Creating high-performance work teams is more than just throwing people together and expecting them to perform as a cohesive unit. Work teams can create a synergy that results in a level of performance far greater than any one person, but to accomplish that, you need a game plan. Together, everyone achieves more if you can get everyone on the same page, committed to accomplishing the same goal. The most popular team-building model taught in business school is a four-stage model first introduced by Phycologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Tuckman believed that these stages are necessary for a team to grow, overcome challenges, solve problems, and deliver results.
Worth Remembering … “Teams are now the primary force of organizations. They are worth cultivating at their core. Their core is the mind of each team member.” – Nancy Kline
Forming: Forming is the getting acquainted stage in which team members meet each other, form initial impressions, and try to get a sense of what it will be like to work together and be part of a team. You can help this process by planning social get-togethers outside of the workplace or having a company-organized meet and greet so team members can begin to build those all-important relationships.
Storming: Conflicts and disagreements are inevitable as team members start to work together. Different personalities and work styles will clash. That’s why soft skills, the ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, is critical to team success. Hire people who like to be around people and who want to be part of a team.
Norming: Norms shape team behaviour by establishing and imposing group standards. This is when the real work begins. Never allow standards to slide. First, team members need to know what is expected of them. Next, they need to understand what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. Finally, they must be willing to do what ever it takes to be a good team player. Then, you need to step up and call out those who are not meeting those norms.
Performing: This is the final stage of creating a high-performance team. People do what you inspect, not what you expect. You need to get out of your office and manage the team by walking around. You must monitor their performance to ensure team goals are met.
Worth Remembering ... “It is not the individual but the team that is the instrument of sustained and enduring success in management.” – Anthony Jay.
The next time you’re charged with creating a high-performance team, try Tuckman’s four-stage model. If that doesn’t work, you can always use Tuckman’s fifth stage – adjourning. Adjourning was added to his model in 1977. I think it’s for project teams that have accomplished their objective, then disbanded. I’m not looking to break the team up if the team concept is working.
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