02 March, 2017

How to Get a Team that Performs, Not Storms

How to Get a Team that Performs, Not Storms

Photo Credit: Javier Ruiz

It is at this time of the year when new teams have been brought together that cracks start to show. Whether that is on the sporting field, in the boardroom or where you work. The honeymoon period and excitement of starting something new and being around certain team members starts to wear thin.

Conflicts begin and your team members start to see the annoying traits of other team members. This mistrust and frustration affects the team’s ability to perform.

So what is your role as a coach in this process of team development to ensure you can break through to achieve your vision?

The Process of Team Formation

Firstly, it is to recognise that this process is normal and in fact a model has been written that outlines how a team is developed. This model discusses in detail the four stages of team development:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

It is important for every team to have a clear vision or purpose of why they have formed this team and what the steps are to get there. Even with this clear vision though, the team will still go through these four stages of development.

Some teams will be able to progress through these stages quickly and others will take considerable time. Sometimes, teams won’t get through the first two stages and will fail, with team members leaving frustrated with the experience.

The role of the coach or senior leader is to understand that this process is normal. But they have a key role to play if the team is to achieve its vision and live out its purpose. Let’s take a look at the four stages.

1. Forming

The team has just been announced and there is that excitement of knowing that you have some friends on the team and some new people as well. Getting to know the new people and bringing them into the team brings excitement.

Behaviours include polite acceptance, welcoming attitudes, but also some anxiousness as roles and an understanding of the way the team works are unknown.

Your role as a coach is to let this stage happen, making sure new players are bought into the team and introduced. Make sure any leaders within your team are buddied up with newer players to make them feel welcome. Make sure that the team vision and purpose is clearly defined and communicated at this stage.

2. Storming

The team has been together and roles and responsibilities are becoming clear, but so are conflicts or small factions within the team. Team members start to question decisions or push the boundaries.

Behaviours include team members questioning the decisions of others, feeling overwhelmed by the situation they are in. They question the amount of work required or become uncomfortable with the processes the team is using.

This is the stage where many teams fail.

Your role as a coach is to build strong relationships across the team and ensure roles and responsibilities for team members are clear. Put in place processes to deal with conflicts quickly in order to reduce the stress of individuals in the team and relationships breaking down. Again, reinforce the team vision and purpose whilst defining values that are expected to build your team.

3. Norming

The team begins to gel and they become comfortable with each other on the field or in the boardroom as well as socially.

Behaviours include a degree of understanding about each other’s strengths and weaknesses as well as respecting the authority and decisions of the leadership group.

Your role as a coach is to keep the team focused on the agreed team goals and priorities. Progress may slip back into behaviours seen in the storming phase at times. As a coach, help the leadership group keep the team focused on the vision and provide the tools for success.

4. Performing

The team not only has gelled, but they click. Things happen without friction and the team plays and interact as one.

Very few teams get to this level.

Behaviours include a deep understanding and respect for each person within the team. There is no friction and the team structures and processes enable high performance outcomes. People are able to join and leave the team without this having an impact on the team performance.

Your role as a coach is to continue to demand high expectations, delegate tasks to build the team around you and concentrate on bringing the weaker team members up a level.

High performing teams are what we all strive to be involved in, but it takes a lot of work and strategic leadership to build a team to this level. Use this blog to help you understand where your team as at. Use it to build understanding rather than frustration.

If you need help with your team development, then get in touch. I love being involved in developing high performing teams and have had the privilege of being a part of and leading a number of them.

© 2019 Paul Mead