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Navigate Team Dynamics

Effectively guide your team through each stage of the team lifecycle.

  • Although teams are present in almost all organizations, many are not operating effectively.
  • Teams must effectively navigate the team lifecycle to achieve high performance. It is the team leader’s responsibility to direct the team through this tumultuous time.
  • Unfortunately, many team leaders do not focus enough on guiding the team through the team lifecycle, resulting in poor team dynamics and mediocre team performance.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • The team lifecycle is not a straight path; it is iterative. Teams will move backward and forward through the stages as the team experiences change.
  • The value of a team is dependent on the team leader’s ability to guide the team through the four phases of the team lifecycle to create an effective team environment.

Impact and Result

  • Gain the knowledge and ability to improve team dynamics and develop effective teams that have a tangible and visible effect on the bottom line of the organization.
  • Foster essential career skills:
    • Develop managers to become effective team leaders.
    • Develop employees to become impactful and active team participants.

Navigate Team Dynamics Research & Tools

1. Train managers to navigate team dynamics

Train managers to effectively guide their team through each stage of the team lifecycle.


Navigate Team Dynamics

Manager Training Deck

Speaker’s Notes:
Welcome to team dynamics training! Today we're going to talk about how to effectively develop team dynamics for maximum impact and value creation.

Training Overview

Target Audience

  • People managers, team leads, or project managers looking to effectively develop team dynamics for maximum impact and value creation.

Target Length

  • Approx. four hours

Training Materials

  • Speaker’s notes are included in the notes pane section of each slide. Use these to plan and practice the training session. Some examples have been incorporated throughout – feel free to personalize with your own anecdotes. Note: Text in italics is written to the facilitator and is not meant to be read aloud. Some slides require you to click to animate during the presentation.
  • Activity slides are scattered throughout this training deck and are clearly marked “Activity” in a bar on the left side of the slide. Instructions for activity facilitation can be found in the notes section of each slide.
  • Discussion questions are also scattered throughout this training deck and are clearly marked “Discussion” in a bar on the left side of the slide. Instructions for leading these discussions can be found in the notes section of each slide.

Learning Objectives

The goal of this training is to…

  1. Understand the team lifecycle and how to effectively lead a team through it.
  2. Learn how to create team dynamics that enable a team to reach its potential.
  3. Discuss how to manage conflict and create constructive conflict.
  4. Discover how to use empowerment and recognition to accelerate team performance.

Recommended Customizations

  • Review all slides and adjust the language and content as needed to suit your organizational context, culture, and engagement.
  • Adjust the speaker’s notes on the slides before (or after) any slides you modify or delete to ensure logical transitions between slides.
  • Update the agenda to reflect the new timing if major modifications are made.
  • Some slides have animations to assist with the presentation. You will notice these slides are starred in the pane along the left, and the speaker’s notes indicate when you need to click to animate.
  • Even seasoned leaders need to be reminded of the basics now and again. Rather than delete more basic slides, cut back on the amount of time spent covering them and frame the content as a refresher.
  • If you wish to connect this training to your 360-degree program or individual development plans, modify the speaker’s notes accordingly.

Training Session Materials:


Agenda

Time Topic
1:00pm – 1:40pm Welcome and overview
1:40pm – 2:20pm Phase one: Forming
2:20pm – 2:50pm Phase two: Storming
2:50pm – 3:00pm BREAK
3:00pm – 3:30pm Phase three: Norming
3:30pm – 4:10pm Phase four: Performing
4:10pm – 4:50pm Wrap-up

Speaker’s Notes:

  • Welcome, everyone! Today we’ll be discussing team dynamics. This is a high-level overview of the agenda for today.
  • We’ll take one ten-minute break during the training and plan to wrap up in a couple of hours.

Discussion

Introductions and training expectations

Roundtable discussion:

  • Your name and role.
  • What you hope to learn during this training session.
  • Your favorite part about being on a team.

Speaker’s Notes:
Before we start today’s training, let’s introduce ourselves.

