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Theories of Team Dynamics

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Communications
Wordcount: 2412 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Team dynamics are the behavioral and emotional forces that influence a team’s performance and direction.  It can be created by the team’s nature of work, personalities inside the team, working interactions with other individuals, and the setting where the team works. A team with positive dynamics will exhibit trust, work towards communal decisions, and hold each other accountable. Understanding team dynamics is essential to a thriving working environment and realizing its linking factors and concepts can assist in explaining the big picture of group behavior. Just as one has to consider the dynamics, the factors pertaining to it is key as well to build team strategies. Stemming from this, the linking concepts that will be discussed are team roles, barriers, and communication.

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Open communication is key to valuable team dynamics. How successfully a team communicates can define failure of success of the team in reaching goals. Furthermore, transparent and open communication builds and maintains trust inside the group and assures all members are able to communicate information to the team effectively. A critical piece of successful management lies with a sound knowledge of group dynamic and the roles played. When good team dynamics are existent in groups working on common goals, each member will perform effectively and accomplish goals that the groups set. Team roles reflect the dynamic connection with other members in the context. An individual can vary in the role played depending on the team they participate in at that moment. In reference to teamwork barriers, they characterize unhealthy management and organizational settings for teams. They also weaken the capacity of driven individuals to implement the organization’s strategy and in particular the will to effectively perform and manage as teams.

Supported model linking concepts

A supported model linking these concepts and factors is the Tuckman Model of 1965 and the Punctuated-Equilibrium Model. In the Tuckman Model, teams progress through five stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and sometimes adjourning and reforming. In the forming stage. Teams have high expectations and are eager of what is to come (Miller, 2014). There is also a slight concern about how an individual’s own preferred roles and styles will fit with the other group members and be of value by the team and leadership. Furthermore, in this stage, the team is slightly dependent on the hierarchy rule clarity and authority path. As individuals are exploring their team, they have tendencies to be polite as not enough time has passed for cracks to appear. Nonetheless, “as the different operating styles and team roles styles become more apparent under real-world pressure, clashes occur” (Miller, 2014, p. 23). They key issue within teams around this stage focuses around conflict, control, and power and if not dealt with can redirect energy from the team mission.

At the storming stage, individuals start to plan their operating styles with less restraint and ability to mask the team role limitations. Operating style differences are expected and if handled well, the team can learn to deal with rising conflict while not taking it personally. The more conflict averse team roles can struggle here and need to see that it is natural and beneficial to professionally argue about the right things (Miller, 2014). If this is handled in a specialized manner, the conflict can allow for innovation and forward moving. Too much conflict avoidance at this stage will lead to more conflict and ultimately an unsettled cycle of conflict. Knowing each individual’s role profile can naturally accelerate by contributing more insight on who is likely to deal with arising conflict and who will avoid it and risk keeping the team here (Miller, 2014).

In the norming stage, self-expectation and others in the team begin to line up with reality instead of the individual’s perception of reality. Methods of providing feedback to each other are established while self esteem and confidence rises as team language develops and responsibility and control are shared (Miller, 2014). More so, genuine respect for various styles are developed and control will start to shift to team from leaders. The team can now confront conflict areas quickly with decreased emotional bias, have difficult conversations by themselves, and search for real solutions.

The performing stage shows team members will project their strengths in team roles and offset each other’s weakness with confidence (Miller, 2014). Additionally, collaboration has turned into an integral aspect of team strength. With the team performing well there is a sense of confidence and positivity, even under pressure. The role of leadership is then formalized less and can be shared upon team role contributions that may be essential for any given project (Miller, 2014). A team can now more clearly focus on reaching team goals and dealing with interpersonal issues effectively.

The Punctuated-Equilibrium Model outlines three stage through a team’s progress as each work towards the project’s completion (Hurt, 2012). The first stage forms groups, define direction, and categorized with high levels of socialization and relaxation. Toward the end of this stage performance is moderately low and members have little need for high activity levels towards task completion as assignments are far into the future (Hurt, 2012). The second stage comes halfway at the completion date. Team members now are putting a substantial amount of effort in task completion and problems are now being confronted. More so, changes in the team bring about high performance and criticisms will start to be taken seriously. In the last stage, the team establishes new directions for goals and drops unsuccessful designs all while gaining new perspective. These new goals can now lead the team to a higher level of performance (Hurt, 2012).

Model/Theory Explanation

While the Tuckman’s theory has numerous benefits, under utilizing or ignoring other team develop theories does harm to those liable for learning how to produce dynamic and high performing teams (Hurt, 2012). Tuckman’s model is versatile enough for the integration of other team development models while the Punctuated-Equilibrium Model offers sufficient collaboration opportunities. The PEM proposes as teams progress to the achievement of a task, they go through three phases (Hurt, 2012). In each of these phases these is a level increase of task performance as deadlines near and time runs short. More so, although the PEM is not as known as the Tuckman Model, it provides a method of evaluating time in team development (Hurt, 2012) as both models are similar in assuming team development is linear and uses stages to portray team development moments.

