a clear understanding of
- The goals of group understood,
- Uncertainty regarding task expressed—understanding, consensus on
- Tentative role Leader likely to emerge or be selected.
Storming: Conflict In Groups
(comfortable enough together to honestly state opinions) Conflict erupts over power, authority, competition in group Group members discover areas of DisagreementConflict important to subsequent group cohesion & cooperation; And to a more effective decision makingAvoiding conflict detrimental if group issues are suppressedConflict can become destructive when disruptive behavior, interpersonal conflict, lack of interpersonal listening, feedback, and supportive skills prevent a group from building a supportive, non‐judgmental, climate of acceptance and disagreement.Communication process requires: Air, hear, and accept conflicts during this phase Recognize multiple perspectives; Develop understanding of complexity of issues. Interpersonal and group conflicts inevitable and important to group process.Require: understanding, willingness to trust, good will, empathy for diverse perspectives.
Norming: Emergence as a Group
(understanding, discussion rules, issue focus, task orientation)Group more open, trusting, cohesive. Negotiation of goals, roles, expectations, structure, division of labor, undertaken. Major issues resolved. Group settles into rules for discussions, making decisions. First, fully defined problems, before solving them.Members may feel the need to revisit issues that were in conflict. Silence can mark a time for introspection, considering the problem.
Performing: Making Decisions and Solving Problems
(task accomplishment, social reinforcement, goal achievement)Work phase of group—Employ DECIDE decision‐making, problem‐solving process: Step 1: Define Problem and GoalStep 2: Examine the Constraints Step 3: Consider the Alternatives Step 4: Initiate a Tentative Decision Step 5: Develop an Action Plan Step 6: Evaluate the Results
Some Dos and Don’ts of ProblemSolving Defining the Problem
Do provide pertinent data that you possess. Do provide background context for the problem.Do explain how this problem relates to others. Do ask group members for facts, data they possess.Do make sure everyone understands all facts, data.Do restate definition of problem to ensure all members aware of what you want.
Don’t discuss solutions.Don’t blame or assess fault regarding the problem.Don’t move on in process until everyone clear about definition of the problem.Don’t supply a lot of irrelevant information. Don’t act as if already decided on solution and are only involving team members team as a formality.
Considering Possible Solutions
Do encourage “off the wall” comments.Do challenge the group to push for as many possible solutions as it can think of.Do “prime the pump” with ideas, if group stuck Do set a time limit.Do invite everyone to participate, ask explicitly. Do ask open‐ended questions to spark thinking. Do write down all ideas generated.Do assure team that all ideas welcome, no silly ideas.Do piggyback off one another’s ideas.
Don’t allow editing, evaluating, or criticizing of
Do review possible solutions; eliminate unsupported.Do keep item on list that anyone willing to discuss.Do focus on positive—negative aspects of each. Do anticipate the consequences of each solution.Do make sure members have opportunity for input.Do invite members to combine solutions. ideas.Don’t settle on the first “good” idea that surfaces.Don’t punish members who criticize—just remind.Don’t spend much time advocating your ideas. Don’t spend time on any one person or good idea.Don’t go beyond time limit set unless team wants to.Don’t quit until the time limit is up. Do ensure consensus by getting everyone’s input.Do frequently restate to clarify meaning.
Don’t allow the team to judge one another as they judge the ideas.Don’t get bogged down discussing the pros and cons; assess value quickly.Don’t quit until you have clear consensus.
Deciding on an Action Plan
Do generate alternatives before action plan. Do make sure that specific tasks are assigned. Do make sure that time frames are set.Do empower members to complete their tasks. Do arrange method to ensure completion of tasks.Do include yourself as a person responsible for a task. Do restate members’ roles for clarify; commitment.
Don’t state roles and tasks in general terms. Don’t assume that brilliant solutions produce brilliant action plans; be creative in planning. Don’t forget to follow up.
Terminating: (Often called fifth phase)A sense of closure, task accomplishment, positive relational expression important aspect s of small group process.
