Phases of Team Formation

Creating an effective team takes time. Studies of the teamwork process have identified stages that most teams move through. It's worth recognizing them and actively striving to achieve full function. (Note that the stages identified here stem from the work of Bruce Tuckman).

The work of each phase is here separated into "process" and "product." There is a steady movement from a concentration on process to one on product.





You're getting to know each other. The most important task is understanding what each team member brings to the process, what they want from it and how they'll interact with each other.

  • This stage is usually felt as "floundering." Teams often want someone else to tell them what to do.
  • It's very helpful to explicitly address the issues raised on the forming page in group discussions to make it through this phase.

Little product comes out of this phase.

  • Discussing the design "problem" is often the vehicle for testing the teamwork process issues.

Group members are trying their ideas on each other to test how the group will work and whose ideas will dominate.

  • There's often argument and belief that others "won't listen to me" at this stage
  • Members are more interested in their own ideas than in melding the ideas of all members
  • Recgonition that listening respectfully and fully to each member can help greatly.
  • Focus on the group process will again help you move through this stage
  • Team members with "conciliation" skills can be extremely helpful.

The most usual product of this phase are alternatives for the "problem statement"

  • The team isn't yet ready to agree on many details.
  • A number of possible tasks or diverse issues may be presented, but not yet resolved

Groups have learned to trust each other and are moving on to the work of the project

  • Members agree to perform specific tasks (perhaps on a rotating basis)
  • Amount of work expected of each team member is agreed on
  • Methods for making decisions are established - "important" and "unimportant" can be different.

The group is now ready to start producing product.

  • A common "problem statement" is adopted and ready for external review
  • A general list of final products can be identified.
  • The steps to achieve the product are identified and perhaps formalized in a calendar or Gantt chart.

The group is working effectively as a team. The main focus is on the product.

  • Regular meetings are prepared for, attended and documented
  • Team members perform their roles readily - and perhaps change roles
  • Decisions are readily reached
  • Regular informal and formal coordination between team members allows each to determine if the results of their tasks have affected the work of others.

The group moves through the steps of the design process to a final presentation and/or report.

  • The results of tasks are documented and shared.
  • Drawings, reports and prototypes are prepared.


Mistakes Teams Have Made

Return to Top

Updated: 4/4/03