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Types of groups
Primary and secondary groups
A primary group is a group where individuals have significant emotional attachment and/or dependency i.e. a family. A secondary group is a group where there is little or no emotional attachment and the group fulfils a basically functional role for the individual i.e. a class at school. However this division can be vague because a dysfunctional family may be a secondary group in many ways and a class could be very important to an individual and take on a primary role. As with much of this group dynamics theory the classifications of roles, stages, types and behaviour are only generalisations and exceptions can always be seen, depending on the individuals involved, changes over time to the composition of the group and the overall context for the group.
Stages of a group
It is often said that groups are like a living thing, involving the stages of birth, youth, developing adult qualities, aged accomplishment and termination. To further this analogy, the stages of group development have been created for members to identify where their group is at and how it is developing. These stages are not compulsory for a group and often a stage is skipped or is reverted to. The progress of a group through the stages can be impacted upon by changes to the group, change of conditions, modifications to expectations, accelerating, stagnating or reversing the group. What is for sure, all groups have a birth and a termination, whether they rebel and or mature is up to context and situation.
Here are the stages:
1. Forming and dependency
Members first get together during this stage. Individually, they are considering questions like, “What am I here for?”, “Who else is here?” and “Who am I comfortable with?” It is important for members to get involved with each other, including introducing themselves to each other. Clear and strong leadership is required from the team leader during this stage to ensure the group members feel the clarity and comfort required to evolve to the next stage. This is often called the stage of dependency ... on the leader.
2. Storming and rebellion
During this stage, members are beginning to voice their individual differences, join with others who share the same beliefs, and jockey for position in the group. The group should help members to voice their views, and to achieve consensus (or commonality of views) about their purpose and priorities. This stage is often called the stage of rebellion and is identified in a group by members of the group challenging the leader or the general behaviour in the group.
In this stage, members are beginning to share a common commitment to the purpose of the group, including to its overall goals and how each of the goals can be achieved. The group should focus on continuing to clarify the roles and behaviour of each member, and a clear and workable structure and process for the group to achieve its goals. This is the stage of creating norms and ways of operating for the group.
4. Performing autonomy
In this stage, the group is working effectively and efficiently toward achieving its goals. During this stage, the style of leadership is barely evident from an individual, as members take on stronger participation and involvement in the group process – shared leadership. This stage is often called the stage of autonomy and co-dependency where the members of the group are dependent on each other and do not require a leader to control them. The cooperative coherence of the group means that everyone gets along and contributes so that they do not let down the group. This is the productive stage of the group where the group fulfils its aims and goals.
5. Termination – Celebration or sadness
At this stage, the group finishes. Groups approach this stage in different ways. Sometimes termination is associated with celebration and partying. Other times this stage is associated with sadness and commiseration. Other times it just happens and people unemotionally walk away from the group. It depends on the situation, purpose and participants as to which one of the termination scenarios occurs. It really depends if the group is a primary or secondary group in nature.
How will your group develop in accordance with these stages?
Determinants of autonomy goal.
Whether a group moves through all the stages to autonomy depends on the group context. Some groups cannot reach autonomy because they rely on a leader as part of an organisation i.e. an army group. Other groups are designed to give power to the group members and make the leader redundant as quickly as possible i.e. a group arranging a formal.