Building a high-performing team is a complicated thing to do. There is no single formula or strategy for doing it. The number of combinations of personality dynamics, business demands, economic situations and other variables affecting your team is probably too long to fully describe. Despite the complexity and number of variables, there some principles and ideas you can rely on to guide you through building and holding together a high-performing team.

Two important ideas to help you better flex your style are the Tuckman team formation and DISC models. Taken together, they provide insight in to how you can best interact with your team.

The Tuckman Model

The Tuckman model describes four primary stages of team growth: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Teams will start in the Forming stage (getting to know each other and the task), move to the Storming phase (figuring out how to work together and get the task done), then move to the Norming phase (getting some work done and still a bit tentative or unsure), and finally to the Performing stage (primarily focused on getting the task done). 

Using the Tuckman model to assess the current state of your team’s performance on a particular task or project, can help you understand what your team is missing in order to move forward. For example:

  • A team in the Forming stage is likely missing clarity and direction. 
  • A team in the Storming stage is likely missing structure and organization. 
  • A team in the Norming stage is likely lacking confidence. 
  • A team in the Performing stage might lose energy or enthusiasm over time.

Note: Your team members can be at different stages for different tasks.

The DISC Model

The DISC model gives perspective on four ways of looking at and interacting with the world. Using the DISC model language, you can see that:

  • The Dominant style tends towards direct, action-focused communication. Use this style of communication to give your team clear guidance and direction in the Forming stage.
  • The Cautious style tends towards carefully considered, highly structured communication. Use this style to give your team structure in the Storming stage.
  • The Supportive style tends towards helping and encouraging behaviors. Use this style to give your team encouragement in the Norming stage.
  • The Inspiring style tends to show excitement and enthusiasm. Use this style to give your team energy in the Performing stage.

The message here is not that you need to be or become a particular style of leader or communicator. The key point is that, regardless of your natural approach to leadership, you can learn something from each of the four styles described by the DISC model to adjust your approach to fit the specifics of your team’s situation.

Take action: Consider a task or project where your team seems to be stuck. What stage of development are they in with regard to this task? Match that stage to the suggested DISC style to see what your team needs from you. 

Do you want to know more about DISC? You can find loads of resources here, including:

  • A free DISC test to help you understand how you communicate.
  • A blog loaded with informative articles.
  • Courses on how to use the DISC method as you lead your team.


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