Mastering 5 Stages of Group Development with a Strengths Perspective

Forming a new team is always associated with a certain degree of risk, which eventually determines the success of the project. The risk is that having talented high-performing individuals on your team does not equal having a high-performing team. 

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman, a prominent researcher of group dynamics, suggested the theory, which explained much about team development.

According to Tuckman, ever since the strangers are selected into a new team, the group starts going through 5 recognizable stages of group development – forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning

Tuckman’s theory has received much acclaim and is now universally covered in all MBA programs.  

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Why Are The 5 Stages of Team Development Important?

A high-functioning team does not happen effortlessly during the performance stage. It needs to be cultivated. The team members need to go through the forming, storming, and norming stage before getting to that level. Putting a group of talented people together does not guarantee success too.

It is essential to determine whether each individual has the right fit. Understanding Tuckman’s stages can increase the likelihood of developing a high-performing team.

The five stages of group development are critical because it ensures that all the team members are working together to achieve the project’s goal. The emphasis is on building a team that will flourish and helps the organization to achieve long-term success.

Participating in the stages of team growth is vital in helping team members to learn about their roles and responsibilities. Group development also provides the team with a chance to learn about the rest of the team’s talents which contributes to the team dynamics.

5 Stages of Team Development Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing & Adjourning

List of 10 Benefits of Team Development

  1. Cultivate a performance-driven organization
  2. Networking and understanding each other better
  3. Improve teamwork and boost team performance
  4. Create fun and motivating work environment
  5. Create collaboration and foster a culture of innovation and creativity
  6. Hold each other accountable for their responsibilities
  7. Improve company’s organizational culture
  8. Improve employees’ inter-department/function relationships
  9. Improve employee engagement and morale
  10. Help employees discover their strengths and areas of development

Which Stage is Your Team In?

If you form a new team, the answer is simple.

But what if you have been invited to manage the team that has already been working together for some time? How can you know what stage it is in? 

Having read the description of the stages, you might already understand what signs to look for. Can you spot excitement, uncertainty and unusual politeness between the members of the team? Is there much conflict and competition? Do individuals display trust and unity

All these are good clues that will make you know.  

Still, your views may be subjective and not coincide with how other members of the team see the situation. Thus, it is better to discuss this question with the team. 

If there is a positive atmosphere in the team and members communicate well, hold an open discussion or a strengths team meeting. This will help team members hear the concerns of each other and suggest steps that will help them move to a new level. If individuals don’t show much trust or positive thinking, you may discuss the situation individually with each member or run an anonymous survey (in large teams).

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Stage One of Team Development: Forming Stage

Forming is the first stage of team development. Imagine yourself on the first day of your new job or meeting your group mates for the first time for a course assignment. These feelings you feel are similar to how a newly formed team will feel.

In the beginning, the team starts by introducing themselves, and everyone is polite and friendly. The atmosphere is very positive; everyone is enthusiastic about being involved in a new project and getting to know each other.

During this stage, you can discuss:

Each member’s skill-set. Understanding your strengths and skills is insufficient if you are working in a team. You will also need to know what are the other team members’ unique skill sets and the role they play in the project.

Fully understanding everyone’s role and responsibilities allows the team to solve problems quickly. They also know who to reach out to for specific information or advice.

Project and result overview: As the team lead or project lead, you need to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how they contribute to making the project a success.

In your first meeting, spend additional time explaining and setting your expectations about the goals and deadline of the project. Creating a safe environment where team members are encouraged to ask questions or share their opinions openly will help in ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction.

Project timeline: Make sure that each team member knows the amount of time they have for each task. Break down the larger goals of the project into smaller milestones. Then assign the tasks with a clear deadline to each team member according to their strengths and skills.

As the group becomes more acquainted, positions and duties will emerge. Team members must understand their roles and begin building relationships with others.

This stage focuses primarily on understanding and developing relationships between team members. Thus, it is unlikely for the team to be highly productive at this stage.

5 Stages of Team Development - Forming Stage

Stage Two of Team Development: Storming Stage

Once the team members become familiar with each other, it is almost similar to being in a relationship. You may find the person is flawless and perfect at the beginning. But as you spend more extra time with the person, you start discovering that they’re not.

That’s when you must either learn to accept them for who they are or risk ending the relationship abruptly. During the storming stage, the initial enthusiasm and politeness are mostly gone.

Everyone starts to realize the deliverables and tasks at hand that they must deliver before the deadline. The initial enthusiasm and urge to be courteous have most likely gone off.

In this stage, members’ personalities may collide. They may start having disagreements about how to do a task or express their concerns if they think someone is not doing their fair share of work.

Members with a dominant personality may even challenge the project leader’s authority or leadership. It is crucial to note, however, that most teams will encounter conflicts or disagreements.

As a leader, your role is to remind your team members that conflicts are natural. Disagreements occur because each team member has a unique viewpoint on how to address the difficulties that the entire team faces.

Some entrepreneur teams bypass the storming stage entirely or look to avert conflicts at all costs. Remember that avoiding conflicts tends to cause the problem to worsen. So, it is important to recognize conflicts and work together to find common ground and move forward as a team.

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Stage Three of Team Development: Norming Stage

Team members begin to see and appreciate the contribution and strengths of their team members during the norming stage. Everyone is on the same page, working together as a team.

Of course, there will still be some habits or personalities that you may find others irritating. But you learn to appreciate them for who they are and what they contribute to the team and project with their skills.

Storming and norming can occasionally coexist. As new tasks emerge, the team may start having conflicts or disagreements again. But because the team has experience dealing with conflicts before, all of you will be better at managing them this time.

Stage Three of Team Development: Norming Stage

Stage Four of Team Development: Performing Stage

Making it to the fourth stage: the performing stage is a big deal! It means that you are getting closer to success. At this stage, team members are independent and motivated to work on their tasks without much supervision.

Compared to the previous stages, everyone is much more in-sync and working efficiently toward the project’s end goal. As the leader, ensure that you consistently check in with your team members.

By doing so, you can ensure everything is going on the right track and provide support or guidance when necessary. Your main role here is to keep everyone’s momentum going to make sure the project completes on time.

Stage Five of Team Development: Adjourning Stage

When the team is at the adjourning stage, it is usually when the project is soon to be completed. The conclusion of a project can be very discouraging for a high-performing team.

This is because the team members who have worked together closely over the past few weeks or months have no choice but to go their separate ways. The adjourning stage is also where you and your team members take a moment to reflect and look at what all of you have achieved.

During the conclusion of the project, you can discuss the whole project journey with your team members. Allow each team member some time to share their experiences. Seek their opinions on what went well and what didn’t go well to identify areas of improvement.

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Good Examples of Team Development in the Workplace

Identifying Issues

Problems such as poor communication or underlying tension between team members can hinder a team’s performance. Plan development initiatives to help improve the team’s communication and find ways to reduce workplace tensions.

Schedule weekly team meetings to have each team member report their weekly achievement and highlight any roadblocks they faced. Cultivate an environment where team members can share any information freely to help the team solve problems quickly.

You can also introduce an open door policy to encourage team members to share their concerns with you.

Good Examples of Team Development in the Workplace

Setting Expectations

A leader must evaluate their team’s standards. Your team’s behavioral expectations may be different from another team. For example, a team may emphasize submitting work on time but ignore the quality of the work submitted.

Hence, as a leader, you need to set the behavioral and work expectations clearly to your team members before initiating a new project.

Lack of clarity

When working on a project, team members need to understand clearly what their roles and responsibilities are. When team members are unsure about their goals, it can create role ambiguity and waste their energy working on unrelated tasks.

To ensure all the team members understand your expectations, schedule time to talk about the project’s requirements. Check-in weekly with them so that you can monitor their work progress, clarify and eliminate any confusion they may have regarding their tasks or project.

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4 Activities for the Different Stages of Group Development

1. Establish a clear purpose and mission statement

What is the purpose of your team or company? What values are important to you? What problem are you going to solve and why? A clear purpose and mission statement will help you to answer all these questions.

Every company has its vision, mission, and values that everyone in the company must uphold. It is the framework that will guide everyone’s decision-making. Without these, you or the organization will lose its direction.

