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The 5 Stages of Team Development for Growing Companies

The 5 Stages of Team Development for Growing Companies

Onboarding new hires is an involved operation, especially during the scaling process. As new people get hired and new teams get put together, getting a team to gel can be tricky. 

People passing a pole during a team building activity.

Even if you’ve hired the best people for the job, how your teams collaborate with one another can really make or break productivity and morale. This is especially true for remote teams

When team members are all in different places, how can you build a solid foundation for team development?

To get the process rolling, let’s look at the 5 stages of team development and how this framework can help your startup scale.

The 5 stages of team development 

The 5 stages of team development are based on “Tuckman’s Stages,” published in 1965. The product of Bruce Tuckman’s group development and team dynamics research, the five stages of team development are: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning.

Let’s go over each stage: 

Stage 1: Forming 

During stage 1, teams are meeting, learning about each member, and beginning to discuss project goals. 

As the team is new, most members feel dependent on their team lead for direction and guidance during this stage. This is where your management skills really come in — the team leader must be clear about goals and provide distinct direction for the project(s).

Stage 2: Storming

The Storming stage is when tension, conflict, and competition arise. Team members are likely to compete with each other to have their voices heard and their ideas accepted, so progress may be slow. 

Though the storming stage is unavoidable, there’s no need to fear it.

During this time, diplomatic leadership is necessary. The team leader has to be a strong facilitator and unafraid to be firm. By encouraging team members to listen to each other and respect each others’ differences, ideas, and perspectives, you can achieve peace and move forward.

To facilitate successfully, don’t allow anyone  team member to take control of the whole conversation. Encourage all team members to contribute a thought or response and keep the conversation moving along. In time, storming will give way to stage 3: norming.

Stage 3: Norming

During stage 3, the team is settling into a groove. Team members are growing comfortable with one another, and each person’s roles, responsibilities, strengths, and weaknesses are getting clearer.

Thanks to a better understanding of each other’s abilities, team members are able to work better together. There are still stumbling blocks and disagreements, but they don’t derail progress.

At this stage, the team leader may not be as involved with the group as they once were. Decision making and problem-solving are handled by the team, so the team leader transitions into more of a coaching role.

Stage 4: Performing

In stage 4, relationships are strong and there is more trust and camaraderie between team members. With a solid rhythm now in place, work is getting done efficiently, the team is motivated to do a good job, and problem-solving is both quick and effective.

Any disagreements during this stage are more constructive than critical, and don’t stall the project at hand. 

It’s important to note that not every team gets to this phase; many get stuck at stage 3 or may even revert back to earlier stages. 

Stage 5: Adjourning 

Initially, there was no stage 5 of team development. It was added later to encompass the end of the project. 

During this stage, it’s important to make time to celebrate the team’s success on the project and discuss best practices for the future. This is the time to have a post-mortem meeting about what worked, what didn’t, and how to learn from those mistakes.

When looking at all 5 stages of team development, it’s important to remember that at the core of each stage is the team itself. It’s a challenging process, one that is even more difficult in the case of remote teams. However, with a little nurturing, guidance, and hard work, any team can come together and make it happen.

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