Stages of Team 101

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Many years ago I attended a seminar on Situational Leadership and the principles of that process has stuck with me for many years.  It was something that was easily integrated into my training and led to my ultimate philosophy of the various stages of team development.

Teams (and individuals) go through various stages of development as noted by Bruce Tuckman, the psychologist who developed the concepts of the forming, storming, norming and performing phases of team.  I learned those concepts in a little different way in my early career days but the principles are the same.

The founder of our company was a highly visionary man who was committed to developing a team-based culture in his organization.  He invested a large amount of time and money to foster an environment that would promote high functioning teams.  After many years of experiencing the various stages of development,  I have come to describe the four stages of team and individual development as follows:

  1. Stage One is the getting to know you phase … the honeymoon phase where it is fun and exciting with a little dose of apprehension mixed in.  This is where we are learning the basics of the job.  We are so concentrated on learning that there is little time to focus on anything else.
  2. Stage Two is the phase that we used to call the CaCa stage back in the early days of my career.  If you are envisioning a pile of poo, that is the image that best describes this phase. This stage is not fun and is one where we are unhappy, we get on each others’ nerves, we blame, we cry, we get angry…  definitely not the greatest stage of development but is a very necessary stage in development.
  3. Stage Three is where we have moved through the muck and are feeling more confident in ourselves, our abilities and our team.  We begin to produce good results and we learn how to deal with our team-mates in a more positive way.
  4. Stage Four is where everything has come together.  We are in the flow and we are proficient at our jobs.  The results of all the earlier stages’ hard work is finally producing incredible results.

As new responsibilities, job tasks or team members are introduced into a team,  we can (and most likely will) find ourselves moving back and forth within the various stages of development.  The key is to move back into the highest functioning phase (Stage Four) as quickly as possible.

Stay tuned for my next blog post which will outline the most effective leadership styles to  help individuals and teams move  into high functioning as quickly as possible.

What stage of development are you in either as an individual or as a team?

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