The creation of any team is a lengthy and demanding time for any manager - one that can be both simplified and better controlled through a little knowledge of common team formation behaviour patterns.
As well as taking and active and involved role in the development of each member of staff as an individual (see MASLOW's pyramid of needs diagram), an effective manager must also be aware of and look to nautre and guide teams through the essential formation stages that all teams need to travel through to become productive.
Any team tends to go through the following four stages on its way to becoming productive.
A new team - probably a new grouping of people who have not known each other before or at the very best shared a high level but not a low level objective.
The team will initially go through a honeymoon period where all relationships and roles within the team are new, and need to be supported, educate with robust processes, lots of face2face interaction from you.
The formation of a team may be a difficult time - as you need to delegate authority into it and train the teams members to be self sufficient - which may take a great deal of time and effort on your (the creator of the team) time.
Within any new team a hierarchy will usually appear during this period - based in knowledge and assigned role.
The courtship period is now officially over and this stage finds teams needing to settle down and start learning to work together. As team members gain confidence in the team and the role they will seek personal team identity and conflicts often arise which will need to be addressed before the team can move beyond this stage.
Ensuring that team members understand what they each contribute to it's performance - what they and the other team members uniquely bring to the delivery of the objectives is very important. Anticipate that personality clashes will occur and then work to overcome them - as resolving the challenges at this stage and not allowing them to continue will subsequently be very beneficial for the productivity of the team.
One approach to consider to reduce this stage in duration is to consider a 'results based rewards method' - measuring the team on its delivery of the service it was created for. By making it clear that the overall output of the team is what is being measured and rewarded - a team will be more inclined to overcome it's internal challenges itself and get on with the job in hand.
Be prepared to accept that some combinations of staff just do not work and seek to understand why issues have occurred and why, taking action to reform teams or take disciplinary action only as a last measure.
The thrill of creation and the internal squabbles settled in and the team finally gets down to the job in hand. There is a temptation at this stage for the novelty of the function of the team to wear off and the members to become disaffected and demotivated. Some level of staff churn can be anticipated at this stage - as here the team is almost fully formed and its members will either feel valued, involved and appreciated in their roles or they will be clearly unsuitable for that team role and they and the team may benefit from a switch to another team.
Although these stages can take anything from weeks to months, it has been shown that attention to the operation of the team and focused mentoring with anticipation of these different transitions can speed the process and allow the team to reach optimum performance much more quickly.
Further Reading and information
The notion of phases occurring in team formation is not in itself unique or new - and a great deal of research has been done in this area by both ourselves and other professional and academic bodies. The idea of these stages being 'forming, storming, norming and performing' was originally suggested by Bruce Tuck in 1965 and is now widely accepted.
If this article proves helpful and you would like to discuss the specific challenges facing your new or established teams - feel free to contact us on 07780-500287 or read more on our website www.teamr-cal.co.uk - We will be glad to assist you further