Building group cohesion

Before starting to work together as a group, it is useful to determine group norms. Read this page before developing these norms.

Development of Group Norms
Norms are standards of behaviour and attitudes, one could refer to them as group rules. These are set consciously or unconsciously, some might be strictly whilst others are more flexible. The reason of why these norms arise, is that it helps to minimise individual differences. A very obvious one is the wearing of particular clothes, in certain groups it is common and appropriate to wear a suit. It conforms identity. It is interesting to talk about these norms, because they usually emerge unconsciously. Discuss with your teammates what they think the group norms are and discover how these are somehow similar to yours, while you have never discussed it before. If you want more clarification on what group norms are, the article provides a list with examples, such as "Begin and end on time" or "Listen carefully to the current speaker". 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Groups
These might change over time, according to the Group Life Cycle, as displayed in the figure. Possible strengths are that a team can be a safe and respected environment for individuals, individuals in groups can support each other and since skills and experience are pooled, there are greater resources. There are also possible weaknesses, such as that some individuals do not like being in a group, are reluctant to conform to group norms and it uses resources, time and accomodation to organize a group.

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing
In the figure below, the four phases of groups are shown (Bruce Tuckman, 1965). The first phase is forming. In this phase, the team members learn about each other and their goals. Furhtermore, they begin to carry out tasks, but behave quite independently. In the second phase, storming, team members get to know each other better. They experience disagreements and possibly clashes with team members. The third fase is called norming. In this phase, the disagreements are solved, which results in a more co-operating and intimate team. It is important to not be focused on preventing conflicts in this phase. The last phase is performing. Roles and norms are established and the team members got to know each other's competences. 

In this file, you can find more information about Tuckman’s Team Development Model. 

Group Life Cycle


For extra information: in this video, Robin Sharma discusses how to build a winning team, based on experiences of some of the best entrepreneurs.