The Five Stages of Team Development Principles of Management

This final phase of team building is the stage at which teams are actually working on the project itself or the everyday functioning of a team. This stage requires teams to be actively helping and encouraging each other and holding teammates to account. The forming stage is where co-workers get to know each other and build the trust which is essential for good individual relationships.

four phases of team development

A good team leader will not only know each stage, but what exactly to facilitate for each stage so that they can reach the final stage quickly and with the best results. Every team has different needs when it comes to their development. Which means, you may experience these stages in sequential order, or find yourself in a loop with one or more of the stages outlined above. This is a concept that psychologist Bruce Tuckman came up with to properly understand the progress of various teams and the development of key contributors. During the Ending Stage, some team members may become less focussed on the team’s tasks and their productivity may drop. Alternatively, some team members may find focussing on the task at hand is an effective response to their sadness or sense of loss.

Which stage is your team in?

This is like describing a car by its model and color without considering what is under the hood. External characteristics are what we see and interact with, but internal characteristics are what make it work. In teams, the internal characteristics are the people in the team and how they interact with each other.

four phases of team development

It requires more preparation from the leader to go smoothly, but non-participation by team members can be catastrophic. The casual nonchalance in this stage should be balanced four phases of team development with a healthy respect for how important it is as it will directly influence how the team will act. Natural talent will only get one so far in the real world, however.

Stage 3: Norming

Do the members embrace new ideas readily, or do they resist them? These answers will provide insight into how mature your team is. The following table represents the team attitude on these three factors during each stage of development. This can be a period of adjustment for some team members, as routines can be disrupted and new plans are made to tackle future work. It’s important that internal communication is handled well throughout all stages, however it can be particularly important during this final stage to prevent a significant relapse period. At this stage, team roles often become fluid, with colleagues picking up each other’s work and responsibilities when necessary.

You and your teammates trust each other enough to get a little creative and innovative, while still delivering top-notch work on time. There’s a new initiative to run at and you’re keen to get started. You’re not sure who is doing what, or how to break this epic project into smaller components.

The Secret Recipe to Building High Performing Teams

Teams may begin to develop their own language (nicknames) or inside jokes. This is the most critical stage in the stages of team development. Therefore, it is important for you as the leader to recognize when a group is in this stage so you can help them move on to the next stage. It’s important to not try and force a team past this stage.

  • At the same time, they may also feel some anxiety, wondering how they will fit in to the team and if their performance will measure up.
  • Do the members embrace new ideas readily, or do they resist them?
  • You will know your team has made it out of the storm and into the norm when the clouds of discontent and conflict have cleared.
  • As the real work kicks in, the project may present both technical and interpersonal challenges.
  • If these changes – and their resulting behaviors – are recognized and addressed directly, teams may successfully remain in the Performing stage indefinitely.

Knowledge of the four phases listed above is useful in managing both the development of newly assembled teams and the continued successful performance of established teams. It is important to establish which stage your team is at in order to work out how you need to improve. Work your way through the relevant phases and schedule in regular reviews to see how you are progressing.

Stage 5: Adjourning Stage

If left unchecked, this behavior could lead to severe problems down the road if not addressed immediately. To ensure a new foundation of trust and inclusion is built across the team, new members should complete the HBDI as soon as they join. The team can then gather to review and discuss the collective HBDI results and the implications – i.e. the new strengths added and what might have been lost with any departing team members. Management will need to be an active team member and be available to manage the day to day activities. Goals should not be set too aggressively and focus should be on small victories and celebrating success.

four phases of team development

Encouraging team members to stay in touch and maintain connections after the team has disbanded is also important. This can be done through social events or online networking groups, which allow team members to stay connected and support each other even after they have moved on to new projects or roles. By promoting a culture of connection and collaboration, you can help team members build lasting relationships and continue to grow and develop both personally and professionally.

The 5 Stages of Group Dynamics: A Practical Approach

Take a cue from the Atlassian Team Playbook and make time for these three activities. Click the name of each activity below to get step-by-step instructions and other helpful resources like templates and videos. The forming-storming-norming-performing cycle repeats more often than you might think. Everyone should try their best, but nobody will get it right on the first try or every time. Each team you are a part of is another chance to learn how you work with others and what kind of person you work best with.

Focus on building a shared understanding across your team and with stakeholders. Recently, several teams in our engineering department undertook a massive, ludicrously complex, business-critical infrastructure project. The number of risks and dependencies sent these established and cohesive dev teams into a flurry of (ultimately, unproductive and/or counter-productive) activity.

Tuckman Theory: Four Stages of Team Building Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing

Some need only a little guidance; others require extensive coaching. The important thing is to identify which style suits your current situation. As the name suggests, this is the “storm” part of the process. Members begin to argue among themselves as they figure out where they stand within the team’s hierarchy.


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