What are the 5 stages in team development? In a nutshell, team development entails the stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.
Effective teamwork is one of the prerequisites for business success. According to the study offered by Gallup, teams with a higher sense of cohesion are 21% more productive than teams that are not cohesive. While there are many methods to improve team performance, you still need to know the key stages in team development regardless of whether you look for dedicated or in-house teams.
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Let’s take a deeper dive into understanding the phenomenon of team formation and explore 5 team development stages ensuring team cohesion that delivers real results. After all, this report by Deloitte suggests that high-performing teams are 1.9 times more likely to bring profits. In such a case, we will also determine the importance of team formation stages and show how you can improve the process.
What Is Team Formation?
Team formation or development boosts a team’s performance by showing them how common goals can be achieved. In other words, this is all about gathering a group around a shared objective and showing the importance of reaching such a goal. This works for both in-house teams and outsourced ones.
A crucial part of any team development process is to address the challenges such teams face. It can be communication issues, lack of trust, and internal conflicts. Managers and leaders build cohesive teams capable of working together by dealing with these issues.
When it comes to achieving team formation, various instruments can be used. Team-building exercises, skill training, and coaching are effective tools for successful team development. In the process, one should focus on better communication, morale, and conflict resolution.
As a result, team formation exists to bring people together and make them operate as a cohesive group and not some collection of individuals. To undergo such a process effectively, you must be familiar with the stages of team development forming.
What Are the 5 Stages of Team Development?
There are five specific stages of team development. These follow a particular pattern ensuring that a cohesive team is developed through certain steps. So, what are the stages of team formation? The stages are the following:
The forming stage in team development is associated with the excitement of initiating a new project. In most cases, while forming, individuals in the group are on high alert, looking at other team members with caution. During the forming phase, group interaction is based on people behaving deferentially and trying to size up the strengths and weaknesses of others. In general, at this stage, team members tend to be polite and avoid conflict.
At this initial step of team formation, a group leader should open a discussion focusing on the team’s mission and objectives. Besides, during this period, it is important to establish ground rules and clearly depict norms and expectations for both a team and its individual members.
Ensure effective forming stages of team development, starting with a team introductory meeting. A group leader should have an all-hands meeting to introduce all the team members. This is particularly relevant if there are remote team members in the group.
Next, proceed to the skill-set review. While all team members might already know their roles, they are still unfamiliar with other team members’ skills. Introducing the skills of others makes it easier to solve problems later. Namely, because team members will know exactly whom to ask when facing a project-related challenge.
During the team forming stage, there are particular tools you can use. Consider using cloud-based project management software, as well as ensuring all the team members have access to communication software like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams.
When the storming team formation phase takes place, all the politeness and excitement of the forming stage evaporates. In a nutshell, storming is the stage when the first conflicts start to appear. It is when team members express their concerns about communication styles and means of collaboration. Overall, the storming phase is when team members question team processes, and if not handled properly, it can thwart team performance.
Leaders and managers often coin this phase as a necessary evil. Expressing opinions and technology solutions more freely lead to conflict and disagreements as individuals may have different perspectives (Code First vs Design First) and ways (Scrum vs Kanban) of working.
Yet, it is an important stage for leaders and managers to confront emerging issues directly. Ignoring this part of team formation will backfire. Often, even the most minor conflict grows into major challenges. Yet, if you break through the storming stage, team members will get a new perspective on the goals and objectives.
Team leaders can help navigate and resolve conflicts during the storming phase. For instance, instead of letting individuals battle one another in private messages, one can invite both parties into the chat room and mediate the conflict resolution process. Soon enough, other team members will see that conflict is not something they should fear but should look for in a compromise.
Later, when the number of conflicts subsides, it is a sign that the storming stage ends, and the norming team formation phase begins. It is the moment when team members find the best ways to work together regardless of all the differences at play. At this point, people in the group should recognize the contributions others make. When guided correctly, this reignites the excitement of the first team development stage and makes people committed to shared objectives.
This stage signals that group leaders should only wait, evaluate, and intervene when necessary. When working with remote teams, it is vital to anticipate in-time interventions to get expected outcomes closer to the project deadline. Naturally, you need to assist your team, and team members check in with one another. Respectively, ensure daily stand-up meetings and weekly reports are on the way.
Regarding particular tools to use during this team formation stage, emphasize Confluence and Google Meet. The norming phase is best approached through real-time assessment of any changes to team morale. Knowing what happens with the group right away is a direct way to adjust everything accordingly. As a result of this stage team norms and values are established, and members are more committed to the team’s success.
During the previous two stages of team formation, you can see key relationships formed between team members. At this point, people overcome conflict and develop a method to resolve the issues with others. It is the moment when group members shift the focus from interpersonal aspects to team effectiveness. The line between individual and collective performance narrows down with the performing stage.
When group leaders support team members accordingly, soon enough, you will see how personal and collective performance increases. Riding the wave and assessing various team functions is important to further boost team productivity. However, when you push toward greater productivity, ensure adequate rewarding methods are at play to have tools for celebrating success.
As a team leader, during the performing team formation stage, you need to remind team members to check with one another regularly. Encourage people to design and adopt a free-from-interruptions schedule to avoid being derailed by the constant bombardment of notifications regarding some meetings and one-on-ones. This is the final stage of team development, where the team is highly functional and working effectively towards achieving their goals. At this stage, members trust each other, communicate well, and are motivated to work collaboratively towards success.
