The Phases Of Team Development

The Phases Of Team Development

The team descends into conflict while team members establish their positions. Team members tend to be more concerned with the impression they are making and being valued than they are about the project or end goal. Keep in mind that this is the phase in group development during which many teams fail. Understanding the stages of team development and how you can facilitate and even foster that development can make the process faster and easier. In today’s environment of mergers, changing roles and careers, mastering this process is more important now more then ever. The Team Leader can initiate processes to help the team through stages of development. This can help the group to settle into high performance and successful team relations more quickly.

  • Even for an established team, reviewing the four stages of team building is important to maintain morale and cohesion, thereby maintaining successful performance.
  • The leader becomes a facilitator aiding the team in communication processes and helping if they revert to a prior stage.
  • Later on, he added a fifth stage, “adjourning” – which is sometimes known as “mourning”.
  • Slowly, relationships and cliques begin to form within the team but there remains a lot of uncertainty over individual roles.
  • Having one or two people who are very skilled at collaboration and bringing people together on each team and making that part of your team design will help alleviate this.
  • With decisions being made in the majority of cases by the nominated leader you also need to ensure that no team member is committing themselves to do too much, or too little, of the planned work.
  • Often they are not consciously aware but their behaviour shows that all is not well.
  • Members are confident about the outcome, enjoy open communication, exhibit high energy, and disagreement is expected and allowed as long as it is channelled through means acceptable to the team.

In 1965, a psychological researcher called Bruce Tuckman was focused on the theory of group dynamics. A clear informal leader has not yet emerged, and the team are looking to their formal leader for direction. Many elements affect how a team performs, from differing and clashing personalities stages of team development to overriding ambitions for power and control. So discovering ways they can all work together long term as a functional team, or short term bringing a project to completion, is essential for any organisation. With intentionality, focus and attention you’ll quickly have a high-performing team.


His original paper was the result of an analysis of fifty articles created by other psychologists talking about the ways small groups interacted and grew. The focus was predominantly on project or task-based groups that were formed and then disbanded once their work was complete. Any leader wishing to learn something from this model, therefore, would be wise to recognise its context and limitations. Many high-performance teams are short-lived, designed only to work on a certain project that has a defined lifespan – say, six months, a year or more. The team is moving forward now, achieving their goals and perhaps even surpassing them. They have become a high-performance group and are efficient at what they do; the effects are being felt all around the organisation. The team is working as a collective unit, and everyone is a true team player, not a lone-acting individual.

stages of team development

This is specifically if members of the group have been closely bonded and feel a sense of insecurity or threat from this change. Tuckman’s fifth stage, Adjourning, is the break-up of the group, once the task is completed successfully systems development life cycle and its purpose fulfilled. Adjourning is arguably more of an adjunct to the original four-stage model rather than an extension – it views the group from a perspective beyond the purpose of the first four stages.

How To Make Forming Run Smoothly

Some organisations we work with use external coaches for this phase, some train internal coaches and some train all staff in coaching skills. With the emergence of new ways of working, particularly in innovative industries, the model has its limitations because teams are often self organised and fluid; constantly changing depending on ideas and projects. This means that teams rarely get to the performing stage before they are spun back into forming. This is the phase where the team is working well together and productive.

During this initial stage the members get acquainted with each other and understand the scope of the project. They begin to establish ground rules by trying to find out what behaviors are acceptable with respect to both the project and interpersonal stages of team development relations (who’s really in charge). This period of norming also creates a safer space for people to share work and give feedback. This is because, after storming, everyone is now working together more happily towards the overall project goal.

The 4 Key Stages To Building A High

Beginning with a directing style, moving through coaching, then participating and finishing with delegation, at which point they are almost detached. At this point, the team may produce a successor leader and the previous leader can move on to develop a new team. The ‘adjourning’ stage is about bringing a sense of closure to a team whose project is completed. If the team successfully negotiated the first four stages, there may be some bonding between members and a sense of loss at disbanding those relationships. People will also be looking back to the beginning, noticing how far they have come and measuring what their contribution has been to the whole. As a manager, once your team is operating at this level then your role becomes one of overseer and delegator.

