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Several developmental phases

Organizations and groups evolve over time by going through several developmental phases. Tuckman (1976 cited in Weber & Karman, 1991; Cain, 2007; Cole, 2005; Smith, 2007) proposed a progressive model that describes the five stages of development that a team has to follow in order to achieve high-performance: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. There are times when a team gets stuck on a stage and finds it difficult to move on. This usually happens in the storming stage, where feelings of fear, anxiety, and dissatisfaction start to emerge among members of the group, resulting in hostility and conflict.

Although the conflict may or may not manifest as group issues, the conflict still would still exist, lying under the surface. Cole (2005) enumerates the characteristics of the storming stage, some of which include: (1) inadequate and incomplete listening; (2) innocent actions and comments are taken personally; (3) disagreements over trivial matters; (4) lurking hidden agendas (5) coveted power and control; (6) prioritizing personal goals over team goals; and (7) apparent lack of team commitment. The issues will persist and cause the group to implode unless they are solved.

If the group gets stuck on this stage, the leader could use the following strategies to manage group conflict: (1) encourage active discussion and respectful disagreement to foster creativity; (2) change and vary team job assignments to increase energy and interest; (3) use your best judgment when resolving team conflict, keeping the best interests of the team in mind at all times; (4) be sensitive to the needs, wants and conflicts the team is experiencing; and (5) consider using an outside mediator, coach, consultant or facilitator to resolve particularly thorny issues (Cole, 2005).

Consulting companies facilitate group activities to help the group move on to the next phase. These activities usually involve planning, communication, timing, the ability to deal with frustration, and the opportunity to discuss the issues and resolve differences among the members (Cain, 2007).

References Cain, J. (2007). Exploring the five stages of group formation using adventure-based activities. In teamworkandplay. com. Retrieved October 6, 2007 from http://www. teamworkandplay. com-resources_5stages.

pdf Cole, B. (2005). Strategies for optimal team functioning. In mentalgamecoach. com. Retrieved October 6, 2007 from http://www. mentalgamecoach. com/articles/ReduceTeamConflict. html Tep. uoregon. edu. (2007). Managing groups. Teaching Effectiveness Program. Retrieved October 6, 2007 from http://tep. uoregon. edu/technology/blackboard/docs/groups. pdf Weber, M. & Karman, T. (1991). Student group approach to teaching using Tuckman model of group development. American Journal of Physiology, 261, 6: S12-S16

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