11 Team Effectiveness Models to Build High-Performing Teams

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11 Team Effectiveness Models to Build High-Performing Teams

Creating a high-performance team is not an event; it is a process. Teams are built over time and require commitment, dedication, and perseverance. A team effectiveness model can guide you on this journey by giving you a solid map to understand your team better, how they’re functioning, and how you can support their highest level of growth.

Let’s explore the different team effectiveness models to get an idea of which one would be the most suitable to understand your team better and drive performance.

What is a team effectiveness model?
Team effectiveness models
– GRPI Model of team effectiveness
– The Hackman Model
– The Robbins and Judge Model
– The Katzenbach and Smith Model
– The T7 Model of Team Effectiveness
– The Salas, Dickinson, Converse, and Tannenbaum Model
– The Tuckman Model
– The Lencioni Model
– The LaFasto and Larson Model
– The Google Model
– The Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model

What is a team effectiveness model?

A team effectiveness model is a tool or framework to help businesses and leaders understand how well their teams function and improve team building, management, and training to ultimately boost performance and accomplish shared goals.

What might prevent a team from performing at its highest level? What causes dysfunction in a group? What do team members need to do their best work? How do people need to work together to tap into everyone’s full potential? These are examples of questions that a team effectiveness model can help answer.

Team effectiveness models are an excellent tool for HR managers and team managers to evaluate how effective and efficient their teams are in an unbiased way and develop stronger solutions.

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Team effectiveness models

Let’s explore some of the most popular team effectiveness models, including their pros and cons and what types of teams they’re suitable for. 

GRPI Model of team effectiveness

The GRPI (goals, roles, procedures, and interpersonal relationships) model was introduced by Richard Beckhard in 1972 and later popularized by Irwin Rubin, Mark Plovnick, and Ronald Fry. It is one of the most widely-known team effectiveness models, consisting of the four components listed below:

  • Goals – A team must have clear objectives and direction to be effective.
  • Roles – Each team member must know what they are responsible for. 
  • Procedures – Processes must be in place so the team can operate successfully.
  • Interpersonal relationships – It’s important that every team member develops relationships with one another and can communicate effectively and trust each other. 

The GRPI model is best suited to dysfunctional teams that aren’t hitting their goals or have lost direction and can help identify the cause and resolve it. Understanding the relationships among the elements helps here.

For example, if your team isn’t hitting their goals, you can see if everyone has a clear role and is held accountable, and so on. It operates on the central belief that if everyone has a goal, a role, a process to support them, and is kind, then you’ll have a winning team. It’s also a great model to use when building a new team from scratch.

The downside is that this model is static and will only show you how well a team performs at a specific time rather than over its whole lifecycle. It also relies on teams being fairly structured from the get-go instead of developing organically over time.

GRPI Model of Team Effectiveness

The Hackman model

J. Richard Hackman, who started studying teams in the 1970s, introduced the Hackman team effectiveness model. Through his 40 years of research, he discovered that what is central to collaboration is not the personalities or behaviors of individual team members but the conditions that enable a group of people to thrive. 

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His model comprises five factors, which are:

1. Being a Real Team – Everyone has a defined role with set tasks to complete. 

2. Compelling Direction – There is a clear direction or end goal to work towards.

3. Enabling Structure – Workflows and processes support the team in achieving their goals. 

4. Supportive Context – Tools, resources, and training help the team reach their goal. 

5. Expert Coaching – Access to a coach or mentor when needed helps teams perform more effectively. 

The Hackman model is most helpful to managers who want to know how to best structure their team and give them the tools they need to eventually be self-sustaining.

