Team Building Techniques – 5 Stages

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When I think of team building techniques, the one place I didn’t think to look was the PMBOK®. In chapter 9, specifically 9.3.2, the PMBOK details Tools and Techniques of Developing Project Teams. For those out there studying for the PMP®, this might be a good time to write this down or print the blog post.

The PMBOK lists 5 stages of development that teams may go through, usually occurring in order.  What PMBOK lists is relatively academic.  It won’t actually help you with team building.

Those stages, with the exception of the last are based on the Tuckman ladder[1].  Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing. It’s a model of group development, first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.

Why PMI found it necessary to add the last one, I can’t tell you.  But, in the event you think it may appear on the PMP exam, here is what PMI thinks you should know.

Forming. This phase is where the team meets and learns about the project and what their formal roles and responsibilities are. Team members tend to be independent and not open in this phase.

Storming. During this phase, the team begins to address the project work, technical decisions, and the project management approach.  If team members are not collaborative and open to differing ideas and perspectives the environment can be destructive.

Norming. In the norming phase, team members begin to work together and adjust work habits and behaviors that support the team. The team begins to trust each other.

Performing. Teams that reach the performing stage function as a well-organized unit.  They are interdependent and work through issues smoothly and effectively.

Adjourning. In the adjourning phase, the team completes the work and moves on from the project.

The PMBOK concludes by saying a Project Manager should have a good understanding of team dynamics in order to move their team members through all stages in an effective manner.

Two stages I think they missed include  Empowering and Supporting.  If PMI can insert Adjourning into this list, with the sounds of One of these things is not like the others in my head, I think I can add my two stages.  Still, if you want to pass the PMP, perhaps you should just stick to their list.

[1] Tuckman, Bruce, 1965. Developmental Sequence in Small Groups. Psychological Bulletin No. 63. Bethesda, MD: Naval Medical Research Institute.
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