Building A Strong Team: The Stages of Team Development

Now more than ever, bringing your workforce together as an effective team is vital. During an ongoing pandemic, economic tensions, and the challenges of remote work, teamwork has taken a big hit. How can a team maintain their effectiveness and growth in such a turbulent environment? 

Committing to team development is a promising start. Team development sets businesses up to thrive—not just survive. This article will guide you through the significance of team development, its stages, and action steps business professionals can take to orient their teams toward a development mindset.

What is Team Development?

A team is a group of individuals who work together toward a common goal. Each member of a team is valuable to the common goal in their own way, using a unique set of skills to fulfill a team role. And yet, everyone on the team shares the same orientation and attitude. Though this may sound easy on paper, balancing individual and common goals within a team is quite difficult, especially during periods of stress, failure, or discord.

Characteristics of a successful team include:

  • MISSION: Everyone on the team has a clear understanding of what the collective goal is.
  • COMMITMENT: Everyone on the team invests their time, energy, and attention into the collective goal.
  • The 3 R’s: Everyone on the team understands the RULES, ROLES, and RESPONSIBILITIES of the team dynamic.
  • PROCESS: The mechanics of intergroup communication, decision-making, and accountability are agreed upon and managed effectively.

Almost all teams lack one or more of these criteria at some point in their tenure. Team development strives to meet these criteria with ongoing reflection and growth. Like any form of development, it takes time and dedication to be effective. In other words, a team doesn’t develop from start to finish overnight. Regardless of the tools used for team development, the process must be maintained through long-term awareness. 

Why is Team Development Important?

Maintaining an effective team is much like maintaining a garden; if left unattended, it loses its ability to thrive. Team development ensures that the team can thrive in the long term. 

Engaging team development benefits the team in a number of ways. Individual members of a team learn more about their personal potential, duties, and work dynamically within the team. Conversely, team development acquaints each member with the talents and roles of other members. This combination of internal and external reflection strengthens communication, productivity, and well-being within the team.

What are the Stages of Team Development?

The Five Stages of Team Development were developed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965. These five stages advance as a team works together, but especially when a team brings awareness to their dynamic. 

Tuckman’s Five Stages of Team Development are as follows:

1. Forming

During the “forming” stage of team development, the team members acquaint themselves with the basic aspects of their task. Forming stage discussion topics often include the project goal, team member roles, basic ground rules, and designation of authority. The forming stage is truly a honeymoon phase in teamwork—productivity is low, but the team members are too newly acquainted to encounter conflict.

2. Storming

Of course, every honeymoon phase ends eventually. As the real work kicks in, the project may present both technical and interpersonal challenges. Individual work habits, leadership decisions, or lapses in communication can cause tension within a team. Annoyance, frustration, and anxiety commonly arise in response. This stage of team development is known as storming.

Storming is the most difficult and unproductive of the five stages of development, but it is nevertheless vital to the team development process. When team members are upset with themselves, the task, or each other, they learn what causes the most dysfunction. With this information, the team can begin aspiring to a better team dynamic. 

3. Norming

The norming stage of team development is the calm after the storm. In this stage of team development, team members fall into a rhythm as a cohesive taskforce. The skills of each member are validated and utilized to execute the necessary tasks. While conflict may still arise in this stage, it no longer spirals into dysfunction. The team can handle conflict and proceed with the project successfully.

4. Performing

Some teams reach a stage of development in which they thrive at their individual and collective tasks. The skills of each member are fully optimized, supervision is almost never needed, and members feel a strong sense of trust in one another. This stage of team development is called performing. 

Reaching the performing stage is a major success and often precipitates some form of team learning. Team learning is a behavioral process of seeking, gathering, discussing, and implementing methods of team success. Whether through training, group initiative, or innovative leadership, team learning is an action step that ensures healthy team development. 

5. Adjourning

The fifth stage of group development is adjourning. Adjourning varies broadly from team to team. Some teams adjourn with silence, some with celebration, and others with sadness. Regardless of the length or success of a project, each team deserves a hearty affirmation of its concerted efforts. The adjourning phase is a fantastic opportunity for leaders to encourage long-term connections, reflect on the growth of the team, and celebrate the project closing.

How Can Leaders Initiate Team Development?

Team learning is often necessary to execute healthy team development and providing your team with the tools they need to thrive is good for them and your organization. These tools may include team development discussions, training, or workshops. 

Simplilearn is a cutting-edge workplace training service that provides just that. At Simplilearn, our corporate training in emerging technologies is transforming our economy with valuable skills that last. Our blended learning approach drives learner engagement and the industry’s highest completion rates.

Our consultants will work with you to design the best training program for your company. Unlock your team’s potential today!

About the Author

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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