5 Stages of Group Development and How Relationships Form



From: Dr. Outgoing Manager

Date: 09/06/2010

Re: Group Formation and Communication

I would like to welcome you to the organization and congratulate you on your new management position. One of your responsibilities will be to introduce new employees to their teammates. I have found the attached information on group formation and communication to be beneficial to me:
??? Five (5) stages of group development
??? How relationships form in groups
??? Barriers to group communication
??? Techniques to overcome barriers
??? Enhancing communication

I hope that you will find this information to be as valuable in helping you to work with groups and their communication as I have. If I can be of any assistance to you as you are settling in, please feel free to contact me (555) 555-555.

Describe the 5 Stages of Group Development and How Relationships Form
According to Robbins and Judges, (2007) B.W. Tuckman developed the stages of group development, forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. The details of the steps are as follows:
1. Forming: The group comes together for the first time. The group members start to know one another, and the members start to think and work as a group instead of as individuals. Because the group is just forming, a great deal of uncertainty may exist among the group members, especially if the individuals have not worked in a group setting previously.
2. Storming:? The storming stage can be considered chaotic, with resistance possibly occurring from members not having worked in a group previously, because they are used to working as individuals. In this stage, members begin to jockey for the roles of leaders or followers. Conflict is common in this stage. During this stage, the group??™s hierarchy forms.
3. Norming: In this stage, there is an agreement on how the group operates. This is also the stage when group members will form relationships with one another, and hopefully, all members will now be more comfortable with the group setting.
4. Performing: The group now can work as one effectively to achieve the group??™s objectives. The group members now work together and have a sense of belonging. They also feel a sense of identity in the group and a sense of comfort with their place within the group.
5. Adjourning: The adjourning stage where the group is no longer needed and the group disbands. The members move on to other endeavors.
In the above five stages, the group must have effective communication. Communication can flow vertically (downward or upward) or laterally. Lateral communication usually takes place between members of the same group. When one works in a group, he/she must build connections with his/her group peers. In a group, when one sends a message, the sender must make sure that all group members receive the communication.

Effective and clear communication is essential. According to Robbins and Judge (2007), there are three basic methods of group communication: oral, written, and non-verbal communication. The type of preferred communication is dependent on what the group needs. Each form of communication can be effective in certain specific scenarios.

When communication is thought of within a group, the first type of communication that comes to mind is oral communication. The message is received instantly, and the feedback is also quick. However, this type of communication does have drawbacks, with the message possibly being unclear or the sender might have misspoken which may cause miscommunication between the sender and the receiver. In addition, in this form, a discussion can become very emotionally charged.

Written communication may be considered a slower form of communication but may be required for the group for recordkeeping. Written communication also allows the sender to communicate well through messages. This type of communication is useful for complex tasks such as legal issues, new product development, and any objective that requires a large amount of information.

Nonverbal communication consists of body language. Does the sender??™s body communicate the same meaning as his or her words If not, this can create confusion for the receiver. Of course, this can complicate communication, especially when there are cultural differences. Body language and hand signals may have a different meaning in different cultures, which could result in mixed messages and misunderstandings.

When working within a group, relationships are built. Group members who are antisocial by nature will initially find group work difficult. Members who are introverted must understand that their viewpoints are not the only ones that matter in a group. Individuals also tend to form closer relationships with others with whom they share common interests. In cross-functional groups, members with the same skill set may form closer bonds than those with a different skill set. This situation could be negative for the group if the group members with the different skill sets do not openly share information, thereby reducing the group??™s creativity.

Barriers in Group Communication

Potential barriers that may come from group communication in a group forum or system are: filtering, selective perception, information overload, language, and communication apprehension (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Many major cities in the United States are a melting pot of culture, language and mental temperaments. For example, in South Florida??™s major city of Miami, one will find people who are from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Brazil, Jamaica, and many other countries. In addition, South Florida has people who are older, younger, rich, middle class, and poor. Getting through communication barriers is an important aspect of working with and in groups.

Filtering Barrier

Filtering is when the data is manipulated so that the recipient views the data more positively. In a filtering barrier for group communication, the sender of the information might manipulate the information so that the others in the group are misled by the information presented. Filtering barriers in group communication must be overcome if communication is to be true and accurate.

