We all belong to different teams, or groups of two or more people who have some type of common purpose for connecting. It could be for work, church, fun or any of a number of other reasons. What I observe over and over again is teams get frustrated and don’t perform together. I believe the reason why is they don’t have an understanding of the key stages a group or team goes through.
I believe all groups go through these 4 distinct stages in order to get to the point of being effective:
Form – A group has to form, get to know one another, backgrounds, history, why they are on the team, what are the goals of the team and the members, many teams short change this effort. What is important as this needs to be done EVERY time a new member or person joins.
Storm – This is when everyone is past the ‘let’s be nice stage’ and start to have disagreements (I mean different perspectives) about an issue or topic. This feels uncomfortable and most of us never learn how to deal with conflict constructively. This is the stage where most teams stop working effectively and many times self-destruct. The team needs to spend time learning how to deal with conflict amongst one another. (A future post maybe)
Norm – This is where the team sets behavior standards and expectations for one another which might cover everything from attendance to conflict to team processes. This is critical in order to get to the next step.
Perform – This is the whole point of being together usually, to get something done. Shortchanging the first three stages will probably mean the team goals will not be optimized or maybe not achieved at all. Usually if the first three have been completed performance occurs at a much higher level.
I have been on teams that have never finished stage one (Form) or took a long time to do it effectively. Stage two (Storm) is where I think most teams disintegrate or it is ignored and storms happen outside of the team structure (the hallway, bathroom, at lunch, etc.)
Think about the groups you belong to, can you identify which stage they are in and which ones have been accomplished successfully?