Organize Your Project Team

How do you organize your project team? For me, having a well-organized project team is essential for any successful project. By carefully considering the roles and responsibilities of each member, you can ensure that all tasks are completed efficiently and effectively.

When organizing your team, it’s important to consider factors such as individual strengths, weaknesses, and availability to ensure that the team succeeds in achieving its goals. With proper planning and care, your project team will be able to tackle any challenge.

Planning will give your project the best chance of success. Moreover, it also ensures the right personnel is in place, with motivation and capabilities that fit their job description. Additionally, it’s vital to understand how they will work together as one cohesive unit which is key to project success.

Stages of team organization

When organizing your project team, don’t just think of the immediate roles they need to fill. Consider that your team will go through different stages of development and thus you should also plan accordingly.

The model of team progression, which was developed by Bruce Tuckman (an American Psychologist) in 1965, has been widely accepted and implemented. This model outlines the various phases of growth and development that teams go through during their life cycle. It helps comprehend the difficulties they may face while carrying out tasks as well as how to overcome them.1

Tuckman’s original model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing has been the basis of much discussion in project management group dynamics since it was published. Altogether, his theories remain a great way to measure the accomplishments of your group, offering a structure for the project leader to identify the team’s behavioral trends.

Creating a story and framework around the natural stages of growth within a newly formed team can help to minimize any conflict or awkwardness when it inevitably arises. With each phase of development, come unique difficulties, emotions, and behaviours to face. When teams align on the various nuances of their growth, they can achieve a much higher level of success. Most importantly, collaboration and understanding amongst team members will lead to a more wholesome, robust, and vibrant team.

Forming the team is a critical step to organizing your project team

Pulling together the project team is essential for effective organization. This step of forming the group should not be taken lightly and should be considered an important part of the project process.

The initial step in the process of task-oriented activity is known as forming or ‘orientation to the task’. During this stage, members of a group work together to understand the exact parameters of the task and figure out ways to achieve it with their combined knowledge and experience. The team must determine what type of data they require for their project.2

Behaviors during forming stage

When first joining a project team, new members usually have high levels of enthusiasm and are eager to be part of the group. Although there may be excitement and high expectations, one may also be apprehensive about how they will fit in and if they can keep up with the team. It is totally natural but understandable to feel nervous when embarking on this journey.

Helping the team organize during the forming stage

Establishing a well-structured team is the cornerstone of successful collaboration. During the formation phase, it’s essential to provide clear direction by setting achievable goals and objectives. In the end, effective communication can help team members gain clarity, easily solve concerns, and promote an environment of trust.

When it comes to establishing a new team, it can be compared to an impromptu game of soccer or basketball. Even though you may not know each other or be familiar with each other’s skills, everyone has their own unique set of abilities and knowledge that they bring to the unit. Upon being assigned to the team, all members quickly understand the rules and the role of everyone. This small yet critical action sets up a strong foundation for an effective team.

Forming is the first step to organize your project team.
Forming a New Team

The storming stage and organizing your team 

During the storming stage, organizing your team members for success can be challenging, as there may be intergroup conflict.

At this stage, tension and defensive behavior can be observed more clearly. Changes in team dynamics can sometimes cause tension between individuals and affect the relationships within the group. At this point, communication within the team starts to weaken and the team starts to drift apart. As the project manager, it is important to recognize the formation of sub-groups and any polarization from the team.3

Organize your project team with a meeting.
Organize Your Project Team

Behaviors during storming stage

During the storming stage, the project team is likely to demonstrate more expressive behavior. This could include various emotions such as frustration, elation, or confusion. It is an important part of problem-solving and understanding the dynamics between team members. 

Helping the team organize during the storming stage

It’s a great idea for the team to reorient themselves and get back on track. Breaking down big goals into smaller, more achievable ones can be quite beneficial. Additionally, enhancing team members’ task-related skills, while also strengthening group processes and conflict management capabilities will prove to be very helpful.4

The norming stage and organizing your team 

You and the team have successfully worked together to reach this stage in your journey. Resulting in an increased sense of unity and harmony, making for an effective and efficient unit.