When individuals become so engrossed in a task, they may forget why they are doing it in the first place. It’s difficult to keep sight of the “big picture”. For a team to progress, you will need to ensure everyone is aware of the goals.

As a leader, you should reinforce the purpose and mission to your team regularly.

4 Activities for the Different Stages of Group Development

2. Establish ground rules and make sure everyone follows them

Most people don’t like rules, but they are here to help remove any uncertainty and improve the quality of work. Without them, nobody knows what constitutes appropriate behavior in the workplace.

Everyone has their preference and way of doing things. Without rules, teams become disorganized and susceptible to conflicts. Their work productivity will also be affected. Thus, establishing ground rules should be one of the first tasks for any team.

3. Allow other members the opportunity to facilitate or lead discussions

Every team should have a leader who is responsible for leading and guiding meetings. They are in charge of making sure everyone is motivated and working efficiently toward a common goal.

Being a team leader doesn’t mean that you are the only person who should always take the lead during meetings or discussions. It is exhausting enough to lead a team. If you try to accomplish everything on your own, you will experience burnout.

Sometimes a more qualified team member can facilitate a particular discussion better than you. So, you should give them the opportunity to lead those sessions.

4. Everyone must contribute and participate in team meetings

The purpose of forming a team is to collaborate and fulfill the team’s objectives and goals. Everyone has a role to play and contribute towards achieving the goals. It is critical to foster an open and transparent environment within the team.

Creating a safe space allows team members to participate in team meetings and be unselfish with their knowledge to solve problems and achieve goals quickly.

Effective Team Development with Project Management Software & Tools

Effective Team Development with Project Management Software & Tools

It is worth noting that the usage of project management tools can help expedite the process of a team working together. Project management software enables a team to cooperate, communicate, and execute work efficiently.

Here is a list of three project management tools to assist your team in collaborating more effectively.

1. Jira 

Is an agile project management software used to plan, monitor, and deploy software. It is a popular tool that was created for agile teams. Users can monitor bugs, deploy up-to-date software and enable teams to establish their workflows. It can be integrated with third-party tools, which allow teams to manage their projects and products from the beginning to completion.

2. Wrike

Is an award-winning work management software used for real-time collaboration, planning and monitoring projects, and automating reports. Gantt charts, Kanban boards, customizable dashboards, and custom request forms are Wrike’s 100% scalable features. Wrike also provides time tracking, budget management, and project portfolio analysis. Users’ data are also kept safe with Wrike’s enterprise-level security capabilities.

3. TeamWork

Is a fantastic online platform that alleviates many pain points associated with project management. TeamWork provides users with an interface to access all the tools they require to manage their projects and milestones. Project managers or business owners can also monitor their team members’ time and workloads, track approaching project deadlines, issue invoices to clients for billable work, and much more.

4. MeisterTask

MeisterTask is a basic but effective Kanban framework that simplifies project management. This intuitive and straightforward online task management tool is a popular choice for organizations that value clear visual design and user experience.

It is extensive collaborative features like watching, mentioning, tagging, and task scheduling make it easy and fun for users to work with their colleagues both in-house and from home. MeisterTask is fast and logical because of its automation and integration with tools such as G Suite, Slack, and GitHub.

5. Basecamp

Basecamp is a well-known project management software utilized by many project management teams. This software provides a variety of collaboration capabilities, such as a specific discussion space where users can submit comments.

Users will also receive a status update or overview of the projects your team is currently working on. If you can’t find something, you may take advantage of this software’s excellent search engine to find your files.

However, this project management tool doesn’t provide users with milestones and customization choices. Users cannot specify an estimated timeline for a work to be completed or assign the work to multiple users.

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Stages Of Group Development FAQ

What are the five stages of group development quizlet?

You can find great resources about group development online. For instance, Quizlet is one way to learn more about Tuckman’s ideas in the five stages of group development.

Quizlets will outline the following stages and their meanings: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

What is Bruce Tuckman’s theory?

In 1965, Tuckman introduced the five stages of team development theory named “Tuckman’s Stages”. The theory was built based on the team dynamics research he conducted.

He suggested that these stages were unavoidable for every high-performing team to work together successfully and produce high-quality outputs.

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