Getting down to the nitty-gritty – the Performing Phase of (virtual) group development

In the last articles of the blog series Group Dynamics, we dealt with the first phases (Forming, Storming, and Norming) in great detail. Now we finally turn to the phase of action – Performing.

But wait! Don’t get us wrong, it’s not as if nothing happens in the first three phases. Quite the contrary. There is still a lot of preparation going on, finetuning and feedback, as well as setting the frame. Your participants act and react instinctively, insecurity still predominates, and clear leadership is required.

In the Performing Phase, actions take place more consciously. Your participants act together and in line with the goals. This results in deeper relationships. Group tasks are solved by means of meaningful unity and an influx of various different talents.

The group can thus deliver more than as individual people. That is, it performs together to reach your common goal. A goal (or goals) that are clear to everyone at that point in time. And so, again, a WE feeling is created.

Moderating in the Performing Phase

As the moderator you now have – well, not exactly a break, but at least a bit less to do. In the best case, your group will function ALMOST by itself. Roles have been established; with minimal guidance, your participants take the reins.

Decisions are made in the group, you as the moderator will only be asked for advice or input (if at all.)

In this phase, it’s ideal to work in small groups, as you will be enabling your participants to collaborate, seek decisions and communicate with each other better.

A group of people happily working together.

Guiding light and helper in time of need

Sounds easy? But keep in mind that conflicts can arise in the Performing Phase, too. However, you can be pretty sure that these can be solved more constructively than, for example, in the Storming Phase, when everyone is still concerned solely with themselves.

Now, with your gentle guidance, a consensus is attempted. The potential for finding solutions together that will ultimately benefit the entire group is great.

In your role as  moderator, remain vigilant, guide and ensure that a good working atmosphere is maintained. The following guidelines may help you in doing this:

  • Visualise the (perhaps commonly agreed on) goals and nongoals as well as the code of conduct. This way, you can always draw attention to these again and again if need be.
  • Make sure your instructions for the tasks are clear and just as visible in the room (e.g. by means of your online virtual whiteboard.) Make it clear to your participants that you are always ready to assist if something is unclear or if they have any questions.

Methods, Methods, Methods

From a method point of view, in the Performing Phase we like to use creative techniques, such as Brainwalking, the Disney method, or the more classic scenario technique. The first two methods are described in the linked blog articles.

The scenario technique means that you analyse a topic in detail. The questions are geared towards the respective goals. If, for example, you want your participants to examine certain challenges and work out first suggestions for measures, the template on your pinboard (or virtual whiteboard) could look something like this:


Your participants now discuss the predominant scenario in small groups. In our example, the actual state is first described in as much detail as possible.

Then, the participants examine the cause and jot down their thoughts in the second field.

The 3rd step is about developing suggestions for solutions; the best way is by means of a classic brainstorming.

As always, creative solutions are welcome!

In the last step, proposed solutions that can be implemented quickly are selected (in this example.)

You can also analyse the proposed solutions in a further round of the scenario technique. For example, you could ask: “What is needed to implement Idea XY? What are the obstacles? What implementation possibilities are there? What concrete steps are required for implementation?”

As you can see, in this case the method is less creative, more classic. But that’s okay once in a while,  too ! 🙂 Because you should never forget that methods follow goals, and not the other way around! Don’t do a World Café, if World Café isn’t necessary to reach the goal. Sometimes a classic scenario technique serves just as well.

We hope that, in this article,  we’ve been able to give you a good overview and some helpful tips for the Performing Phase. We would be delighted if you shared your personal experiences with this phase with us in the comments!!

Till next time, then, when we’ll look at the last of the five group dynamics phases –the Adjourning. Stay tuned!

Best regards,
your BusinessMind Team