It takes time for a team to gel. Some studies show we spend 60% of our time with teams. When building a new team, it is often helpful to remember the four stages of the team development model created in a 1965 paper by psychologist Bruce Tuckman.
At this beginning stage, team members get to know one another and their styles of working. Team members might be eager, anxious or curious. Lots of questions are asked at this stage. As a leader, help team members set goals — both personal and team goals.
The initial excitement may have worn off, and some team members may be frustrated with constraints. During this stage, members should be engaging in healthy conflict (emphasis on healthy) to clarify tasks, roles and responsibilities. Leaders need to feel comfortable with some productive tension, but not allow tensions to slip into destructive behaviors. Group members should feel safe putting forth their ideas. Ask and hear everyone’s point of view.
The team is gelling — they know how to work together. They begin to resolve early expectations and current reality. Team members work toward harmony. They may develop their own language or have inside jokes.
Now the team is really humming to provide outstanding results. A can-do attitude is seen. They willingly offer to help one another to achieve the team goal.
Not part of Tuckman’s original model, sometimes there is a fifth stage, adjourning, when a project concludes. Be sure to celebrate the achievements of the team before adjourning. Note also that teams may go back and forth between stages, especially if a new member joins or if there is a new business direction.