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During my undergraduate years in the Federal University of Technology, Niger State in Nigeria; I was opportune to lead a music team (praise team) at the Fellowship of Christian Students. Having being assigned the responsibility, I had to maximise the skill and personality trait of each member towards achieving the ultimate objective of the team while maintaining a state of harmony both in the music and among the team members. While carrying out that assignment and even as a member or leader of other teams; I realised that there are stages a team goes through before attaining a state of high performance. This is called the stages of team formation.
Now, before I go further to explain these stages, let me take a moment to shed light on what a team really is. There are several definitions of a team but the following points characterise what a team is really about;
- Teams work together
- Teams have more than one member
- Teams have complementary skills and abilities
- Teams have a common goal or purpose.
“Don’t assume you have a team until you have a common agreement that this group of people is a team. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that the people successfully operate as a team; Complimentary skills and interdependencies make a real team; otherwise, “team” is just a label.”– Rus Slater
I have seen a couple of leaders who struggle as team leaders because they fail to navigate their members through the stages of team formation or they assume that all is well with the team. Understanding and navigating these stages will help you have less friction as a team leader and also help you achieve more results for the team.
What are the stages of team Formation and how do you help your team navigate through these stages?
Stage 1: The Forming Stage
This is the stage where each team member get to know themselves. This sometimes happen naturally, but the team leaders should help catalyse this stage by having a formal introduction and brief background of each member. This help the members show regard for each other.
Stage 2: The Storming Stage
At this stage the too-forward people try to take over the show; some try to mark their territory in a pursuit for power/influence while the too shy ones keep quiet, maybe due to lack of confidence and the reserved ones just observe. A team building exercise will be quite helpful to help each member level-in to their habitat where they can thrive the most.
Stage 3: The Norming Stage
A team leader takes responsibility by setting ground rules of behaviour to help guide the team member; this might take some time for the rules to take form usually by a combination of “trial and error” and “custom and practice”
Stage 4: The Performing Stage
Each member having known and been position in the area of their strength and appropriate habitat; they begin to thrive and perform by showing support for each other towards achieving the team’s goal. It is impossible to get t stage four without going through stages one, two and three.
The next time you are assigned a new team to lead, remember these stages and help your team navigate them quickly so that they can start operating at high-performance state.