The Hackman Model

The Robbins and Judge model

The Robbins and Judge team effectiveness model is built on four dimensions, all of which are essential for a winning team:

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  • Context – Having adequate resources, effective leadership and structure, a climate of trust, and a performance reward system that reflects team contributions.
  • Composition – The abilities and personalities of each team member, allocation of roles, the size of the team, and the personal preference of members for teamwork (i.e., do they enjoy working as part of a team?).
  • Work design – Relates to freedom and autonomy, skill variety, task identity, and task significance. 
  • Process – Committing to a common purpose, specific goals, self-belief, mapping out how to achieve the desired outcome, managing conflict, and accountability. 

This model can help leaders identify which dimension(s) is lacking and take action accordingly.

The Robbins and Judge Model

The Katzenbach and Smith model

The Katzenbach and Smith model was developed in 1993 after the pair studied teams experiencing workplace challenges. They suggested there are five levels of teamwork: A working group, a pseudo-team, a potential team, a real team, and a high-performing team – which is the one all businesses are striving for. 

A high-performing team consists of team members who go beyond just working together. There’s potential for three outcomes:

  • Collective work products
  • Performance results
  • Personal growth

These are the points of the triangular model.

To achieve all three outcomes, a team must work on three effectiveness factors: skills, accountability, and commitment (these make up the sides of the triangle).

This model is most suited to team members struggling to shift from an individual mindset to a team mindset and can help increase engagement and ownership. It also allows teams to find a meaningful purpose and communicate that across the business.

The drawback is that this model only works with small teams that can meet regularly. Plus, if the team becomes trapped in early conflict, they will never become a cohesive team and will be stuck in the pseudo-team stage.

The Katzenbach and Smith Model

The T7 Model of Team Effectiveness

Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger created the T7 team model of effectiveness in 1995 and determined five internal factors and two external factors, which all begin with the letter “T”:

Internal factors:

  • Thrust
  • Trust
  • Talent
  • Teaming skills
  • Task skills

External factors:

  • Team leader fit
  • Team support from the organization

All factors are crucial for a team to perform at its highest level.

The T7 model is best suited to managers who seek an understanding of the separate elements that impact team effectiveness and how they operate together. From this, you can decide where to focus your energy and resources to build a stronger team. 

For example, if there’s a lack of talent, you know to either provide more training or swap in other members with more relevant skills. If there’s a lack of organizational support, you know that you need to push to secure your team the resources and support they need to succeed. This is also one of the model’s limitations because, without external support, the team can’t be as effective.

The T7 Model of Team Effectiveness

The Salas, Dickinson, Converse, and Tannenbaum Model

This 1992 model is an adaptation of Hackman’s earlier model, highlighting the importance of organizational context and group design and the effect both have on team performance. 

The model consists of six elements:

  • Organizational context – External support, education, and rewards.
  • Team design – A defined team structure with clear goals and processes.
  • Team synergy – Working together with shared energy and enthusiasm to meet a goal.
  • Process effectiveness – An awareness of the knowledge, effort, skills, and strategies applied to tasks and an ability to evaluate these.
  • Material resources – Resources that help team members complete tasks as efficiently as possible and to a high standard.
  • Group effectiveness – How each member feels and behaves within the team and how they work together.

This model allows you to examime the context of a team and is most appropriate for teams that are already formed.

The Salas, Dickinson, Converse and Tannenbaum Model

The Tuckman Model

Tuckman’s FSNP model consisted of four stages that Bruce Tuckman suggests are the sequential stages in developing any team. However, a decade after proposing his original model, he added a fifth stage, turning it into the FSNPA model:

  • Forming – When a team first meets and gets to know each other and agrees on objectives and goals. 
  • Storming – Members begin to open up, share their preferred working styles, and build trust as they figure out how to work as a team.
  • Norming – Quirks are accepted and tolerated for the group’s sake, and everyone starts to understand the importance of working toward the collective goal as a team. 
  • Performing – Trust is built, and everyone is motivated to work together toward shared goals.
  • Adjourning – After the project is over, an assessment is performed to see how effective the team was, celebrate individual contributions, and make changes accordingly. 

