Psychology of Teamwork | Team Building

So by now we understand what makes a group, how interpersonal relationships work, and the ways different leadership styles affect groups. But how can team building exercises help improve these components of teamwork? The final step in this journey of understanding the psychology of teamwork is figuring out what takes task groups from being a loose collection of coworkers to a strong and effective team. Let’s first look at the life cycle of a team.

team life cycle formingThe concept of a team “life cycle” has been around since the 1950s, and has become somewhat standardized into 5 separate stages. These stages of the formation of a team are as follows: forming, storming, norming, performing, and transforming.2

Forming is a pretty easy stage to understand. Teams come together at this stage and begin to figure out how they fit into the group. During this stage it’s important for those in leadership positions to encourage team members to get to know each other. Ice breaker games, or other methods of cultivating familiarity between colleagues will be especially effective at this stage.

The next phase, storming, is when conflict tends to arise within a team. Team members are beginning to get comfortable with their roles in the team, and may begin to push back in one way or another. There may also be personality conflicts between team members that will arise at this stage. MBTI training or opening paths of communication may help significantly at this juncture.

Storming can overlap with the next phase in the cycle, norming1. During the norming stage, teams begin to hit their stride. Team members may begin to explore social connections outside of the professional environment. It’s not unusual, however, for a new conflict to team life cycle normingarise that brings the team back into the storming phase. This stage is an ideal time to encourage socialization with a teambuilding activity like a scavenger hunt or other interactive entertainment. Teams will benefit from the strengthening of the social bonds already in progress, as well as practicing communication in a more relaxed environment.

The performing stage is when everything within the team is working exactly as needed. Team members are working well together, and everyone clearly understands their roles and are working towards the team’s goals with efficiency and enthusiasm. Interpersonal relationships between the team members are strong, and everyone is comfortable with the role of their team leader. During this stage, teams can still benefit from having their bonds reinforced, which makes it a perfect opportunity to give back to their communities. Doing charity work together will help reinforce the feelings of camaraderie and good will among the team members.

The final stage, transforming, can occur for several different reasons. For example, a team may complete a task or reach a goal they have been working towards. This can require changes in roles within the team, or perhaps the transformation of the team into something all together different. Some teams dissolve at this stage, while others reorganize and begin working on a different project. Another thing that can prompt the transforming stage within a group are changes within the make up of the group. Team members may leave or join, changing rolls within the group. The shift in group dynamics may be dramatic enough to push a team back to the forming stage, at which time the cycle starts over again.

Understanding these different stages of the life cycle of a team can help us understand why team building experiences are as effective as they are. Studies have been done on the subject, and the findings all point towards the effectiveness of team building.

“Our findings are encouraging—team building improves team outcomes; that these team-development interventions are beneficial to team functioning is the good news.”3

This study also stresses the importance of understanding exactly what kind of team building a team needs, as certain styles may be more effective based on the desired outcome.

Luckily, here at TeamBonding, we are happy to help potential clients address their specific needs to achieve a desired outcome. We truly believe that team building is the key to a successful, well performing workplace. Contact one of our sales reps to learn more about how we can help you succeed in the future!

2. Nazzaro, Ann-Marie, and Joyce Strazzabosco. Group dynamics and team building. DEVELOPMENT 4 (2009).
3. Klein, C., DiazGranados, D., Salas, E., Le, H., Burke, C. S., Lyons, R., & Goodwin, G. F. (2009). Does team building work?. Small Group Research.


Emily D

Team Contributor


Sign up for tips on crafting the perfect team.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



around the world podcast logo

Get ideas, inspiration and best practices from across the globe.

apple podcast logo spotify podcast logo

Be a Guest Blogger

Do you have any useful tips, tricks, guides, or valuable insights about company culture?

Learn more  

Sign up for tips on crafting the perfect team.

Less drama? Greater productivity and job satisfaction? Yes, you really can make an impact, and TeamBonding is here to help. Subscribe to our blog for useful tips, tricks and insights.

More great content based on your likes.

8+ Of The Best Spring Team Building Activities For 2024

The first day of spring is March 19th, but depending on where you live it might be here sooner than you think. It’s never too early to get out of hibernation and start planning something for your team to look forward to, especially after a long winter. Whether your team is remote, in-person, or anything in between there is a plethora of spring team building activities and ideas to bring everyone together.

Read More  

St Patrick’s Day Team Building Activities & Ideas

St Patrick’s Day, celebrated annually on March 17th, is a great opportunity to improve engagement, have some fun with your colleagues, and boost morale. As it approaches, everyone is looking forward to holiday celebrations and enjoying the company of others. Whether your team is working remotely or in person, there are plenty of creative ideas to celebrate together.

Read More  

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Virtually with Your Team

Holidays are always a great excuse to get the team together and lift everyone’s spirits, especially while working remotely. St Patrick’s Day is no exception. The famous holiday, celebrated annually on March 17th, is typically a day of merriment, dancing, feasting, and drinking. This St Patrick’s Day, TeamBonding has great ideas for your remote team’s enjoyment. One thing to note is virtual St Patrick’s Day team building activities are just as fun as getting together in person. Pull out your best green attire and get ready to party your shamrocks off.

Read More  

Ideas To Celebrate Administrative Professionals Day in 2024

What is Administrative Professionals Day 2024 & When is it? Administrative Professionals Day (also known as Administrative Assistant Day, Secretaries Day or Admin Day) is a day to highlight the important role of secretaries, assistants, receptionists, and other administrative support, which is observed in several countries. This year, Administrative Professionals Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

Read More  

Questions? Need a quote?

Complete this form to get started or call 877-472-2725.

Loading Icon

Create Your Free Account

Get exclusive access to new programs from the TeamBonding Lab, save your favorite ideas, and track your upcoming events.
Already have an account? Login

Please wait...


Don't yet have an account?
Create a Free Account

Forgot Your Password? Password Reset