Phases of a Team's
A team is a living entity. It progresses from
early to mature phases, independent of the nature of the team or the task it must perform. One aspect of this development
is the members' attitude or relationships, both within the team and with the team leader.
Judith D. Palmer in her chapter "For the Manager
Who Must Build a Team," (Reddy and Jamison, 1988), refers to four phases of team development: "forming, storming, norming,
Forming is the orientation period. The team is
not sure what its task is and members are not well acquainted with each other, nor have they learned what sort of a team leader
they have. Team members want to be told what to do. They tend to respond to the leader's requests and express negative feelings
either very politely or privately.
During this first phase, the team leader needs
to empower the members and assist them in establishing guidelines for accomplishing the task. One way to help do this is by
soliciting team members' ideas by asking open-ended questions and complimenting them when appropriate. Using the Resource
Skills Bank in Figure 1 can be helpful in sag this process.
Storming is the phase when team members feel
more comfortable expressing their opinions. They may challenge the team leader's authority and recommendations. Some members
may become dissatisfied and challenge not only what the team is to do and how it is doing it, but also the leader's role and
style of leadership. As a team leader, one must not try to avoid this phase. A team that does not go through the storming
phase will not learn how to deal with conflict. According to Palmer, "teams that never storm are passive, fragmented, and
significantly less creative." Phase two is a sorting out period where each member begins to find his or her place as a team
member. However, it should be noted that team members can and will change roles according to personal interests and team needs
as circumstances change.
Norming is the third phase and builds on what
was learned in phase two. Team members begin drawing upon their cumulative experiences for working out their problems and
pulling together as a cohesive group. This process should result in the team establishing procedures for handling conflicts,
decisions, and methods to accomplish the team projects.
During this process the team leader needs to
continue with activities that empower team members, create trust, provide a vision of what the team can become, and teach
decision-making and conflict management skills.
Performing is phase four and is where the payoff
should come. In this phase the team has achieved some harmony, defined its tasks, worked out its relationships, and begins
to produce results. Leadership is provided by the team members best suited for the task at hand. Members have learned how
to work together, manage conflict, and contribute their resources to accomplishing the team's purposes.
After reaching phase four the team leader needs
to remain alert to the team's needs in skill development, conflict management, trust building, and improvement of attitudes.
When changes occur that affect the team's task, membership, or other areas of concern, it is not uncommon for the team to
repeat the four-phase cycle. However, the process should be much smoother after the first time around.
Motivation. We hear the term often. Generally we
associate the word with human behavior, meaning, a state of mind that moves us to action. And even though few of us have had
formal training in it, it’s one of those characteristics of life that seems to fit the old adage, “I know it when
I see it.”
For most of my years working in the field of workplace collaboration, this word has held a place of stature and importance,
because it has been, perhaps, the most significant outcome of worker involvement. As the collaboration trend, and more specifically,
the use of employee teams continues to grow, one question that is taking on greater importance is how to keep the team motivated
over the long haul.
What are the ingredients or characteristics of teams that seem to sustain high levels of motivation?
I posed this question to a group of people recently and found that it tapped into some deeply held beliefs about what
makes us do what we do. So for those of you working with teams, here are some thoughts that might help: