Team Supporter

What is effective teamwork?

What is effective teamwork?

Good teamwork is about:

  • Getting good results together
  • Ensuring that the team and team members feel good about the results
  • Feeling good about team cooperation1

That seems simpler than it is. Actually, it requires continuously and in every situation juggling what feels good, does good and is good for all team members. That is quite a challenge and that is why collaboration is so complex and requires continuous work and development2. For this reason, there is also a verb for it in English; teaming. Teamwork is never finished, you have to keep working on it 3. Reflection and evaluation of teamwork are essential tools for teams. Think of it as a kind of PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) for teamwork and team development.

The stages of team (development), team levels

In the literature, there are six leading founders who broadly describe two different approaches to team development and their associated phases4.

  • Schuts and Tuckman watch from the group.
  • Bion and Miles look from the perspective of the individual.
  • Caple and Remmerswaal combine the above approaches.

The overview below shows the different team development phases according to Remmerswaal, Caple, Schutz, Tuckman, Bion and Miles. And also how we approach these phases and which leadership role fits which phase.

Tuckman - Lencioni - Team supporter

Levels of development according to Team Supporter

After years of experience in guiding groups to teams combined with the above literature, we at Team Supporter speak of 4 development stages/development levels.

  1. Starting team.
  2. Growing team.
  3. Mature team.
  4. Professional team.

Each level, each stage has its own manifestations, behaviors and concerns4.

Level 1: An upstart team

In this phase, team members do not yet know each other very well. Therefore, this is the phase of probing, trying out and exploring. There is uncertainty in terms of group norms, communication, place in the group and ways of working.

 Needs and behaviors of team members:

  • Waiting attitude: need for clear direction and directions from the team leader; what do we have to do and how should we do it?
  • Acceptance in the group
  • Gathering information about the other team members: who can I form a group with?
  • Avoiding struggles and also conversations about serious topics and feelings.

Developing safety and trust are important themes in this phase. To grow into the next phase, team members must abandon caution, speak up more, and increase the risk of differences of opinion. After this, everyone knows where they stand and has found their place in the team structure.

Level 2: A growing team

Now the team begins to heat up under the pressure of work. Tensions arise because team members are preoccupied with their position and influence within the team. Trust is under pressure and confusion about goals and roles may arise. Critical questions may be raised about formal and informal leadership in the group.

Needs and behaviors of team members:

  • Going into battle, on the task and relationships.
  • There is a need for space for differences.
  • What behavior is acceptable? Where are the boundaries?
  • Looking for structure and own autonomy. Where does leadership lie? How do we come to decisions?
  • Some team members are very dominant, others are quieter; Under water, all sorts of things can play out.

When clarity is established about relationships and positions in the group and about goals, task and ways of working, the team is ready for the next phase. The team works more problem-solving rather than searching. Team members have developed the space to be different and can give each other feedback and see it as information and support, not criticism.

Level 3: A mature team

Team members come together more. They deal better with the diversity in the team and they stand together behind the goals, decision-making processes, way of working and the norms within the team. A more mature way of working together emerges and the team develops its own identity. It is also an exciting phase precisely because of the differences and the fact that conflicts are not avoided.

Needs and behaviors of team members:

  • More involvement and cohesion. Recognition of each other's contributions, of differences, and that working together is necessary.
  • Constructive work is done to solve interpersonal problems
  • Feedback is no longer perceived as a personal attack but as constructive
  • Lots of exchange of data, ideas, also feelings and feedback.

When the group embraces differences and differences of opinion and is ready for even stronger bonding, with more autonomy, the team is ready for the next phase. However, the team may fear changes that will upset the balance.

Level 4: The professional team

Not all teams reach this stage. This is high-level, high-performance collaboration. The team works in flow, with strong motivation and loyalty to each other. Team roles are handled flexibly and functionally; the team now functions as a true autonomous unit.

Main goal of the team is: team performance, being productive and solving problems.

Patrick Lencioni: The 5 frustrations of teamwork

Patrick Lencioni, in his book "The Five Frustrations of Teamwork," describes the essence of team collaboration. He describes the 5 essential ingredients needed for true teamwork. In his model, these ingredients are in a pyramid shape. This means that the top layer can only be realized if the layers below it also work well5:


This model is consistent with Csikszentmihalyi's flow principle6. Teams can also get into flow. Working with team flow can lead to strong team performance, intrinsic motivation and positive work experiences. You perform better together and a hunger to move forward develops7.

There are seven conditions for experiencing team flow and four characteristics that characterize the experience.

Collective ambition

Teamflow begins with a collective ambition, the "intent" of the team. It is a derivative of an organization's mission and vision. It provides focus and is motivating.

Common goal

From the collective ambition, the team formulates a common goal. This goal is challenging, concrete and the entire team is motivated to pursue it. Personal goals align with this goal; this gives energy and you can use your talents.

Mutual commitment

The team makes a commitment to achieve the goals. Making a commitment means doing what has been agreed and keeping each other on task. This also includes holding each other accountable for performing the tasks.

Open communication

Open communication means that everyone on the team knows how the team is doing as a whole and what each person's personal contribution is to the whole. There is a feedback culture with positive and constructive feedback.

Safe environment

Positivity is essential to achieving a safe environment. When working together on challenging goals, being able to trust each other is essential. That includes sharing vulnerabilities without being punished. It also includes being able to be honest, even when someone doesn't live up to their commitments.

Joining forces

In team flow, everyone works from their own strengths. Everyone does what they are good at and complements each other: the whole is more important than the individual in the group.


  1. Ruijters, M. (2018). Quest for good work. About powerful professionals in a learning organization. Deventer: Vakmedianet.
  2. Derksen, K. (2021). Good Teamwork. How teams can perform better and flourish. Amsterdam: Boom.
  3. Edmondson, A. C. (2013). Teaming to innovate. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
  4. Remmerswaal, J. (2013). Handbook of Group Dynamics. An introduction to theory and practice. Amsterdam: Boom/ Nelissen.
  5. Lencioni, P. (2009). The five frustrations of teamwork. Amsterdam: Business Contact.
  6. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper and Row.
  7. Wood, J. van den (2016). Team Flow; from concept to application (PhD thesis, Eindhoven University of Technology). Eindhoven: Eindhoven University of Technology.