Group Dynamics: Basic Nature of Groups and How They Develop

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Sections of this topic

    Group Dynamics: Basic Nature of Groups and How They Develop

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Is Your Gathering a Group or a Team?
    Life Stages of a Team
    Some Types of Teams You Could Use

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics

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    In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which
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    Do Your Gathering a Group or a Team?

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,
    MBA, PhD

    This might seem like a silly question, but it is not. Gatherings of less than
    10-12 people are considered by organizational development consultants to be
    a small group. Information in this section is most useful for forming and facilitating
    small groups of 10-12 people or less.

    Groups that are larger than that range tend to have another level of complexity
    not apparent in small groups. For example, the nature and needs of larger groups
    are often similar to those of entire ongoing organizations. They have their
    own various subcultures, distinct subsystems (or cliques), diversity of leadership
    styles and levels of communication. While certain structures are often useful
    in small groups, they are absolutely necessary on an ongoing basis in larger
    groups. For example, larger groups should have a clearly established purpose
    that is continually communicated, and formal plans and policies about ongoing
    leadership, decision making, problem solving and communication.

    Life Stages of a Team

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,
    MBA, PhD

    When developing a team, it helps a great deal to have some basic sense of the
    stages that a typical team moves through when evolving into a high-performing
    team. Awareness of each stage helps leaders to understand the reasons for members’
    behavior during that stage, and to guide members to behavior required to evolve
    the team into the next stage.

    1. Forming

    Members first get together during this stage. Individually, they are considering
    questions like, “What am I here for?”, “Who else is here?”
    and “Who am I comfortable with?” It is important for members to
    get involved with each other, including introducing themselves to each other.
    Clear and strong leadership is required from the team leader during this stage
    to ensure the group members feel the clarity and comfort required to evolve
    to the next stage.

    2. Storming

    During this stage, members are beginning to voice their individual differences,
    join with others who share the same beliefs, and jockey for position in the
    group. Therefore, it is important for members to continue to be highly involved
    with each other, including to voice any concerns in order to feel represented
    and understood. The team leader should help members to voice their views, and
    to achieve consensus (or commonality of views) about their purpose and priorities.

    3. Norming

    In this stage, members are beginning to share a common commitment to the purpose
    of the group, including to its overall goals and how each of the goals can be
    achieved. The team leader should focus on continuing to clarify the roles of
    each member, and a clear and workable structure and process for the group to
    achieve its goals.

    4. Performing

    In this stage, the team is working effectively and efficiently toward achieving
    its goals. During this stage, the style of leadership becomes more indirect
    as members take on stronger participation and involvement in the group process.
    Ideally, the style includes helping members to reflect on their experiences
    and to learn from them.

    5. Closing and Celebration

    At this stage, it is clear to members and their organization that the team
    has achieved its goals (or a major milestone along the way toward the goal).
    It is critical to acknowledge this point in the life of the team, lest members
    feel unfulfilled and skeptical about future team efforts.

    Models of Group Development

    Five Stages of Team Development
    RE: Connecting

    Some Types of Teams You Could Use

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,
    MBA, PhD

    There are many types of teams you could use in the workplace. The type you
    choose depends very much on the nature of the results that the team is to accomplish.

    1. Formal and informal teams

    These are usually small groups of employees who come together to address some
    specific goal or need. Management appoints formal teams, that is, teams that
    are intentionally organized and resourced to address a specific and important
    goal or need. Informal teams are usually loosely organized groups of people
    who come together to address a non-critical, short-term purpose.

    and Informal Teams

    Between Formal and Informal Groups

    is a Formal Team and Types of Formal Teams

    and Informal Work Teams

    2. Committees

    Committees are organized to address, major ongoing functions or tasks in an
    organization, and the membership of the committees often is based on the official
    position of each of the members, for example, committees in Boards of Directors.

    3. Problem-solving teams

    These teams are formed to address a particular, major problem currently faced
    by the organization. Often, their overall goal is to provide a written report
    that includes recommendations for solving the problem. Membership often is comprised
    of people who perceive and/or experience the problem, as well as those who can
    do something about it.

    4. Self-directed and self-managed teams

    These types of teams are increasingly used where a) team members are working
    to address a complex challenge in a rapidly changing environment, and b) the
    strong ownership and participation of members are extremely important. These
    types provide great latitude in how members achieve the overall results to be
    achieved by the teams. The role of leader in a team might change during the
    team activities depending on where the team is in its stage of development (see
    below) and/or achieving is results.

    For the Category of Facilitation and Teams:

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