This model is most valuable for managers who want to understand the different stages of team development. It also helps teams become comfortable with natural differences and tension and work more effectively together. However, there is conflict present at every stage of this model, which some team members may find too uncomfortable.

It’s important to note that teams may bounce between phases at any time; for example, the team may be performing, then new team members join, which puts them back to the storming phase.

The Tuckman's Model

The Lencioni Model

Patrick Lencioni proposed a team effectiveness model slightly different from all the rest. Instead of focusing on what your team should have, it concentrates on what your team shouldn’t have. The idea is that knowing your team’s dysfunctions enables you to establish and manage a more effective team.

Here are the five dysfunctions of a team:

  • Absence of Trust – If team members cannot be vulnerable with each other, trust may not build.
  • Fear of Conflict – Avoiding conflict and pretending to get along can prevent constructive ideas. 
  • Lack of Commitment – A lack of dedication from any team member will slow decision-making and delay meeting deadlines. 
  • Avoidance of Accountability – Team members must hold themselves and each other accountable, even when this is uncomfortable to do. 
  • Inattention to Results – If a team is not focused on collective results, they won’t reach them. 

This model is best suited to managers who want to understand what could be detrimental to a team’s success and avoid it while also learning how to manage it if the situation arises. It helps you understand what’s not working in a team and identify the root cause and steps to improve effectiveness.

The Lencioni Model

The LaFasto and Larson Model

Dr. Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson proposed five elements in their model that make up an effective team. These are:

  • Team member – The skills and characteristics each team member possesses.
  • Team relationships – Those with good attitudes are easier to form good working relationships with. 
  • Team problem solving – Good working relationships can improve decision-making and reduce conflict. 
  • Team leadership – Every team must have a leader who encourages and inspires their team. 
  • Organization environment – Organizational support and the right company culture increase a team’s chance of success.

This team effectiveness model is most suited to managers who want to better understand the dynamics of teamwork and collaboration, and it also prioritizes collective thinking.

However, this model fails to guide managers on how to achieve the identified elements which are critical for team effectiveness.

The LaFasto and Larson Model

The Google Model

Google conducted interviews with more than 200 employees and analyzed over 250 attributes of more than 180 Google teams.

Their findings?

A team’s effectiveness is less about who is on the team and more about how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions. 

They identified five key dynamics for a successful team:

  • Psychological safety – Feeling able to take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed. 
  • Dependability – Being able to count on each other to deliver high-quality work on time.
  • Structure & clarity – Having clear goals, roles, and plans for each member and the group as a whole. 
  • Meaning of work – Working on something personally important to each team member. 
  • Impact of work – The belief that the work being done matters. 

Although Google found psychological safety the most important of the five dynamics (it underpins the other four), all are important to creating a high-performing team. 

The Google model is suited to managers who want to figure out where a team needs to improve and helps teammates talk about how to improve in a structured way.

The Google Model

The Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model

Researchers Allan Drexler and David Sibbet developed the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model. It outlines a total of seven stages to build a team – four to create it and three to increase sustained performance. 

  • Orientation (why) – Why are we doing this work? 
  • Trust Building (who) – Who are we working with, what skills do we have, and what will this journey be like?
  • Goal Clarification (what) – What are the main goals, our targets, and our roles? 
  • Commitment (how) – How will we work together? Is there a timeline, what’s the budget, what resources do we have to help us?
  • Implementation (who what when where) – Planning out the details before jumping in.
  • High performance (wow) – The team is working together towards a shared goal. They support each other and require little direction. 
  • Renewal (why continue) – Will what worked previously help us succeed in the future, or do we need to regroup? 

This model will help managers who want to supercharge their team’s efficiency or figure out what’s holding them back whenever they hit an obstacle. The drawback with this model is that it takes time to implement and develop.

The Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model

Over to you

Teamwork is often the not-so-secret ingredient to a company’s success. Having at least some understanding of team effectiveness models helps HR professionals and managers develop high-performing teams.

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