Teamwork is a journey. You don’t just assign a bunch of people to a project and expect them to become a team instantly.

New teams do not necessarily perform well together immediately. There is a five-stage process, first identified by Bruce Tuckman of the Naval Medical Research Institute at Bethesda, which transforms from strangers into a cohesive group with a common goal.

Here are the five stages in more detail.

Forming Stage

In this stage, team members come together for the first time. This process is an important first step. Team members learn about their strengths, challenges, and interests — as well as learn the expectations of the task they are to perform, and the standards they are being held to.

A positive experience in the forming stage can ease some of the anxiety and uncertainty among team members.

Team building activities in the forming stage should focus on helping group members get to know each other better.

Storming Stage

As team members begin to feel more comfortable around each other, conflict will creep in. Members will start to express their opinions more strongly or try to take over leadership of the group. Personality and workflow differences could cause clashes among the group. Common behaviors in this stage include challenging authority, resisting opinions and improvements suggested by others, and arguments among team members even when they agree.

To help the team move past the storming stage, team leaders should implement activities that promote listening and conflict management.

Norming Stage

As the name suggests, this is the stage where the group starts to feel normal with each other. Morale improves. The members are more comfortable communicating with one another. They tend to trust each other and acknowledge each other’s talents and opinions. Team members are open to constructive communication, and conflict is put aside for the greater good of the group.

The norming stage is a time when decisions can be made and implemented, new ideas developed, risks can be taken, and any failure can be seen as a step to success.

It can be easy to become complacent in this phase, so activities to encourage go a long way toward moving the group into the next phase.

Performing Stage

When team members get to this stage, they usually have come to trust and accept each other. Group members are more focused on tasks rather than personal issues. Participants are now able to handle the decision-making process and work independently with no interference from the leader. The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly the purpose and why they are doing what they’re doing. The team has a shared vision and ability to work independently, with no interference or participation from the leader.

This is the time to introduce activities that keep the group motivated and feeling valued.

Adjourning Stage

The final stage of development is the break-up of the team, when hopefully the task or project is completed successfully. It can be a time of tying up loose ends, reflection, and evaluation for the group. Closure can help them end the project with a sense of well-being and accomplishment.

This is an opportunity to use a group activity to allow the team to de-stress, evaluate the experience and their project and learn from the results.

Click here to learn how Drum Cafe USA can be of use in all stages of team building.