The “NORMING” Stage of Group Mentoring
(Adapted from Tuckman’s Stages of Small Group Development)
What is the Norming Stage? At this stage, the group is really starting to come together – members trust each other, they feel a commitment to the group, and the group itself has become cohesive. The group has scored a “win” by successfully navigating the conflict of the storming stage. Members can now appreciate one another’s strengths and weaknesses and begin to define each member’s roles as leaders, communicators, organizers, etc. Members focus less on how they are different from each other, and devote more of their time working on how to use their talents to communicate and accomplish group tasks. This is the time when the group identity becomes fully formed and group members feel a sense of cohesion and belonging.
What is the Mentor’s Role? As a group enters the norming stage, mentors can begin to step back from mediating conflicts and shift to guiding the group through the process of establishing norms. Mentors can do this by reinforcing the progress that the group has made thus far and by reminding mentees of lessons they’ve already learned about communication and conflict management. Mentors can also help members determine group norms by reviewing and clarifying the tasks, objectives, and goals of the group itself. Ensuring that all members feel comfortable and confident in their roles can be immensely helpful in continuing to establish group cohesion. This process may include the need for some members to change roles, in which case mentors can draw upon skills gained in the forming and norming stages to make changes as smooth as possible.
What is the Mentee’s Role? Through overcoming many of the conflicts in the storming stage, mentees are beginning to accept one another for who they are and feel comfortable expressing their own thoughts and opinions. Open and honest communication enables individual members to come together as a group and agree upon group structure, norms, and values. As members develop a deeper level of trust with each other, they become more willing to cooperate. Through positive group interactions, members develop deeper relationships and learn to rely on one another. During this stage, mentees actively review and clarify group tasks and objectives, change and confirm individual roles by identifying strengths and weaknesses, and practice assertiveness and listening skills. A positive cycle emerges in which newly developed norms build a sense of group cohesion, and the sense of cohesion reinforces group norms toward open communication and working together effectively.
How do you know when the group is moving towards the next stage (Performing)? Not all groups make it to the performing stage, but some signs that indicate a group might be headed in that direction include improved communication and affection among group members, and a renewed focus on the goals and tasks of the group. When group members feel comfortable enough with group norms and within their own roles, they may start experiencing more flexibility within those roles in order to achieve goals more effectively. These are signs that the group is approaching the Performing Stage.
Abudi, G. (2010). The Five Stages of Team Development: A Case Study. Retrieved from Projectsmart.co.uk.
Ambrosetti, A., & Dekkers, J. (2010). The interconnectedness of the roles of mentors and mentees in pre-service teacher education mentoring relationships. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online), 35(6), 42.
Tuckman, B. & Jensen, M. (1977) Stages of Small Group Development. Group and Organizational Studies, 2, 419-427.
Walkington, J. (2005a). Becoming a teacher: Encouraging development of teacher identity through reflective practice. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 33(1), 53-64.
Bonebright, D.A. (2010). 40 years of storming: A historical review of Tuckman’s model of small Group development. Human Resource Development International, 13(1), 111-120.
White, A. (2009). From Comfort Zone to Performance Management: Understanding Development And Performance. Belgium: White & McClean Publishing.