If I ask you, what is one thing that you relate most to a team, what will be your answer? There is something common in all the great teams if you consider history. Right from the mission that went to moon in 1969 to the teams behind great innovations at IBM, Apple, Microsoft, etc. you will find that they completely adhere to teamwork and look to capitalize on every aspect in which they can be most productive.
According to group development theory, team dynamics play a big part in pushing people pas average and into the zone where they can be termed as simply outstanding. The goal of maximum productivity is based on using minimum resources for maximum efficiency. It also lays out some simple reasons why some teams get to the top of their productivity level and some don’t. In this post, now I will try to extensively delve deep down concerning the teamwork theory and how it can unlock a higher level of productivity together.
Group Development Theory
In 1965, a psychology professor Dr. Bruce Tuckman proposed his group development stages model. He came up with the theory after reviewing over 50 existing works on team theory. After much research and analysis, he proposed his famous four stages of team development, that are, Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
The goal of Tuckman’s Stages model was to help project leaders understand how their team members were building relationships together. There was strong hints and indications that people approach tasks differently depending on the quality of their relationships with their co-workers. Although the above mentioned four stages takes team’s performance to sky high, team development is not a linear process. As new elements are added or subtracted, the dynamic is altered.
Let’s analyze each of them in detail now for your understanding.
1. Forming a Team that is Live in Every Sense
This is the first stage of the group development theory as it deals with forming a bond among the members and make it as real as possible. Of course, it is not achievable right at the onset. The forming initially is more about first meetings and first impressions of the team members. As on this stage, the team is rather a collection of individuals beginning to think about the project and the role they are about to fill.
The role of the team leader is of paramount importance as it’s up to him to initiate the team direction and paint a picture of the work to be done. Not just the goals needs to be laid out, this is where the team lead should introduce members with opportunities and challenges ahead. A clear path for everyone in the journey is basically the target here.
Interaction among the Team Members
In the meantime, the team members get comfortable with each other leads to connections and connections pull out people out of their comfort zones and the attitude they have carried from their previous jobs/position. Part of this is leading them to realize that their new team members are bringing skills that are rare and can be really beneficial for the betterment and progress of the team.
One other aspect is emotional connections. People do business with people they like and that’s the latest Game of Thrones episode or the Super Bowl game give them a golden chance to gel well quickly. As a manager, you’ll get your team working faster and with less handholding if they are motivated to interact with each other during and in-between meetings.
2. Storming into Authentic Connections
Once the connections are established, then starts the real life. Whenever a deadline is missed or plan doesn’t go the desired way, there are bound to be some rifts among the team members. The storming stage slowly but surely takes the precedence as most teams go through this within the first few months of their formation. Conflicts arise, polarization of opinions and discontent are the common problems that we all face.
All of the above mentioned problems are inevitable because we are all human and it takes time to get along with each other. This is the perfect and the logical stage where team members may not be as much enthusiastic about the goals as in the early stage. What needs to be done is identifying the issues and working to resolve them with communicating constructively with each other. Otherwise any team can get stuck at this stage for a long time.
Why Conflicts are Good for Teams
Sometimes a little conflict is needed so that to realize weak points in a project, to help team members discover the roles they really want and push each other towards success. But constant storming can lead to destruction of productivity and in turn the whole project. A little empathy for the other team members is needed and again the role of project manager is critical here. They key here is the positive intent. Let me describe it more deeply.
As a team member, you need to give others the margin for their errors. In short, think that every error or even blunder was not intentional at all and the intent of the person doing it was good. Also, each individual should also try to analyze their reason for which they are criticizing the other and honestly go about this task.
3. Norming out Everything Related to a Project
This step is about understanding and acceptance of the team dynamics so as to find how a problem can be solved and find a way to complement each other. It takes a healthy dose of observation, identification and action on things about their current state of working. Things can be really difficult for certain team members to pull off as they look to take assistance from an online task management software or tool for easy way out.
The emotional connection we talked about earlier has a role to play here as well. The communication within the team, recognition of achievements and workflows are instrumental for making a team work. For having a dream team, the project manager must lay out the groundwork himself. Promoting positive emotional intelligence among the team members should be practiced by him so that others follow suit. Trust, group identity and sense of group effectiveness makes normalizing a rather easy step as it do look menacing in the start.
4. Performing at Peak Productivity
Performing stage can generally be defined when the energy comes in to produce a work while keeping efficiency and effectiveness at high levels. When group norms are accepted and people feel comfortable to exchange ideas, you can assume you are going in the right direction. Team members then have a clear understanding of where they can best serve the team’s needs and everyone is highly motivated to achieve a common goal.
When team members are interdependent, a manager can rightly think that his team is now able to produce right-minded decisions and get things done. Simply put, when team dynamics are good, then productivity is really good. Performance doesn’t mean there won’t be any conflicts. But the team will automatically come up with solutions without compromising the project’s effectiveness and its ultimate goal while it is being competed.
The best way forward for a leader is empower team members to get everything they need to be the most productive and innovative manager. While it is not possible all the time, at least the effort should be there. Team development also needs to be taken care of in spite of the team doing pretty well. And most importantly to keep team going, don’t forget to celebrate a winning performance for best results.
A key factor is keeping teamwork transparent. In this way, a project manager can achieve all the four stages with the help of his team and go on to accomplish more goals than he could think of at the start of the project.