Four Stages in Developing a Project Team


Today, I would like to share with you about some useful facts in developing a project team that I noted when I read a PM book.

Four Stages in Developing a Project Team

The process of team development and team building seems very simple–bring appropriate

people from inside and/or outside the organization into the same team and get them to work

together in the most effective and efficient way possible. But it is not actually so easy to do.

It is widely recognized that a project team typically progresses through four stages of

development. These stages occur with any group of people who work together, and it

doesn’t matter whether the people know each other or not. It’s important for you as the

project manager to understand these stages so that you can help them progress to the most

effective stage of development. Below are the four stages of team development.


Stage One: Forming


The forming stage occurs when all the team members have been brought together and

introduced. Here they’ll be told about the project objectives, the tasks they’ve been assigned,

and the expectations the project manager has regarding the project and the team. At this

point team members are still not certain and are having many questions in mind such as the


  • Why have I been assigned to this project?
  • What is expected to me?
  • What roles do the other team members have on this project?
  • Will I be able to successfully complete the assignments given to me?
  • Will I get the resources I need to perform the job satisfactorily?
  • Can I work well with the project manager?

During this stage of team development people will be somewhat passive and cautious.

They’ll usually be polite and have a formal business approach communication style. But

teams usually pass through this stage rapidly and proceed to the next stage.


Stage Two: Storming


The storming stage is where the team starts to realize what the work of the project is. The

team members become more comfortable around one another and start doing and saying

actively to challenge one another for position and status within the team. Then the conflicts

start to occur. Team members start asking the following types of questions.

  • Why is my assignment like this?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • How will the work get completed?
  • What process should we use to do the work?

Conflicts are not bad in this case; they are actually necessary to get the team into the next

stage. Team members need to recognize where they stand, how much their responsibility is,

and how they will accomplish their tasks by working with the other personalities of the team,

and that usually involves some collision.


Some teams have difficulty to go out of the storming stage. It’s difficult to manage a team in

this stage, and it could have a negative impact on the project if relations are particularly bad

among team members. Consider replacing team members who are not cooperating or are

the cause of unnecessary conflicts if the team doesn’t seem to be making any progress.


Stage Three: Norming


The norming stage is where the team starts to calm down, settle in, and do the work of the

project. Now they know what are expected to them, and they have accepted and understand

the goals of the project. The team members are comfortable with one another and with their

own positions within the team, and they will give positive influence with each other. Conflicts

decrease, and the team members confront the project concerns and problems instead of

one another. They make decisions jointly, getting input from all the team members.


As a project manager, you should continue to hold team meetings, especially during this

stage, because team members can go back into the storming stage if there is no appropriate

guidance from the project manager. Monitor each team member’s participation, and

encourage the team to continue to remain focused on the project’s goals and let them inform

you of any problems as soon as they arise.


Teams in the norming stage are efficient, functioning teams. If your team has progressed to

this stage, they will likely be productive and work effectively toward achieving the project

goals. But they still aren’t performing at their best, which happens in the next stage.


Stage Four: Performing


The performing stage is the most mature stage of all the development stages. The team

functions in the most productive and effective ways possible. They respect and support each

other, they monitor themselves, and they achieve great things in this stage. Teams that

operate in the performing stage are almost unstoppable. However, not all teams can

proceed to this stage.


The most effective teams perform at this stage. You cannot force this stage on the team.

There are some things you can do as the project manager to help the team progress to this

stage, though, including communicating effectively, asking team members for input, and

using effective conflict-resolution techniques.


From:S-PM-A4-1.04-Team Management, Credit to original Author.

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