The benefits and downsides of team performance models

Reading time: about 6 min


  • Organization and evaluation
  • Teamwork and collaboration

If your team uses Agile methodology, you’re likely familiar with how transformative it is for development. And yet, while Agile is an ingenious way to develop solutions for fast deployment, it’s not a management tool. Teams are left to their own devices to work inside Agile parameters, and that can sometimes mean inefficient, slow outcomes, even if the Agile methodology is being utilized.

One way to coach teams toward high performance is to use a team performance model. Agile expert Lyssa Adkins conducted a webinar on the benefits of using team performance models and how you could choose a model as a guide toward higher performance. We’ll give you some examples of team effectiveness models—as well as pros and cons for each—so you can select the right one for your team.

The pros and cons of high-performance team models

There are plenty of examples of teams that are composed of the best and brightest and simply aren’t as effective as they could be. And that has, according to research, very little to do with the personalities of the people on the team. Instead, it’s about the cohesiveness of the team—in other words, how well the team is structured.

Team performance models can be the key to providing that necessary structure that allows your team to better work together.

The downsides are that high-performance team models aren’t prescriptive. You’ll likely need to choose the model you think may be best for your team, then tweak it as you go, or choose a different model altogether down the road. High performance, as Adkins says, is a journey, not a destination. 

The upside is that performance models can increase the effectiveness of a team and generate a wealth of ideas and output.

Examples of team effectiveness models

1. Tuckman’s FSNP (FSNPA) model

Bruce Tuckman published his theory on “Tuckman’s stages of group development” in 1965 which included four phases of group development. The team performance model eventually added a fifth phase and is now known as the FSNPA model—forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.


  • Moves with the natural progression of human tendencies and allows leadership styles to change along with the team’s maturity
  • Gets the group comfortable with tension and enables them to work better with each other


  • Each stage includes conflict. This can be highly uncomfortable for some people and may impede the ability of the group to progress to the next stage.
  • There is no instant way to solve the tension at each stage. There’s also no way of knowing when the “storming” stage ends.

2. GRPI model

GRPI is a simple team performance model that describes what a team needs to be effective.  Developed by Rubin, Plovnick, and Fry in 1977, GRPI stands for: 

  • Goals 
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Processes and procedures 
  • Interactions/ interpersonal relationships


  • Great for team formation
  • Great for solving teamwork issues


  • The model is static and only shows how well the team is doing at any given point instead of during the entire life cycle
  • The model relies on teams being highly structured instead of being very emotional and prone to development over time

3. The Katzenbach and Smith model

Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith developed this team effectiveness model in 1993 in their book, “The Wisdom of Teams.” This triangular framework describes the main tenets of teamwork: personal growth, collective work products, and accountability. 


  • This team development focus may help increase engagement and ownership.
  • This model encourages teams to find a truly meaningful purpose and then communicate that purpose with stakeholders throughout the organization.
  • Engenders a strong sense of collective and individual accountability


  • The team needs to be fairly small and should meet regularly
  • If the group gets stuck in the initial conflict, it can never make it to becoming a full-fledged, cohesive team. Instead, it will become what Katzenbach and Smith dub a “pseudo team.”

4. The T7 Model of Team Effectiveness

Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger developed this team effectiveness model in 1995. It includes five internal factors of a team that impact how effective that team is: thrust, trust, talent, teaming skills, and task skills. It also identifies two external factors that impact a team: team leader fit and team support from the organization. 


  • Prioritizes the positive intent of everyone on the team
  • A great way to understand the factors that contribute to your team’s effectiveness


  • If there isn’t support from stakeholders outside the team, the team can’t be as effective.
  • Takes a special kind of leader who is highly collaborative

5. The LaFasto and Larson model

This newer team performance model was developed in 2001 by Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson after studying more than 600 teams across a wide array of organizations. They found that the most effective teams consisted of five primary elements: individual team members, team relationships, team problem-solving, team leadership, and organization environment.


  • Great for people who want to understand the dynamics of teamwork and collaboration
  • Prioritizes collective thinking


  • While the LaFasto and Larson model is great at investigating group dynamics, it’s not prescriptive and does not offer guidance on how to achieve the dimensions they’ve identified as most critical for successful teams.

6. The Lencioni model

This team performance model was developed in 2005 and is detailed in the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." Interestingly, this model develops on the deficiencies of a team that cause inefficiencies instead of on the beneficial assets of a team that cause efficiencies.


  • Helps teams be aware of dysfunctional elements in order to avoid them 
  • Mistakes are discussed openly
  • Prioritizes trust among team members
  • Focus on results


  • Relies on the ability of team members to be vulnerable in order to progress toward trust

7. The Drexler-Sibbet model

This model was developed by Allan Drexler and David Sibbet after 10 years of refining. This model says that team development encompasses seven stages: four to build a team and three to keep the team performing. The concept is that a team begins with a great amount of freedom to ideate and create and then progresses to stricter parameters as it gets closer to implementation. The seven steps are:

  1. Orientation
  2. Trust building
  3. Goal clarification
  4. Commitment
  5. Implementation
  6. High performance
  7. Renewal


  • Great for ramping teams up to high efficiency
  • Doesn’t have to be a linear process—teams can go back and forth from steps, deciding their own path 
  • Can be used as a diagnostic tool whenever a team is encountering a barrier


  • Takes time to implement and develop
  • If teams skip a step in the progress, progression will ultimately be slower.

8. The Salas, Dickinson, Converse, and Tannenbaum model

This model was developed in 1992 and is a revised version of the Hackmann model, which was developed in 1983. The primary difference is that the Salas, Dickinson, Converse, and Tannenbaum model looks at the context of the group and says that a team’s success depends largely on the environment in which it exists.


  • Allows for the context of the team to be examined


  • Appropriate primarily for white-collar teams that are already intact
  • Not best for newly formed teams

Better teamwork delivers better results—and happier team members. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different team performance models to find the right fit. By understanding the different performance models and their various approaches, you can tailor your management to your team for optimal performance.

For help choosing the best performance model for your team and details on the best models, check out our webinar with Lyssa Adkins.

Watch the webinar

About Lucidspark

Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit

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