Finally, there is a point in team formation when team members conclude group functions and start focusing on the process of project finalization. Adjourning stage is when the group emphasizes completing all deliverables and meeting reporting requirements. The moment brings a bittersweet feeling, meaning that the team that undergoes all the stages above is about to start a new assignment or be dispersed.
From the managerial perspective, one can assist team members in navigating the given phase by focusing on team accomplishments. It is a crucial moment for recognizing the challenges the team overcame and the goals it achieved. Step back and take a look at what people achieved as a group. Besides, this process can be accompanied by two aspects:
- Team reviews
- Assessing room for improvement
Basically, you review what the team has done and how effective it was in achieving objectives set at the beginning of team development. Based on the insights, one can detect particular areas for improvement and turn the evidence further into actionable plans the team to follow can learn from.
With the adjourning stage, team formation is finished. As the final part of the team development, set an online meeting to have all the team members discuss the project together. Importantly, when doing so, please ask people to focus on both successes and challenges.
As the final touch, consider these leadership styles as being most suitable for each given team development stage:
- During the forming phase, try democratic leadership to allow team members freely share ideas.
- During the storming stage, applying a directive leadership style is important to keep the team on track.
- During the norming phase, mentoring leadership style is a good option.
- During the performing stage, a delegation leadership style effectively empowers team members.
- During the adjourning phase, focus on the supportive leadership style to make sure everyone on the team feels valued.
With the team development stages above, as well as corresponding leadership styles, it is the moment when we need to explore why care and follow the team formation phases at all.
Why Are the 5 Stages of Team Development Important?
In short, team formation stages are important because they offer a framework for understanding what teams undergo and what they deal with. Equipped with such information, it is possible to make teams more effective. Essentially, each stage has unique aspects, challenges, and advantages. Understanding these gives leaders and managers insights that can later be translated into better team productivity.
Another key point of importance stems from the fact that with the 5 stages of team development, you can better anticipate and prepare for obstacles. It is particularly important when teams face a lack of trust and conflict. As a group leader, you can use the insights from the previous team development processes and employ the tools and methods that work in different scenarios.
The 5 stages of team development are important because team members can better understand their roles and responsibilities. When undergoing all five stages, individuals see what is expected of them in every phase and how their personal perception of team dynamics changes with time. Besides, when team members better grasp their roles and responsibilities, you can notice the group will be more in-sync and cohesive.
Overall, the 5 stages of team development provide roadmap leaders and managers can use to understand how to better tap into team performance. Following the states above is a guideline for turning usual teams into high-performing ones. As a result, you can work out the best way to reach team objectives by putting all these aspects together.
How to Help Your Team Progress Through the 5 Stages of Team Formation
Navigating through 5 stages of team building is not easy. As you might have noticed, different conflicts are involved, especially in the initial phase. It happens because people with different perspectives, cultures, and worldviews come together. Respectively, a group leader’s task is to overcome these differences and ensure the team moves toward a common objective as a cohesive unit.
If team formation steps are handled incorrectly, it can have a direct adverse impact on the group’s progress and productivity. Yet, to ensure this does not happen, there are always some strategies and approaches to deploying.
- One of the strategies to help a team progress through the 5 stages is to outline the group’s purpose, mission, and objectives during the first stage. Yet, remember that these variables need to be retained through all the subsequent phases to ensure that no team member loses sight of common objectives and a purpose.
- The next strategy is establishing the ground rules early in the game. This approach will help your team to move effectively from one phase to the next. To make this happen, team members need to be ready to always listen to one another and have access to a group leader for consultation at all times. For this approach to be successful, keep the communication channels open.
- Going to the next approach, always remember the power of feedback. It is critical for improving the team’s performance when they go through team formation stages. It means that every meeting you have, or every coaching session should end with constructive and positive feedback. This method enables team collaboration and helps individuals vocalize their concerns before they become major challenges.
- Consider creating a positive environment. This is coined as the one where people are encouraged to communicate and be open to various team-building activities. If possible, bring team members together and let them find some shared ideas and insights. This strategy will foster a supportive and inclusive environment.
- While conflicts are integral to team formation, you must learn how to manage them. The best approach toward conflict resolution is all about mediation and open discussions. When the third party is involved, it will be easier for conflicting individuals to appeal to a more objective view.
- Another important strategy for helping your team make it through the stages is all about recognition. Acknowledge and celebrate individual and collective achievements and accomplishments as much as possible. Recognize the efforts of individual team members and the group as a whole.
- Finally, plan for adjourning in advance to help groups progress through gruesome stages of team formation. It means you must prepare all the way to the end of the group’s lifecycle. Often, this entails discussing the future of the team and its new tasks. Make everything possible to preserve positive relationships among team members and leave them on the right track.
The seven strategies above help take the group through team formation phases and help them grow. Each stage has its particular obstacles and things to learn from. Ensure you have proper communication and collaboration tools to promote open discussion and build a culture of trust.
After all, applying the strategies above is way easier than dealing with some major challenges that may take place. Besides, if you are planning to develop a new software product, you need your team to work as cohesively as possible. The lack of communication thwarts team performance. The lack of trust leads to a lack of communication. And the lack of shared purposes undermines the very nature of group effort. In this cycle, every element directly impacts the element after and is impacted by the element coming before.
The 5 stages in team formation are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Each phase is unique and entails its specific risks and advantages. As a team leader, you must be familiar with each stage and view it from different perspectives. Besides, as we presented above, the given team formation stages are important because they bring team cohesion that can be translated into group productivity. Finally, we presented some strategies to ensure you tap into what the 5 stages of team development offer and make it through with your team without any hiccups.
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