This is the first stage of team development. This is the stage when the foundation of the team is laid. During the Forming stage, team members have a high dependence on their leader for guidance. Learn the practical strategies you can use during this stage to help your team develop into a highly effective performing team.
Good team development begins on day one and forming is the “Getting to Know You” stage. You can compare this stage with your first day at school as a child, or perhaps with your first day on a new job. Some obvious behaviors are; everyone is polite, overly cautious, and generally doesn't know what to expect. This is the first stage of group development – Forming where the team members are trying to get to know one another and getting comfortable with one another.
In the Forming stage, the team comes together and members try to know each other and establish a common understanding and formulate roles and responsibilities. Team members may be excited and enthusiastic, but they may also be anxious. In this stage, the members try to explore and understand the behavior of the team members. They make their efforts in understanding the expectations of the peer team members, are polite, and exploring how to gain acceptability and fitment into the team. Because everything is new there is a fair amount of confusion and anxiety as members are naturally trying to understand their own roles, the roles of the other team members, and their purpose in the group. This is entirely natural and to be expected. People are unsure, suspicious, and nervous. Productivity might be low as people try to put their best foot forward.
It takes time for any new team to become a cohesive unit, “Forming” starts with lots of exploration as group members get to know one another. Think of this stage as an exploration period in which individual roles and responsibilities are being sorted out. In this stage, team members are generally enthusiastic and motivated by a desire to be accepted. They're typically very polite to each other and trying to figure out similarities and differences with others. First impressions play a key role as people try to figure out the similarities and differences. Issues that may arise are questions of whether each person feels like they belong to the group, whether other members can be trusted, and who is in charge.
Orientation is the most important task in the forming stage and members are looking towards the leader to provide the required direction. During the Forming stage, team members have a high dependence on their leader for guidance and the leader's task is directing, so that the group can get coordinated in their efforts.
This is also a good time to look at how the group is organized because the group has not yet molded into a strong, effective unit, therefore it's still relatively easy to reorganize the group if required. It's also helpful to set group ground rules, which are expectations about how work will be done, decisions will be made, and how people will treat each other. In short, the leader has a wonderful opportunity to be sure that the right people are in the right place using the right process. “Forming” stage is usually short, and sometimes may only last for a single meeting where the team members get introduced.
Forming an effective and cohesive team is fundamental to the overall success of the team and pulling the right team together from the start has benefited far beyond just completing tasks on time. Now we will focus on different strategies for dealing with issues that may arise during the first stage, “Forming”. You'll learn strategies for selecting high-performing team members most suited for your project or team, as well as recommendations for performing proper introductions, clarifying team purpose and context, and making sure team members understand their responsibilities. As a leader, you can use several strategies during this stage to build an effective team.
Suggestions for the Team Leader/Member in this stage: