Storming

This is the stage when groups often go through a more searching, demanding and aggressive phase. There are situations where temporarily established norms, including that of the leader, may be challenged. Individuals may question the legitimacy of everything in the group: who is a member, competency of individuals, appropriate behaviour, the task to be tackled, leadership authority, etc. Some individuals may resist any form of control imposed by the group.

As a leader, you should understand that this stage is typical in the functioning of an unfamiliar group established to tackle an apparently challenging goal. When confronted by these situations leaders often do well by showing understanding and flexibility, but at the same time, strength and confidence.

The storming stage resolves when sufficient members believe that the benefit of belonging to the group outweighs the restrictions on personal freedom from group membership. If the trip is short, or many members know each other, this stage may be muted or nonexistent. However, in other circumstances where groups are brought together apparently forever (such as in mergers of schools or sporting clubs) the storming stage may not occur until later, but may then be both prolonged and quite violent.

The storming and norming phases are not usually distinct and sequential. Some groups may move back and forth between the two and some groups may never move beyond these phases. Skilful leadership can be needed to move the group into the performing phase. This will include careful cultivation of a culture of respect for each individual and a belief in the capacities of the total group.