Storm To Perform: The 4 Stages Of Team Productivity

What makes companies like Apple or NASA successful? It’s the people behind it – teams. Group development theory claims that team dynamics play a big part in pushing people toward success. Leah Ryder at Trello explains how maximum productivity will allow teams to work at high levels for more successful outcomes. She takes the main ideas from group development theory -forming, storming, norming and performing – and walks us through 4 stages of successful team productivity.


Stage 1: Forming A Real Live Team

First meetings are all about first impressions. We figure out our dynamics, how the team will approach the given situation and decide our team leaders and approach. Getting comfortable with one another is the goal here as it can lead to closer connections, better communication, and a better-flowing dynamic. Ryder shares that in order to get to real productivity, teams need to move past the small talk and be ready to engage on a more real level, potential conflict and all.


Stage 2: Storming Into Authentic Connections

No matter how sturdy you form your team in the first stage, there will at some point be a roadblock.  Whether it’s a missed deadline, grueling hours, or an imperfect launch, some team members may no longer be enthusiastic about the work. This is where storming happens, but it;s not usually the best feeling in the world. There will be conflict, sub-grouping, or discontent from private frustration to straight confrontation. If teams can’t identify the issues, communicate constructively, and work to resolve them, they will get stuck at this stage. Ryder suggests using these situations to reevaluate and reassign tasks. The key to this is to emphasize positive intent, especially from the leader. Trying different tactics to promote teamwork or finding common ground or resolving concerns is the best way to get past the storming stage.


Stage 3: Norming Out The Kinks

If your team can make it past the storming stage, you’re already proving to be a potentially successful group. The norming stage takes observation, identification, and action on things that are working (and not working). Teams in this stage are constantly working out things like communication preferences, recognition of achievements, and workflows. Leaders and team members alike are building trust, understanding, and support with their peers and these attributes will help teams towards the right path to success.


Stage 4: Performing At Peak Productivity

The performing stage is the nirvana of synergy. Team dynamics are good and team performance is really good. This doesn’t mean there’s no more conflict. It just means teams at this stage are better at handling conflict and resolving situations faster. Ryder explains that the best thing a leader can do here is to empower team members to get everything they need to be the most productive and innovative as possible. They should also celebrate milestones and validate great team work.


It is important to note, as Ryder concludes, that just because your team is grooving, you shouldn’t stop investing attention into team development. It’s always possible to revert back to an earlier stage when factors change, or a team member withdraws from the group effort for personal or interpersonal reasons.


Original Post by Leah Ryder at Trello

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