8 + Team Development Models

Team development refers to a process and activities for improving team performance. Team development activities can range from simple bonding exercises to intensive, multi-day team development retreats.

Team development is usually used when an interdependent team needs to improve the way they work together to achieve shared goals. If a team is facing challenges, dropping balls, blaming each other, etc., diagnostics and treatment are often necessary.

There are several proven, effective team development models available. A leader should pick one, learn it, and use it consistently. Organizations can also benefit from using a common model. As employees move from one team to another, a common framework and language exists to help the new employee assimilate faster.

Leaders will often use a team building facilitator to help them get started, until they can use the process on their own. It’s important to select someone with experience and expertise – I’d recommend interviewing several and talking to references.

Here are 8 commonly used team development models, including links to learn more about each one. As an added bonus, I’ve also thrown in my own simple model.

1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Developed by Patrick Lencioni, owner of The Table Group. The five dysfunctions are:
Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results.
I’ve used this model and would recommend it. It’s fairly simple to understand and you can purchase a Field Guide with activities to support each stage of the model.

2. Tuckman’s Model
Many team development models use some variation of Bruce Tuckman’s classic 4 stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.
It’s helpful to be able to anticipate the typical stages any team will go though and understand how to move them through each stage.

3. Glen Parker’s Model 
Based on his book, Team Players and Teamwork. I like the team survey that accompanies this one.

4. Drexler Sibbit model
Developed by Allan Drexler and David Sibbet (see picture). One of my favorites, and I’ve used it a lot.  The big disadvantage of this one is it requires certification, as it’s mainly for OD consultants.

5. Katzenbach & Smith’s model

Based on the book “The Wisdom of Teams”. I’ve read the book – it’s very good – and have used parts of the model.

I’m not as familiar with the next three models, but they are classics and came up a lot when researching this post:

6. Lafasto and Larson model
Based on the book “When Teams Work Best”.

7. Hackman model
Based on the book “Leading Teams”.

8. GRPI model
Stands for: Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal relationships.
Based on the book “Task Oriented Team Development”.

The Great Leadership model:
Quite honestly, I often wonder if we “professionals” make team development overly complicated for leaders. Many of the team assessments I’ve used seem to be self-serving, designed to sell team development products, services, and books.
Would a better approach be for a team to simply ask themselves to define what kind of a team they would like to be? Just define their own team behaviors and goals, then rate themselves and choose what they want to work on to improve? I’ve tried this, and it seems to create a lot buy-in and positive energy and gets to the point a lot faster. Then, when finished, go out for beers and pizza. (-:

These are the models I’m most familiar with, but I’m sure there are many more. What’s your favorite approach to team development? Is there a team development model you like that’s not on this list?