Stages of Team Development

The stages of team development are already well-described in various places and so going into great detail here would serve little purpose. I will, however, provide a brief overview since I think more leaders would benefit from being aware of these stages and because I’d like to use these terms in future posts.


New teams travel through four stages of team development before reaching high levels of performance. The different makeup of each team means that no two teams progress through these stages at the same rate (or with the same result). There’s no guarantee that progress will always be forward: it is possible for teams to regress back to an earlier stage due to some conflict or upset in some balance. And some teams may never reach a state of high performance.

Each stage must be passed through before tackling the next. Some teams will be able to spend less time in some of the stages, but it’s not possible to just jump to the end and skip the beginning stages.
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Getting over the hump

Getting Over the Hump

Getting Over the Hump (apologies to Jessica at

I had lunch with a colleague this past week and the subject of long, large-effort projects came up. Projects with a big “hump” keeping you from finishing easily and quickly. (see graph)

He manages a small team of folks who are all pulling toward the same goal. He articulated where he was in relation to the goal and what was needed to get there.

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True Top-Down Org Charts

Org Chart (true top-down)

A true top-down Organization Chart

The traditional top-down org chart has become so standard in today’s corporate America that the first time I posted my alternate version for our team, very few people understood it.

Let me describe it for a moment.
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dialogAs a hiring manager, I’m very interested in many things about a candidate. I always use an interview team (or panel) during this process and assign specific aspects of the interview to individuals on that team. I do this for multiple reasons.

First, I find that multiple ears, eyes and wits give a better overview of a candidate than I get with a single interviewer. I long ago stopped being amazed at how something would get missed by a portion of the interviewers but would get picked up by one or two others.

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Managing in the White Space

A few years ago, I was given the task of improving an internal process at my company. Before this assignment, I had successfully managed groups of ten-to-twelve people: Unix administrators, web infrastructure experts and internet security technicians.

But I managed them—I had positional authority over them. There was a natural inclination to do what I would tell them to do. (That’s not why I was successful, but it helped in getting things done.)

In this new organization chart, however, there was this blank white space under my name: I had no staff, no people working for me. There was no one to tell, and yet I still had to get things done.

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