In the workplace, it's inevitable to encounter one of the most challenging aspects of getting a team to work together. With increasing workplace diversity, developing all individuals with different mindsets, experiences, cultures, interests, and opinions can be challenging.
People are people, after all, and a system often needs to be in place to help leaders deal with them. In this article, we're going over each stage of team development and how they are essential to your business goals.
Different stages of team development lead to shared goals and mutual respect, as well as setting clear roles and effective communication.
What is Team Development?
Team development is when a group comes together to form a cohesive unit. This process usually involves some level of training and education, as well as the establishment of roles and responsibilities within the team. There are several stages that a team must go through to be successful.
Social psychologist Dr Bruce Wayne Tuckman published his four stages of team development, "Tuckman's Stages", in 1965 and discussed the four stages teams go through as they grow: forming, storming, norming and performing.
Developed in 1977 by Tuckman and his doctoral student Jensen, stage five or "adjoining" defined the process of ending a team's work.
The Five Stages of Team Development
The first stage is forming when the leader creates a team first, and members are just getting to know each other. The second stage is storming, during which conflict may arise as members establish their roles and responsibilities. The third stage is norming, during which the team comes together and works more cohesively. The fourth stage is performing, during which the team functions at its best and achieves its goals. The fifth stage is adjourning, the final stage of team development, where the team disbands or dissolves after achieving its goal or objectives.
Understanding these stages of team development is essential for any leader or manager looking to build an effective team. Knowing what to expect and how to manage each stage can set your team up for success.
The first step in developing a high-performing team is to lay the foundation by forming the group. In this stage, team members are just getting to know each other and are working to establish trust and relationships. This involves creating a shared understanding of the team's purpose, goals, and roles.
This is usually a time of high energy and excitement as team members are motivated to get the team off to a good start. However, there can also be some tension as team members try to work out who will fill what roles on the team. Once the group is formed, it's essential to keep the momentum going by maintaining open communication, encouraging collaboration, and providing feedback.
Storming is the second stage of team development. In the storming stage, team members are still getting to know each other and how to work together. Conflict often arises as team members try to establish their roles and responsibilities. This can be a challenging time for team leaders, but it is also an opportunity for the team to grow and become more cohesive. By working through these challenges, the team will gel and be better prepared for the next stage.
As a team progresses through the forming and storming stages, they will develop norms, rules, and guidelines that dictate how team members should interact. These norms can be explicit, like formal rules and regulations, or more implicit, like unspoken expectations. Either way, they help to establish a sense of order and predictability within the team that can make it more cohesive and effective.
One of the most significant things to remember when norming is that not all teams will develop norms in the same way or at the same pace. Some teams may naturally gravitate towards certain norms, while others may need a more intentional approach. There is no right or wrong way to do this; it simply depends on what works best for your team.
In this stage, team members also develop a sense of commitment to the team and its goals.
This is when the team starts to come together and work effectively as a unit. They can accomplish tasks efficiently and effectively. There is still some dependency on the team leader for guidance and decision-making, but the team can work independently for the most part. Members are committed to the team's success and are working hard to achieve collective goals.
When a team is ready to adjourn, they will have completed all the tasks necessary to reach their goals. At the stage of adjourning, it is vital to have a formal process for adjourning. This process should include a debriefing to discuss lessons learned and what went well during the team's tenure.
How to Help Your Team Progress Through the Stages of Group Development
During the first stage of group development, the leader sets the tone for the team and helps members get to know each other.
You can facilitate an introductory team meeting with fun activities and games that help team members engage with each other and learn about each other. You can continue this meeting the following day to set up ground rules and expectations for the team and share the overall project goals and timeline.
Based on team members' expertise, experience and skills, you can define roles and communicate to each of them what they are expected to do, for example, tell the marketers about the company's social media policies and content requirements.
During the second stage of group development, storming, team members may experience conflict; the leader's role is to help the team resolve the dispute and move forward.
Use conflict resolution skills, actively listen to the team member, and work with them to arrive at a resolution.
Team leaders play a crucial role by facilitating communication and helping the team members resolve issues. By managing conflict effectively and encouraging constructive debate, team leaders help their teams navigate this stage successfully.
During the third stage, norming, team members start to work together more cohesively and develop norms and expectations for how the team will operate. The leader's role is to help the team work together effectively and support them as they establish new norms.
If you find that your team is striving to develop norms on its own, there are a few things you can do:
Encourage open communication: One of the keys to developing norms is ensuring that everyone on the team feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. If team members feel like they can't speak up without being shut down or ridiculed, they'll never feel comfortable enough to share their true feelings about what's working and what isn't.
Model desired behaviour: As the team leader, you set the tone for how others will behave. If you want your team to be respectful and considerate of one another, as a team leader, you must practice that behaviour in your work, interaction and team management.
During the fourth performing stage, the team works together effectively and achieves its goals. Consistency is crucial to reach this point.
There are a few key things that will help you reach this stage:
It is essential to ensure that each team member understands their role and how it contributes to the overall goal.
Effective communication is necessary for a team to perform well; all members should feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns.
Regular check-ins and feedback sessions will help the team stay on track and identify improvement areas.
The leader's role is to continue supporting the team, checking feedback, measuring progress, and helping them troubleshoot any issues.
By following these guidelines, teams can develop the necessary skills and relationships to perform at their best. A lot can be accomplished when working together towards a common goal.
The final adjourning stage is when the team has completed its task or project. The leader's role during this stage is to debrief the team on their experience and help them transition back into their roles within the company.
Team leaders can give questions in advance, for example, what would you like to do differently about the team and project introduction process? What do you think helped you work efficiently? Knowing some discussion points will help the team members prepare and organise their thoughts before the meeting.
Team leaders can creatively facilitate the adjourning meeting with reflection questions that help team members share authentic responses with examples of what worked competently and what could have been done better.
It's also important to acknowledge each team member for their contributions.
Leaders have a crucial role to play throughout the team development process. Team development can be smooth if the leader is skilled with tools, techniques and knowledge of leadership and management.
Team development skill applies to any group and accelerates high performance and success.
At IPM, we offer Project Leadership & Management Diploma. The course will strengthen your leadership style, train you in practical strategies to motivate, engage, and empower teams, and enhance your skills to execute the most complex projects within your organisation.