Home Concepts Strategy Coaching with Groups and Teams The Journey from Group to Team: Stages of Development and the Human Spectrum

The Journey from Group to Team: Stages of Development and the Human Spectrum

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Stage Four: Performing

In the fourth stage, emphasis is placed on constructive action directed at the successful alignment with the Team’s mission and completion of the accompanying tasks. The group has arrived at the point when it is a Team.  In some sense, the distinction between task and interpersonal behavior fades here, for the energy that was previously invested in interpersonal issues now will be devoted to task fulfillment in service of the mission and greater purpose.

In the area of task behavior, the final stage of Team development may be identified as the emergence of solutions. It is at this stage that genuine attempts are made toward the successful completion of the task. In the area of interpersonal behavior, the fourth stage can be described as functional. Because the subjective issues of interpersonal relationships have been dealt with in the first three stages, Team members can now function objectively as instruments of effective problem solving and creativity. In the realm of task behavior, Team members in the performing stage attempt to answer the question: “How can we successfully complete tasks that are aligned with our mission?” In the realm of interpersonal behavior, Team members attempt to answer the question: “What can each of us contribute to the successful completion of these tasks?”

If Teams develop through predictable stages over time, as Tuckman’s model suggests, then three consequences for Team leaders and members become apparent. First, a recurrent developmental sequence in Teams is in some sense inevitable. The stages will repeatedly cycle back–especially in the case of long-term workgroups. Changes in group membership will occur over time. Organizational or market changes will impact a Team’s circumstances. There will be a change in leadership at the Team or organizational level.  Team members would be well advised to provide time for (renewed) Team development. A high level of task performance cannot be expected from Teams when they return to early stages in their development, or when they fail to work patiently through each of the stages prior to returning to effective Stage Four Team functioning.

Second, leaders can help Teams move smoothly from stage to stage. If a conscious effort is made to help Team members answer the appropriate questions at each stage of the Team’s development, the transition to the performance of Stage Four can be made quickly and directly. Third, this four-stage model of Team development can help Team leaders and members diagnose current problems the Team may be having. These problems are often related to the particular stage of development in which the group finds itself.  Rather than personalizing what may appear to be the behavior of specific group members as conflictive or disruptive, the group can step back. At this point, group members acknowledge that the group is actually facing a collective dynamic that may relate directly to specific developmental stage issues that have received insufficient attention.

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