Clouds on the Horizon

When group members get to know each other better, the storming stage begins. This stage is characterized by a bid for power. Each group member is wondering whether or not he or she will be respected and this plays out in competition, tension and disunity. Relationships become strained and differences become uncomfortable. The leader is challenged for control. Some issues that must be resolved in order to move on to the next stage are those of autonomy vs control, support vs communication and the amount of influence and decision-making that any group member might have. Left unaddressed, the work group can become angry, hostile, and unproductive.

The leader's main task at this stage is to coach group members to get them on board and organize work so that it can become effective. This is an excellent time to focus on team building to ensure that people can get to know one another and not get stuck in seeing each other as competitors. This can make it possible for group members to move beyond the "I" issues to the "we" issues that will be worked on in the next stage. Directly addressing problems such as conflict within the group, poor communication styles, and appreciating differences can be helpful as well.

Characteristics of the Storming Stage

  • Competition
  • Strained relationships
  • Leader is challenged
  • Tension and disunity
  • Differences are uncomfortable
  • Issues of autonomy vs. control, support vs. competition, influence, decision-making

Tips for the Storming Stage

  • Planning an Effective Meeting. Meetings are most effective when participants share expectations and hold each other accountable. Taking time to plan effective meetings can help get all group members together and keep work organized.
  • Participation and Performance Discussions. Some tips and steps for addressing issues with group members' participation.