When developing a team, it helps a great deal to have some basic sense of the stages that a typical team moves through when evolving into a high-performing team. Awareness of each stage helps leaders to understand the reasons for members’ behavior during that stage, and to guide members to behavior required to evolve the team into the next stage.
Members first get together during this stage. Individually, they are considering questions like, “What am I here for?”, “Who else is here?” and “Who am I comfortable with?” It is important for members to get involved with each other, including introducing themselves to each other. Clear and strong leadership is required from the team leader during this stage to ensure the group members feel the clarity and comfort required to evolve to the next stage.
During this stage, members are beginning to voice their individual differences, join with others who share the same beliefs, and jockey for position in the group. Therefore, it is important for members to continue to be highly involved with each other, including to voice any concerns in order to feel represented and understood. The team leader should help members to voice their views, and to achieve consensus (or commonality of views) about their purpose and priorities.
In this stage, members are beginning to share a common commitment to the purpose of the group, including to its overall goals and how each of the goals can be achieved. The team leader should focus on continuing to clarify the roles of each member, and a clear and workable structure and process for the group to achieve its goals.
In this stage, the team is working effectively and efficiently toward achieving its goals. During this stage, the style of leadership becomes more indirect as members take on stronger participation and involvement in the group process. Ideally, the style includes helping members to reflect on their experiences and to learn from them.
5. Closing and Celebration
At this stage, it is clear to members and their organization that the team has achieved its goals (or a major milestone along the way toward the goal). It is critical to acknowledge this point in the life of the team, lest members feel unfulfilled and skeptical about future team efforts.