Article: Forming Before Performing

Teams constantly face change, which makes strategic leadership vital to success.

Forming. Storming. Norming. Performing.

Eileen Hogan, M.S., Ed.S.
Assistant Vice President
Consultant


Many people are familiar with the stages of team development—forming, storming, norming and performing. Despite knowing this in theory, it is tempting for team leaders to skip the forming stage and assume their teams just operate at the performing stage. The result of this strategy is a team stuck in a swirling mix of forming, storming and norming that simply drains energy away.

To lead a team toward high-performance, leaders must recognize the forming stage has to be worked through again anytime there is a change on the team. Some examples of common team changes include:

  • Someone joins or leaves the team
  • Individual or team responsibilities change
  • Roles or rules change
  • Goals change
  • Customers change
  • The leader changes


Teams constantly face change, which makes strategic leadership vital to success. When anything changes, an effective leader must pay attention to the basics of the forming stage—be intentional about onboarding, support relationship-building and revisit the team’s purpose, goals, structure, boundaries and rules. Not paying attention to this stage, anytime it shows up, will weaken the foundation that is in place and drain energy from optimal outcomes. Shoring up the foundation when changes occur provides the necessary support for a team to move effectively toward great performance.

Broadening your awareness

What your team needs from you during the forming stage:

  • Team purpose and goals
  • Structure for completing tasks
  • Boundaries and rules for engaging within the team and outside of the team


A strong onboarding process and strategic relationship-building efforts between team members are keys to your team’s success.

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