When I get to you, please tell everyone your name, your role, and what you hope to learn during this training session.

I’m curious – what’s your favorite part about being on team?

Learning Objectives

The goal of this training is to…

  1. Understand the team lifecycle and how to effectively lead a team through it.
  2. Learn how to create team dynamics that enable a team to reach its potential.
  3. Discuss how to manage conflict and create constructive conflict.
  4. Discover how to use empowerment and recognition to accelerate team performance.

Speaker’s Notes:
Our goal today is to help you become more effective at managing your projects and teams by optimizing team dynamics.

With that aim in mind, here four key objectives for today’s training:

  • Understand the team lifecycle and how to effectively lead your team through it.
  • Learn how to create team dynamics that enable your team to reach its objectives.
  • Discuss how to manage and benefit from team conflict.
  • Discover how to use empowerment and recognition to accelerate team performance.

Let’s begin by diving into the first key objective.

What is a team and what is team dynamics?

A team has:

  • Common purpose
  • Common tangible goals
  • Interdependency
  • Organizational meaning and support
  • (Sources: Hill and Lineback; Kozlowski and Ilgen)

Team dynamics is:

  • A broad concept that encompasses the way team members interact with each other and the psychological processes that drive that behavior.
  • When people work together, the team develops attitudes, motivations, and thoughts that impact how team members view their work and their teammates.
  • (Sources: Salas et al., 2008; Bell et al., 2018)

Speaker’s Notes:
First off, let’s look at the definition of a team.

Organizations often mislabel business units, staff, or work groups as teams. A “true” team that is set up for success must share a common purpose, common tangible and challenging goals, interdependency involving shared accountability, and a strong sense of “we.” They must also be positioned and supported appropriately in the organization.

How do you define team dynamics?

Okay, great! You did a good job capturing the essence of team dynamics. The experts who study team dynamics define it as:

  • A broad concept that encompasses the way team members interact with each other and the psychological processes that drive that behavior.
  • When people work together, the team as whole develops attitudes, motivations, and thoughts that impact how team members view their work and teammates.

Effective team dynamics provide many benefits

Highly engaged teams

–›

41% lower absenteeism

–›

59% lower turnover (Source: Beheshti)
High-quality management team

+

Common vision

–›

90% of investors link teams having a common vision with above-median financial performance. (Source: Keller and Meaney)
Application of diverse expertise and problem-solving skills

–›

Faster and better execution of decisions

–›

Real-time and effective complex problem solving (Source: SHRM, n.d.)

Speaker’s Notes:
Now that we have a good understanding of what team dynamics are, what are the benefits of improving them?

It’s no surprise to many of us that teamwork and collaboration increase employee engagement. But did you know higher levels of engagement affect how often your team members are absent from work or whether they leave the organization? In fact, highly engaged employees are 41% more likely to come to work and 59% more likely to stay with your organization (Beheshti, 2019).

A McKinsey report by Keller and Meaney highlighted that 90% of investors believed that when team leaders can guide their team to work toward a common vision, the organization is almost twice as likely to achieve above-median financial performance.

SHRM has found that teams that work well together are better at spotting errors, solving complex problems in real-time, and adapting to changes.

What are some other benefits of effective team dynamics you’ve seen?

But successful teams don’t magically appear – they take hard work

Effective teams are built by:

  • Developing complementary skills in team members.
  • Communicating team objectives clearly, early, and often.
  • Establishing ground rules.
  • Providing necessary resources.

The key is to blend different personalities, abilities, and agendas into a cohesive team working toward a common goal.

Speaker’s Notes:
Think about a relationship in your life with a friend or your partner. How long did it take you to build this relationship? How did you build it? Did it take a lot of negotiation and hard work? What barriers did you face? How did you overcome them?

But even when organizations use teams to structure work, sometimes team leaders don’t focus enough on team dynamics to help their team reach its full potential.

Team leaders must create an environment that nurtures team success. They must develop complementary skills in their team members, clearly communicate team objectives, establish ground rules, thoughtfully assign work, and provide the necessary resources and support.

The reality is that teams don’t magically become effective on their own; it takes substantial work and skill to combine different, complementary personalities, abilities, and agendas into a functioning, cohesive team working toward a common goal.

Adopt Tuckman’s “Orming” model to improve team dynamics

Tuckman's 'Orming' model is a 'Team Lifecycle' with four parts '1. Forming', '2. Storming', '3. Norming', and '4. Performing'. (Source: Tuckman, 1965)

Speaker’s Notes:
Today we’ll be following Bruce Tuckman’s model of team development – which we fondly like to call the “Orming” model. Despite being first introduced in 1965, it’s still the go-to framework for team dynamics.

This model consists of four phases: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

  • The first phase, Forming, involves exchanging information, setting ground rules, learning roles, and establishing objectives.
  • The second phase, Storming, is often the most volatile. It includes the exchange of ideas, confrontation of personalities, conflicts, and if successful, the development of conflict resolution patterns.
  • Norming is the third phase. After weathering the Storming phase, the team comes together and begins to make plans to achieve its goals and objectives.
  • The final phase is Performing. In this phase, the team works together to find the best way to function as a unit and avoids destructive conflict.

In 1977, Tuckman, jointly with Mary Ann Jensen, added a fifth phase: Adjourning. In this phase, a team concludes its work and then dissolves. It’s considered an important time for team members to get closure and recognition. As the adjourning phase is often very short and sometimes doesn’t happen at all, we’ll be focusing on Tuckman’s initial four phases.

Some of the stages we are covering are quick, while others can take longer. Although teams normally progress through this team lifecycle, it’s not always completely chronological. Teams will often regress to a previous stage – particularly Storming – making the team lifecycle process highly iterative.

We’ll be discussing team leader best practices for each of these phases of the team lifecycle.

Activity

Introductions and training expectations

Think about the team you manage.

  1. Where are they in the team lifecycle? Are they in the Forming, Storming, Norming, or Performing phase?
  2. Place your team on the axis in your Workbook.
  3. Share with the group where you placed your team and why.

An example of placing a team on the Orming axis in your Workbook.

Speaker’s Notes:

Now that we have discussed each of the phases, take a few moments to reflect on where you think your team is in the team lifecycle.

If you are unclear about what we mean by “team,” think back to the earlier definition of team: A “true” team that is set up for success must share a common purpose, common tangible and challenging goals, interdependency involving shared accountability, and a strong sense of “we.” They must also be positioned and supported appropriately in the organization.

Is your team in the Forming, Storming, Norming, or Performing phase? Analyze a little further and decide how advanced your team is within each phase. For example, has your team just entered the Storming phase, or has it been experiencing conflict for quite a while and is beginning to resolve conflict and move from the Storming phase to the Norming phase?

In your Workbook, illustrate the position of your team in the team lifecycle.

Okay, great. I’d love to hear where you placed your team in the team lifecycle and why. How did you know your team is at this stage? Who wants to share?

Forming is the foundation of effective team building

Tuckman's 'Orming' model, highlighting part 1 of the 'Team Lifecycle', 'Forming'. (Source: Tuckman, 1965)

In this phase you will:

  • Employ leadership tactics for success.
  • Consider each team member’s social style.
  • Establish team objectives.
  • Set clear ground rules.

Speaker’s Notes:
Think about a time you were on a team that had just come together. What was that like? What were you doing? Typically, the Forming phase is all about building a strong foundation – team members become familiar with one another and start to develop an understanding of the team’s purpose and ground rules.

Employ key leadership behaviors to increase team success — Forming

  • Get to know your team, including their preferences, experience, knowledge, and skills.
  • Communicate team goals clearly.
  • Discuss development plans with team members.
  • Involve the team in creating ground rules around communication, collaboration, and conflict.
  • Create a culture of openness and empowerment.
  • Refocus on the team’s objectives when a new team member comes on board.

