In any given organization, progress and achievement can either be individual or corporate. In most cases, despite individual-based progress being easily achievable, group based progress is more distributed and thus it propels an entity much further when compared to the former, making work groups to be viewed as the main vessels of organizational achievement.
Work Groups: The various types Work groups are said to be a collection of people who interact with each other and associate with a shared identity to attempt to achieve a goal or target (Moreland and Levine 1988, p. 51). There are many types of work groups but they are classified as either informal or formal (Lacoursiere 1980, p. 19). Informal groups are based on creating platforms for social contact while formal groups are groups defined by the individual structure of any given organization; these two categories have below them command groups, task groups, interest groups, and friendship groups (Tubbs 1995, p. 45).
Though most people do not usually consider group types when forming groups, they associate with the needs they are trying to address, which may be for security, self-esteem, affiliation, status, power and goal achievement, and in so doing indirectly fit into the categories (Moreland and Levine 1988, p. 181). Stages in workgroup development Formation of work groups involves a lot of different aspects being combined together to ensure that the resultant structure formed is stable and workable (Friend and Cook 2003, p. 56).
Workgroups are especially sensitive and thus they need firm and unshakable roots to enhance effectiveness and enable their workability. There are several models that have been created to deal with the various aspects and scenarios that affect the establishment of work group depending on the unique needs and mandate of each group (McGrath 1984, p. 124). In this essay, we will focus on Tuckman’s stages model which gives the stages of work group development as forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Forming stage The forming stage of a work group is the stage where the individuals intending to form the group come together.
This stage is mostly characterized by lots of uncertainty as to what foundations or basis the group should adopt (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 419). Thus, at this stage the group members will take time to know each other and address the issues that arise including who is to be allocated leadership roles in the group. This forming stage is also prone to little or no conflicts since the members of the workgroup are more engrossed in learning the traits that encompass each other as well as the opportunities and challenges the group will be facing.
Since at this stage team members do not know each other well, they tend to work more independently and focus on themselves but eventually as they make friends and share personal information and knowledge of each other they start developing a bond that helps the subsequent formation of certain aspects of work group culture (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 421). Storming stage The storming stage generally entails growing the work group and developing the important traits of dispute resolution and sustainable leadership.
This is because many disputes and conflicts arise in this stage and thus for the group to be able to continue functioning, it has to collectively overcome the underlying issues generating the problems (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 423). Consequently, since the group has now had time to study each other’s traits, behavior, strengths and weaknesses, it is able to make an informed choice on who is best suited to become the best leader who can be able to propel the group farthest by achieving set goals and targets.
This stage is also characterized by lots of ideas from the various members being brought to the group’s discussion table for consideration and therefore how each idea is handled by the group determines whether the group will move out of this stage (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 426). This stage is important in bringing forth the culture intended for use by the work group for the rest of the time it is in operation. It is therefore a very sensitive stage and can thus make or break the team. Norming stage
This stage is where the workgroup now starts to get immersed in its function or role. Having sorted out most or all of the underlying issues, the work group now starts to utilize the trust the members have started to have in each other and also the aspects of open communication as well as positive and constructive feedback (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 429). Due to these developments, the team now starts to lay strategies for its future operations while at the same time working on the set goals.
Members of the work group now begin to become responsible as the work group culture sets in and the members work on their individual weaknesses and emphasize their individual strengths for the greater good of the work group (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 434). Norming is very important as it especially defines what the group will be about for the rest of the time it will be functioning so that the members can create and assimilate a culture that best fits the needs and functions of the group.
Performing stage After the group has normed, the members now become ready to be productive and effective and thus they become more harmonious, enthusiastic and focused on solving problems creatively (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 437). At this stage, it is noticed that the work group functions as a unit in performing tasks smoothly and effectively and thus it is unlikely to face inappropriate conflict or need external supervision.
Due to the fact that team members are interdependent, competent, autonomous, motivated and knowledgeable, the team performs with high levels of synchrony, efficiency and this means that the external supervision has more trust with the team and less worry on whether the team will be able to achieve the set goals and targets (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 441). This stage is the most important of the stages of work group development since it is the main reference point for evaluation of a work group’s ability to achieve. Adjourning stage
Adjourning happens after the group has completed its task and thus fulfilled its mandate. It is the process where the team has to break or disintegrate (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 444). This stage is especially common in temporary groups like task groups, or in the event where a group needs to change form or structure so that effectiveness can be enhanced or where a task different from the group’s mandate or set objectives has to be achieved. Adjourning a group brings in some new ideas or members into a group and it can either be temporary or permanent (Tuckman and Jansen 1977, p. 47).
Factors considered in work group development Before choosing which type of work group development model or even beginning to form a group, it is important to evaluate the fundamental issues of work groups (Wheelan, Tilin and Davidson 2003, p. 223). The properties that are core in work groups are roles, norms, status, size and cohesiveness (Poole and Van de Ven 2004, p. 3). Roles are the actions or activities assigned to or expected from the group or individuals in the group.
Under this category, assessments should be made on psychological contracts and role identity, perception, conflict, and expectations. Norms are standards or patterns which are regarded as typical (Poole and Van de Ven 2004, p. 18). Norms are categorized into performance, appearance, social arrangement and allocation of resources norms, and they aim to address conformity and deviant work place behavior like production, property and political issues as well as personal aggression (Poole and Van de Ven 2004, pp. 22-31).
Status is the relative position of things or persons in society and they affect work groups in the way they perceive others or themselves (Arrow, Henry, Poole, Wheeland and Moreland 2005, p. 113). Size of a group affects the workability of a group especially to the factor of social loafing that suggests that groups with a an odd number of people or those with 5 to 7 members work better than those with even numbers or large groups (Thousand and Villa 1992, p. 134). Cohesiveness is the factor of being linked together and the more cohesiveness in a group, the more functional the group is.
Decision making and alternative work group development models Decision making is the process of certifying a proposal or proposed idea. Decision making is affected by how large or small a group is, the task involved, the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, groupshift, and groupthink (Friend and Cook 2003, p. 78). Group decisions are made with several techniques that are: interacting groups, nominal groups, brainstorming and electronic meeting techniques (Arrow et al. 2005, p. 154).
Alternative methods of work group development are Kurt Lewin’s individual change process, Tubb’s system model, Poole’s multiple sequence model, Fisher’s theory, Mc Grath’s time, interaction and performance theory, Gersick’s punctuated equilibrium model and Wheelan’s model of group development. Conclusion We realize that work groups are very important in realizing progress and achievement in organizations. Therefore, their importance and contribution to any given work scenario cannot be under-emphasized.