Transforming a group of diverse individuals into a high-performance team is a monumental task. Although teams have both strengths and weaknesses the ability to constructively exploit the strengths while improving upon the weaknesses is a challenge that most organizations will ultimately face. Accordingly a group that transcends these difficulties will eventually go on to develop the attributes that will effectively allow it to become a high powered team. While there are numerous models that can help to illustrate the elements necessary for team building Bruce Tuckman’s Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing Model of team development seems to illustrate this process with the most clarity.
The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of team development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for a team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has laid the framework for subsequent models of team dynamics frequently used in management theory to describe the behaviour of existing teams.
In the first stage of Tuckman’s model a team is selected and the team leader takes an active role in outlining and defining the team’s objectives. At this stage team members receive most of their direction from the authoritative figure usually a manager because the team leader lacks direction and they are just becoming accustomed to their new team environment.
In the storming stage there is an active role on the part of management in delegating duties and responsibilities. This is the idea stage. During the storming stage individuals will exchange ideas and determine how they will work collectively. Identifying problem issues and evaluating each other’s perspectives is central to this phase of team development.
This stage of development is where the ground rules are set for team performance. In the Norming phase a pattern develops which begins to lay the framework for a cohesive environment. Additionally, ideas are agreed upon and shared and common ground is established. Management continues to play an active role at this stage however, their involvement is generally participative and the team has more decision-making ability.
During the Performing stage team members have reached the pinnacle of performance. The team has a set of standards in place. They have established a charter or way of conducting the business of the team and conflict is handled in a constructive and dynamic fashion. Furthermore, management no longer plays a central role in governing the team and the decision-making process is in the hands of the team itself. Teams that reach this stage often exhibit a synergy that did not exist previously.
This fifth and final stage of Tuckmans model of team development commonly referred to as Adjourning, suggests that a radical transformation can occur as the result of the synergistic qualities of the team begin to become evident. According to Bruce Tuckman A team that manages to remain together may transcend to a transforming phase of achievement. Transformational management can generate key changes in performance through team synergy and is considered to be more far-reaching than transactional management.
Models such as Tuckman’s can help to lay the framework for team development yet supporting and strengthening the team dynamic is ultimately up to the team itself. Therefore it is essential that team members be encouraged to contribute collectively to their mission. Encouraging collaboration within the team environment is a key component to ensuring that the team is functioning optimally and also allows team members to take ownership and responsibility for their successes and failures.
While a high powered team can come from diverse backgrounds that team must also share common attitudes towards achieving their objectives. A team’s ability to recognize and adapt to opposing attitudes and differences can help improve performance and at the same time create an environment that is conducive to achieving the team’s objectives.
Opposing attitudes and differences often have a shared correlation with demographic characteristics and culture which can in a manner of speaking contribute to or detract from a team’s performance. Simply put decision-making and problem-solving are approached differently depending on one’s cultural background. Hence knowing which personalities work well together helps to identify which individuals will likely be cohesive together. Developing an attitude that stimulates cohesion is essential to helping the team to direct their energy towards their objectives. For that reason it is necessary to encourage the interpersonal growth of the team through team support functions. Contributing to the team’s objectives collectively and seeing positive results enhances the team dynamic by encouraging cooperation and partnership. It should also be noted that encouraging cohesion through team support functions helps to augment the teams overall performance. In the end the synergy that results from this encouragement will help sustain open communication and encourage a lasting and solid commitment toward organizational objectives.
Today, most organisations, large and small operate in a global economy. In this global context, different groups with diverse backgrounds and/or diverse factors (e.g., gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and religion) bring differences in perspectives, values, work ethics and ways of working into an organization as well as differences in language, national origin and culture. Some aspects of diversity may be evident while others are less noticeable. Diversity of thinking usually leads to a better overall result, as the needs of diverse customers will be considered. Further, challenges regarding managing workplace diversity in a global context are often related to underlying differences that affect intercultural relations in the workplace, such as stereotyping, degrees of language and cultural fluency, nonverbal communication, and different cross-cultural communication styles. The level of cultural diversity is also a factor in the complexity of intercultural communication and understanding. For example, culturally, there are different ways to make sense of a situation or convey bad news or different degrees to which one mixes business with personal life.
Now that is worth thinking about!
Applying You – You; Simply Better