What comes in your mind when you hear the phrase dream team? The best employees in one team? The experts joining forces?
Hmmm, you may be right, and you may also be wrong. You can put all the best employees and still not have an assurance that the team will produce a good output. Why? Because a dream team is a group of people working together as a team, understanding each other, respecting decisions and making the most efficient solutions and steps towards the end goal. It’s a bonus point if everyone in the team is good, but if they can’t work together… it’s another recipe for disaster.
Now. Let’s build your dream team!
While doing my online courses for project management, I came across a known model of group development proposed by Bruce Tuckman. He says that these stages are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, face up to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results.
I got really interested because I experienced all these stages as well!
What are those stages? Let’s start with… FORMING!
This is the stage where a group of individuals is assigned to be in one team. Everyone is new. Everyone is just meeting each other as teammates.
As a manager, note that these individuals are not yet a functioning team. They are a group of individuals with no team dynamics yet. Everyone is still building a relationship with each other and no one has any idea yet on what the project is about — so, some may be excited, and others may be anxious.
This is where you need to be really hands-on of your team. Number 1 because it’s only you who best knows about the project. For starter, make sure to provide them clear goals, requirements, timelines, documents, and other things that you think is necessary for them to understand the project.
Everyone’s on board? Let’s go to the next stop! STORMING.
What do you usually do when there’s a storm? Calm down and just let it pour, right? You can’t control it. So you just drink a cup of hot cocoa while watching the raindrops on your window… playing a relaxing song in the background and maybe snuggling in a comforter.
In contrast with the storming stage of the team… you can help to calm the storm. What’s the storm you say? Your team members are now starting to work with each other and are now expressing their views… their different views and internal conflicts and disagreements can’t be avoided. One might not like the way the other person works or one has a different understanding of the requirement from the rest of the team or one resists on taking tasks.
Remember, this is a group of individuals on their way to becoming a team. Your active listening as manager will help you know how to mediate and guide them into making decisions for the benefit of the team and the project as you help them compromise to achieve the most efficient solution to get the necessary outcome. Also, explain why that decision was made to help them understand and see the bigger picture. This is the best time to also establish trust and processes in the team.
By doing these, you are defining what you and the organization are expecting from the team especially in terms of professional behavior.
It can really be a stressful, contentious, and unpleasant stage but as they say, the rainbow comes after the… storm.
Storm’s over. We can now calm down.
Your guidance with decision making while introducing helpful processes in the storming stage helps them to gradually move into the norming stage.
They are now learning the reasons and factors they need to consider and start to decide by their purpose rather than from a position to compromise. They are resolving their differences, seeing each other’s strengths and respects your authority as a leader. The sky is getting clearer now. You will see the increase in their productivity as they start to develop skills as well.
The team dynamics is now slowly building up. In my experience, good team dynamics is the key to a team’s success. As the project manager, your role now becomes an observer and facilitator in assisting the ground rules of the team.
Do note as well that there will still be chances that the team will go back to the storming stage especially when there is a change in requirements or a new resource. Your change management skills will now play a key role when the storming happens again.
Yes, storming and norming has a love-hate relationship.
But don’t fret. It will soon end. (Ouch!) And like all relationship endings, we all have to move on… and everything becomes lighter and better.
Can you now smell the grass? Hear the chirping of the birds? See the sky so clear? Your team has now reached the…
Final Stage: Performing!
In this stage, your team has developed a stronger bond and enjoys open communication. This good communication will then lead to a better team relationship and better disagreement handling. The team now exhibits high energy and has motivation in doing the tasks. As you observe in the previous stage, you will see how they are now developing their competency and better decision-making process even with minimal or no supervision.
As a project manager, your task now is to oversee the project and delegate tasks needed. Through the previous stages, you were able to establish trust in the team that now allows you to may not be involved in their day-to-day activities. You can just meet them at every end of sprint or cycle to monitor and see that the project is healthy and the team’s relationship, performance and dynamics remain productive and positive. A change in dynamics can result in either becoming more high-performing or reverting to previous stages.
A high-performing team is no magic and takes a lot of work and effort from each member. It’s really a nice-to-have when everyone in the team is skillful but these skills will be useless if they cannot work together or if they have different end goals.
In order to form your dream team, you need to guide them into going through the 4 stages — forming, storming, norming, and performing, as they find their ways into working together and producing a quality output with the same end goals.
Your job as a manager is to provide guidance and support in every stage until you see that the team can highly perform even with minimal supervision.
Communication, clear goals and plans, and trust in the team are the main keys to help and put them on the right track.
As you reach the end of this article, let’s drive down to memory lane.
Can you recall scenarios that you experienced before that you can relate to these stages? How did you handle these situations? How can you improve in dealing these stages again?
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