Speaker’s Notes:
What leadership behaviors have you used in the past to help your team succeed? There are several behaviors you can incorporate into your leadership style during the Forming phase to bolster your team’s dynamics and success:

  • Get to know your team, including their preferences, experience, knowledge, and skills. I’m sure you’ve noticed your team members all bring something different to the table – take advantage of this expertise or risk creating a corrosive environment and wasting resources.
  • Without good communication, your attempts to build an effective team will likely be unsuccessful. So emphasize open communication. There are many ways to do this, including making it clear you value their opinions by asking for and acting on their feedback and scheduling regular individual and team check-ins.
  • Would you have guessed that development is also key even early in the Forming phase? Individual and team development increase team member skill sets and the team’s overall capability. Involve team members when making development plans. And remember to review development goals at your regular check-ins.
  • What’s another crucial aspect of team building? Involving the team! Include them in creating the ground rules around communication, collaboration, and conflict. This will clarify expectations and generate buy-in.
  • Does feeling empowered affect how you do your job? It makes a big difference to me. Create a culture of openness and empowerment. Never miss the opportunity to empower your team and to show your appreciation.
  • Have any of you been on a team for long without the team members changing up? It’s unlikely to happen. So whenever a new person joins your team, take the time to review the team’s objectives with the entire team. This fosters communication and allows the new team member to ask questions and to become familiar with the team dynamic. It’s critical that you attend and lead this meeting to help set the team dynamic and to be sure the objectives are properly communicated.

Consider each team member’s social style — Forming

Social style Tips for identifying social styles
Analytical
  • Accurate and logical.
  • Focuses on facts and numbers.
Driver
  • Assertive and takes control.
  • Values results.
Amiable
  • Shares opinions.
  • Focuses on relationship building.
Expressive
  • Supports creativity and intuition.
  • Values feelings and opinions.

Speaker’s Notes:
One sure-fire way to get to know your team is by analyzing your team members’ social styles. Let’s take a few minutes and think about social styles and how they impact team dynamics.

There are many evidence-based assessments that can help identify an individual’s personality type or social style, but to keep things simple, today we’ll be considering four social styles: analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive.

  • Analytical individuals are accurate and logical; they like facts and numbers.
  • Drivers like to discuss results. They are assertive and take control of the situation.
  • Amiable individuals like to discuss their opinions. They’ll want to get to know you on a personal level, and building relationships is very important to them.
  • Expressive individuals value feelings and opinions. They support creativity and intuition.

Before we do an activity on social styles, I want to step back for minute and mention that it’s important we realize that a team member may exhibit several social styles, but people typically have a dominant style. Social styles can change for a variety of reasons, including being pushed outside of our comfort zone, the relationship we have with the person we are interacting with, the context of the situation, and so on.

Without performing an official assessment, it’s difficult to identify a person’s social style. You can study behavior and make preliminary observations about social styles, but be careful not to make assumptions or inflexibly categorize your team members – it’s never that simple.

Instead, think about social styles as just another useful lens to think about how people interact. Ensure you take the time to ask your team members about their preferences, and don’t make assumptions.

Activity

Explore the challenges and benefits of differing social styles — Forming

  1. Form a group on the side of the room where your dominant social style is listed. Note there are two social styles on each side of the room.
  2. In your groups, discuss how individuals with the social styles could irritate each other, what they should pay attention to when interacting with each other, and how the differences in preferences could be framed as strengths.
  3. Choose a presenter and share what you learned about your assigned social styles.
  4. Reflect in your Workbook on each of your team members’ social styles and how you will communicate with them in the future given what you’ve just learned.

Speaker’s Notes:

Let’s break into groups based on your dominant social style. Note there are two groups on each side of the room: amiable and driver social styles on one side and analytical and expressive on the other.

In your group, take five minutes to discuss how individuals with the assigned social styles could irritate each other, what they should pay attention to when interacting with each other, and how the differences in preferences could be framed as strengths. When you are done, choose a presenter to share your insights with the group.

Let’s hear what your group learned about your assigned social styles.

Now take the last five minutes of this activity to reflect in your Workbook on each of your team member’s social styles and how you’ll communicate with them in the future given what you’ve just learned.

