In a recent post at this link, I introduced the Tuckman theory of how groups/teams develop. Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. Understanding the model 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 going through them means that a more cohesive and efficient working 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 this short series, I discuss how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result.
In my last three posts in this series, I discussed Stage 1 Forming, Stage 2 Storming and Stage 3 Norming. In Stage 1 we described how the group will be looking for ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. In Stage 3, people begin to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief that conflicts are being resolved. Now, in Stage 4 the group are high-performing, motivated and achieve effective and satisfying results.
Not all groups are able to reach Stage 4; they achieve the task but without ever truly excelling.
Stage 4 – Performing.
If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 3, the group will now be delivering the task with a high degree of openness, trust, confidence and autonomy.
The work itself is carried out to a high standard and the group take pride in group results and superior performance. Problems are seen as opportunities and they are tackled constructively.
The group can make decisions and solve problems quickly. People may challenge each other and there are can be healthy differences of opinion. But these are resolved in a friendly manner. The group has the confidence to review and revise work processes if necessary. New ways of doing things are considered and incorporated.
Leading the group through Stage 4 – Performing
What is the role of the leader? With a group in Stage 4, the leader does not need to be involved in decision-making, problem solving or the day-to-day work of the team. People now work effectively as a group. The leader monitors progress and celebrates achievements; this helps to maintain morale and the performance of the group. The leader is also the conduit for any strategic decisions which need to be made at a higher level, for the group to complete their work.
What if they don’t stay in Stage 4 – Performing?
There remains a possibility that the group could revert back to an earlier stage. For example, if someone leaves, new members join or one of the existing members starts to work independently or outside the rules (formal or informal) subscribed to by the rest of the group. It is possible then for the team to revert back to an earlier stage, until they have come to term with the change or the issues are resolved. If this happens, the leader should become more actively engaged again. This could mean more close supervision for a while and encouraging them to have the confidence to go back to trying out new ideas and working independently, while remaining part of the group. They need you to be a cheerleader again – encouraging your group and recognizing them for the good work they are doing.
Now we are moving towards completion of the task – the next post will be about Stage 5 Adjourning
I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions. Please share your own experience of handling Stage 4. What lessons do you have to pass on to others?
Wendy Mason is a Career Coach and Life Coach helping you to solve difficult problems at work
Other useful articles
- Team Work; forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning with Dr Tuckman
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming,Performing and Adjourning. Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 2 – Managing the Storming Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning Part 3 – Managing the Norming Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 4 – Managing the Performing Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 5 – Managing the Adjourning Stage