THE MAKING OF A TEAM
Building an effective team is critical for any organization. A team is more than a group of individuals. A group is organized around individuals bringing together independent work in light of individual goals while a team produces coordinated work achieving collective goals.
Although the growth milestones are well known, transitioning from a group to a team is not seamless or straightforward and requires proper coaching along the way. Bruce Tuckman coined the catchy terms Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing to describe stages of this process.
Forming is the beginning stage. The ground rules are established and everyone is both excited and anxious. As a leader you need to answer questions about purpose, objectives, and external relationships. The team over-commits on their goals, ignores process, and misses obvious red flags. The best thing to do is to let the team fail in order to learn from their mistakes. This is much easier said than done.
Once the team started functioning and the pressure to deliver sets in, the power struggle commences. This is the dreaded Storming stage. Typically it lasts about two months. The team has to work out the differences and learn to trust each other. This is the time where leadership is most needed in order to stay the course and prevent the conflict to get out of control. A lot of one-on-one meetings are needed to coach and encourage. One typical mistake is to freeze the conflicts in place and establish a “cold peace”. Only after resolving the internal conflicts the team will proceed into the next phase.
After the conflicts subside, the team enters the Norming stage. Everyone knows well their role and acts according to expectations. Big decisions are made by group agreement. Commitment and unity is strong, and a team work style emerges. The leadership now facilitates and enables. Sanity is restored and this looks to be the end of the road. However after about six months of working together in the new way and establishing a track record of success, something amazing happens. The team clicks and a new stage arises: Performing.
This this when 1+1 on longer equals 2, but much more. Everyone plays to everyone else’s strengths, and there is a tangible sense of joy of working together. The team now stands on its own feet with no need of interference or participation from the leader who now only delegates and oversees.