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Phases of Team Development (Update for 2021)

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Abstract

Teams (agile or otherwise) go through phases of development, and Bruce Tuckman established a popular framework on the subject. According to Tuckman, all phases—Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning—are necessary for teams to grow, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results. Scott M. Graffius developed a related custom illustration, Phases of Team Development, which he revises periodically. He released an updated version of the visual on January 4, 2021. This article features the new version of the Phases of Team Development illustration along with a brief overview of the characteristics and strategies for each phase. Five Phases of Team Development 1. Forming Characteristics of Forming include displaying eagerness, socializing, generally polite tone, sticking to safe topics, being unclear about how one fits in, and some anxiety and questioning. Strategies for this phase include taking the ‘lead,’ being highly visible, facilitating introductions, providing the ‘big picture,’ establishing clear expectations, communicating success criteria, and ensuring that response times are quick. 2. Storming Traits of Storming include resistance, lack of participation, conflict related to differences of feelings and opinions, competition, high emotions, and starting to move towards group norms. Strategies for this phase include requesting and encouraging feedback, identifying issues and facilitating their resolution, normalizing matters, and building trust by honoring commitments. 3. Norming Features of Norming include an improved sense of purpose and understanding of goals, higher confidence, improved commitment, team members are engaged and supportive, relief—lowered anxiety, and starting to develop cohesion. Strategies for this phase include recognizing individual and team efforts, proving opportunities for learning and feedback, and monitoring the ‘energy’ of the team. 4. Performing Characteristics of Performing include higher motivation, elevated trust and empathy, individuals typically deferring to the team's needs, effective production, consistent performance, and demonstrations of interdependence and self-management (also referred to as self-organization). Strategies for this phase include ‘guiding from the side’ (minimal intervention), celebrating successes, and encouraging collective decision-making and problem-solving. 5. Adjourning Typical traits of Adjourning (also referred to as Transitioning or Mourning) include a shift to process orientation, sadness, recognition of team and individual efforts, and disbanding. Strategies for this phase include recognizing change, providing an opportunity for summative team evaluations (which may go by ‘lessons learned,’ post-project review, retrospective, or another label), providing an opportunity for individual acknowledgments, and celebrating the team's accomplishments—which may involve a party and possibly an ‘after-party.’ To learn more, and for downloadable high-resolution versions of the illustration, visit bit.ly/teams-21. #Tuckman #BruceTuckman #Team #Development #Dynamics #Performance #Leadership #TeamDevelopment #TeamDynamics #TeamPerformance #TeamLeadership #Forming #Storming #Norming #Performing #Adjourning #Agile #ProjectManagement
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