Usefulness of the Phase Model
Phase Interaction Theory suggests in:Forming—communication of dependency Storming—communication of counter‐dependency, rejecting, fight Norming—communication of counter‐pairing, more abstract flight Performing—communication of conforming, pairing, intimacy
Seven categories of statements. (Verdi & Wheelan, 1992)Forming phase, “dependency” statements: seek direction, conform to dominant mood of group, express desire to follow the general direction.Storming phase, “counterdependency” statements assert independence; reject members’ attempts at leadership, authority. “Fight” statement participation in struggle, argument, criticism, aggression.Norming phase, “flight” statements, avoidance of confrontation, and perhaps of task. “Counterpairing” statements express avoidance of intimacy, cohesion, keep discussion intellectual, give way to “pairing” statements express warmth, friendship, support, intimacy, positive regard.Performing phase, “work” statements: goal‐directed, task‐oriented.Phase‐interaction theory suggests groups attentive to process and assessing:
- the nature of the task;
- the standards for evaluating various decision options;
- positive qualities of the various possible choices; and
- negative qualities of various options (Hirokawa & Rost, 1992).
Attention to decision‐making process, even when modify or deviate from phase model: Task clearly analyzed before deciding on solution.
Phase one primary issues of inclusion & acceptance. Phase two issues of control & influence arise.Phase three produces commitment & cohesion. Team performs task.
Overriding Influences on the Process:
Whether Formal or Informal Group; Task and Social Dynamics of Group
Appropriate Task Questions
Why are we here?What is to be accomplished?What information and background is needed?Do group members have the ability, knowledge, skills? What are the components of the problem?What are the group’s purposes and goals?What rules, procedures, operating methods should be used? How predictable is the outcome?What criteria will be used to judge? Can the task be done?
Detrimental Influences: Social Loafing and Social Tension
Some Group Members appear less committed to group: along for a “free ride”—Social Loafing Primary and Secondary Group TensionPrimary Tension—initial awkwardness, uncertainty Secondary Tension—suppression of conflict
3. Blizzard: Answers
In debriefing this exercise, allow for creative and/or innovative solutions from group/team members. In addition to underscoring the potential of synergy, the exercise is intended to allow participants to learn to work together on a real life situation..
- True. Never move if you have no idea which way you are going, are in a storm, or if it is dark and you are going cross‐country. Additional If you are trying to stay warm and stave off hypothermia, jog in place. Staying put is the best advice for children. OR
False. If you can figure out where you are and/or where you are going you might be better off walking. This assumes you are not injured and have a clear trail ahead of you.
- Water. There are documented cases of people living well over a month without Hiking in moderate weather, you can die in 3 days without water.
- 1 gallon In the desert, double this amount.
- D – None of these. A, B, & C are B will decrease blood circulation, thereby increasing the effects of cold. A & C will increase dehydration.
- Garbage bag – Can be used as a rain jacket, as a bivy sack for an unplanned bivouac, insulating layer when filled with leaves or grass, carry Knife – Cut, etc.; Cigarette lighter – Must keep it dry. For this question, eliminating the other possible choices is an excellent way for the team to reach the correct answers.
7. In rank order:
- Will to survive—the will to keep
- Flexibility—people under high stress are more likely to become rigid which decreases the chances for Survivors are problem solvers, flexible, improvisers, and searchers for better answers.
- Optimistm—If you believe you can get out of the situation, you are far more likely to Optimism is realizing the predicament is temporary (the sun will rise; you won’t be lost forever), isolating the problem (you’re lost, not injured), realizing that even if you have not found the solution, that does not mean there is none; and recognizing that you have some control over the situation (you can walk out, you can signal a plane).
- Able to tolerate bizarre experiences—includes (1) & (2) plus the ability to stay calm and remain rational in an
- Common Sense ‐ #1; Physical toughness ‐ # 2; Proper equipment ‐ # Very fit people die in the backcountry. Rambo aside, using your head is what counts. Level of fitness is important, but secondary.
- Not being You must always ask yourself: “What if?” Less than 1% of backcountry accidents are due to natural causes like falling rocks, avalanches, or animal attacks. So, it is “pilot error” or stupidity.
Sources: McDougall, L. (1984). Practical outdoor survival. New York: Lyons & Burford.; Olsen, L. D. (1988). Outdoor survival skills. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press.
