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This blog was posted in my LinkedIn Profile on August 31st,  2017

Understanding the life cycle of team development helps to build a team. What does this have to do with you? A lot! While the phrase “team building” might connote corporate work groups or other endeavors outside your wheelhouse, you’d be surprised how widely applicable this knowledge is. Even two people with a common goal make a team! Teams include small business associates, school classrooms, sports teams, or even family units. The underlying principles behind successful team development is beneficial to any and all collaborative endeavors.

A good place to start on this road is with Tuckman’s theory on team development which specifies 5 distinct stages of the process: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. This framework describes the life cycle of a team.

At the forming stage, trust is under construction and people are cautious. Building consensus with group agreements, goals, strategies, and tasks creates trust and common direction.

At the storming stage, team members feel safe enough to express divergent opinions. Thus upsets and disagreements are not only inevitable but also healthy at this stage. However such dissension requires resolution before the group can move to the next stage. This process is necessary and important. Sometimes a team remains stuck at this stage for a long time – particularly when its leader doesn’t have the capacity to handle such challenges. Other teams skip this stage all together if conflict is too intense or if leaders are too tyrannical. However the outcomes of becoming stuck and/or avoiding conflict all together point to work that needs to be done. Successfully experiencing and overcoming this “storming stage” is critical to establishing healthy communication patterns and overall strengthening the team.

At the norming stage, common goals are clear and team members are willing to move forward with accountability. Sometimes at this stage, team members are so focused on achieving their goals, they might not voice their opinions. This is important to monitor. Important communication might be missing in this instance which could hurt the team’s overall performance.

At the performing stage, a team is self-sufficient and can make its own decisions without depending on a leader’s guidance. Team members are motivated and goals are met through team work.

At the adjourning stage, a team achieves its goals and members can move on to other teams.

As technology and especially automation evolves, teamwork and collaboration, uniquely human skills, are becoming more and more prized. Hopefully this information can kick off a fresh framework to prepare you for the future. So give it a try! We are all on a few teams right now- each likely at a different stage. Begin cultivating conscious reflection and awareness on what stage your teams are on, and the role you play within them. You might be surprised what valuable lessons and indispensable skills you gather in this process.

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