Stages of team development: A short case study

Sam the new CEO of the company wanted to redevelop effective functioning teams in the company. He believes that smoothly functioning teams don’t just happen. They are built by leaders who take specific actions to help people come together as a team. Sam observes that team member’s interaction is not healthy and worst between the cross functional teams relation. Then, he decided to get down to the field and do an interview with his manager to get some feedbacks.

Sam to Finance Manager: How well do your subordinates providing support and contribution to your team?

Finance Manager: In my team, there is much type of members; some are very quiet, some are unhelpful and some are working hard.

Sam: Did they help each others in the task?

Finance Manager: Yes, they did but to certain extend.

Sam: Why this is happening?

Finance Manager: I didn’t know. I had given advice and instruct them to work efficiently as a team.

Sam: How long they have been together as team members?

Finance Manager: Some of them just join a month ago, some four years and also some very long.

Sam: Huh?????(headache)

In this case, Sam does find it hard to identify the best stage of development for the teams because there wasn`t any team development plan during Mr. Max the ex-CEO times.

Sam has decided to re-start the teams’ development plan from the earliest stage called the “forming” stage.

There are five type of team development stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning.


The forming stage of development is a period of orientation and getting acquainted. Team members find out what behaviour is acceptable to others, explore friendship possibilities, and determine task orientation. Uncertainty is high, because no one knows what the ground rules are or what is expected of them. Members will usually accept whatever power or authority is offered by either formal or informal leaders. The leader’s challenge at this stage of development is to facilitate communication and interaction among team members to help them get acquainted and establish guidelines for how the team will work together. It is important at this stage that the leader tries to make everyone feel comfortable and like a part of the team.

During the storming stage, individual personalities emerge more clearly. People become more assertive in clarifying their roles. This stage is marked by conflict and disagreement. Team members may disagree over their perceptions of the team’s mission or goals. They may jockey for position or form subgroups based on common interests. The team is characterized by a general lack unity and cohesiveness. It is essential that teams move beyond this stage or they will never achieve high performance. The leader’s role is to encourage participation by each team member and help people find their common vision and values. Members need to debate ideas, surface conflicts, disagree with one another, and work through the uncertainties and conflicting perceptions about team tasks and goals.

At the norming stage, conflict has been resolved and team unity and harmony emerge. Consensus develops as to who the natural team leaders are, and members’ roles are clear. Team members come to understand and accept one another. Differences are resolved and members develop a sense of cohesiveness. This stage typically is of short duration and moves quickly into the next stage. The team leader should emphasize openness within the team and continues to facilitate communication and clarify team roles, values and expectations.

During the performing stage, the major emphasis is on accomplishing the team’s goals. Members are committed to the team’s mission. They interact frequently, coordinate their actions, and handle disagreements in a mature, productive manner. Team members confront and resolve problems in the interest of task accomplishment. At this stage, the team leader should concentrate on facilitating high task performance and helping the team self-manage to reach its goals.

The adjourning stage occurs in committees and teams that have a limited task to perform and are disbanded afterward. During this stage, the emphasis is on wrapping up and gearing down. Task performance is no longer a top priority and leaders frequently focus on team members’ social and emotional needs. People may feel heightened emotionality, strong cohesiveness, and depression or regret over the team’s disbandment. At this point, the leader may wish to signify the team’s disbanding with a ritual or ceremony, perhaps giving out certificates or awards to signify closure and completeness.

Sam needs to establish new guidelines for the team to work together. He will need to make all the team members, regardless the time period they with the company to feel comfortable and like to be part of the team. He will need to pay more attention to the passive and quiet team members. He can re-motivating them or move them to the other teams which is best suitable them and benefited to the team overall.


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