there’s been a standard model for the stages of group development ever in Bruce Tuckman studied the traits of team. these stages recognized as occurring whether the group is waterfall,agile or a local volunteer organization. they’re basic human behaviors.
Let’s talk about the first two because team need extra leadership to get through these stages.
forming is getting to know your stage. it’s very i or me focused for everyone on the team. each person understands who they are and what they bring to the table, but they may not understand any more than that. everyone will be a little nervous. that’s to be expected. to speed the team through this stage, the leader needs to anticipate the question team members may have and may not be wiling to ask yet. as the team forms, you need to be ready to repeat the purpose and vision often.
this way the team can integrate these ideas into their belief structures. other key topics and questions the team has are:
who are the other people on the team?
what’s our work?
how should the work be tackled?
what are the process in getting things done?
as a leader, you need to hold one-on-one conversations with each team member. this is going to help you establish trusting relationships with them and set foundation for future interactions. you also facilitating conversations with the group that help team member get to know each other. in this session you hold introductions, establish team norms and help the team define success for them. this is also the time to emphasize the shared responsibility of the team in attaining success. your’e also encourage them to self-organize while you commit to supporting their efforts.
Generally, during forming, team member aren’t really willing to have tough conversation that could lead to conflict. they stick to neutral topic to keep the peace. however, in order to move to the next stage of development they must mature to the point where challenging each other is safe. the willingness to disagree about important stuff leads to the next stage of development, storming.
when not every team getting storming many team do, so be prepared. I’ve had some team that raced through this phase quickly and easily while others seem to stay stuck there for a long time. storming can take many forms, but the hallmarks are questioning the knowledge, skills and abilities of their teammates, and second guessing the decisions of the team,PO or scrum master. in order team to progress, personality clashes and other conflicts have to be addressed so they don’t fester.
avoidance of conflict will hurt the team in the long run so it’s best to face challenges head on. at its root, storming happens because during forming the team was a group of individuals. at this stage, they’re recognizing their reliance an each other to be successful, so they’re beginning to form as a team in the fullest sense of the word. your role as leader is to help them through this process. you need to keep grounded in their team’s purpose and remind them of their norms for interacting with each other. you need to use all your facilitation and conflict resolution skills to help team members work out their differences. your goal is to help them appreciate each other’s unique abilities to get to the finish line so they begin to feel like a team. finally,keep the team boundaries simple by:
- keep the goal clearly in front of the team
- use the team norms to guide interactions
- use measure of success to maintain focus on working together.
these boundaries are neutral and were mutually agreed upon during forming. these are great ally in getting the team through storming quickly. as you use these tools, you’re setting them up the success in the later stages of team development.
once you’ve led you team through forming and norming, you’ll start to see the light at the end of the tunnel as they move into the norming stage. at this stage, the resolution of conflict during the storming phase have resulted in a greater sense of intimacy and trust among the team member. you may continue to see an occasional outburst of conflict, but they rare.
the norming stage can be identified when you see that everyone on the team is a taking personal responsibility for their work and their interactions with each other. the team member have internalized their interdependence and share the same drive toward success. the one danger to be aware of this stage is that the team may enjoy the unity so much that they avoid making suggestions that maybe controversial. you can save them for this trap by coaching the leaders within the team to encourage brainstorming at every opportunity. then when you see the team taking risk and considering different approaches, recognized and praised those behaviors. this helps the team build confidence in their abilities to make assessment and decisions on their own. as a leader of a norming, your focus shift to guiding them toward improvement. you’re encouraging them to ask quality, focused questions like
- what a current product defect?
- how can we prevent them in the future?
- how can we become more efficient in our delivery of customer value?
- what else can we deliver to our customers that will truly delight them?
these question help push the team to performing stage.
at this stage the team is almost completely autonomous and need little guidance. they have a high degree of loyalty to each other and they become almost like a family in their interactions. they expect conflict but have tools within the team to resolve the disagreements quickly and amicably. as the team emerges into high performance mode, you can help them become servant leaders for other team in company. this ability to help coach and guide other team will keep them grounded as part of a greater whole. it’ll keep them humble, rather than considering themselves better than any team. your role as leader is to help them see the team as one important cog in the greater enterprise wheel. bear in mind, that once the team is high performing it may not always stay there. in fact, consider the four stage of team development to be fluid, changing circumstances from adding new team members to changing processes can push the team back to previous stage.
you need to monitor the team as long as they’re together so you know what stage they’re in. this way, you can always take appropriate action to guide them to high performance.
In short, the team is now performing. The team is stable and the goals are clear. The team has developed processes that work for the team and people follow them. Performing teams get the job done with minimal supervision and conflict. People are motivated and competently get the job done. Conflicts are no longer threatening and different perspectives are seen as valuable. When a team fully meets this stage, it is a high-performing team.