Forming is the initial stage of team development. During this stage, an individual makes the transition from individual, to team member and team members get acquainted with one another. Team members usually have positive expectations and are eager to get started on the project work. They might experience feelings of excitement, anticipation, suspicion, anxiety or hesitation.
*It’s critical that managers provide direction and structure. The project manager should also clearly communicate the objectives of the project and create a vision of successful completion and the benefits it will provide.*
The work starts to progress slowly but reality sets in when the expectations of individual team members are not met. Team members now begin to test limits. Conflict emerges and tension increases in the team. This stage could become destructive but the effects will be minimised if the forming stage has been done properly. Conflict and disagreement can also create positive energy and are necessary for innovation and creativity to solve problems or challenges.
The storming stage is characterised by feelings of frustration, anger and hostility. As individuals start to perform their tasks, they have more questions concerning their roles and responsibilities.
* Managers need to provide clarification and better definition of team members’ roles and responsibilities
They should start involving team members in decision making and problem solving, and should focus on providing a supportive environment.*
During the norming stage, the relationships among the team members and their respective leader settle. Interpersonal conflicts have been resolved and dissatisfaction is reduced. The team accepts the operating environment and procedures are improved. Cohesion starts to develop and a sense of team belonging sets in.
The manager should minimise ‘directiveness’ and take on a more supporting role. Work performance and productivity increase. The leader should give recognition to progress made.
* The team sets guidelines for expected performance behaviours or for a code of conduct to work together.*
By this stage, the team is highly committed and eager to achieve project objectives. The level of work performance is high and there is also a high level of trust amongst group members. A great degree of interdependency makes the team feel fully empowered. Problems are identified and team members form sub-teams to solve problems.
* The manager should delegate responsibility and authority and focus on assisting the team to reach project objectives.*
For managers, it is critical to recognise what space your team is operating in and that these stages do not necessarily follow each other in a neat orderly fashion. Introducing a new team member, a new project leader or a tight deadline can also send a team into a state of regression where they default back to one of the earlier stages of team development.
Effective software project teams are composed of people fulfilling a variety of roles. Each person takes on one or more roles; perhaps one person focuses on project management whereas another may be actively involved with both design and implementation of your system. Common project roles include: