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Over the past several months, I have been living in the Stages of Team Development world … you know … form, storm, norm, perform.  At some point in our careers, we’ve all been there whether part of a new job with a new company, or creating a new team, or new initiatives within the existing company, or external partnerships, etc.

There are some fantastic articles out there describing the stages we all go through.  I found this one from MindTools informative, and there are several others that go into detail about each stage I would encourage you to seek out.

But it was this one from Leadership & Project Management Champions I found especially useful because it adds a layer describing what our roles as leaders should look like at each stage.

Reading about each stage is interesting, and reminders from time to time about what we all go through during these seasons is important.  But having just gone through the Situational Leadersform-storm-norm-performhip course again recently, the addition of the equivalent leadership style at each stage was especially useful.

What should my part be during the process? What is the team expecting from me?  How do I contribute to progressing quickly through the early stages?

This is also the perspective I would expect from the leader(s) coordinating the team when I am part of the team rather than leading it. Unfortunately it isn’t what I just experienced with a joint initiative between two business units with fairly high visibility.

One article I read commented on things that didn’t work during the stage development process relative to partnerships … hidden agendas, turf issues, poor communication, suspiciousness, superficial commitment.  Those are some of the same pains I just felt, so I figured I’d offer up a few observations/lessons learned

  • Ensuring interlock on the objective is critical during the forming stage.  Unfortunately we learned late in the process, after there had been LOTS of storming, we were trying to create one presentation serving two different objectives.
  • A “lets do this together” vs. a “go do this” approach is preferable during the storming stage.  Unfortunately what we experienced was a lot of directive input when what was needed was a more collaborative/selling approach.
  • Consistency during the forming and storming stages is also advantageous.  Often we found ourselves in situations where the team felt good progress had been made only to be redirected when a new participant entered the mix … and then redirected again when yet another new participant entered the mix.

I don’t want to leave the conversation with the perspective all was negative … it wasn’t. There is always something to be learned during adversity, especially about ourselves.  With this joint initiative, we are still very much in the storming phase, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and while all of the inputs may not have made the final cut for the presentation, all of the inputs will better serve us in executing on what the presentation said.

I saw the following description of Norm … looking forward to getting to that point.

As roles and personal conflicts are sorted out, the focus turns towards the task and what needs to be done. Objectives are clarified and the detail of work is laid out. Feeling more as a team, people start to help one another more.