Supporting Team Development

Did you know that there are distinct stages of team development, just like there are stages of child development?

In this month’s newsletter, we explore ways to effectively onboard new employees. However, your work does not stop there.  As team members work together over time, their relationship to the team and as a team, evolves. 

According to phycologist Bruce Tuckman, there are 5 stages of team development:

  • Forming – As a team is forming, members of the team display different emotions.  Some are excited, some are anxious, some may be hesitate or even confused about the work they will be asked to do.  They will depend on leadership for direction and guidance. Activities that allow team members to get to know one another, communicate, and build trust are vital at this stage.
  • Storming – As teams begin to work together on tasks, leaders may notice conflicts or differences of opinions are common. People have different values and approaches to problem solving.  This can cause team members to clash with one another, divide amongst themselves, or give up due to undue stress.
  • Norming – As team members work through their differences and learn to communicate more effectively with one another, they start to come together as a cohesive team. Now, the goals of the team are front and center, rather than individuals’ opinions or ideas.  Compromise and collaboration are key indicators of the norming stage of a team.
  • Performing – During this stage, a bulk of the work can occur with everyone onboard. Team members are aligned with the goals and vision of the project.  Most tasks can be completed independently by team members, while leaders focus on coaching and building skills.
  • Adjourning – Once the project is complete, the team may stop meeting, as you might see happening with sub-committees. Adjourning may also occur is one or more team members leave a long standing team, which is what happens when employees turn over. This can be a disruptive and upsetting time for team members, who have built important relationships with one another. 

Keep these stages of team development in mind as you work with newly established teaching teams, staff meeting subcommittees, and family committees. How you plan activities and respond to team members will depend on the team’s stage of development.