Even though you may do everything possible to set up expectations for the training program, you should still expect changes in the dynamics of the organization as it goes through an inclusiveness training and, indeed, through the whole initiative. Again, this is perfectly normal. A well-known organizational change theory dictates that when organizations go through shifts in culture, it is common for them to undergo four basic stages of group dynamics:
  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

Once an organization reaches the performing stage, it starts the process all over again when a new shift within the organization occurs. This is commonly referred to as the "Re-forming" stage.

You can expect to see some variation of these four stages during your inclusiveness training:

Forming: When groups are newly organized, a number of needs and questions occur. At this stage, group members have high expectations as well as anxiety about where they individually fit and about organizational parameters.

Storming: In this stage, group members rebel against each other and often against authority. In a training environment, the trainer may be perceived as the authority and thus anger is often directed at the trainer. Members may also express disappointment with a perceived lack of progress, among other things.

Norming: In this stage, dissatisfaction is replaced by harmony, trust, support, and respect. Group members are more open and willing to provide feedback. Groups often enter the "norming" stage and then fall back into the "storming" phase multiple times until most or all tension has been resolved.

Performing: This stage describes a highly productive group. Group members work collaboratively and interdependently, show confidence in accomplishing tasks, share leadership responsibilities, and perform substantive work. (Hirsch, Stephanie, and National Staff Development Council, "Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing Your Way to Success," School Team Innovator, 1996, http://www.nsdc.org/library/publications/innovator/inn11-96hirsh.cfm)

It is important to remember that it is common for groups to find themselves in the storming stage. This is not a sign that it is time to give up - it's usually a sign that you are doing what you need to be doing, despite the fact that it is very uncomfortable. And remember, addressing the challenges that may come up during the storming stage is an important part of your journey to greater inclusiveness.

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