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Fascilitating Group Interaction

Posted by iBlog on July 5, 2007

Facilitating Group Interaction

Facilitating group interaction requires all of the interpersonal skills addressed in the earlier parts of this manuel. Good facilitators are able to observe and participate in group processes simultaneously, to contribute on a content level while influencing the way group member work together.

Characteristics of Effective Groups

Listening well
Communicating well
Willingness to share
Try out other’s ideas
Ask for feedback
Attend to group maintainance
People act as full and committed group members

Understanding Task Function of Groups

Information Seeking
Information Giving
Consensus Testing

Understanding Maintainance Functions

Expressing Group Feelings
Influencing with Integrity
Standard Setting

Understanding Group Communication


Focused on one person
Single focus – high status, aggressive leader
Legitimate temporarily


Separate conversations
Result of disputes


Communicate among themselves
Splits group focus
Leaves people out
Healthy in short run
Lack of direction


Free flow communication
Center of attention
Group centered comments
Openess of dialogue
Member acts as the recorder

Observing Groups in Action

Task Functions
Maintenance Functions
Conflict Resolution

Forming Stages of Group Development


Excitement, optimism
Satisfaction, pride for chosen team
Tentative attachment to team
Committment to its success
Anxiety about the task ahead


Define purpose and goals in group
Define group tasks
Determine roles
Determine norms
Decide how to process
Discess general concepts
Discuss problems
Complain about barriers

Common Issues

Purpose, goals confusing
Too anxious to succeed
Early direction
Group members not concerned of their own or other’s roles
Members are anxious about moving forward
No group norms


Most difficult stage

Members grow restless from lack of sleep, progress and attempts to take charge. Tasks are harder then they imagined, the drive to have their ideas accepted created competition and the strong egos that have led them to be part of the group may inhibit communication and cooperation. In this critical stage of development, conflict will be high and some members will withdraw and rely on their experience as individual contributors to try to get the job done.

Typical feelings during this stage

Frustration at the groups progress lack
Anxiety over lack of teamwork
Optimism about groups chances of success
Fear of using different approaches

Typical behaviors during this stage
Resisting the groups purpose, goals, tasks
Arguing among group member
Staking out areas of individual expertise
Forming subgroups
Perceiving a pecking order
Showing concern
Resisting leadership


Argue within group/stress or competitiveness
Competing members/collaborative interventions, brainstorming
Members are polarized/form subtask problem teams
Members do not listen effectively/reflective listening
Group is overwhelmed/problem solving situations

Norming Stages

During this stage group members reconcile their differences enough to collaborate on problem solving, decision making and other task related activities. Social proof becomes a powerful force in shaping individual behavior.

Typical Feelings

Relief of tension
Renewed confidence in ability for the group to succeed
Increased willingness to see oneself
Increased willingness to give and receive constructive feedback
Increased caring for the group

Typical Behaviors

Establish and enforce group norms
Communicate more openly
Work cooperatively
Test for building consensus in overt ways
Avoid conflict
Share feelings
Attend to the groups maintenace functions


No Group Identity
Members become too polite
Group cannot agree how to work together
Unwilling to engage in constructive conflict


Tension and conflict of stage two subsided
Renewed confidence
Increased willingness to see oneself
Increased caring for the group
Increased willingness to give and receive constructive feedback


Establish and reinforce group norms
Communicate more openly
Work cooperatively
Test for and build consensus
Avoid conflict
Share feelings
Attend to groups maintenance functions


No Identity
Group cannot agree how they will work together
Identifying problems in confusio
Members become too polite
Unwilling to engage in constructive conflict


When groups reach the performing stage, they have resolved their relationship issues and know how to work in collaboration. Individual members have learned and accepted one another’s strengths and weaknesses and have evolved in performance strategies that capitalize on strengths and mitigate weaknesses. During this stage, members are typically assertive, participate at a comfortable level and trust each other enough to share feelings and ask for help without losing status.

Typical Feelings

Accepting one another’s strengths and weaknesses
Trust in other members
Comfort in dealing with task and maintainance issues
Satisfaction and pride

Typical Behaviors

Adapting one’s style
Influencing multilaterally
Communicating openly
Balance asserting
Resolving or managing conflict
Collaborate on group tasks
Giving and receiving
Identifying strongly with the group


Identify implement solutions
Members work alone
Members sense their procedures and processes
Reaching a level of comfort
Leaving the group

Typical Feelings During Stage 5

Apprehension over impending lose of team
Exhilaration over what has been accomplished
Reluctance to bid farewell
Relief you took risks and were successful
Need for recognition
Unwilling to let go
Saying good-bye to one another
Evaluate results
Cleaning the group’s area


Establish closing procedures
Design celebrations
Discuss endings
Provide a vehicle
End with a ritual


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