Team productivity is paramount to the success of any organization. So we ask ourselves, what has previously successful teams done before that has made them stand out from the ordinary team? Of course, creating a group, especially an efficient one, may take some time. Individuals, irrespective of their abilities, have to come together to form a cohesive bond. Think of the human body as a team, and individual organs as team members, every part is performing its duty in perfect unity with other components.

In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman, a psychology professor, proposed his group developmental stages having reviewed over 50 existing works on team theory. From his work, he split the developmental stage into Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

Bruce Tuckman’s stage model aimed at helping leaders understand the relationships their team members were building. Results have it that people’s approach to tasks varied depending on the quality of the relationships they have with team members.

It should be noted, however, that the Tuckman process may not be linear. It could vary among teams depending on the individuals present in the group. It is left to the team leader to understand this difference in character and apply real-life solutions to them.

FORMING: This is the first step in assembling the team. The team members are briefed about the task and hand and how to go about them. This stage is usually accompanied by a buzz of excitement among team members. Team members are also eager to impress the leader at this point; everyone trying to show they have what it takes to be on the team. Team members tend to act independently, as they are still getting to know each other. It is, however, essential for the team leader to get the team members to cohere because individual relationships go a long way in the success of the team. It is also imperative for the team leader to emphasize the goals of the group.

STORMING: As the name implies, storming refers to weathering the storm. This is the most trying stage of any team, and this is where most groups dissolve. This is after the big buzz of excitement of being in the team is over. Work ethics are questioned when there is a lapse, and team members tend to get a little upset over the behavioral conduct of other teammates. There is this feeling of fear and anxiety, especially after a target is missed. There is usually a clear doubt in personnel. The tolerance of team members is called into questioning. It is left to the team leader and other senior members of the team to take control of the issues. The team leader should try as much as possible to bond the team members while also reiterating the aim of the group.

NORMING: If the teams get past the storming phase, they enter into the norming stage. The norming period can be viewed as that tight bond formed immediately after a dispute. Team members understand themselves more, the goal is more apparent, and there is a cohesion to a considerable extent. There is also more respect for the leader. As humans, conflicts may still arise, but they are dealt with constructively before escalation. This is usually the smoothest stage of the team. There is a pronounced efficiency in team performance as everybody now appears to be on the same page.

PERFORMING STAGE: With a complete understanding of the team’s goals, all energy is channeled to achieving common goals. The team is now highly mature. Understanding is at its peak, and there is a pronounced interdependency among team members. The structure of the group is clear and somewhat sustainable. Problems may occasionally arise among individuals, but they are constructively handled. However, the leader should be on the lookout for loss of concentration. In this stage, team members can lose focus because of the conducive working environment.

ADJOURNING STAGE: This stage was added in 1977 by Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen. In this stage, most of the team’s goals have been reached. There is an emphasis on documentation of results and putting finishing touches. As the workload lessens, team members may be transferred to other teams. There is usually the bitter-sweet emotion that teammates feel. The team member may call for a ceremony to celebrate team members.

NORMS AND COHESIVENESS.

The team norm is a guide for team members. They control behavioral patterns and set performance standards for all team members. Team norms may not necessarily be written down, but there is an understanding of them as briefed by the team leader. Patterns are essential to check individual excesses and set performance standards for team members. In essence, norms help to keep everyone in check.

Norms can only be used to control teammates’ conduct when they are accepted. The cohesiveness of team members arises as a result of adherence to rules. Patterns are setting standards for work and interpersonal relationships. And understanding these norms, what individual members would tolerate, and what they would trigger them would lead to better cohesion. There is a linear relationship between high-performance patterns, coherence, and success — teams with high-performance norms and strong cohesion usually high efficiency. 

THE LEADER

The place of a team leader in the productivity of a team cannot be overemphasized. It is up to the team leader to understand any of the stages as mentioned earlier; the team is passing and adjust himself and his team members to overcome the stage. The team member should also note that the Tuckman stages are not necessarily linear; they do not precisely follow a particular pattern. The job of a team leader is to co-ordinate the team members. A team member should:

  • Be purposeful in picking his team
  • Ensure the goals of the organization is explained correctly
  • Develop mutual trust among team members.
  • Ensure the work environment is calm at all times.
  • Get feedback from the team regularly
  • Set time for regular briefing and engagement of the team

Adhering strictly to these stages and making a few modifications here and there will boost the teams productivity.

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