A favored business topic for me is leadership. And, within leadership, I believe in the big vision. But, I’ve seen managers out there who can’t find the path to delivering on vision. Great leaders understand how to manage to the vision. The best leaders I’ve seen understand that the only way to get that big vision to become a reality is to manage their teams.
Team dynamics is a critical component of leadership and management. And, since the topic of leadership has been of great interest to millions in business, there are plenty of tools to help leaders and managers understand their teams.
I think one of the best resources and leadership models comes to us by way of Bruce Tuckman. He developed the “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing” of team dynamics.
There’s a lot more churn in organizations today. Teams are formed and disbanded all the time. In today’s world, there’s a lot more movement. That means that you can find yourself in a situation where you’re developing and working with new team members on a regular basis. It’s a mistake to think that people will come together and “click”. Forming, storming, norming and performing helps leaders and managers understand and work more effectively when developing new teams for projects and work.
- Forming: This is the earliest stage. You’ll have some members of a team who are raring to go. Others will be less sure. No matter what, there’s a sense among new team members of the unknown. There is a lack of clearness and clarity about the job, roles and responsibilities. Until they begin to dive into the work, no one knows what it’s all about.
During this stage, there’s a greater reliance on management. Because people are unsure, they tend to be more open and positive. This is the stage where there’s good nervous energy.
- Storming: This is a period of time when as roles become clearer, some will begin to jockey for position. Competition begins to take root. Others may feel overwhelmed at this stage in the melding of a team.
At this stage, you’ll have people’s different work styles come to the forefront. Some people will begin to push boundaries. When team members begin to push boundaries and each other, there’s going to be conflict. Some workers may even push up against authority to test what they can and cannot do.
It is during this stage that many teams and team members fail. Management fails to address the “testing” that’s going on by choosing to ignore negative behaviors in the hopes it’ll just “go away”.
- Norming: There comes a time if a team is working together when there will be normalization. Conflicts will begin to be resolved one way or another. Since team members know each other better and are more comfortable around each other, there’s a decrease in the stress of the unknown. A critical byproduct is also that team members become more interested in the “team” as opposed to simply themselves.
Managers and leaders have had the time to earn the respect of their team members. Individuals on the team trust their managers and leaders to support them when it’s necessary and also to work in the best interest of everyone – fairly.
- Performing: This is the stage when the team is working at its optimum. They are working together toward the goal. When teams are performing well, even if one of the team members leaves and someone new comes in, the remaining members will have coalesced enough to be able to continue.
At this stage, it feels great to be part of the team. The team is hitting its targets and goals. If there are changes to roles and responsibilities, it’s easier to get these enacted because the team is working as a unit.
There’s a fifth stage that Tuckman added later, which he called “Adjourning”, and it’s also been called “Mourning”. This is the stage where a team is broken up to restructuring. At this stage, many team members will mourn the loss of their team and what they knew.
You may want to bring people together to work on an ad hoc basis. You may develop teams for certain projects and objectives. Knowing how they will form and become productive will go a long way to managing them toward your big vision.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)
© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.