Stages of Building a Team

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Written by Ethan Russell
on February 06, 2013
This post will explain the different stages of building a team to illustrate what I meant by it taking time and being fragile.  This will be a bit brief as I have opted not to spend one post per stage and drag this out.

At each given stage, I will give a summary sentence, a few characteristics, some questions the team would have, and the role of leadership.  It is also important to note that these stages are outlined in the order they would normally happen.

Stage 1: Forming

The team assembles for the first time and everything is up for grabs.

  • Characteristics:
    • Milling around
    • Polite
    • Superficial Conversation
    • Guarded
    • Watchful
  • Questions:
    • Why has the team formed?
    • What will get me rewarded?
    • What will get me in trouble?

Leadership role is primarily directive.  Pointing people in the right direction until the team can organize itself.

Stage 2: Storming

Members feel free to disagree with each other and leadership.

  • Characteristics:
    • Hostility
    • Infighting
    • Major Moaners
    • Blaming
    • Poor Communication
  • Questions:
    • Who is in charge?
    • How do we arrive at decisions?
    • What are we supposed to do?

Leadership role is primarily coaching.  Directing traffic, setting limits and offering suggestions.



Stage 3: Norming

Team members adjust to one another and become comfortable.

  • Characteristics:
    • Willingness to solve problems
    • Confronting issues
    • Constructive feedback
  • Questions:
    • What is acceptable?
    • What is not acceptable?
    • What are the standards and deliverables?
    • What are the goals?

Leadership begins to fade as important data is shared among team members.


Stage 4: Performing

The team constantly strives to be proactive, anticipate demands, and share in growth.

  • Characteristics:
    • Collaboration
    • Enthusiasm
    • Trust
    • Self-Motivation
    • “Clean” Fights
  • Questions:
    • How can we do our job better?
    • How can we ensure high quality?
    • What’s next?

Leadership of the group depends on everyone and mutual interdependence becomes important.

If you didn’t before, you should now know the team stages, a summary sentence of the stage, a few characteristics, some normal questions, and leadership’s role. Even this little bit of information about team building can be very beneficial, and remove some stress to know what is normal.