To build a strong team, it’s important to understand how teams develop.
Stages of Team Development
Most business academics believe that teams undergo a series of predictable stages throughout their development. One of the earliest theories of team development was created by B. Tuckman. Tuckman’s theory is still widely used today.
Tuckman’s model outlined four major stages of team development that were: forming, storming, norming and performing. Occasionally, ‘adjourning’ is added as a final stage to the Tuckman model.
Those who initially join teams experience a ‘forming’ stage. Team members need to become acquainted. During this phase, there is always uncertainty about the team’s purpose, structure, and leadership. Concern over roles and responsibilities is present at this time. Most managers expect a low level of productivity during the forming stage. This is because it takes time for a newly formed group to think of themselves as a team.
New managers are coached to not panic during the ‘storming’ stage. Most newly formed teams go through a storming phase where the leadership of the team is challenged. Power and control issues may manifest in concerns from team members about who will control the group.
During the ‘norming’ phase close bonds among team members are formed. New team members may experience relief in sensing that everything will work out. Norms of what constitutes a good team member are defined during this stage. These ‘norms’ could even become a formally agreed upon set of rules that include attendance at meetings, agenda development and levels of acceptable participation.
When the ‘performing’ stage occurs the team has moved past interpersonal issues to focusing on getting the job done. This is a time when the team is considered fully functionable. Execution takes centre stage and there are fewer setbacks to accomplishing goals.
Later research of Tuckman’s theory of team development revealed that some groups undergo an ‘adjourning’ phase. It represents a termination phase where the group wraps up the team’s activities and prepare for the break-up of the group. During the adjourning phase it’s not uncommon for some team members to make plans to stay in touch. This is because some have been able to form strong interpersonal bonds while working in the team.
Elaine Allan, BA. MBA
Technology & Business Blogger