Team Building - Building High Performance Teams

team building

Team building involves putting a team together to achieve a stated purpose and empowering the team to do so.

Team building can be simple or complicated depending on how you approach the subject. Whatever the case, you need to understand that no matter how great the individual members of a team are, the team will pass through the four stages of team evolution.

The four stages in a team's journey to performance are:

1. Forming

Forming refers to the period when a team is set up. At this time the team sponsor assembles people nominated as members of the team to give them a brief of what is expected from the team.

The team sponsor often gives the reason or rationale behind setting up the team and what management expectations are. The brief also includes the time-line for achieving the set objectives.

Sometimes the sponsor appoints a member of the team as the chairperson of the group and others are asked to cooperate with the appointed chairperson. In other instances, the sponsor allows the team to select their own chairperson themselves.

2. Storming

The storming stage is the period when the team is struggling to find its feet. At this stage, roles may be confusing, some members may object to the leadership of the team, issues may be presented violently by self opinionated individuals, and team meetings may be bedeviled by controversies.

Members of the team at this stage seem to be testing the patience of other members and the chairperson. This crisis of opinion at this stage is something you don't want to go on for too long. Otherwise, it can derail the entire team.

3. Norming

The norming stage is the stage after the crisis period. Team members now realize that they have to get over their personal differences and deal with the issues. They realize that they cannot afford to fail.

Some major decisions may result from the storming phase.

The team may decide to . . .

  • change its leader
  • change their approach to resolving issues
  • change meeting times
  • form committees to address specific aspects of the team goals
  • set minimum expected behaviour for team members and/or
  • set ground rules to guide member behaviour

    Bottom line.

    The norming phase is when the team adopts a norm - a standard that team members commit to.

    4. Performing

    This is the final phase of team evolution.

    Teams that successfully go past the norming phase will start performing. That is, they will begin to see some progress in the direction of achieving the goals for which the team was set up.

    Many teams do not go past the storming stage because team members get so absorbed with personal issues that they fail to see the big picture.

    In successful team building, you should balance people skills and attitudes within the team to give assurance that the team will go past the storming phase.

    Every team has a crisis period. Remember you're dealing with people. And often, people let their ego get in the way of rational thinking.

    You must take this into consideration during team building or when setting up the team. It pays to include people from different backgrounds, function, and varying levels of experience to the team to empower the team for success.

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