The Four Stages of Team Development

By Rob Campbell

Author Rick Love formulated these ideas on team development. I thought they might be helpful to this blog community. I believe the four stages cannot only be applied to one’s team, but also a cell.

Here’s a synopsis of Rick’s ideas. There are four stages most teams go through before they are productive: forming, storming, norming and performing. These four stages describe what happens in team relationships. While we call these stages, there is another sense in which these dynamics are cyclical. That is, teams go through ever deepening levels of storming, norming, and performing. It is also true that individuals on the team may be storming with one teammate and performing with another. Thus, these stages merely give a rough outline of the growth dynamics of any team.

The beginning stage of team life. Expectations are unclear. Members test the water. Interactions are superficial. This is the honeymoon stage.

This stage is characterized by conflict and resistance to the group’s task and structure. The team is struggling through its differences. There are healthy and unhealthy types of storming. The goal is to work through the healthy types of storming and minimize the unhealthy types (since we live in a fallen world unhealthy storming will take place). In my experience as a team leader and coach, I have found that there is usually conflict

in five major areas: character problems, gifting fit, authority issues, vision and values dissonance, and personality differences.

In this stage, a sense of group cohesion develops. Members accept the team and develop norms for resolving conflicts, making decisions and completing assignments.Norming takes place in three ways:

First of all, as storming is overcome, the team becomes more relaxed and steady. Because of growth in the five stumbling blocks of storming, the team is stabilizing. Conflicts are no longer as frequent and no longer throw the team off course.

Secondly, norming takes place when the team develops some kind of routine. Scheduled team meetings of various kinds give a sense of predictability and orientation to the team.

Thirdly, norming is cultivated through team building events and activities. Celebrations, public and private affirmation, retreats and fun get-togethers are practical ways to help the team norm.

These team-building events are also necessary to move the team to the performing stage.

The team’s goal is performing, not just norming. Yet, norming is a necessary transition stage. A team can’t get on to performing if there is no norming.

This is the payoff stage. The group has developed its relationships, structure and purpose. It’s beginning to tackle the task. The stumbling blocks of storming have been turned into stepping stones of performing. Let’s examine just how the five stumbling blocks of storming can be turned into stepping stones of performing.



2 thoughts on “The Four Stages of Team Development

  • You know, I never knew who originally came up with the four stages. Jim Egli taught me these stages in the early 90’s and TOUCH has been using them our group leader training and member strategic planning days for many years.

    You know, the only comment I’d add is that these four stages should not just be shared with group members, but cell groups should be invited to discuss the stage they are currently in and how to move to the next stage or deepen the performing stage. This should be done quarterly to help all the members of the group participate in the maturity and ministry/missional direction of the group.

    Many church leaders just teach it to the group leaders and don’t get this vital information deep down into the membership of groups for dialog and where true teamwork is formed.

  • One thing I observed is that some of the cells don’t overcome the issues and desintegrate, either by cell leader feelings of inadequacy in dealing with the situation or by cell members complete withdraw from the cell. Any suggestions, please?

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