Stages of Team Development

Bruce Tuckman first developed his stages of team development model is 1965 and updated it in conjunction with  Mary Ann Jensen in 1977. The principles laid out in this model still hold true today and cane be applied to both functional teams and project teams.

Forming : 
This stage is when a team first comes together. Team members are unsure about what is expected of them and what is expected of their collegues or, indeed what their collegues are capable of. People are generally eager to avoid conflict at this stage and so tend to what is asked of them by the team leader. The team will require clear direction from you at this stage.

Storming :
This is often seen as a negative stage of a team's development but it is actually an important stage. As a team starts to work together, tension arise. Team members jostle for position within the team, particularly in relation to roles and responsibilities. There will generally be a lack of trust among team members and certain alliances might be formed, especially if some team members have worked together previously.
Your role at this stage is to facilitate the tension, conflicts and working practices within the team to ensure that team members are both comfortable with their own contribution to the team and respectful of their colleagues contributions and capabilities.

Norming :
This is as far as most teams get to. Norms are established and people are comfortable with their own contribution to the team and that of their colleagues. Roles and responsibilites are clear and people are generally competent in their own roles. Team performance is likely to be good and there will normally be a pleasant working environment. It might be that your team does not progress beyond this stage, particularly if there is any staff turnover because as the team dynamic changes the team will then revert back to storming or froming.
Project Teams are unlikely to progress beyond this stage as they are normally focused on getting the job done rather than development which is a key requirement  to take the team to the final stage. Longer -term projects some times provide an exception. If your team stays together you have an opportunity to take them to the next level.

Performing :
When a team reaches this level they are producing excellent results and capable of delivering exceptional outcomes. It is quite are rare situation and yet this should be your goal when striving to become a brilliant leader. Team members are not only competent in their own roles but they have also developed some awareness of each other's role via cross training and ongoing knowledge sharing. There is a high level of trust and loyalty among team members. Your challenge when the team gets to this stage is to maintain motivation and high performance levels by stretching them, encouraging them to innovate and continuously improve existing processes.

Reforming :
Great things must always come to an end. For various reasons teams will eventually change. This could be through  staff turnover, promotion of high performing team members or new joining team because of growth. This change of team dynamic will disruption the team will need to revert back to either the forming of storming stage before it can move forward again.

Tip : When you have high performing team your team members will be in demand. Don't hold them back. It is better to create career opportunities for them in your own organization rather then losing them altogether. If you are seen as a leader who runs  high performance teams and helps people develop their careers there will be no shortage of people wanting to join your team and no shortage of career opportunities.

Team Spirit

One of the overriding factors that helps a team to work synergistic-ally is team spirit. This is the extent to which people are motivated by their team environment. How much do they trust their colleagues ? How strong is their collective identity ? To what extent are they prepared to contribute to the team and support their colleagues ?

Every high-performing team I have ever been a part of has had this in abundance. If there were a magic  ingredient for developing great team spirit I'm sure I could bottle it and become super rich on proceeds. Leading a team according to the principles suggested in this book will certainly help you with developing a good team spirit but there is something more required. It is about getting the team to think as team rather than as a collection of individuals : For them to develop a team identity around a collective vision and mission - a team brand if you like. Achieving this is more challenging than stating it of course, and I would pinpoint the following factors as potential tools that will help you develop an excellent spirit within your team.

Expectation : 
The Leader must provide some expectations for the team in much the same way as individuals need clear expectations to perform. A team vision and mission is fine but it is more important for team members to have a set of ground rules and some collective goals (objective and target) around which they can measure their performance.

Motivation :  
Individuals within the team need to be motivated. This in itself is not a collective action but demotivated individuals will detract from a good team spirit. If there are tensions between team members don't bury you head in the sand hope they will go away - address there issues proactively.

Contribution :
You have responsibility to ensure that each team member is contributing to the team's performance and that any underperformance is addressed swiftly. Carrying unwilling passengers can be most damaging to morale within the team and , worse still, left unattended will cause long lasting resentment.

Collaboration :
Team members have to understand the benefit of collaborating with each other rather than competing. There is no place for one-upmanship in high performing team and, in this respect, individual goals and reward systems need to work in favor of collaboration.

Something Extra : 
Team members should be encouraged to do things as a team. This could be anything from socializing as a team to having their own fantasy football mini - league or book club. Most importantly though, this must come from the team members and not the team leader. You can only support the process by perhaps making the budget available or joining in.

Team away days :
A well-structured, well-run team away day can be a really powerful medium for accelerating team spirit. A shared experience is one of the most powerful ways to bring a group of people together and regard themselves as being part of a team. Typically, an away day should have a combination of serious business and fun activities.