Thanks everyone! Getting to know your team by thinking about their social styles will help you effectively steer them through the Forming phase. Next, let’s turn to establishing objectives.

Use McLean & Company’s 3i model to engage your team — Forming

Inform

Relay information down from senior management to employees.

Employees who say their managers keep them well informed about decisions that affect them are 3.4X more likely to be engaged. (Source: McLean & Company, 2020; N=77,363)

Interact

Continue to connect with employees on a personal level.

Employees who believe their managers care about them as a person are 3.8X more likely to be engaged than those who do not. (Source: McLean & Company, 2020; N=70,927)

Involve

Ask employees for feedback and collaborate with them.

Employees who say their leader acts on employee feedback are 3.9X more likely to be engaged than those who do not. (Source: McLean & Company, 2020; N=59,779)

Speaker’s Notes:
Think about a time when your team didn't have clear goals – how did that feel? The Forming phase is also when the team leader establishes and communicates team objectives – this helps the team achieve success through a common purpose. To help get your team engaged and on board with team objectives, leverage McLean & Company’s 3i model: inform, interact, and involve.

First, let’s look at inform: Relay information down from senior managers to employees. What are some ways you currently inform your team about things they need to know?

  • Hold regular team meetings and discuss team objectives.
  • Provide organizational and departmental updates in all team meetings, even outside of formal communications.
  • Clearly communicate team and individual goals early and often.
  • And lastly, explain the rationale behind organizational and team decisions.

Then there is interact: Continue to connect with employees on a personal level. There are several ways you can interact effectively with your team:

  • Thank and recognize employees for their contributions – we’ll be going more into recognition when we cover the Performing phase.
  • Hold productive check-ins with your team members at least once a month and check in informally more often. During check-ins, keep objectives top of mind.
  • Get to know your team members on a personal level. This can range from how they like their coffee or tea to what motivates them. It will be easier to guide a team that you know well.
  • Have an open-door policy so your team knows you are available and open to their questions and insights.
  • Tailor your interactions to align with social styles and individual preferences.

Finally, there’s involve. Ask employees for feedback and collaborate with them. What are some ways you currently involve your team in its objectives?

  • Consult your team about decisions that will affect them, especially in relation to team objectives.
  • Encourage and trust employees to make decisions on how they do their work to meet their objectives and goals.
  • Include employees in setting their performance objectives and goals.
  • Solicit feedback from your team and implement some of their suggestions to show you value their insight.
  • Encourage, support, and enable a collaborative work environment.
  • Leverage each team member’s unique strengths and talents to achieve objectives.
  • Ask employees what they need from you to ensure that the team meets its objectives and that you are meeting their needs as a manager.

Are there are any questions about the 3i model? Now, let’s turn to how measure progress toward team objectives.

Activity

Identify measures of progress for team objectives — Forming

Step One: Group discussion

  • How have you previously measured your team’s progress toward its objectives? Were your methods successful? Why or why not?

Step Two: Individual reflection

  • Reflect in your Workbook on new ways you can track your team’s progress toward its objectives.

Speaker’s Notes:

Once you’ve made your team objectives clear, it’s time to monitor your team’s performance. Is your team making progress toward its objectives?

How have you previously measured your team’s progress toward its objectives? Were your methods successful? Why or why not? Who wants to share first?

Spend a few minutes reflecting in your Workbook on new ways you can track your team’s progress toward its objectives.

