Stages of Team Development Introduction to Business

You’re not sure who is doing what, or how to break this epic project into smaller components. She also asks each member to write a brief evaluation of the team experience. She explains that this will help her become a better leader in the future. Chris asks the administration to formally recognize their achievement. After the award ceremony, they go out for a celebration dinner. The team groups like ideas together and define their top five ideas.

four phases of team development

Have you ever wondered why it takes some time for a new team to hit peak performance? In this article, we discuss the different stages of team development and how leaders can guide their team through those stages to increase collaboration. Supervisors of the team during this phase are almost always participating. Even the most high-performing teams will revert to earlier stages in certain circumstances.


These five stages advance as a team works together, but especially when a team brings awareness to their dynamic. Outline how the team members will communicate if they need to ask questions, raise concerns, and report on their progress. Management can often take a step back at this point, as the team is able to work independently toward the project goal without needing frequent oversight. While Tuckman’s theory was developed decades ago, it remains relevant to today’s teams-based workforce.

  • EmpMonitor is a cloud-based employee monitoring and team management software that allows you to analyze, measure, and improve the productivity of your staff.
  • Take a cue from the Atlassian Team Playbook and make time for these three activities.
  • Bruce Tuckman, a professor of educational psychology at Ohio State who researched the psychology of group dynamics, developed his stages of team development theory in the 1960s.
  • Having an expert at your side can help you develop a high-performing team.
  • This is the stage when things begin to settle down as your team finds their groove.
  • Instead, promote a positive work environment by emphasizing instances and actions you appreciate and motivating your staff to exhibit more of the same.
  • While these four stages—forming, storming, norming, and performing—are distinct and generally sequential, they often blend into one another and even overlap.

Interpersonal differences begin to be resolved, and a sense of cohesion and unity emerges. Team performance increases during this stage as members learn to cooperate and begin to focus on team goals. However, the harmony is precarious, and if disagreements re-emerge the team can slide back into storming. 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.

Tuckman’s stages of group development

Teams may begin to develop their own language (nicknames) or inside jokes. Having a way to identify and understand causes for changes in the team behaviors can help the team maximize its process and its productivity. The most commonly used framework for a team’s stages of development was developed in the mid-1960s by Bruce W. Tuckman. Our discussion so far has focused mostly on a team as an entity, not on the individuals inside the team. This is like describing a car by its model and color without considering what is under the hood. External characteristics are what we see and interact with, but internal characteristics are what make it work.

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. His new book The Leadership Equation helps leaders achieve strategic clarity, manage change effectively, and build a leadership culture.

Forming Stage

This is the second stage of team development, where the group starts to sort itself out and gain each others’ trust. This stage often starts when they voice their opinions; conflict may arise between team members as power and status are assigned. At this stage there is often a positive and polite atmosphere, people are pleasant to each other, and they may have feelings of excitement, eagerness and positiveness. The leader of the team will then describe the tasks to the group, describe the different behaviours to the group and how to deal and handle complaints. Tolerance of each team member and their differences should be emphasized; without tolerance and patience the team will fail.

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This is often especially crucial during the storming stage when frustrations and tensions start to rise. Establishing strong norms leads to more productive and efficient meetings. Check in with your team to ensure you give them the level of support they need. Ensure they feel confident to approach management for help or reach out to fellow team members for encouragement. ‎Plan an initial meeting to introduce the team members to each other so they can start putting names to faces if they haven’t already.

Principles of Management

This is true whether your team works remotely or works in person. Finally, after months of bickering and trying to avoid accountability, the team has reached the Performing Stage. Now we see the real benefits of teaming emerge as the team concentrates on achieving its goals, driving performance, and sharing roles and responsibilities. Informal experts emerge on the team and members rely on each other’s talents. The Performing Stage coach can now truly empower the team to set its goals and make its own decisions.

four phases of team development

For the team leader, this can be challenging – and requires a deft touch. The team leader may also find that key skills are missing, or that people aren’t committed to being on the team. If you are kicking off a new project, include a project pre-mortem. This gives your team a heads-up by identifying potential risks and challenges, including the steps you’ll need to take to address them. The adjourning stage occurs when the goals have been achieved or the project completed. The team is now highly focused on the project goals and objectives.

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In the norming stage, the team is starting to come together. Team members typically become less polite while storming, especially if frustrations or tensions are starting to mount. While increased conflict is natural at this stage, you may notice some relationships fracturing if the team can’t resolve their issues. You may see excitement and anticipation as the team forms, too. Expect to hear a lot of questions as roles and responsibilities become clarified.

four phases of team development

During the Forming stage, much of the team’s energy is focused on defining the team so task accomplishment may be relatively low. 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. 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 to Help Your Team Progress Through the Stages of Group Development?

The fifth stage of group development, also known as the mourning stage, is the final stage a team will go through. After a project is over or if a team is disbanded, team members who worked together will go into a small mourning period. Group members may have a hard time working with other groups as they had four phases of team development strong group dynamics with their previous team. Because storming can be contentious, members who are averse to conflicts may find it unpleasant or even painful. This can decrease motivation and effort by drawing attention away from tasks. In some cases storming (i.e., disagreements) can be resolved quickly.

four phases of team development