Team dynamics

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Team dynamics
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Team dynamics or group dynamics is the complex of socio-psychological processes, phenomena, events, effects that explains the psychological content and actions in small group or team, the characteristics of its functioning, the main stages of its life and functioning from the moment of its appearance to "dying" and the final disintegration as one cohesive community. Describing its properties following assumptions is necessary:

  • The whole dominates the parts. This means that a group can not be treated as a sum of units, because it often changes their individual behavior. The influence of external factors concerns the group as a whole, as a single system, not individual units. In such conditions, each person acknowledges his dependence on others belonging to a given group of people;
  • The individual elements are combined. Thus, the most important in the concept of the group is the interdependence of individuals who are more likely to join groups they identify with, not to those they depend on, remaining among the people to whom they feel their affiliation, even when their behavior is unfriendly. These considerations and conclusions were later confirmed empirically, which gave the opportunity to determine the correct functioning and development of groups with different orientations.

Model Tuckman’s Stages

The most known and popular theory describing the team dynamic is a model called “Tuckman’s Stages”, created in 1965, by a psychology professor, Bruce Wayne Tuckman. According to Tuckman, team develops and goes through four main stages. The fifth stage, called “Adjouring”, has been added in 1977, jointly by Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen.

  1. First stage is called “forming”, here, team members meet for the first time and try to familiarize themselves with each other. They are not certain about the roles, try to define or learn the job to be done, look for guidance outside. At this stage the role of Team Leader is crucial. Team Leader needs to set the rules within the team, indicate the common team goal, ensure that every team member is involved and finally show how to cooperate.
  2. “Storming” is a second stage, where the first conflicts can be observed. Team members compete with each other, are concerned about the team hierarchy, but also disagree with each other. Peoples have different point of view and stick to their opinion, that leads to conflicts and sometimes to sub-grouping. This stage can be difficult for individuals who don't like to enter into the conflicts. Team Lead's job is to ensure that each team member respect other's opinions, listen to other and let them speak. Team Leader need to be involved and pursue to hold the conflicts back. Here is also the room to delegate some tasks or decisions to the team.
  3. Next stage, that can be observed is called “Norming”. Here, team tries to end the conflict and stabilize the situation by establishing the common rules. Team members already know the “team rules” and stick to them. They know how to cooperate, know the processes, tasks, procedures. They try to support each other and the cooperation is more effective. They also understand and respect other team member's opinions or attitudes. They are able to overcome, by themselves, the problems that arise. Though Team Leader support may be required in case they get stuck. Here Team Leader's role is to coach rather than indicate every single step.
  4. Then, group gets to the “Performing” stage, where all issues are solved, processes are on place, group works cooperatively to get to the joint goal. Team works as a well-oiled machine. Team members are motivated, independent, effective and make the decisions or introduces the changes by themselves. Team Leader doesn't need the oversee the details of the processes but only monitor the progress or make the decision that needs further consultation on the higher level.
  5. The last additional stage is called “Adjourning”. This stage can be observed in the project teams, in their concluding stage, when the team is going to end their cooperation and team member are moving to the another projects. Celebrating the success or gathering the lessons learned is highly desirable here.


Author: Magdalena Rewers