Building Healthy Groups & Teams
Group goals and activities to promote belonging, well-being, and inclusion
This resource describes common goals of groups and examples of group activities that promote belonging and well-being in safe and inclusive environments. This resource can be used by both campus professionals and student leaders to educate students about groups, common goals of groups, and discount the notion that hazing-based activities, traditions, rituals, and behaviors help groups achieve their goals. We also promote a robust, yet not nearly exhaustive, list of activities help groups achieve their goals. These healthy group activities, free from hazing, can be considered alternatives or alternative activities.
The National Study of Student Hazing (Allan & Madden, 2008) reports that members in many groups that haze expect positive outcomes such as:
- Having a stronger connection to the group
- Feeling a sense of accomplishment by proving themselves, earning their place, or feeling worthy of membership in the group
- Building unity and trust among the group’s members
However, these desired outcomes are all achievable without hazing and research shows that hazing can actually undermine groups’ missions and purposes (Johnson, 2007; Van Raalte et al., 2007). This resource serves as a roadmap for groups to reach their group goals without hazing. As groups bond, build cohesion, build relationships, and learn to communicate effectively, they are able to find more success (Johnson et al., 2019; Rugby Ontario, 2020).
Research shows a higher likelihood of success when new practices and traditions are developed in an inclusive manner with all group members having an opportunity to provide input – including advisors and/or coaches (Johnson, 2007; Johnson et al., 2019). The collaboration and acceptance of the common goals and activities can reinforce the group or team’s shared identity (Lee et al., 2011).
The Model of Small-Group Development, frequently referenced as the forming, storming, norming, performing sequence, developed by Tuckman (1965), helps us to frame common goals of groups and identify healthy activities to achieve those goals that are free from hazing. As people come together to form groups and then begin the shift from the forming stage to the storming stage, group members identify their personal goals and develop group goals based on the shared mission and vision. Once in the norming stage, individuals begin to build relationships with one another and strengthen their commitment to the larger group’s goals. In order to achieve the identified group goals, individuals have to take on various roles and responsibilities during the performing stage (Tuckman, 1965). We use the sequence to ground the following list of group goals and identified activities for groups to carry-out as a means to build group cohesiveness without hazing related traditions, rituals, or behaviors (Allan, 1997; Tuckman, 1965; Johnson et al., 2019).
This resource does not offer a one-size-fits all approach but instead the content should be tailored to align with the particular group’s purpose and membership.
StopHazing proposes the following list of group goals and activities to develop strong and healthy groups:
- Instilling a strong sense of belonging: group members get to know each other and build feelings of connectedness, and healthy relationships with each other.
- Understanding how the group works: group members understand the expectations, dynamics within, and operations of the group.
- Learning and building an awareness of group history: group members learn about the history and purpose of the organization, identities represented, and evolution over time.
- Building trust among the group: group members build trust amongst themselves through open, honest, and accountable communication and behaviors; this also develops a sense of safety and security for group members to be able to rely on each other.
- Developing personally and professionally: group members have various opportunities to develop leadership skills, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, academic performance and success, and support career aspirations and opportunities.
- Promoting a strong sense of purpose: group members feel connected to each other and the larger meaning of the group, developing a sense of pride and purpose for their accomplishments.
Learn more about these group goals and why they’re important for developing healthy groups.
Group Goals: List of Activities
Notes about this resource: This resource is adapted from Alternatives to Hazing© first published on StopHazing by Dr. Elizabeth Allan in 1997. This list of activities is not exhaustive.
Important to know – all group activities and behaviors, given the circumstances, could become hazing. If the activity is used to exert control over another person or humiliate, degrade, abuse, or endanger them, there are power dynamics at play and harm (psychological, emotional, physical) being inflicted. That is hazing.
See the We Don’t Haze film and companion discussion and activity guides for more information and education on considering activity circumstances that can turn haze free activities into hazing based activities.
Have an idea(s) for a group activity you want featured on this list? Submit your group activity here and we can add it to the list!
Suggested citation for use of this resource in part or in full is as follows:
StopHazing Research Lab. (2021). Building Healthy Groups and Teams: Group goals and activities to promote belonging, well-being, and inclusion. StopHazing Consulting. https://stophazing.org/resources/healthy-groups
Thanks to Meredith Stewart, M.Ed., and StopHazing graduate interns, Angela Ging, and Hannah Lee, for their contributions to this resource.
References for this resource can be found here.