  • Hold a team brainstorming session. Answer the following questions for each team objective:
    • Who will be impacted by the plan – customers, team members, stakeholders?
    • What will success look like?
    • What outcomes are we working toward?
    • What will the evaluation schedule look like?
    • Are there data collection methods in place to find out how well we are doing along the way?
    • How will we know if we've made a difference?
  • Create key performance indicators (KPIs).
    • Determine three KPIs for each team objective.
    • Often, the most difficult part is figuring out what you can measure to best track team performance.
    • To simplify this process, create list of at least three KPIs that you think will measure progress overall. For example, two common team KPIs are team efficiency and time spent collaborating.
  • Create milestones for each objective.
    • Milestones should be attainable and specific. They must outline the progress team members are expected to make at each time interval. An example of a specific milestone is that you expect 75% of the project work to be done in seven days.
    • Emphasize that in meetings progress should be reported in relation to KPIs and milestones to create context for the rest of team.
  • Keep an ongoing written record of:
    • Accountability: Team member primarily responsible for ensuring the activity is completed.
    • Resources: Financial resources, employees, equipment, etc. needed to accomplish an activity.
    • Time frame: Expected date of completion for each activity/strategy.
    • Progress: Current description of status of completion.

Establish clear, upfront ground rules — Forming

Effective ground rules:

  • Ground rules must be clear, consistent, agreed upon, and followed by all team members.
  • Ground rules should focus on three elements:
    1. Tasks: Expected team activities and deliverables.
    2. Processes: How the activities will be carried out.
    3. Interactions: Ways in which team members will interact.

Tips for setting ground rules:

  • Set aside time at a meeting shortly after your team is formed to discuss ground rules.
  • Ask team members to talk about prior group experiences.
  • Describe what you’d like to happen when you work together.
  • Document the ground rules and review them periodically.

Speaker’s Notes:
Another way to keep your team accountable and on task during the Forming phase is to establish ground rules.

Ground rules are value statements and guidelines that provide your team with insight into expected behaviors. Establishing ground rules can help avoid many team-forming pitfalls.

What ground rules, if any, have you established with your current team? How were they formed and communicated?

To be effective, ground rules must be clear, consistent, agreed upon, and followed by all team members.

When developing ground rules, focus on these three elements:

  1. Tasks are the expected activities and deliverables for the team. Keep in mind that most tasks will have been covered when you established team goals.
  2. Processes are how the activities will be carried out.
  3. And, finally, team interactions are the ways in which team members will interact with each other.

And consider the following tips when setting ground rules:

  • Set aside time at a team meeting to discuss ground rules.
  • Ask team members to talk about their prior experiences.
  • Describe what you’d like to happen when you work together.
  • Document ground rules in your Team Charter and review them periodically.

In your Workbook, I’ve included a list of things to consider when setting ground rules, as well as a template you can use to build a Team Charter.

Team Charters are valuable documents. Along with documenting ground rules, they can be used to record many things, including team roles and goals, team assessments, and leadership responsibilities.

That wraps up the Forming phase of the team lifecycle. Are there any questions before we move on to the Storming phase?

Storming is the second stage in establishing effective teams and maximizing their value

Tuckman's 'Orming' model, highlighting part 2 of the 'Team Lifecycle', 'Storming'. (Source: Tuckman, 1965)

In this phase you will:

  • Prepare for conflict.
  • Acknowledge conflict and develop rules of resolution.
  • Address residual conflict.
  • Keep objective and focus on the facts.

Speaker’s Notes:
What does conflict mean to you? Have you ever been a part of a team that experienced conflict? I know I have, and it can be a very challenging experience.

But at some point, every team experiences conflict – it’s normal and a key part of team development. In the team lifecycle, this phase is fittingly called Storming. Your role as a leader is to skillfully guide your team through the stormy waters.

In this phase we will cover:

  • Preparing for conflict.
  • Acknowledging conflict and developing rules of resolution.
  • Addressing residual conflict.
  • Keeping objective and focusing on the facts.

Prepare for conflict by identifying its root causes — Storming

  • Poor communication
  • Different work methods
  • Different goals
  • Personality clash
  • Stress
  • Different perspectives

Speaker’s Notes:
To start, let’s think about the root causes of conflict. What do you think some of the main sources of conflict are during the Storming phase?

Thanks, everyone. That was a great discussion. Here are some common sources of conflict during the storming phase.

The first source of tension stems from poor communication. Conflict can stem from the misinterpretation of the words or actions of another party.

