New Article: Tuckman’s Model of Team Development and Dynamics

Team255

“Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing."

– Warren Bennis, Ph.D., "On Becoming a Leader"

Effective teamwork is fundamental in today’s world, more so in the modern business world where, for most companies today, the physical barriers of office space – even the almighty cubicle – have practically disappeared to give way to open floor plans set up to maximize group interaction. However, as you’ll know from the teams you have belonged to or led, new teams do not perform at high levels right from the start. Building a team takes time as the team evolves from a bunch of strangers to a united group with a common goal.

Whether your team is a temporary working group, a virtual team or a newly-formed, permanent team, understanding the stages they’ll go through in this journey, will help you create a more integrated, productive and performing team.

In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman, came up with the Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of group development. Tuckman maintained that these phases are necessary in order for a team to grow, as they face challenges, find solutions and plan work in order to deliver exceptional results. Tuckman’s model describes the path to high-performance through a staged development model to which Tuckman later added a fifth stage called "Adjourning” (in the 1970’s).

In short, the stages of Tuckman’s model are:

  • Forming –team members are introduced
  • Storming –the team transitions from “as is”to “to be”
  • Norming –the team reaches consensus on the “to be”process
  • Performing –the team has settled its relationships and expectations
  • Adjourning –the team shares the improved processes with others

Continue to the full article

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Stars and Teams

In all teams there are “star” players and there are “team” players. Both are essential to the success of a high performing team. Star players provide occasional moments of high intensity, energy and drive, where they can muster their single skills to overcome particularly difficult situations. The star players, however, are rarely “team” players. They are usually energized by the recognition of their individual accomplishments and usually have a hard time relinquishing control and delegating responsibility.

The “team” players, on the other hand, understand the value of collective strength and that the whole is, more often than not, greater than the sum of the parts. Team players will try to put everyone to work to achieve the best outcome. They are often overlooked as most attention is drawn to the star players, but are pivotal in consistently achieving results. They are usually the ones who create the conditions that allow star players to shine.

"I want employees who are ambitious, but not at the expense of everything else. It’s the ‘peacock’ issue: I don’t want 800 people saying, ‘Look at me.’ The employees I promote deliver results – and their colleagues want to work with them. An individual without the desire to enable colleagues is just that – an individual. Someone who’s passionate about helping others succeed is a leader."

Tracey Fellows, MD, Microsoft Australia

Here are a few of the personal characteristics I look for in candidates when I am building a team:

  • Reliable and accountable. Team players know that the team depends on each other, so they know that the other team members need to know they can count on them;
  • Committed. Team players are usually committed not only to their individual tasks but, most importantly, to the overall outcome;
  • Active Listener. Team players know how to listen. They know how to ask the right questions and how to engage in meaningful dialog without the need to “win” every argument;
  • Participative, shares openly and constructively. Team players intrinsically understand that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, so they proactively share knowledge and work constructively with others.
  • Cooperative, flexible. Team players easily adapt to changing conditions and usually take the initiative to cooperate with others to accomplish a task or help to solve problems;
  • Respectful and supportive. Above all, team players are respectful of other peoples’ opinions and of differing points of view not forcing their own ways or opinions on others. They influence, support and help to develop others. In time, I’ve seen many team members, who have exhibited several of these characteristics, take on bigger challenges and responsibilities and naturally become leadership figures within their own teams. The star players on those teams usually wanted to move on to become bigger and better star players on other teams.
    An interesting observation is that team players who excel at being team players, often become star players themselves,by exercising leadership skills like active listening or delegation, while still retaining their team player characteristics.My observations and personal experience suggest that people who are able to walk this fine line greatly accelerate their personal growth and career development.
    Consider, for a moment, how others see you and what behavior you exhibit in your relationships with co-workers and team mates. Are you a bright and shinning star on the rise or are you a solid and grounded team player? What do you value the most? The recognition of your individual accomplishments or the recognition of the accomplished job?

Powell’s Rules

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of  management says is possible.”

– Colin Powell

I have seen Colin Powell’s leadership lessons some time ago, but frankly can’t recall why I never posted them.

Although I think that the “lessons” are insightful and reflect a man who seems to have a very head-on and assertive approach to people and leadership, I actually prefer the shorter “rules” version, which are very compact and directive.

Powell’s Rules

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

Leadership Lessons

Leading Creative Teams

I deal with highly intelligent, motivated and creative individuals on a daily basis. Leading teams of creative individuals is both a privilege and a responsibility. Generally speaking, creative and intelligent individuals are used to question status quo and typically find creative ways around organizational obstacles, so I am constantly reminded of an insightful quote I read in an article in the Harvard Business Review:

Leading teams of creative, intelligent individuals requires an atmosphere where rules and norms are plainly and universally accepted. 

It has been my experience that for leadership to be accepted you have to create an atmosphere where the team members are valued individually, and feel committed with the overall goals. I believe that for rules and norms to be universally accepted, it’s important to communicate and get agreement on shared objectives.

I also think that creative and intelligent people need a fair amount of leeway in how to reach a given objective. However, it’s still up to the leader to set the goals and define the boundaries of the playing field.

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