DISC and the Five Stages of Team Development

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on November 09, 2022

In every team, there are natural growing pains. Every team will face challenges as the different personalities learn how to work together and cooperate. This is part of a team’s development and it’s actually possible to break the full process down into five distinct stages.

The five stages of team development were first mapped out by Bruce W. Tuckman in the 1960s. Since then, the framework has been expanded and refined to make it more relevant to modern teams.

At Truity, we understand the power of personalities to influence a team’s dynamic and its development. Here are our tips on how to use your team’s DISC profiles to help you through each of the five stages of team development.

Not sure of your DISC type? Take the free test here!

The five stages of team development

Here are the five stages of team development and the key characters who stand out in each stage.

1. Forming

During the first stage of team development, team members start getting acquainted with one another and learning the dynamics of the team. In this early phase, leadership is essential to help steer the team in the right direction. An individual who has the ability to unite the team and provide clear direction will be a key team member at this time.

2. Storming

The Storming stage is the most conflict-heavy phase of team development. This is where team members are trying to understand their common goals and beliefs. There may be numerous disagreements during this phase. In some teams, subgroups might splinter off, united around the most assertive personalities in the group. To move through the storming stage, teamwork and team-building is essential to avoid getting caught up in competition and conflict.

3. Norming

After the storm, calmer times tend to come to the group. The Norming stage is characterized by conflict-resolution and more cohesion. Usually in this third phase, there is an agreement on who the leader or leaders in the group are, leading to better cooperation and more focus on the team’s collective goals. This stage is not set in stone, though. It is possible for conflict to re-emerge and for teams to revert back to the Storming stage.

4. Performing

By the fourth stage of team development, a spirit of cooperation has been established in the group. Team members are used to working with one another and the team dynamic is organized, structured and effective. While it’s normal for disagreements to come up, the team is mature enough to deal with them and move on. They are focused on hitting their collective goals and targets.

5. Ending

The ending stage is when the team is finishing its tasks and ending the process. By this stage, the team has hit their collective goals and they are analyzing the outcomes of their work. It’s normal in this phase for team members to move on to new teams or for members to be replaced by new individuals. In that case, the team will go back to the first stage and start the five stage development process again.

By understanding the five stages of team development, it’s possible to track and anticipate each of the stages as they happen in your team. This insight can help you to understand what’s happening around you and put systems in place to ensure a smooth transition through each stage.

Understanding DISC profiles in a team

The DISC assessment identifies and highlights the strengths within your team and opportunities for building a stronger group. This makes it especially effective for helping with team development.

The DISC profile highlights 4 key behavioral traits:

  1. Drive
  2. Influence
  3. Support 
  4. Clarity

A DISC assessment tells you what weighting of each trait you possess and how this affects your personality at work, including communication, productivity and leadership. Knowing the DISC profiles for your team can help you to capitalize on every individual’s strengths and manage team dynamics. Here’s how to use DISC profiles in the five stages of team development.

How to use DISC profiles in the five stages of team development

  • Forming: At the forming stage, it’s really important to know the DISC profiles for your team members to predict any future problems and learn how to help each member feel valued and at home in the group. 

Identifying a high Drive (also known as Dominance) personality is key at this stage to help provide the team with direction and clarity. If that’s you, it’s up to you to guide the team towards your collective goals.

  • Storming: During the storming phase, conflicts will emerge in the group as the different DISC personality types butt against one another. Very Supportive people in the team might struggle with the disruptive and argumentative group dynamic.

In this phase, Influence personality types can be really instrumental to help bring the group together and persuade people to work together, championing an atmosphere of kindness and cooperation rather than conflict. When they’re empowered, Influence types can lead the team towards resolution and harmony faster. 

  • Norming: In the third team development stage, stability comes to the group. There’s more focus on achieving the team’s collective goals and Support types will be critical to maintaining harmony, structure and productive collaboration. 

This is also where high Drive personalities can be instrumental in taking decisive action and leading the charge. However, it’s important to watch out for conflict between multiple Drive personalities that can send the team back to the Storming stage. This is something to monitor closely.

  • Performing: The performing phase is where you’ll see all of the DISC personalities working together. Focus on team-building in this stage and encouraging an appreciation of all the personality types in their own right can help to strengthen the group dynamic.

During this phase, high Clarity personality types can really come into their own. They have the power to provide the group with a systematic, methodical approach to tasks that will make everyday processes more efficient and help the team run more smoothly.

  • Ending: When your team has achieved its goals, it will be time to consolidate your achievements and bring the team’s activities to a close. Using the team’s DISC profiles in this stage can help to create a satisfying ending for everyone and limit any anxiety and sense of loss that can arise. 

You can draw on the Influence personalities in the group to help instill a sense of achievement and satisfaction in your team members during the ending stage.

Ready to build your team?

Understanding and appreciating your team’s DISC profiles can be instrumental in creating a positive, productive team during each of the five stages of team development. 

While you’ll inevitably come up against some conflict and disagreements, a detailed DISC assessment of each of your team members can help you build a sense of cohesion rather than conflict. 

Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at bethharris.com

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Share your thoughts

THE FINE PRINT:

Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

The Five Love Languages® is a registered trademark of The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, which has no affiliation with this site. You can find more information about the five love languages here.

Latest Tweets

Get Our Newsletter