The Consulting Firm
This exercise can be used independently but is also located in the syllabus to work as one of the projects engaged in by semester‐long groups. It is a project that focuses on group formation and the development of group identity, norms, roles, goals, and vision. Form groups of four to six participants. Ask groups to create an identity for a small communication consulting firm that provides services to area businesses (for example: diversity, active listening, decision‐making and problem‐solving, creativity, group process and presentation, conflict management, or leadership, skills training). Present the firm to us, your audience, as though we were a prospective client business. Explain your firm’s name, logo (symbol), and slogan (catchy phrase). In an informational brochure or flyer, clearly identify the character of the firm and the types of communication services you provide. The name, logo, & slogan should be integrated and work together to create a clear, coherent impression of the firm and its identity, purpose, and services. Company Name, Logo, and Slogan Evaluation Form Company Name
|Expressive and informative||5 4 3 2 1||Dull, uninformative|
|LogoExpressive and informative||5 4 3 2 1||Dull, not expressive|
|SloganExpressive and informative||5 4 3 2 1||Dull, uninspired|
|Overall Integration of All Three Expressive and informative||5 4 3 2 1||Loose, not adequately integrated|
|The BEST part of the presentation?|
|Suggestions for improvements:|
- Forming: Last night—Learning about other group
- Bluffing and disclosing—Forming
- Expectation and
- Problem‐solving group exercise:
- Performing stage—Basic
- The consulting
1. Forming: Last Night—Learning About Other Group Members
- Write on a piece of paper something that you did last Do not write something you have already told other class members. Turn the piece of paper in to the instructor.
- Your instructor will read each piece of information aloud and the order in which they are read will be the number assigned to that set of information: First read is #1, second read is #2, and so
- Write down the number and then write the name of the person who you think is the author next to
the appropriate number.
- Your instructor will reread each piece of information and you will be asked to call out the name of the person you think is the
- Your instructor will then ask the real author to “please stand ”
- Give yourself one point for every correct connection that you made between the author and what he or she did last
What does this demonstrate about the forming phase? Why were some activities easier to guess than others? How important is it to allow some self‐disclosure before the group gets “down to business?” Do we need to take a proactive role in the forming stage by expressing our expectations and fears regarding the group process? What precautions should we take regarding forming impressions without actually knowing the individual?
2. Bluffing and Disclosing—Forming Stage
- Each team member should write four statements about herself or Three of the statements must be true and one must be false.
- Each team member should read the four statements and the other team members should try and determine which statement is
- Depending on the team’s progress toward investigating a specific issue or topic, an alternative would be to write four statements about what you have done to further the team’s progress or found out about the issue—three true and one
- Once you have shared, are you surprised with the diversity of experiences? How will this impact the ability of this team to work together? What steps can be taken to increase our understanding of other group members?
The SituationYour group has gone on a hiking trip in the northern U.S. backcountry—a wilderness area. Since it was a nice‐looking day, everyone dressed in comfortable clothes with some wearing hiking shoes, others sneakers, and one a pair of sport sandals. But, expecting a nice day, no one dressed for a potential problem. On the way into the hills, the weather was fine and everyone was enjoying the day. Slowly, it began to rain but the group wanted to travel just a little farther since it was still early. After about an hour, the blizzard hit. In what seemed minutes, an inch of snow had covered the ground. Gusts of wind brought an increasing amount of snow, and it was soon up to your knees. Getting back to your car seems impossible. Your cell phones and other electronic equipment are inoperable. Would you know how to survive?Step 1: Answer the following questions individually without consulting the other members of the group:
- You’re thoroughly lost so you should sit down and wait for someone to find True or false? Explain:
- What’s more important in a survival situation: food or water?
- How much water should you drink every day in this situation?
- If you’re stranded without food, eating anything is better than eating True or false?
- You’re out of What should you do to prevent dehydration?
- Drink sea
- Drink alcohol, especially in winter because it’ll keep you
- Drink your own
- None of
- Check the three items you should always carry with you in the
Map Knife Chocolate bar Vitamins Loaded pistol Change of socks Garbage bag Sun glasses Compass Cigarette lighter
- Psychologists say there are four traits common to Pick the four from the following list.
Stubborn Having a will to survive Humorous Optimistic Stoic Flexible Compassionate Fiery Introverted Able to tolerate bizarre experiences 8.Rank (1, 2, 3) the following in terms of survival importance.
