Has it ever happened to you? As a manager or senior professional staffing for a key project, you need to build an ace team. You choose the most skilled individuals from across the organization and think it’s going to be smooth sailing. But there are hiccups. Your star performers disagree on just about everything. Project progress gets affected.

Before you rush to change the team composition or despair, understand that it takes time to build a team. Bringing people together is just the first step.

According to Bruce Tuckman, who carried out extensive research in the field of group dynamics, groups go through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. These stages refer to the journey of the group – members come together as individuals and are then transformed into a single, cohesive group committed to achieving common goals.

  • Forming. This is step one, where your team members meet, get introduced to each other and understand project objectives. Think of it as ice breaker sessions, where people need to learn about their roles and responsibilities, challenges ahead, and so on. Multiple questions and lack of clarity on the way ahead are common to this stage. Use your leadership position to address the queries and set the right expectations.
  • Storming. Many people, many opinions. This is the stage in which there are disagreements and conflicts within the team. Sometimes, there are power struggles and cliques get formed. As a leader, you could guide the team towards resolving conflicts amicably or hammer out compromises.
  • Norming. This is the calm after the storm. Differences have faded and your team has greater clarity of purpose. People understand their roles and know how to contribute. As a leader, you facilitate decision making, which is by now, a largely democratic process within the group.
  • Performing. This is when the team functions like a well-oiled machine and delivers exceptional results. It’s a high-performance phase, characterized by greater unity among members, true team play and a commitment to achieve goals. Disagreements and differences are worked out smoothly; members share a great rapport.

From ‘forming’ to ‘performing’, it is a gradual journey for teams. People move from one phase to another, over a period. Some groups might not make it past the storming stage and not all teams reach the stage of exceptional performance.

As a leader or senior manager, assess which stage your group is at and see how you can help take it to the next stage. Ace teams after all, are not born. They are made.

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