Why does every team have to go through these four stages!
Are my team going to get on, will they work well together! In 1965 Bruce W Tuckman recognised these team behavioural patterns and introduced to the world the model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing, with an additional stage of Adjourning when the project closes. In Talent Dynamics we have taken this model and applied it to the four seasons, and how cycles repeat as changes and new challenges occur:
Forming (Spring – Dynamo)
The members of the project team are usually wary of their new colleagues when they join the project, either from within the organisation or as new hires. The jury is usually out and some ‘jockeying’ for position takes place.They need to learn about their role, what they are accountable for, and how they relate to other team members and expectations need to be set.
During this stage, it is critical for the project manager provides structure and direction for the team. Clearly defining the project’s objectives and making sure each team member understands their role and responsibilities will help you lead the team through this stage successfully.
Storming (Summer – Blaze)
The Storming stage is the most painful stage, everything is new, personalities clash, roles and responsibilities are challenged and boundaries are pushed. The project manager will feel most challenged as they need to be able to lead and direct the team if it is going to be successful.
Understanding that conflict is a normal part of team management will help the project manager not to take the tension personally. Having a tool kit of conflict resolution techniques is certainly a help, but most of all it is about empathic listening to understand what is causing the conflict and addressing the fears, misunderstandings and behaviours.
It is also important to be confident, calm, assertive and remain positive during this stage, especially if some of the team members are challenging your leadership. Focus on short term milestones and celebrate small achievements. Try to work out how each member of the team feels appreciated and use that method to recognise individuals. If you understand their values and can find a way to support them, that will help to gain the loyalty.
As an example, when I was leading a team that had been co-located to Dublin Ireland from many different countries, one Indian gentleman really missed his family. Rather than pay for his fare to fly home every 2 weeks, we used the allocated budget to bring his wife and child to Ireland, so he could stay focused on the job and they were able to see him each night. Just by having his family near him his productivity rocketed, and he was willing to be in 110% effort when it was needed.
Norming (Autumn – Tempo)
As the team members begin to understand and accept each other, the team will move into the Norming stage. this is really where they start to accept and trust each other, provided each team member is ‘pulling their weight’. Collaboration will start to occur and focus will return to the outcomes, rather than questions and concerns about internal project issues.
During this stage, the project manager still needs to pay close attention to each team members contribution to make sure they full understand their role and responsibility and what they are contributing to the overall team performance. Provided constructive feedback and regular 360 reviews will ensure that issues do not fester and can be brought out and dealt with.
Regular team building and recognition exercises are still important as it will be very easy to slip back to the storming phase, as the project ramps up and milestones start to loom.\
Performing (Winter – Steel)
In the Performing stage, team members are comfortable with each other and trust and collaborative working is normal. External pressures and issues can have a positive effect on the team as it drives them to work together and support each other as a united front. Team synergy is at its high point, resulting in a high performing team culture.
To maintain the momentum and continue to ensure everyone is in their flow, the project manager needs to take a leadership role and ensure each team members talents (natural strengths) are still be maximised and their weaknesses supported. As roles change as the project progresses, regular check ups will ensure the team synergy is not damaged due to lack of focus or delivery pressures.
Rarely talked about, but this stage is just as important as the others. As the project comes to an end, the team moves into the Adjourning stage. If the team has continued to perform and have become very close supporting each other to deliver the common outcomes, there will be a sense of loss, as well as a level of fear of the unknown, as the team move onto new challenges either collectively or individually.
Celebrating the success and closing off any lessons learned, is important. This will close the project on a positive note and help team members to move on in the right mind-set to tackle their next challenge. Recognition and appreciation is important, especially if team members are to work together again, as it will be based on a positive experience.
At Radial 1 Consulting we have numerous methods to short cut the time it takes to go through the five stages. Talent Dynamics has been used by over 500,000 individuals and groups to fast track themselves. We are fully accredited to conduct fast launch sessions to catapult your teams to success. If you want to know more, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation. You will be surprised how much a small investment in your group dynamics can provide a large ROI of both delivery success, as well as time and budget saved.
Gillian Anderson is a Director of Radial 1 Consulting, a Talent Dynamics Performance Consultant and an Associate of Teamdynamics.com. She works with small businesses through to multi-national and public sector organisations to build high performing and engaged teams. She also works with individuals and families to better understand themselves and their relationships – after all families are just another form of a team.