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Stages of Team Development

Beyond Tuckman

Stages of Team Development

Beyond Tuckman

Understanding the stages of team development is essential for any manager trying to build an effective team.

Recognising that teams need different things at different phases of their development is an important start, but how do you start up a team and get it performing quickly, and what pitfalls do you need to avoid?

To better answer these questions we combine a team stages approach with our STAR team performance model. This article is the first in our Team Building Through the Stages series. It begins by outlining each team stage, providing you with a route map for developing a team that performs.

The Team Stages Model
Stages of team development

The Team Stages Model

This model has four main phases:

  1. Creating a team
  2. Developing a team
  3. Performing and achieving results with a team
  4. Sustaining performance – high performing teams

There is a final stage which involves how to effectively disband a team at the end of its useful life. In addition there can be three problematic phases in team development:

  • Forcing a team – where there is too much emphasis on driving towards the results at the expense of the team
  • Exhausting teams – where individuals don’t operate as a team and pursue their own agendas
  • Teams that are “dorming” where there is too much emphasis on the “team” and not enough “work” being done
Team Development

The second of the stages of team development moves the team from the start-up phase to the developing phase. Here the emphasis moves towards building individuals into a team with complementary strengths. For teams to work, the strengths of individuals need to be combined so that together they can achieve more than if they were to do the activities as individuals. We develop these ideas in our article:

A potential difficulty with individuals in a team is highlighted in our article:

Performing and Sustaining Results with a Team

The third and fourth stages of team development moves towards performance and how to sustain it. Performance requires individual strengths to be used to the best advantage of the team, so that collectively more is achieved than would be independently. A leader’s role will be to stimulate individual strengths and team strengths.

Delivering sustained, high performance places an emphasis on synergy; finding the connections and combinations which together achieve significantly more. This emphasis increases as the team rises to new challenges and as individuals enhance the strengths they already have.

We propose approaches to encourage performance and to sustain performance in our articles:

A particular issue as teams move from the developing stage toward performance is that they may get too comfortable and focus too much on the relationships in the team, and not enough on the results and performance required by the team. We discuss this in our article:

A final team stage recognises that teams may be set up for a finite project and that when a specific task is completed the team may come to an end. How you begin and start a team is of course crucial, but the importance of ending well should not be forgotten. We discuss the importance of ending well in our article: “Disbanding teams.”

Whilst all teams will have their differences, the stages of team development provide useful guidance for both team members and team leaders.

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. To read more of about our teamwork concept – the STAR team model- see our articles:

For a more general introduction to team a good place to start might be to think through why is teamwork important , or you may want to think about how you define teamwork or reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

Building better teams

Teams e-guidesIf you want to put our teamwork concept into action, you’ll find more information and a wealth of practical resources, in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions

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