5 Stages of Successful Team Development

5 Stages of Successful Team Development

A team is made up of individuals that work collectively in order to achieve set goals and objectives. Members may have similar or diverse skill sets that are relevant to the mission of the group. For example; in the creative department of an advertising agency; there can be artists, graphic designers, writers, supervisors, etc. Everyone has a relevant role to play in order to team development, no matter how small.

However, in this guide, we are focused on the team as a whole and not the individuals. There is much to learn about team development stages, and ways to make your team successful. Read on.

5 Stages of Team Development

Team development is a process that takes the time and dedication of every member of the group. Everyone has to learn to get along for the sake of effective cooperation. Leaders may have to put in more effort than others because of the supervisory role they play.

Every member of the group needs to be familiar with the team-building stages for the entire process to yield the best results. We can use the 5 stages of team development as described by Bruce Tuckman—an American psychological researcher. These stages were explained to support his theory called “Tuckman’s stages of group development”. See them below.

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

We are not sure if Tuckman was trying to rhyme when he was naming the first four stages of team formation. Regardless, you are about to understand why he named each of them so. It is worth mentioning that the naming style makes each item easy to memorize.

Before discussing each team development stage, we will look at a diagram showing how team effectiveness is supposed to be throughout the process…

1. Forming

This is the initial team development stage. Here, members introduce themselves and try to understand why the group has been formed. For example, introduction through stating of names and skill sets. Individual differences will threaten cooperativeness leading to the storming stage.

2. Storming

This is said to be the most challenging one among the stages of team formation. It is of crucial importance because it can be riddled with conflicts due to differences in opinions and/or competitiveness. This stage is characterized by low performance.

Some members may waste their energy on pursuing selfish interests, rather than concentrating on progress and productivity. For example, a person may want to assert unauthorized control over the group.

The way forward is for everyone to agree to seek a solution as quickly as possible. If not, deeper problems that can cause long-term conflicts may develop.

3. Norming

The successful endurance of the “stormy” nature of the storming stage will lead to the norming stage. The need for a leader that will direct the affairs of the group will arise. For example, an election may be conducted involving the raising of hands.

The elected leader will, in turn, define the team’s objectives and assign roles. Unity can be achieved this way. However, there should be cautious not to let the situation deteriorate back to the storming stage due to conflicts that may emerge.

4. Performing

Here, the team is well-organized and bonding is complete. Based on the chart presented above, team effectiveness is usually high at this point. The leader can simply handle any conflict that may arise by employing the right conflict management style to get everyone on the same page. For example, he or she can opt for either the collaborative conflict management style or the compromising conflict management style.

5. Adjourning

This is the last of the team development stages. Here, nearly all of the objectives have been attained. The major focus will be on completing the remaining assignments and evaluating the team’s performance. Some members may be transferred to other teams if their contributions are no longer needed.

For example, a committee that is set up to organize an anniversary ceremony in an organization may be disbanded on completion of the assignment. Each member will then resume their original duties.

The team may decide to disband if there are no more projects for them, or embark another mission. If there is a fresh assignment for them—depending on whether new members are brought into the mix or not—the cycle of the team building stages restarts or returns to the storming stage.

How to Build a Successful Team

In a study, it was gathered that over 95% of executives and workers are of the view that lack of cooperation within a team affects the results of collaborative efforts on a project. This is one of the reasons a team leader needs to understand what it takes to build a successful team—apart from knowing what the team development stages entail.

If you are a manager, entrepreneur, or business owner; then you can be referred to as a team leader. When the group is successful, it means that you will be seen as a successful leader. Help yourself to the 7 tips below.

  1. Give others a chance at leadership
  2. Have a definite vision
  3. Make strict rules
  4. Encourage idea sharing
  5. Motivate each member
  6. Tackle conflict head-on
  7. Observe the team’s progress

1. Give Others a Chance at Leadership

Sometimes, a team may not have a leader from the very beginning. It will be necessary to select one for the sake of order. You can choose a facilitator to preside over meetings. Being the business owner does not necessarily mean that you have to be the one to lead the team. You can delegate authority to others. Leaders should assign some key roles to others to avoid bearing too many responsibilities alone.

2. Have a Definite Vision

Your vision needs to be clear for the team to set its goals and objectives correctly. Ensure that every member understands the values and aims of the group. This will give everyone a sense of direction. Remind them of their ultimate mission regularly.

3. Make Strict Rules

Ensure that the rules of the team are adhered to by every member. Everyone must act and work in accordance with the laid down regulations if cooperation must be maintained. Good interpersonal communication skills are necessary for everyone to be on the same page.

4. Encourage Idea Sharing

Let each person feel as important as everyone else. Nobody should feel left out of the decision-making processes. Encourage members to give their opinions and ensure that there is mutual respect. For starting any discussion, try for icebreaking so that everyone feels comfortable and engaged.

5. Motivate Each Member

The failure of one member of the team can lead to the overall failure of the project. This is why leaders should carry everyone along. Make each member understand how vital their role is to the ultimate goal, so that they can have a sense of responsibility.

6. Tackle Conflict Head-On

Expect conflicts to occur because of individual differences. Not everybody thinks the same way, so expect members to disagree on some issues.  As the leader, try to be as objective as possible by weighing each person’s views. Dealing with conflicts and finding solutions to them will make the bonding process of the group effective at the penultimate team development stage.

7. Observe the Team’s Progress

As you go through the team-building stages, find time for performance evaluation. This way, you can discover strengths and weaknesses (including yours). Your next line of action will be to commend efforts, suggest any need for improvement, and proffer solutions to perceived challenges. Do this in a positive way with words of encouragement.  Also, always ask for feedback.


Developing a team is not a walk in the park. Talent and experience are not enough to guarantee that an individual will be a good fit for the team. As a leader, you should not be afraid to build the group from scratch. Guide everyone in the process of bonding through the stages of team formation.

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