Organization Stages

Organizations go through various developmental stages: forming, norming, storming, and performing. These stages may begin and end sequentially, or they may overlap. Knowledge of these stages is useful for the advisor because many times an advisor needs to change his/her advising style depending upon the organization’s stage of development.

Forming: Members determine their place in the organization and go through a testing process. Harmony and unanimous decisions occur on most decision items, and members get to know each other and develop rapport. An advisor can provide opportunities for training and development, including icebreakers and workshops or retreats. The advisor may identify expectations and goals of members and executive officers and provide support to the organization.

Norming: During this stage, the organization begins to develop its own personality. An advisor will notice how the members respond to acceptable and unacceptable behavior within the organization. The members may need assistance learning how to confront unacceptable behavior by members, and they may develop rules for the organization.

Storming: After norms have been established, individuals develop their own opinions. The organization discovers everyone may not share the same opinion within the organization. Conflicts may arise during this stage and there is a high level of emotion. The organization will need a strong rapport to survive this period and have mutual respect for each other and the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. The best thing the advisor can do is recognize what is happening and respond with team building exercises and/or conflict resolution strategies.

Performing: By this time the organization has made it through some hard times, learned from mistakes, and prepared to continue meeting the goals of the organization. Complacency may develop among members because they are comfortable with each other. An advisor should continue role modeling and assisting the organization with setting expectations and goals so things keep moving forward.

Adapted from UW-Milwaukee Student Organization Advisor Manual, 6/2011