Group Development

To maximize your effectiveness as an organization advisor, it is helpful to have an understanding of group formation and development.

 

Bruce W. Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development:

 

Forming

What it means:

The group is slowly coming together. This phase is characterized by shyness, uncertainty, and difference among members.

 

How it applies to your organization:

A new semester (especially in the Fall), is a time that students are looking for new ways to get involved. New members may look to experienced student leaders and the advisor for guidance and direction. Roles and responsibilities within the group are unclear, but extraverted members may quickly assume a leadership role.

 

Your role as the advisor:

In this stage, consistency and continued support of the advisor is essential. Be prepared to answer questions regarding the group’s purpose and objectives.

 

Storming

What it means:

Members are vying for leadership and position. This is often the most uncomfortable stage of the group’s life, as disagreements and competition are prevalent.

 

How it applies to your organization:

Students may be struggling to find their place within the organization at this stage. As members attempt to establish themselves, cliques and power struggles may be evident. Decisions do not come easy, and there is plenty of uncertainty.

 

Your role as the advisor:

Keeping the group focused on goals and objectives is important at this stage. Understand that conflict is normal, and this is a key point when you may serve as a mediator. Facilitating team building and communication workshops can help bring the group together and understand each other to work effectively.

 

Norming

What it means:

The group’s identity is taking shape, as objectives and purpose are being examined. The big questions are, “What do we stand for?” and “Why are we here?” Norms and rules for behavior are being established. This stage can readily slip back into Storming.

 

How it applies to your organization:

In this stage, students are engaged and having fun. As agreement and consensus form, members settle into roles and respond well to leadership. There is general respect for leaders, and power may be shared by members in committees or otherwise.

 

Your role as the advisor:

Continue to build relationships among and between leaders and members. Have leaders establish goals, discuss each other’s work styles, and develop processes to accomplish tasks.

 

Performing

What it means:

Roles have been established, goals and processes have been determined, and the group can begin working within a relatively stable structure.

 

How it applies to your organization:

Members are aware of their goals and objectives, and focused on achieving them. The group is autonomous, and able to function with little to no leader / advisor interference. Conflict may occur but is generally resolved positively.

 

Your role as the advisor:

As the group moves in a positive direction towards accomplishing goals, the advisor will naturally be in the background for support and guidance. This is a very rewarding experience to see the organization carrying out tasks and taking ownership of their work.

 

Adjourning

What it means:

This is a stage of completion and disengagement. Members will be proud of what they have accomplished and what they have experienced in the organization. This is a time to recognize what the group has done and prepare to move on.

 

How it applies to your organization:

As the academic year ends, students will be making decisions on continuing membership, running for leadership positions, or looking for other opportunities the following year.

 

Your role as the advisor:

This is an opportunity for you to work with members on their next steps. How can they be more involved next year? If they are graduating, what are the transferable skills they can take with them? It is important to work with outgoing officers to transition the new officers so they are prepared to enter their new roles. Don’t forget to celebrate all that the group has accomplished throughout the year.