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Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

This week marks the 20th edition of the Unleash the Power newsletter.

Where does the time go?

It is this very question I’ve been pondering all week as I race toward the end of my corporate career in just over a month.

Being effective with our time, at home or work, is hugely important. And in both cases, we may rely on others to help us along the way. It may be family or friends who support exciting activities at home, and we often rely on teammates and colleagues at work.

But teamwork in business can prove to be challenging. New teams take time to gel as they adapt to different ways of working or motivations. It can be a tricky time for all involved, but not insurmountable. Behaviour and personality profiling, such as Insights, DISC, or Myers Briggs, can help, but often we first need to remind ourselves of the work of Bruce Tuckman.

In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman first shared his theory that a team goes through five distinct stages of development to reach its full potential. It’s now known as Tuckman’s Model and is used to help teams understand and improve performance around the globe.

Starting when the individuals first join forces the five stages of development are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. And they all play a part in building high-performing teams.

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Image Credit: My Life Through A Lens

Stage 1: Forming

At this initial stage, business leaders must provide guidance and assurance, acting as a safety blanket for the newly formed team. Individuals will be full of good intentions but need clarity on their purpose and lack trust in others, which can manifest in team members behaving independently at this stage. It becomes crucial to set clear expectations for the group, discussing everyone’s skills, strengths, and interests and how they can support achieving a common goal within the timeline.

Stage 2: Storming

A new project starts with gusto as individuals bring energy to the newly formed team. But is this second stage where the initial excitement begins to wain as the reality of the project is now front of mind. Often a time for conflict as egos result in power struggles between members leaders need to adopt a coaching style to work through issues and provide strong guidance, ensuring the goal remains focused. 

Stage 3: Norming

By this stage, there is increased agreement and consensus, which follows from the clarity given to people’s roles and responsibilities. Leaders facilitate discussions and brainstorming, with everyone adopting active listening in most cases. Often plans are enhanced by the creativity these conversations generate.

One watch out at this stage is that new tasks can produce conflict, and the leader must cross back into the storming stage. Having already faced the most difficult of times means disagreements are now easier to address.

Stage 4: Performing

During the performing stage, there is complete clarity on the vision and purpose. The team are empowered to act, allowing the leader to delegate and observe. Each team member is motivated and confident to challenge while having a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of others.

If you reach this stage, then it is a brilliant achievement. Some teams don’t, and cohesiveness, creativity, and morale can suffer accordingly.

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Image Credit: Natalie Pedigo

Stage 5: Mourning/Adjourning

Twelve years after his original work Tuckman added the fifth and final stage, recognising that projects end and teams disband. If the group has experienced the performing stage, there may be a sense of loss or mourning that something exciting has ended. But often, the positives of a shared experience will make it easier for the team to work together again.

Once you understand these five key stages, you can easily recognise where your team(s) sit and prepare solutions to progress.

Remember, Teamwork makes the dream work.

Have a brilliant week!

David Rogers, Founder & CEO, Fuelled Fit and Fired Up Ltd

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