Language Barrier

Language can be a barrier in group communication because words may have different meanings to different people or have no meaning at all to some. In a language barrier situation in group communication, participants will not have the ability to understand fully what each other is saying, if they cannot speak another??™s language or not speak it fluently. If the language barriers in group communication are not solved, real work will be difficult to begin or complete. Many useful tools are currently available for those who have language barriers in group communication. The available tools must be sought out and used to overcome the language barriers. In today??™s culture of technology, the language barrier has become a much smaller hurdle to those who know how and where to find the required tools.

Selective Perception Barrier

In selective perception, one receives information based on what he/she wants or prefers to receive. A group member may be calm and cool during communications, but the person with whom they are communicating may view the communication as hostile based on the words used and the receivers mental temperaments. Generally, the different temperaments are four in number. According to the Keirsey.com website, “Dr. David Keirsey has identified mankinds four basic temperaments as the Artisan, the Guardian, the Rational, and the Idealist” (Keirsey.com, 2010). In a group environment, having knowledge of the different mental temperaments will help reduce selective perception as a barrier.

Information Overload Barrier

Information overload is when a person receives more information than they can process. Many groups suffer from information overload. A group member receives information from a variety of sources. Information overload can occur as a result of too much information from email, group meetings, memos, interoffice chats, instant messenger, telephone voice mail, post-its, and even face-to-face communications. A person suffering from information overload might be identified possibly by the ???blank, spaced look??? on his/her face.

Communication Apprehension Barrier

Communication apprehension is basically the fear of speaking in front of groups. Group members suffering from communication apprehension describe this barrier as a fear, a feeling of anxiety that even can cause physical pain. The group suffers if a person who has specific skills that are needed for a specific task is not able to speak up in front of the group to communicate those required ideas or solutions to a problem. To ensure that this barrier does not hinder the group, the individual suffering from this apprehension must conquer his/her fear for the overall good of the group.

Describe Techniques to Overcome Those Barriers and Enhance Communication
Robbins and Judge state in Organizational Behavior, 12th Ed, a common theme occurs ???regarding the relationship of communication and employee satisfaction: the less the uncertainty, the greater the satisfaction??? (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p. 392). Unclear communication certainly can be a barrier to effective communication. Setting clear common goals and objectives for the group, establishing trust throughout the group or team, creating a desire for the interaction of group members, establishing clear-cut rules, list of expectations (such as value and respect of each group member), and list of responsibilities within the group, and determining concrete methods on dealing with conflict, if necessary are techniques that will help to overcome barriers.
Specific techniques that may help to overcome these barriers and enhance communication include:
??? For a filtering barrier: the group members may want to do individual research before beginning communication, if a member is known to be filtering data. Doing individual research may help to make sure each member has true, accurate, and complete information.
??? For a language barrier: the group might use a language translation device, language translation software, or materials written in each member??™s native language. In extreme circumstances, the group may need to learn another member??™s language or hire a translator.
??? For a selective perception barrier: the group needs to clearly and completely spell out information. Also, each member should be knowledgeable and aware of the different temperaments group members may have.
??? For an information overload barrier: the group may want to concentrate on one or two sources of communication. Additional sources can be added gradually then, if needed.
??? For a communication apprehension barrier: the group members may want to work as smaller groups, or even possibly as small teams of two, within the larger group. Within the smaller group, the individual with communication apprehension could practice public or group-speaking. Practice in a comfortable setting may help to alleviate such fear. In extreme cases, an individual may need to seek professional counseling, possibly joining an aversion therapy group.
Respect for each team member and an appreciation of each person??™s background, whether it be cultural, gender, language, or perception differences will greatly enhance the team??™s communication.
This memo has examined the five stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning and has explained how relationships form in groups. Next, barriers that might exist in group communications have been analyzed: filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotions, language, and communication apprehension. To overcome these barriers and enhance communication, several techniques that have been found to be useful have been described.

Keirsey.com. (2010). About 4 Temperaments. Retrieved from http://www.keirsey.com/handler.aspxs=keirsey&f=fourtemps&tab=1&c=overview
Robbins, S.P, & Judge, T.A. (2007). Organizational Behavior (12th ed) Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Prentice-Hall.