Saturday, August 4, 2012

Stages of Team Development

My last semester at Southwest Texas State University (I know it’s Texas State now, but it will forever be SWT to me), I was part of an awesome study group that met three times a week.  There were five of us and we had all the same classes.  You see, the Family and Consumer Sciences department was fairly small, as far as university departments go.  By the time you got to your senior classes they were usually only offered once or twice.  So, you got to know the students in your program fairly well.  That last semester there was this long break from about noon until 3:30.  Since most of us commuted to school, we were stuck there and made the most of the time.  We studied in the common area every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I credit this great group for helping make a 4.0 that semester. 

Even though we were an informal group, I can clearly see the five stages of team development (O’Hair & Weimann, 2009).  We formed as we all began to realize that we were in the same situation.  It started with casual conversation, and then gradually moved into a more structured group with the goal of studying.  During the storming, norming, and performing stages, each of us were identified for our strengths in a particular area.  For me, it was the family financial management course.  I understood the formulas and was able to help the others.  It seemed we all had strengths except for Ted.  He turned out to be a social loafer (O’Hair & Weimann, 2009).  He was there to reap the benefits of our work.  We ultimately decided to ask him to leave the group, but in a nice way.  We adjourned at the end of the semester when we graduated.  We all celebrated our graduation and wished each other luck.  We kept in touch for a few years, but I haven’t heard from any of them for years.

When this program ends, I will likely feel the same way I did after receiving my bachelor’s degree.  I will be happy that I have achieved my goal and will wonder how my classmates are doing.  I might even keep in touch with some of them.  I think the adjourning stage in essential in teamwork because it gives closure to the project and allows for reflection.

O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2009). Real communication: An introduction. New York:Bedford/St. Martin’s.