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How Can You Effectively Work in a Team? Essay

What is a team? As noted by Dwyer (2006) “The terms ‘team’ and ‘group’ are frequently used interchangeably, since on many occasions that they share almost identical characteristics”. Or in other words, a team is composed of two or more individuals who are working together interdependently and cooperatively towards a common purpose or goal. The team is the most important asset of any project; an effective team has a common objective, complementary skills and mutual accountability. The four stages of effectual teams and their growth was first developed and published by Bruce Wayne Tuckman (1965). His theory, “Tuckman’s Team Development Stages” (Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing) was based on research he conducted on team dynamics. As Gina Abudi (n.d) points out, in 1977 Tuckman, jointly with Mary Ann Jensen, added a fifth stage to the existing four stages, ‘Adjourning’. This concept evidently answers the question ‘how can you effectively work in a team?’

The very first stage towards team development, forming or coming together, takes place when the team members meet each other at the beginning where “the individuals are not yet a real team, only a collection of individuals” (James Carlopio & Graham Andrewartha, 2008a). The team is dependant on the leader to guide them, “active leadership” (Philip J. Flores & Jeffrey M. Georgi, 2005). The members do not recognize each other, they lack trust, is uncertain about their individual roles in the team, people are not committed and importantly the mission is not owned by them. As actions, it is important for the team leader to be very clear about team goals, establish team roles and provide clear direction regarding the project. The leader should also be able to identify group behavioral patterns and adjust accordingly.

The members should play their part towards success by demonstrating excitement and tentative attachment to the group, participation, making healthy attachments with the leader and dealing with feelings of dependence. The team may not find working together easy at first, but with proper training, members will be able to adapt quickly. Everyone should decide once and for all to be on the team! “Virtually every team goes through a stage where team members question the legitimacy of the team’s direction, the leader, the roles of the other teams members, the opinions or decisions being espoused and the task objectives” (James Carlopio & Graham Andrewartha, 2008b). Statistics show that only one in eight projects can be considered truly successful (Baz Khinda, n.d). This is mainly because of the conflicts that arise, hence the storming stage. “Conflicts are especially damaging when it becomes personal, where team members attack one another or denigrate each others skills, abilities or performance in some way.” (Michael A. West, 2004). Team members may have different opinions and ideas, low group moral and doubts about success.

“If a team can work together they will be able to raise and resolve issues that are standing in the way of accomplishing a goal” (LaFasto, Frank & Carl Larson, 2001). The steps and guidelines that are taken to avoid the problems is known as ‘norming’. This stage is very important to deliver high quality results. As the team progresses the conflicts can be solved by developing the purpose and a high level of trust, team spirit, forming friendships, empathy, maintaining and establishing group boundaries and therefore having high group morale.“Do not interpret the absence of disagreement as agreement” (Solomon, Charlene M., Schell, Michael S, (2009). Members should always try to see tasks from the other person’s point of view before you judge their contribution or performance.

Once the team has resolved its issues and is capable of handling them, teams have to face the ‘performing’ stage. Every team member has to improve ways of doing things. Members have to develop interpersonal relationships, accept delegated tasks and involve in the decision making. Teams have to devote energy to maintain and build team spirit. The team has to be efficient in all operations and accomplish all goals and objectives as one! The last stage introduced by Tuckman, adjourning, is where the team dissolves itself and restructures after a mission.

Disappointments about unattained goals and senses of loss as the group disbands are common, but this should be overcome by concentrating on the positives. Members should congratulate each other and celebrate together as a team. All the stages discussed are approaches towards the success of teams. Teamwork is an influential thing. People who are able to function and work alongside with other members can attain high standards in communities. All these stages build effective teams, mould members, achieve goals and most importantly, escort teams to success!


Baz Khindi (n.d). Project failure – what are the reasons for and statistics on it? Retrieved July 24,2012,from Gina Abudi (n.d). The Five Stages of Team Development – Every Team Goes Through Them! (Part I). Retrieved July 24, 2012 from

James C. & Graham A. adapted from the text by Whetten and Cameron. (2008). Developing management skills (4th ed.). Pearson Education: Australia. Lafasto, Frank, & Carl Larson. (2001). When Teams Work Best. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. Michael A. West. (2004). Effective Teamwork (2nd ed.). BPS Blackwell: Australia. Philip J. F. & Jeffrey M. G. (2005). A Treatment Improvement Protocol. DHHS Publication. Solomon, Charlene M., Schell, Michael S. (2009). Managing across cultures (1st ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional.


Eduardo Salas, Clint A. Bowers & Eleana Edens (2009). Improving Teamwork in Organizations. Taylor and Francis Inc.: New Jersey. Stephen Robbins, Rolf Bergman, Ian Stagg & Mary Coulter (2006). Foundations Of Management (2nd ed.). Pearson, Prentice Hall.

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