I have handled multiple assignments for our clients; most of them necessitated building ‘on-the-ground’ team that worked for them. At Platformax our customers trust us with their biggest problem, lacklustre sales or dwindling orders. We sift through the maze, automate the sales processes and help them tame the sales beast.
Through this article, I am sharing my experience on how the ‘on-the-ground’ teams evolve. As the team matures, members gradually learn to cope with the emotional and group pressures they face. The team goes through these somewhat predictable stages.
Stage 1: Forming the team
When a team is being formed, members cautiously test the boundaries of acceptable group behaviour. This stage reminds me of hesitant swimmers, they stand by the pool, dabbling their toes in the water. At this stage, they are moving from individual to a member status and analyzing their team leaders guidance officially and unofficially.
In the Forming stage these feelings surface:
- Excitement, adaptation and optimism
- Satisfaction in being selected for the assignment
- Provisional sense of team belonging
- Doubt, fear and nervousness about the job ahead
In Forming phase, team exhibits these behaviours
- Endeavours to state the tasks and agree how it will be fulfilled.
- Efforts to define agreeable group behaviours and how to deal with group problems.
- Decisions on what information needs to be collected.
- Lofty, intellectual discussions on models & concerns; and some team members may be exasperated with these dialogues.
- Discussions of symptoms or problems not relevant to the task; struggling in identifying appropriate problems.
- Objections about the organisations and barriers to the task.
At this stage of the team formation, activity abounds and sidetracks the member’s attentiveness; the team makes minimal achievement in its project goals. Don’t panic; most of the teams go through this phase.
Stage 2: Storming
Storming is the most difficult stage for the team. It is as if the members jump in the water and thinking they are about to drown, start panicking by flipping their limbs. They start to realise that the task is difficult and more burdensome than what they imagined it to be. This makes them tetchy, blameful and at times overzealous.
The lack of advancement fuels resentment, but they are still raw to figure out the next steps in decision-making; they feverously debate about the course of action the team must take. They heavily rely on their past experience and skillfully resist any need for inter-team collaboration.
In the Storming stage these feelings surface:
- Opposition to the task and the methodology being recommended by other team members.
- Snappy oscillations in their perception of the team and the project’s ability to deliver on commitments.
In Storming phase team exhibits these behaviours
- Disagreement among members even when they agree on real issues
- Defensiveness and competition, factions and choosing sides
- Probing the prudence of people who selected this assignment and assigned other members to it.
- Establishing unworkable goals; concerns about disproportionate work
- A perceived pecking order, dissent, increased strain and distrust
As a result of these pressures, all members get drained and are unable to progress towards the desired results. However, they start understanding each other in a much better way.
Stage 3: Norming
In the norming stage, members resolve opposing devotions and duties.
The members wholeheartedly accept the team; agree to the norms and get comfortable with the role assigned to them, and graciously accept the individuality of other members.
Emotional conflict and its draining effect on the team members shrinks as cooperation replaces competitiveness in the team. In other words, as team members realise that they are not going to drown, they stop thrashing about it and start helping each other’s stay afloat.
In the Norming stage these feelings surface:
- Knack of expressing criticism in a constructive manner
- Acceptance of membership in the team
- Relief that it seems everything is going to work out
In Norming phase team exhibits these behaviours
- An attempt to achieve accord by sidestepping situations that give rise to conflict
- Increased friendliness, sharing personal challenges and deliberating about the team dynamics
- A sense of internal cohesion
- Establishing and maintaining team ground rules and boundaries
As members begin to iron out the differences, they free up more time and energy for the project, thereby making measurable progress on the team goals.
Stage 4: Performing
By this stage, the team has settled its relationship issues and expectations. They now begin performing, analyzing and cracking problems. By this stage team members have discovered and are comfortable with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They start playing with each other’s strengths instead of fighting over their shortcomings.
In the Performing stage these feelings surface:
- Team members have insights into personal and group processes and better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses
- Satisfaction at teams progress
In Performing phase team exhibits these behaviours
- Constructive self-change
- Ability to prevent or work through group problems
- Close relationship within the team
In this phase, the team starts acting as a consolidated unit. The pace of work and results gather momentum in this stage.
Every team goes through this cycle. The duration of each of the phases vary for each team, depending on how quickly they progress, work through obstacles or problems and so forth. At Platformax, we reinforce that these phases are normal and a sign of progress.