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The evolution of teams

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“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” – Norman Hilde.

Teams do not become operational overnight. There is a natural evolution for each team and there are techniques to improve efficiency (team-building and team-building events).

People who have worked together for a while will evolve in their interaction with each other. This evolution of a group of people (teams) has been observed and described many times in the past, as management aspires to understand how it can improve the results of a particular group or team. This knowledge is also useful outside of business, for example for a sports team or other groups of people with common goals.

One model describing this process of change in a team, which has been - and still is - very popular, is the “Bruce Tuckman model”. It was first presented in 1965 and consists of four stages:

1.     Forming

2.     Storming

3.     Norming

4.     Performing

Let me briefly introduce you to each of these stages.

1.     Forming. During the forming stage of a group, the dependence on the leader is high. The individual roles and responsibilities are still unclear. The members of the team are getting to know each other and they test the tolerance of their leader, as well as the relationship with the other members. This is an orientation phase. Decisions do not come easily and all team members are challenged.

2.     Storming. Differences between group members emerge. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team builder must assess the tolerance of every team member and their ideas. The team should become more autonomous and team members should share their opinions without feeling judged. Compromises may be required to enable progress.

3.     Norming. Agreement and consensus forms among the team. Group policies, values and shared procedures are being agreed upon. Commitment and unity become stronger. The team may engage in firm and social activities (maybe time for a team-building event). There is more respect for the leadership and some of it is even shared.

4.     Performing. During this stage, work is efficiently accomplished because all the team members know why they are doing what they are doing. There is a vision and motivation. The team is able to progress towards achieving the goal. There may be disagreements but they are handled throughout the established process. The group may go through some of the previous stages again – when a new member joins the team, for example - but it will not take as long as before to reach the last stage.

If you would like more information on this subject, we encourage you to browse the official web pages of Bruce W. Tuckman

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