Another source of conflict is different work methods. A person’s approach to their work is a source of pride. Disagreements or changes can lead to conflict. I recall once when one of my team members wanted more meetings and collaborative work than I was used to. It really wore me down and I found it difficult to get things done without my head-down work time. It started creating friction on the team, but we eventually discussed it and settled on a compromise that worked for both of us. The situation taught me not to wait as long before having team members discuss their preferred working styles – it’s now one of the first things I mention when I join a new team!

The next source is different goals. Separate business unit goals can be in competition and result in cross-unit conflict.

Then there is personality clash. Different personality types can result in conflict. Two people simply may not get along. I have had to learn this over years. I typically want to be everyone’s friend, but I have had to realize this isn’t always possible. My personality might not mesh with every single one of my team members, and that’s okay as long we can still work well together – you don’t have to be best friends!

The next root cause of conflict is stress. When people are dealing with high levels of stress, tempers and conflicts can flare up as people lose their composure.

Finally, team tension can also stem from different perspectives. Conflict can arise if differing perspectives are misunderstood or pushed aside. This is often seen as a lack of respect.

Discussion

Does conflict have any benefits? — Storming

  • Increases creativity and innovation.
  • Enhances problem solving.
  • Offers insight into team dynamics.
  • Assists team members in settling into roles.
  • Helps the team learn how to work through issues on their own without needing to escalate.
  • Reinforces that the team can successfully navigate adversity.

Speaker’s Notes:

Now that we can identify the sources of conflict that can arise during the Storming phase, let’s change gears a bit and think about the benefits of conflict.

Can you think of some potential benefits of conflict?

Excellent insights, everyone! Here are some additional thoughts on how conflict can strengthen a team.

If one of these points was already brought up, be sure to acknowledge that.

  • Although the Storming phase is volatile, it’s also when the team is most creative and innovative.
  • This phase is also when the greatest amount of problem solving occurs.
  • Observing your team as it progresses through this phase can offer insight into team dynamics.
  • This phase also assists team members in settling into roles.
  • It helps the team learn how to work through issues on their own without needing to escalate.
  • Finally, dealing with conflict reinforces that the team can successfully navigate adversity.

Aim for healthy conflict within your team — Storming

Constructive team conflict Destructive team conflict
Strengthens relationships and builds teamwork. Damages relationships and discourages cooperation.
Encourages open communication and cooperative problem solving. Results in defensiveness and hidden agendas.
Resolves disagreements quickly and increases productivity. Wastes time, money, and resources.
Deals with real issues and concentrates on win-win resolution. Focuses on fault-finding and blaming.
Airs all sides of an issue in a positive, supportive environment. Is frustrating, stress producing, and energy draining.
Calms and focuses toward results. Is often loud, hostile, and chaotic.

Speaker’s Notes:
To reap the positive benefits of conflict during the Storming stage, you need to aim for constructive conflict within your team.

What are some of the differences between constructive and destructive conflict?

  • Constructive team conflict:
    • Strengthens relationships and builds teamwork.
    • Encourages open communication and cooperative problem solving.
    • Resolves disagreements quickly and increases productivity.
    • Deals with real issues and concentrates on win-win resolution.
    • Makes allies and diffuses anger.
    • Airs all sides of an issue in a positive, supportive environment.
    • Calms and focuses toward results.
  • On the other hand, destructive team conflict:
    • Damages relationships and discourages cooperation.
    • Results in defensiveness and hidden agendas among team members.
    • Wastes time, money, and resources trying to deal with negative conflict.
    • Focuses on fault-finding and blaming.
    • Creates enemies and hard feelings.
    • Is frustrating, stress producing, and energy draining.
    • Is often loud, hostile, and chaotic.

Which kind of conflict would you prefer? From experience, I know I’d pick constructive conflict!

Discussion

Conflict occurs – now what? — Storming

Do you currently follow a conflict resolution process with your team? If so, what does it entail?

