Why the 5 Stages of team development matter for your rganization

Krista Krumina 17.02.2022
An illustration of colleagues in a business meeting discussing team development

From coaching services to mentorship sessions, many companies put significant effort in team development strategies to build more cohesive teams, while creating a better work environment that drives motivation and commitment from their employees.

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According to statistics

  • Motivated workers outperform those with low engagement by 202%, with 94% of the entrepreneurs saying that a healthy atmosphere at work is vital for success. 
  • Although good leadership is often associated with good communication, only 28% of executives seem to understand their company’s culture and drive more engagement from their employees.

As a team leader in your business, encouraging collaboration, giving positive feedback, or establishing well-defined roles will help you to improve the relationships within your team. Therefore, focusing on group development will add value to your company’s culture while keeping high-performance rates.

But what exactly is team development? And why is it so important? 

Let’s dig in.

What is team development?

A team is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. Like any collective effort, it’s easier to reach a goal if there is a positive synergy between the individuals. Therefore, we can define team development as: 

  • The proactive effort to cultivate synergies and help employees work together more efficiently while adding value to the company’s strategy for success.

In other words, a business needs to have a consistent team working on the same page, where members can support each other by complementing their strengths and weaknesses.

The importance of team development

Sometimes we assume that because highly talented people work together, they should naturally perform efficiently and in harmony. But that is rarely the case. 

Building a well-defined, engaged, and motivated team is essential to pursue a common goal and achieve success.

For example, we tend to think about managers and employees as two worlds apart that are not connected, like:

  • Managers are in charge of leading the business strategy and delegating tasks 
  • Employees are responsible for completing tasks and performing according to their roles

But a team needs something more than just a well-designed strategy and a good set of goals to be productive. 

Making sure your workplace has a healthy culture of teamwork that fosters authentic engagement is key to achieving better results that increase employee loyalty. 

That said, developing a successful team formation is a process that requires time and patience, as sometimes it can be difficult for members to adapt to each other. 

Now let’s look at the different stages of development every team grows into when working together in a given project:

A close-up of an employee in a team meeting

The 5 stages of team development and behaviour

According to the American psychologist and researcher Bruce W. Tuckman, these 5 stages of group development are inevitable and necessary for every team to grow while facing challenges and finding solutions in a healthy work environment – forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

Published in 1965, the “Tuckman’s Model of Team Development” represents how human relations evolve in a natural progression of awareness, change, and adaptation:

Stage 1: Forming

Team members meet and are introduced to each other, sharing their skills and backgrounds. They also receive instructions on managing their roles and responsibilities within the team.

Stage 2: Storming

In this second stage, team members become more comfortable sharing their ideas openly with others, and personality clashes might occur. That’s why proper communication and empathy are essential to solving possible issues and conflicts that might put the project at risk.   

Stage 3: Norming

People start to value and embrace each other, paying attention to the other members’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. Since they have already dealt with disagreements before, it becomes easier to approach each other and cooperate.

Stage 4: Performing

The best performing stage for every team working together in a business project. All members are motivated and confident in their roles and responsibilities, as they feel comfortable enough to cooperate smoothly.

Stage 5: Adjourning

Facing difficulties, challenges and successes, members grow together and build a sense of belonging. When the project ends, members disband, and a sense of loss might arise. This stage is known as “Adjourning,” as the team relationship becomes adjourned or simply ends.

Now that we understand what team development is and the different stages it goes through, let’s have a look at how to approach it as a successful strategy for your business:

Two employees having a discussion and taking notes on their devices

How to implement a successful team development strategy for your business

Managers, company owners, or individual entrepreneurs are usually seen as team leaders by default, taking full responsibility for every failure and success in their organization. 

But sometimes, we forget that team leadership and group development are not the same

For example:

  • Managers are not supposed to have excellent leadership skills to perform their duties
  • Conversely, good leaders may not be experts on managing their teams effectively

Therefore, building a successful team requires more than managing and delegating tasks – it needs good leadership and communication.

Here are some valuable techniques to bring your team development strategy to the next level:

Define a mission and shared goals

No person is better than another, and no team member is greater than the entire team.

If a person focuses on their own agenda, that will probably affect the team’s general performance and effectiveness in following the defined strategy.

Being a leader, you should recognize individual pursuits and reorientate them to fit the common strategy previously agreed by all team members. 

Defining a mission statement all members should commit to is an excellent way to ensure all employees will be on the same page.

When looking to define a clear mission for your business, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your business goals? 
  • What is the competitive value of your company? 
  • What strategy should the team follow?
  • What solution/s will your business bring to the table?

Having a clear mission gives direction and focus, allowing team members to understand their shared goals while cooperating.

Colleagues having a conversation in an office on team development

Establish ground rules and responsibilities

We all do things in different ways, and that’s natural and understandable. But when working in a team of diverse people, all members must stay on the same page. 

Establishing a set of ground rules each member must commit to is key to building a successful team that stays motivated and performs efficiently.

For example:

  • Phone calls won’t be allowed during business meetings
  • Members should commit to their tasks and responsibilities
  • Employees must act professionally and treat each other with respect
  • Communication between members should be open and professional

Moreover, team members should clearly understand their roles and their responsibilities

Being unsure about their position and duties will affect their performance and efficiency, so each team should clearly define their functions before the project starts.

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Give constructive feedback

Feedback and evaluation are fundamental techniques to keep work consistent and achieve better results as a team. As a leader, your mission is to observe and evaluate how your team functions together and provide feedback when something needs improvement.

Five ways to give feedback constructively:

  • Schedule 1 to 1 meeting sessions to discuss any issues in private 
  • Use the correct tone and be positive when delivering your message
  • Be clear on your expectations by providing specific examples
  • Focus on using a growth mindset and be supportive 
  • Motivate improvement by recognizing their achievements

When giving feedback, always suggest a solution, alternative, or advice to your team members, so they can understand what needs to be improved. 

Criticism should empower your team, not discourage it. 

Therefore, creating an open, non-judgmental workplace is essential to ensuring that team members keep motivated and understand their feedback correctly.

Support your team

A good working environment is a must for team members to feel valued and drive their best performances. However, providing support shouldn’t be limited to team members only:

Team leaders also need help from their fellow members, as driving a business project is not easy. 

When thinking about successful team development, it’s essential to think of a team as an equal unity, where both managers and employees should feel comfortable working side by side.

A woman laugihing in a workplace meeting

Your people – the best value

To succeed in creating a team development strategy that is effective for your business, it’s not enough to have a big project and well-defined goals.

In the end, it’s your people who will bring your business to life

As a leader of a business organization, you need to define a vision, common goals, and a clear strategy that motivates high engagement and commitment within your team. 

Lacking the ability to do so might not affect your business plans immediately, but it will undoubtedly put its strategy and productivity at risk if not taken seriously. 

On the contrary, a well-connected team that supports each other guarantees success for you and your company, no matter the obstacles your business will have to deal with along the way.

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