The most important models of group development have been cited below.
a. The Five-Stage Model
The Five-Stage Model of group development was proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 (initially it was a four stage but later he added a fifth stage, Adjourning, in the 1970).
In this stage the members are entering the group. The main concern is to facilitate the entry of the group members. The individuals entering are concerned with issues such as what the group can offer them, their needed contribution the similarity in terms of their personal needs, goals and group goals, the acceptable normative and behavioral standards expected for group membership and recognition for doing the work as a group member.
This is a turbulent phase where individuals try to basically form coalitions and cliques to achieve a desired status within the group. Members also go through the process of identifying to their expected role requirements in relation to group requirements. In the process, membership expectations tend to get clarified, and attention shifts toward hurdles coming in the way of attaining group goals. Individuals begin to understand and appreciate each other’s interpersonal styles, and efforts are made to find ways to accomplish group goals while also satisfying individual needs.
From the norming stage of group development, the group really begins to come together as a coordinated unit. At this point, close relationships develop and the group shows cohesiveness. Group members will strive to maintain positive balance at this stage.
The group now becomes capable of dealing with complex tasks and handling internal disagreements in novel ways. The structure is stable, and members are motivated by group goals and are generally satisfied. The structure is fully functional and accepted at this stage. Group energy makes a transition from member’s focus on getting to know and understand each other to performing. For permanent work groups, performing is the last stage in their development.
A well-integrated group is able to disband, if required, when its work is accomplished, though in itself it may be a painful process for group members, emotionally. The adjourning stage of group development is especially important for the many temporary groups that are rampant in today’s workplaces. Members of these groups must be able to convene quickly, do their jobs on a tight schedule, and then adjourn – often to reconvene later, whenever required.
Groups do not always proceed clearly from one stage to the next. Sometimes several stages go on simultaneously, as when groups are storming and performing. Groups may at times regress to earlier stages. Another problem is that it ignores organizational context. For instance, a study of a cockpit crew in an airliner found that, within ten minutes, three strangers assigned to fly together for the first time had become a high-performing group. The rigid organizational context provides the rules, task definitions, information, and resources required for the group to perform, effectively.
b. Punctuated equilibrium model
The punctuated equilibrium model is an alternative model for temporary groups with deadlines. It is for the groups that do not follow the five stage model.
Phase 1 – The first meeting sets the group’s direction. This stage is the first inertia phase. A structure of behavioral patterns and assumptions emerges.
Transition – Then a transition takes place when the group has used up almost half its allotted time. The group’s direction becomes fixed and is unlikely to be reexamined throughout the first half of the group’s life. The group tends to stand still or become locked into a fixed course of action. The group is incapable of acting on new insights in Phase 1. The midpoint seems to set an alarm clock going increasing members’ awareness that their time is limited and that they need to move on fast. A transition triggers off major changes. This ends Phase 1 and is characterized by a concentrated burst of changes, replacement old patterns, and adoption of new perspectives. The transition sets a revised direction for Phase 2.
Phase 2 – It is a new equilibrium and is also a period of inertia. In this phase, the group executes plans created during the transition period. The group’s last meeting is characterized by a flurry of activities. The punctuated-equilibrium model characterizes groups as demonstrating long periods of inertia interspersed with brief and rapid changes triggered mainly by their members’ awareness of time and targets .
Temporary groups with deadlines don't seem to follow the Tuckman’s five stage model. Studies indicate that they have their own unique sequencing of actions (or inaction):
1) Their first meeting sets the group's direction;
2) This first phase of group activity is one of inertia;
3) A transition takes place at the end of this first phase, which occurs exactly when the group has used up half its allotted time;
4) A transition initiates major changes;
5) A second phase of inertia follows the transition; and
6) The group's last meeting is characterized by markedly accelerated activity.
In summary the punctuated-equilibrium model characterizes groups as exhibiting long periods of inertia interspersed with brief revolutionary changes triggered primarily by their members’ awareness of time and deadlines. Or, to use the terminology of the five stage group development, the group begins by combining the forming and norming stages, then goes through a period of low performing, followed by storming, then a period of high performance, and finally adjourning.