Team development 101: The Stages (Part 2 of 3)

Greetings everyone!

A couple of days ago I introduced the discussion point of Team Development reflecting on Dr. Bruce Tuckman’s model. As a continuation of my 3 part blog, here is part 2 — highlights of the stages in Tuckman’s team development model:

Stage 1: Forming

The typical characteristics of a Forming Team are:

  • High dependence on leader for guidance and direction.
  • Little agreement on team aims other than received from leader.
  • Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear.
  • Leader must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team’s purpose, objectives and external relationships.
  • Processes are often ignored.
  • Team members test tolerance of the system and leader.

If these are characteristics of the team you are working with, the leader will typically take a directive leadership style.

Stage 2: Storming

The typical characteristics of a team in the Storming stage are:

  • Decisions don’t come easily within group.
  • Team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader, who might receive challenges from team members.
  • Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist.
  • Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles.
  • The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues.
  • Compromises may be required to enable progress.

If these are characteristics of the team you are working with, the leader will typically take a coaching leadership style.

Stage 3: Norming

The typical characteristics of a team in the Norming stage are:

  • Agreement and consensus is largely forms among team, who respond well to facilitation by leader.
  • Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement.
  • Smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group.
  • Commitment and unity is strong.
  • The team may engage in fun and social activities.
  • The team discusses and develops its processes and working style.
  • There is general respect for the leader and some of leadership is more shared by the team.

If these are characteristics of the team you are working with, the leader will typically take a facilitation and enablement leadership style. This is personally one of my most enjoyable stages because you see the team really connecting and growing with each other. There is a sense of growing unity towards a common goal and we thoroughly enjoy our time together. Works is starting to seem less like work!

Stage 4: Performing

The typical characteristics of a team in the Performing stage are:

  • The team is more strategically aware
  • The team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing.
  • The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader.
  • There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader.
  • The team has a high degree of autonomy. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team.
  • The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way –  team members look after each other.
  • The team requires delegated tasks and projects from the leader. The team does not need to be instructed or assisted. Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development.

If these are characteristics of the team you are working with, the leader will typically takes a delegation and governance (overseeing) leadership style. Very few teams get to this stage and when they get there, its difficult to maintain. Why???….One reason is because the team typically gets dismantled and reallocated to other areas of the company. For this reason alone, this is a stage that I strive for, but brings me both sadness and joy. Whenever I’ve experienced this, it’s time for me to step down as the leader of that team and create an opportunity to another rising star to take over the reigns. The joy of seeing another person, friend, or co-worker step into this team is one of the greatest rewards a leader can ever experience! The sadness comes from no longer working with these people that you have created such a tight bond with — business colleagues that you now call your FRIENDS.

Stay tuned for the third and final edition of this blog, where I will be reflecting on observations and recommended thoughts on Tuckman’s model. Trust me… this all makes sense in theory, but execution of the model is somewhat of an art form. The awareness and flexibility of the leader to quickly adapt to their surroundings is a unique  and challenging journey for each of us.

Thanks for listening and have a great day. If you have found this valuable, please share this blog with others!

Leadership Quotes:

  • Management is nothing more than motivating other people. — Lee Iacocca
  • Synergies are something that the CEO basically has to force to happen, because organizations are, generally, like bodies in motion that tend to stay in      motion. It’s very hard to get big organizations to change. And it takes really a very powerful mandate to force things to happen — John Malone
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