There are challenges to every group and the development of the group is imperative to its success.

July 16th, 2014

Within every organization there is a time when new groups are formed to achieve a specific goal.

Today’s post is by Shelly Hayre; Project Manager at SafeSourcing.

Bennis and Shepard’s group development model (Bennis, W. G. (1956). A Theory of Group Development. Human Relations, 9(4), 415-437). explains two phases that a group will experience, with each phase has three sub-phases. The first phase groups experience is dependence. In this phase groups experience dependence, counter-dependence, and resolution actions. The second phase is interdependence. In this phase groups experience enchantment, disenchantment, and consensual validation.

Phase One Dependence

Sub-phase One – Dependence

This sub-phase is the start to a high performing group. This sub-phase is when team members spend time sharing information about themselves. The group is searching for a common goal to share within the group. They want to get to know each other, but also feel a lack of direction. The group is in need of the facilitator for direction.

Sub-phase Two- Counter-Dependence

During this phase groups begin to get hostile toward the structure of the group and facilitator. Members of the group begin to openly question the competence of their leader and openly express dissatisfaction.  The leader is not addressing the group’s needs and begins to express these concerns openly. The group will also try and impose structure within their group. They will work towards electing roles and forming an agenda.

Sub-phase Three- Resolution- Catharsis

Resolution is the final sub-phase of phase one, dependency. The leader starts to step down to allow the group to function on its own by assigning roles and responsibilities to members. Groups begin to discuss member’s roles and responsibilities. The attention and alertness of the group heightens and more time and attention is focused on “becoming a group”. The group begins to find its place in the setting and confidence is built within the group.

Phase Two Interdependence

Sub-phase Four- Enchantment- Flight

Enchantment, sub-phase four, begins the second phase, Interdependence. This sub-phase is when everyone becomes happy, cheerful, and friendly with each other. Issues and disagreements are ignored due to the level of happiness around the group. This sub-phase is when the group starts to plan parties, outings, and events to spend quality time with everyone. There is a level of comfort and bonding going on during this sub-phase. This level of “happiness” is short lived though. The breakdown of this sub-phase will lead into sub-phase five.

Sub-phase Five- Disenchantment- Fight

This sub-phase is when some separation in the group occurs. The group divides and begins to form subgroups. The team members will go out of their way to form subgroups within their group.

Sub-phase Six- Consensual Validation

The final phase of Bennis and Shephard’s Theory of Group Development is sub-phase six.  This phase forces group to examine themselves and members demonstrate self-awareness of their own involvement. Members begin to have meaningful discussion and effective problem-solving. The subgroups that may have been developed in sub-phase five fuses together to accomplish the task.

Knowing the phases a group will encounter may make the ride smoother. It can be very stressful at times. Regardless of the phases, you still have a common goal and the results delivered from your group will be the only important piece in the end. Did your group go through each phase or are you currently experience one of these phases?

At SafeSourcing, we can help your group with its common goal. We may not be able to help with sub-phase five, but we can certainly keep your team focused throughout each phase.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Ref. (Bennis, W. G. (1956). A Theory of Group Development. Human Relations, 9(4), 415-437).

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