Building a successful team is not an easy task. Team Development Models promise to help you along the way. But which one is the right for your team? We take a closer look at five popular models, along with their advantages and disadvantages. And we show you how to put these models into practice, and why you might not need to follow one particular model at all.

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Why you should invest in Team Development

Team Development requires careful planning, effective communication, and a deep understanding of team dynamics. However, the rewards of a strong and cohesive team are numerous, including team effectiveness, improved morale, and better job satisfaction. Crucial factors in today’s war for talents.

1. Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development

One of the most widely used Team Development Models is Bruce Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development. According to this model, teams go through five stages of development:

  1. Forming: In this stage, team members are typically polite and reserved, as they are just getting to know one another. The focus is on establishing trust and building a foundation for effective communication and collaboration.
  2. Storming: In this stage, team members may experience conflict and competition as they begin to assert themselves and fight for leadership positions. The focus is on managing conflict and establishing clear roles and responsibilities.
  3. Norming: In this stage, team members begin to develop a shared sense of purpose and identity, and work together to achieve common goals. The focus is on establishing norms and standards of behavior, and building strong relationships based on mutual respect and trust.
  4. Performing: In this stage, team members are highly motivated, committed, and productive, and work together to achieve high levels of performance. The focus is on maintaining momentum, celebrating successes, and continuously improving processes and outcomes.

For a small group life cycle, Bruce Tuckman later added a fifth stage: Adjourning. In this stage, the team separates, that is why it is also referred to as the mourning stage.

To apply Tuckman’s model effectively, it’s crucial to understand the characteristics of each stage and to use appropriate strategies to help the team move from one stage to the next. For example, during the storming stage, it may be necessary to encourage open communication and promote conflict resolution to help team members overcome their differences.

To apply Tuckman’s model effectively, it’s crucial to understand the characteristics of each stage and to use appropriate strategies to help the team move from one stage to the next. For example, during the storming stage, it may be necessary to encourage open communication and promote conflict resolution to help team members overcome their differences.

img-12 Advantages:

img-13 Disadvantages:

  • Provides a clear framework for understanding the stages of team development and the challenges that arise at each stage
  • Helps team members understand the dynamics of the team and their role in the process
  • May oversimplify the complexity of team dynamics
  • Assumes that teams progress through the stages linearly, which may not always be the case in reality (see our practical tips at the end)

2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Another popular model for team development are The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. According to this model, the five key dysfunctions that can hinder team effectiveness are the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.

Assessing the team’s strengths and weaknesses and identifying areas for improvement stands on the beginning of this model. After that, the team can work together to build trust, manage conflict, and establish clear communication and decision-making processes. This may involve conducting team building exercises, establishing norms and expectations, and providing training and coaching to team members as needed. With the last being a highly individual task. By addressing the underlying dysfunctions that can impede team performance, you can create a culture of collaboration, accountability, and high performance.

img-15 Advantages:

img-16 Disadvantages:

  • Identifies specific challenges that teams may face and provides concrete strategies for addressing them
  • Helps to build trust and open communication among team members
  • May not be applicable to all teams or situations
  • May oversimplify the complexity of team dynamics

3. Situational Leadership Model by Hersey and Blanchard

The Situational Leadership Model, developed by Hersey and Blanchard, is another useful team development model. According to this model, effective leadership depends on the situational demands of a particular task and the readiness level of the team members.

The model identifies four leadership styles: Directing, Coaching, Supporting, and Delegating. Each style is appropriate for a particular level of readiness, ranging from low to high. For example, when team members are new to a task, a Directing style may be necessary to provide clear direction and guidance. As team members gain experience and confidence, a Coaching style may be more appropriate to provide support and feedback.

img-18 Advantages:

img-19 Disadvantages:

  • Helps leaders understand the needs of team members and adjust their leadership style accordingly
  • Encourages leaders to be flexible and adaptable in their approach
  • May be difficult to implement in practice (tendency towards one style)
  • Requires leaders to have a deep understanding of the needs and abilities of each team member

4. Agile Team Development Model

The Agile Team Development Model is a modern approach to team development that emphasizes flexibility and adaptability. According to this team development model, the key principles of effective team development are individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change.

For the Agile Team Development Model to be effective, it’s important to establish clear roles and responsibilities, prioritize tasks based on customer needs, and embrace change and uncertainty as opportunities for improvement.

img-21 Advantages:

img-22 Disadvantages:

  • Emphasizes continuous improvement
  • Promotes open communication and collaboration among team members
  • Allows for rapid feedback and iteration
  • May not be suitable for all types of projects or teams
  • Requires a high level of discipline and commitment from team members

5. Change Management Curve

The Change Management Curve is a team development model that helps teams navigate the challenges of change and uncertainty. The model is based on the idea that team members will typically experience a range of emotions and reactions as they adapt to new situations, and that effective team development requires recognizing and addressing these reactions. The Change Management Curve typically consists of four stages: denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because the concept is based on the “five stages of grief” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. In this work, she describes the series of emotions people who are dying are going through.

img-24 Advantages:

img-25 Disadvantages:

  • Helps teams manage change and uncertainty effectively
  • Encourages empathy and understanding among team members
  • May not be suitable for teams that are above average resistant to change
  • Requires a high level of emotional intelligence and sensitivity from team members

If you decide to work with the Change Management Curve, make sure you are aware of the team’s emotional reactions to change, communicate openly and transparently about the reasons for the change, and provide support and resources to help team members adapt. By addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of change, you can help your team navigate change effectively and emerge stronger and more resilient.

Team Development Models in practice

So at this point, you might ask yourself a question, our trainers hear all the time: Which Team Development Model is the right for our team? We talked to our trainer Leonard Höck for some practical advice, so here are three tips from his years of experience as a team development trainer:

  1. There is no winner: All these models do work if implemented correctly. Look what issues your team is facing and choose the model that suits your goals.
  2. There is no common status quo: If you take Tuckman’s model for example, chances are the members of your team are currently in different stages. So examine which stage your colleagues are currently in, one by one.
  3. Rather than focusing on one particular model, try to understand the underlying topics all these models have a common focus on: Communication, trust issues, vision (goals) and leadership.

img-26 Tipp: We highly recommend a (virtual) team building as a base for every team development effort.


Effective team development is essential for building a strong and productive team. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different team development models, you can choose the approach that best fits the needs of your team and project. Whether you choose Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the Situational Leadership Model, or the Agile Team Development Model, the key is to be flexible, adaptable, and committed to continuous improvement. With the right approach, you can build a happy and productive team that can tackle any challenge and achieve its goals.

Team Development Models FAQs

Team development models are frameworks that describe the stages a team goes through to become a high-performing unit. These models help teams understand the different phases of group development, the typical challenges they will face, and the skills they need to develop to work together effectively.

There is no “best” group development model, as each model has its unique strengths and weaknesses. However, some of the most popular team development models include Tuckman’s stages of group development, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, and the “Agile Team Development Model”. The choice of which model to use depends on the specific needs and goals of the team.

Understanding the stages of team development is important because it helps teams anticipate the challenges they will face and provides a roadmap for how to navigate those challenges. By recognizing the typical issues that arise at each stage of development, teams can work proactively to overcome obstacles and build stronger working relationships. Additionally, knowing the stages of development can help team members understand their role in the team and the skills they need to develop to become effective team members.