Group development is a process of a group forming and then working together so that a goal is accomplished. The process typically involves four different steps, with another step added later: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. The process was first described by Bruce Tuckman, an educational psychologist who first came up with the process in the 1960s. Since then, these stages of group development, sometimes known as team building or team development, have become a generally-accepted pattern of group behavior.
The first stage of group development is known as forming. During this initial stage, the basic group forms, and members get to know each other. Even if there are pre-existing relationships, this stage is still important because it gives those individuals a chance to explore a new facet of the relationship, and also interact with others. This stage may go by relatively quickly.
After the forming has taken place, a time of storming is next. During this stage, struggles for group leadership and procedures may take place, with many different people having ideas of how things should be. Though the name may suggest a great deal of conflict, depending on the composition of the group, the process can remain relatively civil. Group development during this time may be a priority over production.
During the norming stage, things begin to settle down somewhat. A leader, or at least style of leadership, is chosen and the group begins the transition from the early stages into the mature stage. At this point, the members determine the final rules and priorities of the group. Some work toward the overall goal may occur during this time, but this is still a time to determine what is going to take place from an administrative point of view.
The performing stage of group development is the time when most of the work takes place. The group will use the processes and procedures determined in the norming stage to work toward the overall goal. This is the stage when the group is most productive, and will make the most progress towards its goal. Though there may be conflicts from time to time, those should be reconciled according to the rules the group agreed upon. Otherwise, dysfunction could result.
The final stage of the group development process is known as adjourning. At this point, the group may have completed its mission, or at least decided the mission was not obtainable. This is the last stage before the group disbands and is mainly a social stage where the group may get together and reminisce about the task and the process.