- Common sense
- Proper equipment
- Physical toughness
9.What is the most common cause of death in the backcountry?Step 2: Assemble your small group and compare answers. Reach consensus regarding the best answers.Step 3: Your instructor will provide the correct answers according to survival experts. For each correct answer (a) give yourself 2 points and (b) give the group 2 points. Add up the points and compare your individual chances for survival with the group chances.Step 4: Did the group progress through the four phases? Specifically, was there rigorous discussion (storming) before any decisions were made? Was the first “logical” answer accepted rather than a careful examination of all opinions? Did the loudest voice or the voice that claimed expertise win out even when some group members were not certain? Did any of the group members have important insights that they chose not to share? Why? If the group had the wrong answers, would a more careful discussion of the possible responses been helpful?
4. Expectation and Trepidation
The group process has promise and possible limitations. To clarify your own feelings when you enter a group, by responding to the following two issues:
- What are your expectations about working in groups and teams? What positive benefits do you foresee? Rank these in terms of how important they are to you 1 = of primary importance, 2 = moderately important, 3 = somewhat important, 4 = nice to have, 5 = will probably occur but not too important.
- What are your concerns about working in groups and teams? What limitations do you foresee? Rank these in terms of how important they are to you personally: 1 = of primary importance, 2 = moderately important, 3 = somewhat important, 4 = nice to have, 5 = will probably occur but not too
In your small group, compile a list of expectations and trepidations for small group and team work. What are the similarities? What are the differences? How can the positives be maximized and the concerns minimized?
5. ProblemSolving Group Exercise: Cheating
Step 1. In your group, examine the following situation: Cheating, plagiarizing, and other similar activities are on the rise throughout college and university campuses. Your group has been asked to develop an appropriate and effective response to this problem by deciding (1) if there is an issue on your campus, (2) what are the manifestations, and (3) what solutions can be used. Be as specific as possible.Step 2. Present your solution to the rest of the class. Solicit additional insights for use in step 3.Step 3. Examine your group decision‐making process. Did you go through the four stages? If you skipped one, did it impact the quality of your decision? Did you “miss” anything important? Did you rush to finding the solution without allowing for storming and norming to have an impact?
If cheating is not of interest or providing different topics for each group is more interesting, consider: Dealing with increased crime on your campusDeciding the theme for an upcoming campus party or dance Examining the role of sports in higher educationReducing the digital divideEffectively dealing with discrimination Raising the drinking age to 25 Requiring people to vote
6. Performing Stage—Basic Questions
Moving from good intentions to actions can be complicated. As a group, pick a problem that seems to have a relatively straightforward solution. To better guarantee performance, apply the following format:Step 1: What must be done? Step 2: Why must it be done? Step 3: Where should it be done? Step 4: When should it be done? Step 5: Who should do it?Step 6: How should it be done?
7. The Consulting Firm
Your group is a small, independent communication consulting firm that has formed to provide services to area businesses. In a 20‐to‐30–minute discussion, develop some initial ideas and reasons for a company name, logo (symbol), and slogan (catchy phrase). The goal is to clearly identify the character of your firm and the types of communication services you can provide to businesses to help them improve their employee communication and relations, their community relations, and their public relations. Your group’s name, logo, and slogan should all be integrated and work together to create a clear, coherent impression of your firm, its identity, and its purpose.Although this discussion may be too short to show a complete group development, you should be able to see (1) some evidence of the group phases at work in an initial hesitancy of group members to suggest ideas or to take on specific roles in the discussion; (2) more open disagreements and frank discussions of the appropriateness of potential names, logos, and slogans; (3) the development of some implicit or explicit criteria to judge and decide on appropriate items; and (4) a coalescing around some ideas and working together to modify those items. If these did not happen in this order, did they happen in a different order or did different phases emerge? How would you best describe the group process?The company name, logo, and slogan evaluation form can be used by the group, the entire class, or the instructor to evaluate and provide feedback on the products of this exercise. Often, the small working teams presenting their work to the entire group or class and receiving appropriate feedback (specific, positive, and with suggestions for improvements) on their ideas can enhance the overall team experience and productivity.
Multiple Choice Questions (Chose the Best Answer)
- The four stages model of the group process presents
- the precise sequence all groups
- an orderly and predetermined continuity of group
- a descriptive picture, recognizing that the actual process may vary.
- an ability to worry about only one phase at a time.
- The forming phase is characterized by all of the following except:
- certainty about the purpose, motives, and needs of group members
- questions about whether we want to be a
- issues of inclusion and attempts to identify the parameters of acceptable
- questions about our own role in the
- Good communication in the forming stage is facilitated by all of the following except:
- Realistic, clear and attainable group
- Establishment of group
- Certainty about the group’s task and each person’s role.
