Stage 4: Performing (or maturity)
And finally, performing. This is the culmination, when the group has settled on a system which allows free and frank exchange of views and a high degree of support from members of the group for each other and for group decisions.
The performing phase is not reached by all groups. If members are able to evolve to stage four, their capacity, range, and depth of personal relations expand to true interdependence. In this stage, people can work independently, in subgroups or as a total unit, with equal levels of effectiveness. The team develops a great sense of flexibility, and their roles and authorities adjust to the changing needs of the group and individuals.
This phase is marked by interdependence in personal relations and problem solving. By now, the group should be at its most productive. Individual members have become self-assuring, and the need for group approval is past. Members are both highly task oriented and highly people oriented. There is unity: group identity is complete, group morale and energy is high, and group loyalty is intense.
The task function becomes genuine problem solving, leading toward optimal solutions and optimum group development. There is support for experimentation in solving problems and an emphasis on achievement. The overall goal is productivity through problem solving and work.
As team members build commitment, trust and support for one another, it will allow them to develop and accomplish desired results. This sense of commitment and trust, plus the resulting self-determination on the part of each team member, is critical in achieving a sustained high level of performance. Team members will learn to appreciate and enjoy one another for who they are and will help keep one another on track. The team will have developed its working methods so that these become an informal set of guidelines.
In this stage, the team needs very little guidance and hands on management. What they need from their team leader is clarity on the boundaries that they can operate within, and permission to be flexible and creative in order to complete the task. You should offer encouragement, empower them to make decisions without your involvement, and step back and take a more strategic long-term view.