The paper "Tuckman’s Group Development Model" is a brilliant example of a management case study. Aurione Inc. has assigned the task of developing a performance appraisal system to its Virtual team, formed for this purpose, which communicates via weekly email updates. The above team is bound to face certain challenges, particularly in terms of communication and building trust due to diverse backgrounds of team members. This can ultimately affect the task or project deadlines. The problems can be general, with respect to virtual teams or specific to the situation of the given team. The essay attempts to critically examine, evaluate and discuss the given team situation. It does so within the framework of Tuckman’s group development model and also suggests ways to overcome the emergent problems, while underlining certain inherent advantages of virtual teams. The situation at hand is interestingly poised at a much-discussed critical aspect of team development, pertaining specifically to a virtual team. A virtual team is a work team, composed of members who work interdependently on a goal or tasks, but from different locations via communications technology (Myers & Anderson, 2008). Aurione Inc. has assigned the task of developing a performance appraisal system to its Virtual team, with weekly email updates as the only means of scheduled communication. In any virtual team, the biggest challenge is timely and accurate communication and that of building trust (Gould, 2005; Dempster, 2005). Let’s apply and discuss the given situation stage wise, within the framework of Tuckman’s (1965) model:
Forming – Stage 1
Dependence on the leader is high. Little agreement on team aims. Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear.
This team will face a greater challenge in terms of managing team performance. In absence of a declared leader, it will have to struggle to come up with one, to steer ahead to next stage, complicating the task. Assuming the presence of a declared leader, who is part of the work group, the leader will be under relatively greater pressure to perform, right from day one.
Storming – Stage 2
Decisions don’t come easily within the group. Team members vie for position. The leader might receive challenges from members. Clarity of purpose increases but uncertainties persist.
The confusions about individual roles and struggle to build and consolidate the same are compounded in this case, due to lack of trust. Difficulty in comprehending text-only messages, lack of interactivity via weekly email updates, lack of any face to face communication cues and cultural and linguistic diversity are the causes. The given team, without any countermeasures, might not be able to proceed to stage 3. If it does, it would take a toll on project timeliness.
Agreement and consensus is largely formed among the team members, who respond well to facilitation by the Leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted.
Assuming, the team proceeds to stage 3, though, with difficulties inherited at the end of stage 3, things become relatively smooth. Project visibility still remains an issue in spite of an agreeable and consensual state. The weekly email updates aren’t frequent enough to satisfy the needs of a highly involving and dynamic task of developing a performance appraisal system. More Interactive and frequent transactions are required (Kruger & Epley, 2005).
Performing – Stage 4
The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own with no interference or participation from the leader.
As in preceding stages, the team proceeds to stage 4, overcoming some difficulties and inheriting some. In order to be strategically aware and function independently from the leader, the most important factor can be the sense of rightful ‘ownership’ of the project task as well as the team. A lack of such ‘ownership’, as a cumulative result of difficulties from previous stages, will be the challenge and decisive as to whether the team moves ahead or not. The fifth stage of Group development added to the model later, called ‘Adjourning’ explains how team members respond to a breakup of team after the team goal has been successfully achieved (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977). A virtual team is less likely to be overwhelmed by such a breakup since the magnitude of emotional involvement is not comparable to that in regular teams. Besides, it is easier to keep in touch through electronic means and maintain a similar level of relationship or involvement. The above problems, if not properly managed, ultimately strain task time and resources, affecting the achievement of team goals. However, the challenges can be overcome. Lack of face to face human contact should be compensated for, though more information sharing, frequently. Sensitivity to cultural diversity and its management should be emphasized. Trust must be built through more opportunity and incentive for informal interaction among team members, besides facilitation by the leader. The communication technology must be suitable for the project task and goal at hand. In the given case, email communication should be made more frequent than a week and be complemented with features like live chat or video conferencing. More face to face meetings within time and cost constraints should be held (Dempster, 2005). Virtual teams have certain advantages vis-à-vis regular teams, which primarily emanate from flexibility for team members, the economy in terms of the needlessness of commuting time and office space. Besides, cultural and geographical diversity brings fresh thinking and new ideas into the team and project task. The above-mentioned advantages and solutions can be combined to make the team perform as well as any other (Gould, 2005).