Integration of the models can be important for specific reasons as this can create a robust and clearer model to define team progress. The Tuckman model allows a person to theorize stages that groups move through but it does not offer sufficient clarification to when the phases start and end (Hurt, 2012). Furthermore, even though the Punctuated-Equilibrium Model views team performance as an act of time it does not do an adequate job of defining group development stages clearly.

Connections between concepts

 Just like individuals, groups go through development changes in roles, power structure, communication and leadership changes. As these team’s progress through stages, members will undergo psychological, cognitive, emotional, and social changes. According to Hayes (2012), “most groups go through four or five stages of development depending on whose perspective of group development one may choose to use “ (p. 8). Though the names and stages may differ, the basic element stages are similar. This can be also said about the team dynamics of roles, communication, and barriers. Team members have to be clear about their expected responsibilities and roles in order for them to be motivated and energized in participating in the team work. When responsibilities and roles are not clear, confusion in efficient use of resources and time, and unnecessary duplication of effort can be present (Haynes, 2012). Furthermore, the dynamics can also become disillusioned, disinterested, and demoralized if they feel their talents or skills are unutilized.

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 In teams, it is helpful for the structure of communication to be open and free so members are able to directly communicate with each other. However, there are conditions where protocols governing how team functions can call for communication to be a more centralized structure (Haynes, 2012). Communication makeups can vary from highly centralized where authority regulates communication to decentralized where communication among each other is freely exposed.

Research Direction

 Future researchers should focus and consider on integrating both models into one to use for future team concepts. Integrating the PEM and Tuckman model now creates a process of recognizing weakness and strengths of each model then inventing a new model that can incorporate the strength and restrict the weakness (Hurt, 2012). This newly created model will now contain four group development phases and looks at execution in each phase comparative to time. The new models’ output is now listed as the defining stage and is the progress of each of the four phases. If the team is unsuccessful in a certain stage, they will go back to the forming stage instead of moving ahead. This continues until the last phase and the task is complete. Once a team has finished their task, they can use this data the next time a task arises (Hurt, 2012). More so, group members can take these experiences to the next team they join. This can then become included in the next groups input experience. More so, flaws of the original models should also be taken into account. For example, the Tuckman model has no time focused data pertaining to each stage. There is no information on how long it takes a group to transfer to each stage. Even though various times will be present in each group, there is not certain way of plotting development progression in the group over time (Hurt, 2012).

Implications Emerging

A possible implication emerging is that leaders and organizations should stop being so reliant on one model or theory. Using one model leaves the team open for more weakness and a straight minded path with no creativity or other ways of developing. Furthermore, individuals and teams need a strong focus to flourish by working to address unhelpful behavior quickly in team members.  Leaders should be motivating its team and setting clear stages and clear defined roles. This can help set expectations and outcomes in behavior. It also gives standards that one should hold underachieving members to account for. Teams should be given the tools to push open communication amongst each other and be updated about changes within the models. Organizations should be paying close attention to the team and the progression going on in each stage. Extraordinary group dynamics can enable team satisfaction and productivity while giving them the opportunity to reach their target. However, even teams with exceptional dynamics are still going to require ongoing guidance, observation and correction. Therefore, organizations, leaders, and team members should be prepared to constantly provide the direction and stage progression needed to thrive.


In conclusion, team dynamics are the behavioral and emotional forces that influence a team’s performance and direction. Discussion stemming from this dynamic included team roles, barriers, and communication. A supported model linking these concepts and factors is the Tuckman Model of 1965 and the Punctuated-Equilibrium Model. In the Tuckman Model, teams progress through five stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and sometimes adjourning and reforming whereas the Punctuated-Equilibrium Model covers three stage in a team’s progress towards the project’s completion. Integration of both models can be important for reasons of this creating a robust and clearer model to defining team progress. Future researchers should focus and consider on integrating both models into one to use for future team concepts. Integrating the PEM and Tuckman model will then create a process of recognizing weakness and strengths of each model. However, even teams with exceptional dynamic models will still require ongoing guidance, observation and correction.


  • Haynes, N. (2012). Group Dynamics : Basics and Pragmatics for Practitioners. Lanham: UPA.               Retrieved from https://www.thecampuscommon.com/library/ezproxy/ticketdemocs.asp?sch=suo&turl=https://search-ebscohost-com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=413518&site=eds-live
  • Hurt, A. C. (2012). The Punctuated-Tuckman: A Conceptual Model for the Integration of Tuckman, PEM, and Systems Group Development Theories. Leadership & Organizational Management Journal, 2012(1), 143–152. Retrieved from https://www.thecampuscommon.com/library/ezproxy/ticketdemocs.asp?sch=suo&turl=https://search-ebscohost-com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ent&AN=75332097&site=eds-live
  • Miller, T. (2014). When four worlds collide. Training Journal, 22–27. Retrieved from https://www.thecampuscommon.com/library/ezproxy/ticketdemocs.asp?sch=suo&turl=https://search-ebscohost-com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=95880476&site=eds-live


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