According to Tuckman’s research, harmony is reached within a group when hostility has been alleviated, there is a shared goal and sense of togetherness. Additionally, during the norming stage, members of a group become more unified, fostering camaraderie and collaboration. Subsequently, this is how group cohesion is developed.5

Create amazing projects together with a well organized team.
Create Amazing Projects Together

Behaviors during norming stage

Team communications become more meaningful, and help is much more readily available when it comes to problem-solving. As a result, teams can work together more effectively and produce better project results. At this point, team members are devising solutions to challenges instead of simply pointing out issues. During this stage, the team will be highly concentrated, and their productivity will increase. 

Helping the team organize during the norming stage

Guide the teams to constantly strive for greater productivity and to consistently meet their objectives. Unite to ensure that there are continued successes. Do this by promoting working together, combining their individual strengths and talents to produce results that are greater than the sum of their parts.6

The performing stage and organizing your team 

During the performance stage, people work together and support each other to bring about the best results. 

At this stage, team members can think freely and share understanding, analysis, and insights without any hesitation. This is also accompanied by a supportive and friendly atmosphere that encourages productivity.7

The performing stage and organizing your team
The performing stage and organizing your team

Behaviors during performing stage

The team has been making great strides towards the project’s aims and targets. Everyone feels motivated to continue their work as successes are applauded by the whole group, offering mutual support. Particularly, the team will be able to work at a higher capacity and have the chance to experience personal development. This will result in an overall improved performance.

Helping the team organize during the performing stage

Even when it may seem like everything is running smoothly, it is important for the project manager to be attentive to changes in the team’s dynamics. Therefore, keeping track of these changes can help ensure that productivity stays at a high level. 

It’s inevitable that the personnel responsible for a project may change throughout the course of its lifetime. This can cause the team to go through any of the earlier stages they already experienced. Ideally, use everyone’s combined understanding to quickly transition back to a high-performing state.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

It’s important to recognize that there can be knowledge or information gaps in our understanding, and it is vital to seek out new knowledge or ways of thinking in order to expand our understanding.

I first saw the phrase “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know” hanging on the wall at my father-in-law’s farm. It was a humble yet profound way of understanding my own limitations. Eventually, I began to use this phrase when bringing new teams together for the first time.

Organize your project team by leading them in the right direction.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

It’s a great way to show the team that you are human and don’t know everything. Furthermore, I find this helps ease expectations from new members of the team and creates a safe space for sharing ideas. This is helpful process in general as it allows the team to grow and learn together.

When the project team is growing and learning together, they naturally create the conditions to be curious. Curious about each-other and curious about the nature of the problem or project you are trying to solve. This natural curiosity will uncover new ideas, cement the team’s ability to work together and allow you to move toward solving greater problems for betterment of society.

Conclusion – organize your project team

When organizing your project team, it’s  important to understand the four phases of storming, norming, forming, and performing. This structured approach helps teams move from hostility and doubt to a collaborative, communicative atmosphere. What’s more, it gives everyone a basis for understanding their experience and how they can work together harmoniously and productively.

Most importantly, the phase of the team can shift at any point, and they can revert to storming or take a different direction entirely.  It is important to understand that the team’s progress may not always follow a straightforward path. 

As the project draws to a close, members of the team may worry about what comes next. Facing an uncertain future is an intimidating experience and can evoke intense emotions of worry, doubt, and unease among the team. To ensure a successful transition, it is important to recognize the shift and provide support to your team. This will help maintain productivity and likely result in a more efficient result.

It is essential to create an environment of understanding and openness. Developing a workplace where everyone feels comfortable to express their ideas and ask questions will help boost the performance of your project team. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

About Koncept

Koncept has the expertise to assist in a broad range of strategic initiatives, from major capital projects to undertaking complex transformations. We can help you keep track of project variables throughout its life cycle and ensure that it is on target for meeting its objectives. Our project services are perfect for enhancing both efficiency and cost-effectiveness, allowing you to maximize results. Koncept supports different methodologies and standards for decision making, project control, advisory and coaching. Contact us today!


1 – Wikipedia – article – Bruce Wayne Tuchman –

2, 3, 5, 7 – Tuckman, Bruce W. (1965) ‘Developmental sequence in small groups’, Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384–399

4, 6 – Judith Stein – MIT Human Resources – ‘Using the Stages of Team Development’