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#31: Understanding Team Dynamics (1) - Forming

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Teams progress through relatively predictable stages of development. One well known structure of the dynamics of high performing teams uses a model of: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. While progress and experiences will vary, and teams may return to previous stages to resolve certain dynamics, the stages share common characteristics as outlined below.

While not always necessary coaches may want to discuss an overview of this model with their teams to set expectations and to mirror their current status as they pass through the stages.

Recommendations are included here on how coaches can address issues at each stage and help their teams efficiently progress toward their goals. Inherent in the recommendations is that coaches maintain close ongoing communications with their teams so progress can be assessed and coaches can optimize their contributions.


Team members are introduced to each other and to their assignment.

Common individual concerns include how they will fit into the group, and how they can make a significant contribution.

Common characteristics of this stage are polite communications, reluctance to openly share ideas and to take risks until team members acclimate to each other. Initial decisions are typically deferred to the team leader with limited input from individuals.

Typical questions individuals will have (stated to the group, or internally) include:

  • Why am I here?
  • Do I want to be a member of this team?
  • Will others value my contribution?
  • How much and what type of work is required?

Coaches can contribute to team momentum through discussions and activities that:

  • Clarify team purpose and direction
  • Define the work to be completed
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Clarify how individuals and the team will be assessed

Signs that the team is entering the next stage include:

  • Moving beyond polite communications
  • Productive conflict as individuals explore boundaries

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And if you need more information or are looking for an experienced coach, see our coaching page.


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