Friday, May 30, 2014

Build Strong Teams by Minimizing the Storming Stage

First developed in 1965, the 4 stages of the Tuckman model of team development are well known:
  1.  Forming: behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted and get along
  2.  Storming: behavior is driven by a desire to succeed as an individual
  3.  Norming: behavior is driven by a desire for mutual success
  4.  Performing: behavior is driven by a desire for high performance
Perhaps the most challenging stage is the second…Storming. It is the stage when individuals begin to express their opinions, take sides, experience conflict and still see themselves as individuals rather than members of a team. Though it can feel confusing and confrontational, the storming stage actually reflects a healthy sign that the group needs to behave as a team to succeed.  Teams outperform individuals when performance requires multiple skills, judgments and experiences.  Groups that meet infrequently or do not need to truly collaborate to achieve common goals rarely get past the forming stage.

Once upon a time, it would be up to the team leader to dictate a “fix” for storming teams.  Nowadays, smart leaders ensure that their teams take on much more of the responsibility for their success or failure.

Action learning for leadership development pros recommend that, whenever possible, the team should figure out its own team charter for goals, roles, responsibilities, processes, behavior and conflict resolution during Stage 1, the Norming stage, when everyone is getting along. The team sets the rules. All agree. Then when disagreements arise in Stage 2, there is a clear protocol for how to deal with any problems. 

This approach allows the team to “go slow to go fast.”  Done right, it will significantly decrease the time teams spend Storming and increase the speed to Performing.

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