- Some role assignments.
- The uneasiness and awkwardness during the forming stage is called:
- ego defense
- inclusion issues
- secondary tension
- primary tension
- Conflict occurs in groups partially because:
- group members are now comfortable enough with each other to present their real views and opinions.
- everyone has hidden agendas and doesn’t get
- it is fun to disagree and create difficulties for everyone
- none of the
- A sense of cohesion is fostered by all of the following factors except:
- developing clear
- similarity among group
- an autocratic and controlling leader.
- a group climate resulting in feelings of being valued and accepted.
- To create a supportive climate, group members must practice:
- critical thinking aimed at controlling
- empathetic listening; communication of nonjudgmental acceptance
- giving advice to solve other group member’s problems.
- withholding feedback.
- One secret to effective group process is to try to:
- air, hear, and accept as many conflicts as possible during the storming phase.
- learn to control and shut out
- prevent disruptions in order to have a smooth flowing
- allow a few deserving members to dominate the
- The emergence of a group through the norming phase includes:
- resolution of the
- the absence of primary and secondary
- preventing silence since silence means a breakdown in the
- open negotiation of goals, roles, expectations, group structure, and division of labor.
- In defining the problem, which behavior should be avoided?
- Provide the pertinent data that you
- Act in accordance with the solution you have already decided.
- Explain how the problem relates to others.
- Restate the definition of the problem to ensure that everyone is aware of what you have and what you want.
- When creating an action plan, which of the following actions should be avoided?
- Empower members with the authority to complete their
- Include yourself as a person responsible for a
- Restate each member’s role to clarify and ensure
- State roles and tasks in general, unmeasurable terms.
- Being “can‐do” individuals means that:
- we are willing to do
- we prefer making a decision and acting on a problem rather than waiting.
- we focus the discussion on the differences between can and do.
- we are full of doubt and say can‐do is not possible.
- Disorganization in the group process means:
- groups have cycles in their process, meaning the group can repeat some phases several times.
- an agenda and clear meeting rules are
- some group members have difficulty in being
- all of the
- Statements that assert independence and reject other members’ attempts at leadership and authority are called:
- dependency statements
- counter‐dependency statements
- fight statements
- flight statements
- One major difference between a decision‐making group outside an organization and one within an organization is:
- organizations are prone to
- groups outside organizations are prone to
- organizations normally assigned leaders to their groups.
- groups outside organizations have assigned leaders.
- Which of the following is not a major influence as a small group works through the phases?
- whether the group is leaderless or has a leader.
- whether the group is an informal or formal
- the task and social
- how the primary and secondary tensions affect the group
Fill in the Blank and Sentence Completion Questions
- describes the conflict phase that often occurs once group members have gotten to know each
- As we get to know each other and we have not as yet established group operating procedures, norms or roles, we are likely to experience (two words).
- The most complex phase of the group process is .
- One technique for making certain that no member dominates the discussion is (two words).
- Open negotiation of goals, roles, expectations, group structure, and division of labor occur in the
- An increase task orientation, open feedback and exchange are exhibited in the
- The phase can be awkward and
- Avoidance of confrontation and perhaps the task are characterized by
- Effective groups pay attention to the (two words) process itself even when they deviate from the phase
- Seeking direction and expressing a desire to follow the direction of suggestions made are characterized by
- A group that has been sanctioned or mandated by an organization is a
- The interpersonal ability of members of a group to work together is called
(two words). [Answers: 1. storming; 2. primary tension; 3. storming ; 4. group round; 5. norming; 6. performing;
- termination; 8. flight; 9. decision‐making; 10. dependency; 11. formal; 12. social dynamics]
Short Answer and Essay Questions
- Describe the important communication characteristics displayed in the forming )
- Define primary and secondary Explain the differences between them and the functions performed by each.
- What communication concerns affect group cohesion during the storming phase? What communication activities should be encouraged during this phase?
- Describe the characteristics of the norming
- Discuss the group members’ responsibilities for facilitating problem solving in the performing
- Explain the termination Describe its importance to a group and its characteristics.
- Discuss the usefulness of the phase Include modifications to the model that might be important to a group.
- Explain the three stages for organizational
- What are the overriding influences that affect the group process as it works through the phases?
- Describe the four phases of small group development and the kinds of communication that is typical in Explain why that communication is typical of the phase and what functions it fulfills.