The Role of the Leader in Creating a New TeamJun 30, 2021
When you are creating a new team or a new structure, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Try using this Team Dynamics Success Pathway, based on the Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing process, which will signpost your best approaches...
Stage 1 - Forming
In this stage, most team members are positive and polite. Some are anxious, as they haven't fully understood what work the team will do. Others are simply excited about the task ahead.
As leader, you must play a dominant role at this stage, because team members' roles and responsibilities aren't clear. They don't know what they don't know, and they won't know the other new people you are introducing into their world
This stage can last for some time, as people start to work together, and as they make an effort to get to know their new colleagues.
Stage 2 - Storming
Next, the team moves into the storming phase, where people start to push against the boundaries established in the forming stage. This is the stage where many teams fail.
Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members' natural working styles. People may work in different ways for all sorts of reasons but, if differing working styles cause unforeseen problems, they may become frustrated.
This is where the Team Colours Report plays an important role:
Storming can also happen in other situations. For example, team members may challenge your authority, or jockey for position as their roles are clarified. Or, if you haven't defined clearly how the team will work, people may feel overwhelmed by their workload, or they could be uncomfortable with the approach you're using.
Some may question the worth of the team's goal, and they may resist taking on tasks.
Team members who stick with the task at hand may experience stress, particularly as they don't have the support of established processes or strong relationships with their colleagues.
Stage 3 - Norming
Gradually, the team moves into the norming stage. This is when people start to resolve their differences, appreciate colleagues' strengths, and respect your authority as a leader.
Now that your team members know one another better, they may socialise together, and they are able to ask one another for help and provide constructive feedback. People develop a stronger commitment to the team goal, and you start to see good progress towards it.
There is often a prolonged overlap between storming and norming, because, as new tasks come up, the team may lapse back into behaviour from the storming stage.
Stage 4 - Performing
The team reaches the performing stage, when hard work leads, without friction, to the achievement of the team's goal. The structures and processes that you have set up support this well.
As a leader, you can delegate much of your work, and you can concentrate on developing team members.
It feels easy to be part of the team at this stage, and people who join or leave won't disrupt performance.
Stage 5 - Adjourning
Many teams will reach this stage eventually. For example, project teams exist for only a fixed period, and even permanent teams may be disbanded through organisational restructuring.
Team members who like routine, or who have developed close working relationships with colleagues, may find this stage difficult, particularly if their future now looks uncertain.
Start now, Using the Success Pathway
As a team leader, your aim is to help your people perform well, as quickly as possible. To do this, you'll need to change your approach at each stage.
Follow the steps below to ensure that you're doing the right thing at the right time:
- Identify the stage of team development that your team is at from the descriptions above.
- Now consider what you need to do to move towards the performing stage. Figure 1, below, will help you understand your role, and think about how you can move the team forward.
- Schedule regular reviews of where your team is, and adjust your behaviour and leadership approach appropriately.
Figure 1: Leadership Activities at Different Group Formation Stages
• Direct the team, and establish clear objectives, both for the team as a whole and for individual team members.
• Establish processes and structures.
• Build trust and good relationships between team members.
• Resolve conflicts swiftly if they occur. Provide support, especially to those team members who are less secure.
• Remain positive and firm in the face of challenges to your leadership, or to the team's goal.
• Explain the "forming, storming, norming, and performing" idea, so that people understand why problems are occurring, and so that they see that things will get better in the future. Coach team members in assertiveness and conflict resolution skills, where this is necessary.
• Use psychometric indicators such as Myers-Briggs and the Integrus Team Dynamics Profile tool to help people learn about different work styles and strengths.
• Step back and help team members to take responsibility for progress towards the goal. (This is a good time to arrange a team-building event.)
• Delegate tasks and projects as far as you can. Once the team is achieving well, you should aim to have as light a touch as possible. You will now be able to start focusing on other goals and areas of work.
• Take the time to celebrate the team's achievements – you may work with some of your people again, and this will be much easier if people view past experiences positively.
This content is produced by Peter Sylvester who is the Founder of Integrus Global.
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