Forming the Team: Team Work 101
Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning.
Tuckman Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage
Forming the team is an essential part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams develop. Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. If you understand the model it can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.
Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Some stages seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But if you go through them, it means a more cohesive and efficient work-group is formed – a group that allows everyone to contribute their best!
A skilled manager can observe the stages happening and help the process along. That means you get the best outcome for all in the least time.
In a short series of posts, I’m going to discuss how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result. You can find the second post in this series on Stage 2 Managing Storming Teams at this link.
Forming the team
When they first come together in a group, people are cautious. Usually, they want to get to know each other and get on with the task. But, they might be a bit anxious. They are usually tentative and tend to check each other out. Generally, they are polite and somewhat reserved.
The group wants to work out how they should behave. At this stage, they are not likely to challenge each other or you, as their leader. They want to understand properly why they are there – what is the task and what is this really about? The group wants to know what they are being asked to do and how they are expected to do it.
No one feel very comfortable. Perhaps there any hidden agendas.
They are looking for the “ground rules”.
This stage can feel frustrating for the leader, because things can feel as if they are moving very slowly.
Lead the group through forming the team
So what can you do? Well, you need to provide a safe environment in which the group can operate and you need to set some goals for them to achieve.
But let then have some time to get to know each other! Therefore, allow people an opportunity to share their hopes and their anxieties. You might recognise now why trained facilitators put so much store by ice-breakers.
If you pace the group carefully, they will move through forming the team and not get stuck. Encourage them all to contribute.
What if they get stuck in Stage 1 – Forming the Team
If they get stuck then you will need to become more directive.
- Involve them in setting the goals
- Let them air their reservations.
- Get those ground rules out in the open air
- Get people to agree the ground rules.
- Support anyone who shows reticence so that their confidence develops.
Then stand by because you need to go through Stage 2 Storming before the real work begins. Stage 2 can be turbulent. Information on how to handle that stage will follow here shortly.
Other posts on the Tuckman model are to follow.
Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link