With decisions being made in the majority of cases by the nominated leader you also need to ensure that no team member is committing themselves to do too much, or too little, of the planned work. Each individual’s behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the other team members and to avoid conflict. This results in serious issues being avoided, or put off, as team members concentrate on non-contentious or routine issues. This first norming stage stage involves the bringing together of a group of individuals to form a team. At this stage, members usually have positive expectations about the venture, although they may harbor some anxiety about other members, such as who they are and what they are like. This model has become the basis for subsequent models and it is important to understand the process of each stage and its concepts so that you can apply it to your workplace.

stages of team development

All being well, you reach the next stage of what may eventually evolve into a high-performing stages of team building team. Here, team members settle down and start to work together towards their shared goal.


Later he added a 5th stage, ‘Adjourning’ to the model in the 1970s. It is one of the more known team development theories and has formed the basis of many further ideas since its conception. As the team becomes familiar with its system and working style, constructive discussions begin to occur as to how processes can be refined and perfected to increase productivity. It is up to the leader to enable the team to take responsibility and ownership of their duties to allow them to evolve and, ultimately, bring more to the table. Primarily, it is the original four stages that are used when it comes to team development and tracking the evolution of changing leadership styles. A fifth stage was introduced by Dr Tuckman around 1975 which he called adjourning. This fifth and final stage is a little removed from the original four as it focuses more on the aftermath of the development, looking at the break-up of the team and any changes to the members’ relationships and well-being.

stages of team development

It may be that your experience was not quite as simple and linear. One criticism of the Tuckman and Jensen model is that some of the stages overlap to a degree, and that groups can move backwards as well as forwards.

Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 Team

You are no longer involved in day-to-day activities and the team’s relationships with each other emulate the high degree of trust and loyalty you show in your relationship with Unit testing the team. Once your team has reached the third stage of its development the members focus on resolving differences so that the mission and goals can be clearly defined.

What is difference between group and team?

A group is a collection of individuals who coordinate their individual efforts. On the other hand, at team is a group of people who share a common team purpose and a number of challenging goals. Members of the team are mutually committed to the goals and to each other.

Since we know that all effective teams progress through this series of predictable phases and that their needs change at each of these stages, we can safely predict that each phase requires different leadership skills. We believe that high performing teams can still progress based on Tuckman’s model – particularly if today’s leaders bring good communication and leadership skills to the way teams are formed, managed and recognised. Doing this won’t only help the performance of the current team – it’s vital in helping the next one have a successful Forming stage – and beyond. Another implication of the five-stage team development model is that it stresses the importance of the norming phase, which contributes significantly to the level of productivity experienced during the performing phase. Project managers, as we shall see, have to take an active role in-shaping group norms that will contribute to ultimate project success. The first is that this team development model provides a framework for the group to understand its own development. Project managers have found it useful to share the model with their teams.

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Getting on with the task takes over from interpersonal dynamics. But sometimes they can be at cross-purposes, generating hidden agendas. Sometimes individuals are aware that they have a hidden agenda. Often they are not consciously aware but their behaviour shows that all is not well. Most of this happens unconsciously, so people are not aware of the underlying needs governing their own or the team’s behaviour. However we can influence the way a team behaves if we recognise the needs motivating individuals. Group dynamics are the unseen forces that influence the way a team relates and behaves.

The Phases Of Team Development

Sensitively managing the departure of leaving team members is vital, especially where the team have performed well. Recognition of their contribution and achievements is vital to ease the ‘mourning’ stage and progression. It is mature with goals being achieved and an atmosphere that is relaxed and purposeful. The team is likely to be feeling confident at this stage with a really open and honest dialogue taking place. The diagonal line loosely equates to the dotted line on the other two models. From an organisational perspective, recognition of and sensitivity to people’s vulnerabilities in Tuckman’s fifth stage is helpful.

The 5 Phases Of Team Development:

Then you can use the specific strategies to move your team through to the next stage in the process. To understand team stages it helps to know about group dynamics or the way groups typically behave. The following is based on the classic FIRO theory first developed by William Schutz in 1958. An understanding of group dynamics can help you lead your team through its stages of development. The team development plan needs to be part of the overall project plan. It should have development time planned and booked into all team members’ diaries.

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