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5 Stages of Group Development

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 11/7/13 3:01 AM
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In many of our workshops, we discuss the various skills, traits and competencies required of instructors. Of course, strong presentation skills, as well as facilitation skills, are a must! On top of that, they need to know the content and connect with their audience. But true facilitators focus on their participants more than anything else, and ask the following questions: Are they engaged? Are they getting the material? And most importantly, are they getting along?

When new people are grouped together in a team, the group dynamics change over time. In our Advanced Instructional Techniques workshop, we review the “Stages of Group Development,” which is a model derived by Bruce Tuckman. In the model, he explains that groups evolve through the following four stages:

1) Forming

This is the polite exploration stage. People don’t know each other yet so they are polite, tentative, and a bit cautious. They are learning about each other and the task at hand.

2) Storming

This is the conflict stage. People react to each other and find frustration in working together. They may argue about the structure of the group and struggle for status in the group. Some believe this is a necessary stage as it allows the group to evaluate ideas and avoid conformity.

3) Norming

This is the accommodation stage. People learn to handle each other and work around the frustrations. They develop rules about how they will achieve their goal.

4) Performing

This is the settling in stage. The group finds its comfort level and working pattern. Sometimes the pattern is positive and constructive. Sometimes it is tense and uncomfortable, but at least the group is able to perform its functions.

Every week, I see groups experience these stages at different rates and different degrees. Of course, it’s my job as the instructor to get them to the performing level as quickly and efficiently as possible. Through monitoring and observation, I’m able to assess their progress through the stages. Obviously, a well-designed course, with appropriate time and activities to build rapport and set the right climate, will aid in getting the group to the performing stage.

Interestingly enough, there is also a 5th stage called the Adjourning Stage. In this stage the tasks are complete and we disengage from the relationship. The project has come to an end and the group disbands.

In a workshop setting, this is usually accompanied with long goodbyes, photographs, the exchange of business cards and maybe even a group hug! I’m always a bit sad when a workshop is done, and now I understand why. I observed and contributed to the group development only to see it come to a close in a short period of time. Yes, we are adjourned and no, we’re not meeting up again.

Luckily, I can look forward to the next session and observe my folks, once again, as they experience the stages of group development.

How do you guide your participants to the performing level? Do you enjoy this part of facilitation? And how do you feel when a group adjourns?

Dealing with Difficult Participants



Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

Topics: tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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