Team building is an important part of success for any organization. You want a team that is productive, professional, and collaborative — but it won’t happen overnight. When a team is first formed, there can be uncertainty and even anxiety, but also excitement. This is normal, and is considered one of the stages of team building. There are ways, however, that you can help your team along.
So what is effective team building? We’ll cover why team building is important and how you can harness the five stages of team building to create an effective and efficient team. Check out our course on Building Teams That Work for an in-depth discussion of this and other vital topics.
Why Is Team Building Important?
Team building is important because it has such a great impact on your company — including your bottom line. The benefits of team building include higher productivity, more efficiency, and employee satisfaction, leading to lower turnover. How does it do all this?
Team building opens the lines of communication, helping people talk to one another and figure out how to solve problems. It builds confidence, so team members want to take on new challenges and step into leadership roles. And it helps foster creativity, leading to new ideas and streamlined processes. When you take the time to work on team building exercises, your company will be rewarded. (And if you’re a manager or supervisor in charge of a team, you’ll love our Supervision and Management Series.)
What Are the Five Stages of Team Building?
The five stages of team building are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. They were created by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in the 1960s and ’70s, and have stood the test of time. We’ll expand on them here, along with the best team building activities for each stage.
This is when the group first comes together. In this stage, members of the team answer the big questions: What is our purpose? What are the others like? What is my role? Team members may be cautious at first, so at this stage, simple team building activities like “getting to know you” questions and group outings are best. You’ll break the ice and help different personalities shine.
Here the team members are sorting out team roles and responsibilities. The storming phase often has conflict, but it can be managed appropriately. Team building ideas that work on problem solving and communication are great at this stage. Try the Birthday Line Up: Group members form a line, and then have to organize themselves by birth date — without talking.
In the norming stage, team members resolve their issues and develop social harmony. Leaders have been determined, and our Leadership Suite can help them hone their skills. Norming is an exciting stage when ideas start to be implemented. Fun team building activities like role playing or completing a scavenger hunt will keep the creativity flowing.
During this stage, the team devotes all its energies to accomplishing the task. Your team is running smoothly by this point, but you can still take part in quick team building activities. Try blind drawing: Break up into groups of twos and sit back to back. One person has a picture, which they describe to their partner. The other person has to draw the picture based on the description. Fun exercises like this are a nice break and keep the energy high.
The adjourning stage is when the team wraps up its activities. Some members are upbeat and proud of what the team has accomplished; others feel they’ll lose the close relationships they’ve formed. A lessons learned session can help solidify important takeaways at these stage. Because your goals are accomplished and the team is disbanding, you don’t need team building events for this stage — except perhaps one last happy hour.
By understanding these phases, you’ll be able to calibrate where your team is and how to take it to the next phase. Whether in a team at work, in your neighborhood, or in a nonprofit organization, you can use these skills to create a better team.