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Roles and Analysis Paper

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Roles and Stages Analysis Paper

In their essay, Functional Roles of Group Members,1 Benne and Sheats identify a number of roles that are often assumed by members of a group. These "roles" are divided into 3 subgroups: Group Task Roles, Group Maintenance Roles and Self-Centered Roles. During this project, some members of our group consciously took hold of certain roles, while others simply assumed the remaining roles. Throughout the duration of this paper I will analyze the "roles" mentioned within Benne and Sheats’ essay and how my group members acquired and performed in these "roles". Finally, I will discuss and analyze the Group Development Stages as outlined by Bruce Tuckman.2
As a team member of Spring Together, I assumed many roles throughout the project. Initially, I was very nervous and apprehensive about working with an online group. Our first group communications began with introducing ourselves on Blackboard. My apprehension had me quickly taking on the roles of Help Seeker and Tension Releaser, as described by Benne and Sheats.3 Although I consider myself pretty adept at technology, I recall that I asked simple questions of my group members regarding technology in an effort to gain information and break the ice. I also asked that they be patient with me as I tried to navigate Blackboard. In addition, I labeled my email subject lines, “Finally getting the hang of this”, hoping to lighten the mood and release some tension. I also discovered that I am quick to reveal my imperfections in an effort to make others feel more comfortable. By asking questions, I allowed others to feel helpful as they provided me with information and assistance. People feel appreciated when they can help one another and this can help energize the group and build team spirit. As a Follower, I was an active participant in the group, accepted my assignment and performed my duties. During the Norming and Performing Stages, outlined by Bruce Tuckman, I embraced the role of Encourager-Supporter in order to provide support for Mary, our Coordinator. I listened as she detailed struggling with group communication issues. There were times when I was able to take on the role of Information Seeker in an effort to provide information about grading and communication to the group. At one point I realized that our group members were working autonomously; and that there was great potential for a disjointed end-product. I asked that all group members take on an Evaluator role in reviewing and critiquing our final draft. Finally, I attempted to perform the role of Energizer by requesting the group do a Skype session to learn more about each other and discuss the project more in-depth. Unfortunately, this was met with virtual silence, aside from a response from Mary. Mary and I elected to re-energize ourselves by picking up our phones and talking in real-time.
Early on it was evident that Mary, Cheryl and Weronika were contributing group members. Mary and Cheryl’s initial responses suggested that they were comfortable with taking on the Initiator and Coordinator roles. Because Mary had taken prior online courses, as an Information Giver, she was able to help me with some logistical questions. Her self-assuredness, responsiveness and willingness quickly gained the trust of our group. Mary embraced the Coordinator role of our group, by providing direction, continuity and information about the project requirements. Throughout the project Mary kept us on track with due dates. Finally, as an Innovator, she was always encouraging us to think outside of the box and to be creative. She used animation in her slides and this inspired me to experiment with it in my slides. The third member of our group was a woman named Cheryl. Initially, she assumed the role of Information Giver and Energizer alongside Mary. She assisted in energizing the members and getting our group going. She also revealed her creative side by providing some potential group names. Throughout the Norming and Performing Stages of the project Cheryl was a Follower –Team Worker. She performed her duties, met deadlines and contributed to the overall success of our project. Finally, when asked, she was an Evaluator as we reviewed our final product before its submission.
The fourth member of our group was a woman named Weronika. She assumed the role of Follower – Team Worker. She was very agreeable, produced her required work and met all deadlines. R. Meredith Belbin states that successful groups work best “when there is a balance of primary roles and when team members know their roles, work to their strengths, and actively manage weaknesses”.3 A Coordinator was quickly established and accepted during the Forming Stage; the remaining members contributed to our success by becoming Team Workers , by “promoting group collaboration and avoiding friction.”5
Finally, I feel that Jaesung was a Deserter or Blocker in our group. Whether this was intentional on his part or not, I do not know. Our group attempted to be accommodating and patient because he may have had some outside issues that were prohibiting him from contributing effectively to our group, perhaps a language barrier. Because of his asynchronous communication style4, our group fluxuated in between the Norming and Performing Stages. In the end, he failed to turn in his portion of the project and never communicated his decision to withdraw from the class. His unresponsive communication style caused our group’s forward progress to be blocked a great deal of Secondary Tension.5
In our book, Bruce W.Tuckman is cited as identifying five stages of group development …Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning.2 During the Forming stage, group members are trying to get acquainted with each other and beginning to establish the group’s goals. During this stage, which lasted a couple of days, we introduced ourselves and welcomed each other, established the members, created a group name “Sprint Together”, made sure we all understood the project, assigned the slides and agreed upon an initial 1st draft due date. During this phase, I found myself kind of nervous about this first “virtual group” project. I was asking questions in my mind like, “Who were my group members?, What were they like?, What were their backgrounds?, Were they really smart?, and Would they work hard?”. What I was experiencing is referred to as Primary Tension by the group communication scholar, Ernest G. Bomann.5 Lacking self-confidence, I was nervous and wanted to make a good first impression to my group members. As I stated earlier, I assumed the roles of Information Seeker and Tension Reliever, in an effort provide a little bit of comic relief to lighten the mood. It also helped me learn more about my team members and it helped demonstrate that I was going to be an active participant in the group. With that we were on our way.
The second stage of group development is referred to as the Storming Stage. During this stage, “Sprint Together” worked on hammering out the final slide assignments and final group membership. At the beginning of this stage, it became apparent that we had not heard from one of our members named Debbie. Mary, our Coordinator, took on the role of verifying Debbie’s status within the project and our class. Once our group and professor realized that Debbie was no longer in the class we were assigned another group member named Jaesung. Initially, communication with Jaesung was good. Each member in our group re-introduced ourselves and Jaesung introduced himself to us. Slides were adjusted and reassigned during this time. There was a little Secondary Tension that developed during this stage of our group development. Jaesung declined the project summary slides because he felt he was not able to prepare them as a result of his delay in joining our group. It was at this point that Mary assumed the summary slide and gave Jaesung a free slide. Again, Mary, our Coordinator, clarified and restated the slide assignments and due dates.
The third stage in group development is the Norming Stage. It is during this phase, that members assume their roles and move toward working productively. Our 1st draft due date was 2/1/14. As the due date approached, I reached out by email to ask if anyone wanted to try to skype (a more synchronous type of communication) as a group because I was feeling uneasy with the lack of communication within our group. It seemed to me that we were headed toward a presentation that lacked cohesiveness. Mary was the only member that responded to my email request. At that point Mary and I talked over the phone about our group, its members, communication and the project. During our phone call, Mary expressed some issues about group responsiveness and asynchronous communication. The fourth stage in group development is the Performing Stage. I feel as though our Performing Stage and Norming Stage overlapped a bit. It was during this time that final fonts, slide backgrounds and slide animations were discussed. Armed with information from Mary about the lack of communication and issues with Jaesung, I contacted our Professor. Once I spoke with the Professor, I talked to Mary and encouraged her to begin issuing the three email warnings to Jaesung. At this time, Mary and I also discussed the presentation’s summary slides. Due to the nature of the content, I felt that they could not be completed until closer to the project due date. I offered to collaborate on the slides with Mary. Within a day, we found out that Jaesung had withdrawn from our class. Again we had to re-group our members. We were now down to four members: Mary, Jacquie, Cheryl and Weronika. At this point, all of the slides had been turned in to Mary. She compiled them and sent them out for review. Once I received the project for review, I emailed our group members with some of the project grading information, encouraged our group members to use the “reply all” button during the last days of this project and to review the overall project for cohesiveness and flow. Everyone agreed that they were happy with the final project. It was submitted by Mary and we each submitted our individual slides to Media Share.
The fifth and final stage, referred to by Tuckman as Adjourning, occurred almost simultaneously with the overall slide review, approval and acceptance. As members reviewed and approved the slide presentation, thank yous were given, appreciation was expressed and members hoped they would work with each other again. In the end, I think we all felt we had achieved our goals successfully and with that, we began to wish each other well and to disband.
1. Kenneth D. Benne and Paul Sheats, “Functional Roles of Group Members,” Journal of Social Issues 4 (1948), pp. 41–49.
2. Bruce W. Tuckman, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups,” Psychological Bulletin 63 (1965), pp. 384–399. Tuckman’s 1965 article is reprinted in Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal 3 (Spring 2001), http://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/references/Group%20DEV%20ARTICLE.doc. See also Mark K. Smith, “Bruce W. Tuckman—Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing in Groups,” The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education, www.infed.org/thinkers/tuckman.htm, updated March 14, 2005; “Famous Models: Stages of Group Development” (Chimaera Consulting Limited), www.chimaeraconsulting.com /tuckman.htm, 2001; A. Paul Hare, “Theories of Group Development and Categories for Interaction Analysis,” Small Group Research 41 (2009), pp. 124–126. Reprinted from Small Group Behavior (1973).
3.“Belbin’s Team Roles,” http://changingminds.org/explanations/preferences/belbin.htm, 2011. For more information, see R. Meredith Belbin, Team Roles at Work (Oxford: Butterworth/Heinemann, 1993); R Meredith Belbin, Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann, 2010); http://www.belbin.com
4. Engleberg, Isa N.; Wynn, Dianna R. (2012-11-27). Working in Groups (6th Edition) Pearson. Kindle Edition.
5. Ernest G. Bormann, Small Group Communication: Theory and Practice, 3rd ed. (Edina, MN: Burgess, 1996), pp. 132–135, 181–183.…...

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