Effective teams are built on establishing a common vision, creating building blocks for communication and collaboration, identifying and planning for roadblocks, and establishing accountability.
Rarely are great business accomplishments the work of just one individual. The problems you face in your organizations are usually too complex to be solved by any one person or discipline. When it comes down to it, the ultimate goal of any team is to solve problems and get things done, whether you are in a project team, a vertical team, or a cross functional team.
You may be creating a new team or establishing a more effective team from an existing group of people. Regardless, you are collectively responsible for the ultimate outcome. Here are the stages you need to complete to form a high performance team:
Stage 1: Formation
The primary goal for the team during the forming stage is to create a team with clear structure, goals, direction and roles so that members begin to build trust. During the forming stage, much of the team’s energy is focused on defining the team and its responsibilities. Team members tend to be optimistic and interested at this stage.
It is often said that an hour of planning will save three hours in execution. The same principle applies to the team cycle. That is, the more thorough and organized we are in the formation stage of the team development, the more likely it is that the team will successfully transition through the stages of stabilization, actualization, and maturation prior to termination.
Stage 2: Stabilization
In this stage, the members learn about each other and the tasks that they have been assigned. They settle somewhat into their roles on the team. Patterns of interaction and communication begin to emerge as team members experience the process of working together. This stage is critical to successful team outcomes. Some teams never experience stabilization.
Stage 3: Integration
Team members feel an increasing acceptance of others on the team, recognizing that the variety of opinions and experiences makes the team stronger and its product richer. Members start to feel part of a team and can take satisfaction from the increased group cohesion. This is the stage for the team to focus on its goals, breaking larger goals down into smaller, achievable steps. The team may need to develop both task-related skills and group process and conflict management skills to smoothly transition to the next stage.
Stage 4: Actualization
During the actualization stage of team development, team members experience an increased sense of comfort in expressing their ideas and feelings. They develop an acceptance of others on the team. During the actualization stage, team members start making a conscious effort to set aside differences and achieve group harmony. Communication is emphasized and becomes more efficient. Team members feel more open to share ideas or ask teammates for help.
Stage 5: Maturation
In the maturation stage of team development, members feel satisfaction in the team’s progress. They share insights and are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. Members feel comfortable with the team’s patterns and processes and feel confident in their individual abilities and those of their teammates. Team members become more accepting of each other and value differences. The commitment and competence of team members is high. Team members continue to deepen their knowledge and skills, including working to continuously improve team development.
Stage 6: Termination (Ending the team)
Some teams, such as project teams or cross-functional teams, come to an end when their work is completed or when the organization’s needs change. It is important for any team to pay attention to the ending or termination process. It is highly likely that at any given moment individuals on the team will be experiencing different emotions about the teams ending.
During the termination/ending stage, some team members may become less focused on the team’s tasks and their productivity may drop. Other team members may find focusing on the task at hand is an effective response to their changing team involvement. Their task productivity may actually increase.