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Theory at Work

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Theory at Work


Group development and interaction are nothing uncommon in today's business working environment. The employees may belong to certain groups in the organization. At times, they may be members of more than one group in the organization. In this paper, we will discuss the group theory and its application in the workplace.


What is a group? A group can be defined as a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a leader's goal and approach and are willing to be held accountable by the leader. A group supports the leader's goals and the leader-dominated approach to goal attainment. A group drives individual accountability rather than shared accountability (Mackin). Working in the groups requires sustained and purposeful small group communication. We define small group communication as the interaction of three or more interdependent people working toward a common goal. Based on their characteristics and concerns, the types of groups are categorized into seven different types. They are primary, social, self-help, learning, service, work, and public groups (Englebert and Wynn).

The Theories

Group does not happen overnight or instantly. It is developed through phases and stages to form the solid and mature team. There are a couple of group theories on group development, which are Tuckman's stages and Fisher's phases theories. In this paper, we will discuss Tuckman's stages in group development.

Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming Storming Norming Performing model in 1965. The Forming Storming Norming Performing theory is an elegant and helpful explanation of team development and behavior (Businessballs). According to Tuckman, there are four basic and predictable stages of team development. They are forming, storming, norming, and performing (Englebert and Wynn, 2003). Tuckman's theory explains that as the group develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and the leader changes leadership style

Fisher's phases focus solely on the decision-making groups. The four phases are orientation, conflict, emergence, and reinforcement (Englebert and Wynn, 2003).

Roles and Responsibilities

Based on the group development process that I have experienced, the group was developed right on track as compared to the group development without the stages or phrases at all. In these stages, we create the process which the group members are given the opportunities to get to know each other before they start the implementation. As human being, we have the tendency to be reluctant when we are given orders or work with somebody that we do not know. The initial process of forming is very critical in the group development to create the comfort level among the members. Once we passed this stage, they have the opportunities to accept or object the tasks or issues. This is why in the norming stage; they need to come into the win-win situation, which everybody can agree on. The roles and responsibilities are established in this stage as the members come into their common goals. It is easier to assign the roles and responsibilities after we have gone through the stages than having to assign them in the beginning, the members will have a hard time to adjust and accept the differences, as the group will have the possibility of failing. During the forming stage, the trust and loyalty among the group members are still low and reluctant to participate openly.

Participation, Leaderships, and Motivational

Everyone has different characteristics and personalities in the group. We can never expect anybody to act like we do. Their behaviors are based on their personalities and characteristics factors. We may find members who are not actively involved in the meeting, or members who are just shy and not talkative. In other words, they are extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are outgoing; they talk more; gesture more; and can become quite enthusiastic during a discussion. Introverts think before they speak. In the group setting, extroverts may have a tendency to dominate the discussion without listening to others. At the same time, they can be terrific energizers and contributions. Understanding which member who tends to be an extrovert or introvert can be valuable. There are some other factors that we need to be aware of as we manage and develop the group. Another factor is called "group think". It is a phenomenon that occurs when a group fails to sufficiently evaluate its decisions in order to achieve agreement. Pressure to conform to group norms may discourage members from expressing disagreement or questioning a group's decisions and actions (Englebert and Wynn).

Tuckman's stages have shown the process of group development which will help the group leader to identify different members' characteristics



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