Teams are becoming key tools for organizing work in today’s corporate world. Organizations have specific projects or goals in mind. A team is simply a tool that accomplishes a project or goal. A team is a group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of their customers by accomplishing the purpose and goals for which they were formed. Teams have the potential to immediately amass, organize, relocate, and disperse. It is essential to consider the fact that teams develop and get mature over a period of time.
Team Development is the process of transforming a group of individual employees into a cohesive team. Team Development encourages co-operation, team-work, interdependence and builds trust among team members. Team Development can include the daily interaction that employees engage in when working together to carry out the requirements of their jobs. It involves structured activities and exercises that employees can lead.
Team building requires a manager to follow a systematic planning and implementation process to assess whether his or her team can:
- Improve the organization’s goal attainment
- Remove barriers to team building
- Build an effective team through training, empowerment, and feedback.
Managers must also decide on team size and member roles to gain the maximum contribution from all members.
Teams go through four stages, irrespective of the reasons for which they were formed, according to a 1965 research paper by Bruce Tuckman of the Naval Medical Research Institute at Bethesda. The following sections describe Tuckman’s four stages.
- Forming: During the forming stage, team members not only get to know each other but also familiarize themselves with their task and with other individuals interested in the project, such as supervisors. At the end of the forming stage, team members should know the following:
- The project’s overall mission
- The main phases of the mission
- The resources at their disposal
- A rough project schedule
- Each member’s project responsibilities
- A basic set of team rules
- Storming: Storming is characterized by competition and conflict within the team as members learn to bend and mold their feelings, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs to suit the team. Although conflicts may or may not surface as group issues, they do exist. Questions about who is responsible for what, what the rules are, what the reward system is, and what the evaluation criteria are, do arise. These questions reflect conflicts over leadership, structure, power, and authority. Members have an increased desire for structural clarification and commitment. To progress to the next stage, team members must move from a testing‐and‐proving mentality to a problem‐solving mentality. Listening is the most helpful action team members and the team leader can take to resolve these issues.
- Norming: In Tuckman’s norming stage, team relations are characterized by cohesion. Team members actively acknowledge all members’ contributions, build community, maintain team focus and mission, and work to solve team issues. Members are willing to change their preconceived ideas or opinions based on facts presented by other members, and they actively ask questions of one another. As members begin to know and identify each other, the trust that individuals place in their colleagues foster cohesion within the team. During this stage of development, team members begin to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief because of resolving interpersonal conflicts. Stage 3 is characterized by the flow of data between team members. They share feelings and ideas, solicit and give feedback to one another, and explore actions related to the task. If this stage of data flow and cohesion is attained by the group members, their interactions are characterized by openness and sharing of information on both a personal and task level. They feel good about being part of an effective group. The major drawback of the norming stage is that members may begin to fear the inevitable future breakup of the group, they may resist change of any sort.
- Performing: In the “performing” stage, teams are functioning at a very high level. The focus is on reaching the goal as a group. The team members have gotten to know each other, trust each other and rely on each other.Not every team makes it to this level of team growth; some teams stop at Stage three – Norming. The highly performing team functions without oversight and the members have become interdependent. The team is highly motivated to get the job done. They can make decisions and problem solve quickly and effectively. When they disagree, the team members can work through it and come to consensus without interrupting the project’s progress. If there needs to be a change in team processes – the team will come to an agreement on changing processes on their own without reliance on the team leader.In this stage, the team leader is not involved in decision making, problem solving or other such activities involving the day-to-day work of the team. The team members work effectively as a group and do not need the supervision that is required at the other stages. The team leader will continue to monitor the progress of the team and celebrate milestone achievements with the team to continue to build team amity. The team leader will also serve as the gateway when decisions need to be reached at a higher level within the organisation.Even in this stage, there is a possibility that the team may revert to another stage. For example, it is possible for the team to revert to the “storming” stage if one of the members starts working independently. Or, the team could revert to the “forming” stage if a new member joins the team. If there are significant changes that throw a wrench into the works, it is possible for the team to revert to an earlier stage until they can navigate through the change.
- Adjourning: In the “adjourning” stage the project is coming to an end and the team members are moving off into different directions. This stage looks at the team from the perspective of the well-being of the team rather than from the perspective of managing a team through the original four stages of team growth.
The team leader should ensure that there is time for the team to celebrate the success of the project and capture best practices for future use, alternatively if it was not a successful project the team needs to evaluate what happened and capture lessons learned for future projects. This also provides the team the opportunity to say good-bye to each other and wish each other luck as they pursue their next endeavor.
Characteristics of an effective team:
There are various indicators of whether a team is working effectively together as a group or not. The characteristics of effective successful teams are:
- Clear communication among all members
- Regular brainstorming session with all members participating
- Consensus among team members
- Problem solving done by the group
- Commitment to the project and the other team members
- Regular team meetings are effective and inclusive
- Timely hand off from team members to others to ensure the project keeps moving in the right direction
- Positive, supportive working relationships among all team members.
Teams that are not working effectively together will display the characteristics listed below.
- Lack of communication among team members
- No clear roles and responsibilities for team members
- Team members “throw work over the wall” to other team members, with lack of concern for timelines or work quality
- Team members work alone, rarely sharing information and offering assistance
- Team members blame others for what goes wrong, no one accepts responsibility
- Team members do not support others on the team
- Team members are frequently absent thereby causing slippage in the timeline and additional work for their team members
The team leader will need to be actively involved with such teams. The sooner the team leader addresses issues and helps the team move to a more effective way of working together, the more likely the project is to end successfully.
To achieve maximum results a good team needs to have a clear vision and goal and should be led by an effective team leader who can take the team along by providing good leadership. The key takeaways are trust between the team leader and the team members, listening capability, patience and co-operation to achieve the organizational goals.
Team development activities help teams achieve organizational goals and objectives.
Stages of Team Development. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/principles-of-management/understanding-teams/stages-of-team-development
What is the Team Building Process? Outlining its 5 Basic Steps. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://socialmettle.com/what-is-team-building-process