Organizational Consultation XXIII: Empowerment (Part Three)
Stage 2: Storming
The second stage of group development is characterized by some degree of emotional response. In the area of task behavior, the storming stage typically involves an emotional response to the demands of the task. Group members will experience some resistance to the demands the task places on them. If the task is relatively easy and if the experience and expertise of the group members seem adequate to the task, this resistance will be relatively minor and may even go unnoticed. This resistance may be quite intense, however, if the task appears extremely difficult or if members of the group are uncertain about their abilities to accomplish this task.
In the area of interpersonal behavior, the second stage of group development is characterized by interpersonal conflict. Hostility may be directed by group members toward one another or toward the formal leader of the group, perhaps as a way of expressing individual differences or resisting the continued imposition of structure on individual behavior. A sense of unity will not be present, and conflict may polarize around certain key issues. Essentially, the group will be experiencing a conflict between wishing to remain in the relative security of stage one or move into the unknown of perhaps closer interpersonal relations that may lie in the future. In the realm of task behavior, group members during the storming stage seek to answer the question: “Am I emotionally ready to deal with this task?” In the realm of interpersonal behavior, group members in the storming stage attempt to answer the question: “Do I really want to work with these people!”
Stage 3: Norming
The third stage of group development is characterized in both the task and interpersonal areas by increased openness and communication. In the area of task behavior, the third stage will involve the open exchange of relevant interpretations. Information, ideas, and opinions relevant to the task will begin to be exchanged by group members as they settle down in earnest to getting the task done.
In the area of interpersonal behavior, the third stage of development is defined by the development of group cohesion. During this stage, group members accept the group and one another; and, as a consequence, develop an important sense of group unity. Group harmony becomes important during this stage, and interpersonal conflict may be avoided to ensure harmony. In the realm of task behavior, group members during the norming stage seek to answer the question: “What relevant ideas and opinions do I have that will help us accomplish this task?” In the realm of interpersonal behavior, group members attempt to answer the question: “How can I help contribute to continued group unity and harmony?”