Team Development: Leadership Through the 4 Stages of Team Development

Without a clear understanding of what role each individual plays on the team, relationships can get tumultuous as team members struggle to find a role that’s right for them. In this stage, the priority is for team members to get to know one another. This process could happen through conversation, team building exercises or group introductions. As a team begins to “form,” they may find themselves politely defining goals, objectives and the purpose of the team.

what are the four stages of team development

Clarity as to what success looks like at each milestone will give your team a much-needed confidence boost. The four team development stages we mapped out provide the perfect framework to achieving high performing teams. In the earlier stages of your team’s formation, establish a clear communication plan.

Performing Stage

You book 1-on-1 meetings with team members to learn about each of their experiences. As you do this, you recognize clear and consistent points with each team four stages of group development member and the benefits of hosting a team retrospective. Your team is new and excited to learn about upcoming projects as well as about each other.

what are the four stages of team development

One of the most popular theoretical frameworks of teamwork is Bruce Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development Model. In addition to observing small group behavior, Tuckman studied over 50 articles on team development and identified trends that were common in all of his research. In this model, Tuckman identifies four stages teams go through and his idea was that if a team understands the stage they are in they will be more likely to work together successfully. A team can revert back to a previous stage if goals or team members change.

Tuckman’s 5 stages of group development

The danger here is that members may be so focused on preventing conflict that they are reluctant to share controversial ideas. Eric Douglas is the senior partner and founder of Leading Resources Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on developing high-performing organizations. For more than 20 years, Eric has successfully helped a wide array of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations achieve breakthroughs in performance.

Although many authors have written variations and enhancements to Tuckman’s work, his descriptions of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing provide a useful framework for looking at your own team. If the previous step “storming” is completed well and with minimal repercussions from any negative conflicts, the norming step will be a simple settling down of members and finding their groove. If “storming” is not done properly, however, “norming” can involve many team members checking out mentally or finding apathy for a project. As mentioned before, these stages usually pass naturally regardless of if each participant knows or not. Knowing each step and what it is supposed to do will allow each member to get the maximum out of the experience and not miss anything that could be a critical part of team building.

The Power of Consistency in Business

Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channelled through means acceptable to the team. The team is collaborating to meet the original goals and objectives, and the members are excited to be on a high-performing team. In this stage, leadership is shared as the team works toward exceeding standards and continuous improvement. Team effectiveness is enhanced by a team’s commitment to reflection and on-going evaluation. In addition to evaluating accomplishments in terms of meeting specific goals, for teams to be high-performing it is essential for them to understand their development as a team.

  • While teams move through the four stages in sequence, the phases may overlap or be repeated.
  • During this stage some members lose focus and reduce productivity and they focus the tasks in three sections – completion of deliverables, evaluation and closing ( Stein, as cited in McShane et al., 2018).
  • Some teams will never develop past this stage; however, disagreements within the team can make members stronger, more versatile, and able to work more effectively together.
  • The team managers must address that and focus on clarifying the team’s purpose and bringing every team member on the same page.
  • By developing your own leadership skills, you can model collaboration best practices and help your team reach their fullest potential.

One needs determination, research, and to rely on those who have come before him along with his or her natural talent in order to become a truly great leader and turn “workable” teams into extraordinary teams. In the 1970s, Tuckman worked with fellow psychologist Mary Ann Jensen to add a fifth phase called adjourning. It’s important for them to celebrate what they have accomplished.

Business Performance Associates | Voler Systems

As a team leader your job is to help your team reach and sustain high-performance. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re progressing your team through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. After the team members have moved past the forming, storming, and norming stages of group development, they can finally produce work and rely on team members for support. Their working styles and skills complement one another, and they rely on the each other to perform tasks more efficiently. In this stage, team members are creating new ways of doing and being together. As the group develops cohesion, leadership changes from ‘one’ teammate in charge to shared leadership.

what are the four stages of team development

How they trust each other to remain accountable for their tasks without dropping the ball. While originally things had been going according to plan, roadblocks crop up during this stage. You recognize that your team is new, and want them to feel supported, motivated and psychologically safe. So, you host a meeting where your team can get to know one another, their work style, and the way they feel appreciated.

Signs and questions to look out for in the norming stage

These skills are usually developed in early childhood and refined through high school. During this stage, it’s important to write down goals and assignments to eliminate ambiguity. It’s also important to hold regular status checks, to assess progress, determine where people are stuck, provide help, and give regular effective feedback. For the leader, it’s equally important to ask for feedback and demonstrate openness to receiving it, acknowledging its value, and acting on it.

what are the four stages of team development

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