A psychologist by the name of B.W. Tuchman published a paper back in 1965 that has had a greater impact on team building training than any other development. Called the Tuchman Model for obvious reasons, he described the four stages of development that teams go through… forming, storming, norming and then performing.
Although this model has been around for 40 years+, it is still as relevant today as it ever has been, maybe more so. More organisations are moving to a team-based environment and task teams and project teams are becoming the norm. But unnecessary conflict and wasted time and energy can be guaranteed if you are not aware of what it takes to move a team from forming to performing, as the team tries to find it's own way through the maze. Let us look at these four stages of team development, and see if you can recognise where your teams are at the moment.
The Forming Stage – Team Focus: Inclusion When a team first comes together, the primary concern for each team member is going to be "How do I fit in here?" and "What do others expect of me?" Team members are also more dependent on the team leader as they look for direction to get answers to these questions. Getting open communication going is hard work, and even those who are quite talkative will be more hesitant. For those team members who are more quiet or reserved, that hesitancy to communicate and participate can last for a long time, making it more difficult for the team to become fully functional.
The Storming Stage – Team Focus: Control As the name implies, this is when you can expect to see conflict emerging. Team members are now more confident of where they fit into the team, and are starting to develop opinions on how the team could function better. They may start to question the leadership, or the policies or rules under which the team operates. Conflict is not necessarily bad… conflicting ideas are valuable for the team to become more innovative. But what the team needs is the skill to discuss ideas and process them without getting into interpersonal conflicts. Without that skill, this stage can degenerate into dysfunctional behaviour, personality conflicts and politics.
The Norming Stage – Team Focus: Openness By now the team has worked out how to discuss issues and agree on plans without storming! There is a higher level of participation from most team members, communication is more open, and people are more comfortable giving and receiving feedback. There is also an increase in the level of encouragement of each other, and a willingness to discuss differences constructively. Trust is developing as a result of a higher level of respect for other's contributions, and a greater level of openness. Some team members may not have yet made the transition to norming, either because they are not yet comfortable with the team (a recent addition), or because they prefer the control they can exert by maintaining the storming stage.
Author – Keith E. Ayers
Managing Director Integro Learning Company Pty Ltd.
Integro are the publishers of Trust Inside, featuring the Employee Passion Survey, Team Alignment Surveys which help you with Team Aligment challenges and also the Leader's Flexibility & Trust Assessments. Performance Partners are the Ireland Partner with Integro, facilitating Trust Building and High Performing Teams in Ireland. Call Peter O'Connor on 353-1-2402255/353-87-8337107.