The team has now reached a stage where it does not require any external leadership. The focus is on all team members performing at their best, with a high level of support for each other and active participation from everyone. Differences are valued, as are the contributions that each team member makes. Innovation is the norm, as the team constantly looks at how they can improve their performance.
My experience in working with many organisations is that very few teams achieve the performing stage because they don't achieve the level of openness and willingness to discuss differences constructively that is necessary to reach the norming stage. As a result, they tend to bounce back and forward between storming and norming. In some teams this is because someone who won’t let go of control of the team is still managing it.
So open communication and trust do not develop… new ideas from the team don't get a receptive hearing, and team members give up and do what they are told. The team leader's role must adapt as the team moves through the four stages. At the forming stage the team needs more direction, so a more directive style of management is very appropriate. But to get the team fully into the norming stage a more consultative style of leadership is necessary.
One organisation I have been speaking with is having difficulty getting their self-managed team environment working. Some of the teams are functioning like well-oiled machines… certainly norming if not performing. Others have not got past storming, and are embroiled in consistent conflict… and this is after 3 years of working together. This is a classic situation where the teams were established without the proper guidance or coaching to get them through the four stages. All teams were provided with some initial training on what self-managed teams were, and how they were to operate, but it was not transferred into an ongoing process of development.
If the team does not continue to develop new skills, how can they move through the stages of development as a team? It highlights again the importance of the role of the leader, and the importance of the leader being able to adapt their management/leadership style as the needs of the team change.
Without effective leadership, you will end up with more storming than performing.
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.