17 Abril 2023

2.6 Building a team I

May Haghour (cewas)
Adaptado por
Cora Craigmile (cewas)

Resumen ejecutivo

Building an innovative and efficient team is no easy task. It can be a lengthy and challenging process which requires defining and coordinating different strategies, skills, goals, values, and experiences. In this regard, it is imperative to know what methods to resort to in order to build a strong team as well as having a clear understanding of the characteristics that constitute innovative and efficient teams and the different development phases these will undergo. This factsheet will help you understand what constitutes a work team and will explain the various stages of a team’s lifecycle.


Self assessment

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Before you carry on reading, take a minute to reflect on your own knowledge and experience,  as either a team leader or a team member, and answer the following two questions:

  1. What is a team?
  2. What role do you usually play in those teams?

Don’t forget to write down your answers before moving on to the next section!

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What is a Team?

So, what is a team?

A Team is an interdependent group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to reaching their common goal for which they hold each other accountable (KATZENBACH & SMITH 2015).

It is important to stress the two key parts of this definition:

1. Interdependent, which means that none of the team members can successfully accomplish the goal by themselves, because they need each other. 

2. Common goal, which means that all members have the same desired objective. 


Note that the methods of designing a team are constantly changing according to their ultimate goals and working environments. For example, Covid-19 has changed the way we work and build our teams dramatically. Remote or virtual teams are becoming increasingly more common and popular. Yet, teams always need talented people who are motivated and engaged and can essentially get the work done.

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Lifecycle of Teams

For teams to be effective and innovative, team members need to work together and contribute complementary skills towards meeting the team’s desired outcomes. This doesn’t happen just like that; it is an on-going process that takes place as the team develops. Bruce Tuckman has studied team growth and has recognised five typical stages for team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning (TUCKMAN 1965). However, it should be noted that not every team goes through these exact stages. 

In the following section, we will present the main phases and what both leaders and team members should consider.

1. Forming: This is the initial stage which begins with the first meeting of the team. You should not underestimate this phase, since this is where you will set the foundation for the whole co-operation.

Team members:


“Who are we and why are we here?”

  • Be polite, attentive, and listen to what the others are saying
  • Be aware of your strengths and how you can contribute in achievement of the common goals


  • You are the coach, therefore listen, communicate, and support.
  • Take the time to determine clear structures for how the team will operates (this includes defining clear rules, roles, responsibilities, objectives and decision-making processes
  • Jointly develop a plan that includes and recognises all members’ purposes and tasks

2. Storming: This stage is considered to be the preliminary team test that will determine the team’s ability to perform the identified tasks in order to reach the established objectives.

Team members:


“Who is in charge and how will we do this?”


  • Come to agreements without always having to relying on  your  leader, however accept leadership when necessary
  • Accept that It is normal that the team is under time pressure and might feel confused at times
  • In this phase, perceptions about members’ usefulness can increase which may  lead to stress
  • You are the coach, so you need to define your approach of how to lead
  • Allow the team to struggle and grow, address conflict when the team asks for your help
  • Remind the team of tasks and processes, promote team spirit and open communication
  • Provide support to any team member who needs it to work more effectively

3. Norming: This stage is where the team takes responsibility and commits to team goals and processes.

Team members:


“What do we do?”

  • Trust the other team members
  • Recommitment to working as a team after the storming phase
  • Accept and capitalise on diversity and personal style differences
  • The team concentrates on performance to achieve the set goals
  • More reliance on each other’s talents
  • Higher levels of trust and confidence in the team
  • Ask “How can I help the team?”
  • Encourage the team to raise issues and address disagreements and conflicts
  • Delegate most tasks
  • Identify new challenges
  • Remove barriers


4. Performing: in this stage, the work gets done efficiently and effectively based on shared responsibilities between the team members.

Team members:


  • High commitment to team and organisation
  • Team members insist on being consulted on decisions affecting the team
  • Anticipated demands and changing priorities based on learnings
  • You are supporting your team, meaning that you should seldom intervene and remember that your team won’t tolerate autocratic leadership
  • Listen more and speak less
  • Assist in troubleshooting
  • Encourage the team to seek outside opinions

5. Adjourning: this stage is reached when the team completes its tasks and project.

Team members:


  • Wrap up final tasks
  • Document the effort and results
  • Reflect on the experience and identify lessons learned
  • Appreciate the team effort as a group


  • Reflect and report on the whole process
  • Evaluate the team and product and jointly identify lessons learned
  • Provide a clear plan for the future of each team member
  • Take the time to celebrate the successful completion of the project with the team members
  • Appreciate the team effort as a group


It is important to keep in mind that teams are never static. Teams, especially new-formed ones, can always move back-and-forth between the various stages according to the circumstances they find themselves in. For example, if a member of a Performing team is replaced, the remaining members will find themselves back at the Forming stage as they get to know their new team member (and the new team member gets to know them).


What is an effective team?

Authors Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson proposed a model in 2001 called Five Dynamics of Teamwork and Collaboration. They gathered insights from investigating 600 teams across various industries to answer the question "what is an effective team?". As a result, they built a model consisting of five layers or components that increase the likelihood of effectiveness:

1. Team member: What are their individual skills and behaviours? Picking the right person is the first step.

2. Team relationships: The right behaviour in a team builds up healthy working relationships between members.

3. Team problem solving: Good team relationships make it possible to work together to solve problems.

4. Team leadership: The right leadership enhances a team's success.

5. Organisational environment: The right processes and company culture in an organisation promote commitment from teams. (LAFASTO & LARSON 2001)

Okay, so now you have a clear understanding of what teams are, how to bring a team together and enhance the commitment and efforts of its members, so as to reach the identified common goals. Let us take a look at the next factsheet on how to build and develop teams (insert link of next factsheet).

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2.7 Building a team II


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