Conflict resolution process:

  1. Identify when conflict is occurring.
  2. Encourage team members to talk to each other and to try to work through the conflict before you step in.
  3. Suggest the team use the Team Charter as a guiding document to work through the issue.
  4. If you must step in, clarify the views of all parties involved and remain objective.
  5. Help your team arrive at a solution.
  6. Review and recap the solution and required actions with the team.

Speaker’s Notes:

No matter how prepared you are, conflict will occur during the Storming phase.

Do you currently use a conflict resolution process with your team? If so, what does it entail?

That was a great discussion! Here’s a conflict resolution process you can follow to help your team navigate the Storming phase.

First, identify when conflict is occurring. Who here tries to avoid conflict? I know I do. I’m very nonconfrontational and will put off dealing with conflict for as long as humanly possible. Guess what? This isn’t the right approach. Many people instinctively avoid conflict. If this sounds like you, work to overcome this tendency and address conflict immediately.

Before you get involved, encourage team members to talk to each other and to try to work through the conflict.

Also, you can suggest the team use the Team Charter as a guiding document to work through the issue.

Next, if you do have to step in, clarify the views of all parties involved and remain objective. You can’t resolve an issue that you don’t understand. People want to be heard – if you don’t listen to what they are saying, they’ll resist a solution that doesn’t incorporate their point of view. And remember, people are rarely 100% right or wrong – the truth is often somewhere in the middle.

Help the team come to a solution. With your guidance, the team must come to a consensus on a course of action. Find an agreement that fits best for the organization and for the team, but don’t try to make everybody happy – it’s often impossible.

Finally, once an agreement has been reached, review and recap the solution and required actions with the team. Provide a final chance for input on the agreed-upon solution. And don’t forget to take the time to acknowledge the contributions everyone made toward reaching a solution.

Now that we’ve gone over the conflict resolution process, what will you do differently when your team experiences conflict in the future?

Prepare for future conflict as you exit the Storming phase — Storming

Update conflict resolution process

  • Set up a team meeting to go over what the team learned during the resolution process.
  • Discuss what was effective and what wasn’t – and be sure to adjust the resolution guidelines.
  • Don’t forget to modify the Team Charter, if required.

Build momentum

  • Focus on the achievements made, not the negative aspects of the conflict resolution process.
  • Model moving on and focusing on objectives.
  • Check in to see how the team is working together.
  • Resolve residual, lingering conflict.

Speaker’s Notes:
To wrap up the Storming phase, let’s think about how you can prepare your team for future conflict:

  • Organize a team meeting to review what the team learned during the Storming phase, paying special attention to team dynamics.
  • Update the conflict resolution process with lessons learned. Every time a team confronts conflict and comes out on the other side, they learn something about themselves and the process.
  • Don’t forget to update your Team Charter, if required.

To keep team momentum going as you approach the Norming phase:

  • Focus on the achievements made, not any negativity that may have surfaced during the Storming phase. Your team is stronger now – highlight that.
  • Model effective behavior by putting the conflict behind you and taking a fresh focus on team objectives.
  • Check in regularly to see how the team is working together.
  • Finally, resolve any residual or lingering conflict. If feelings have been hurt, give your impacted team members a break from working directly together for a short time. Or if some team members have been ostracized as a result of the conflict, work to bring them back into the fold.

We’ve made it through the Storming phase! Are there any questions before we take a break and come back to discuss Norming?

During Norming, you set the stage for the Performing phase

Tuckman's 'Orming' model, highlighting part 3 of the 'Team Lifecycle', 'Norming'. (Source: Tuckman, 1965)

In this phase you will:

  • Continue to focus on goals and on motivating your team.
  • Consider accountability.

Speaker’s Notes:
Whew! You’ve successfully navigated your team through the challenging Storming phase. Now what? Well, the skies have cleared, and team dynamics are improving, but this isn’t the time to sit back and bask in your success.

Instead, take advantage of this phase and set the stage for performance. In this phase we will cover:

  • Continuing to focus on goals and on motivating your team.
  • Considering accountability.

It may seem like these two actions are simple, but they are critical for moving beyond Norming into Performing. If you overlook them, teams will often regress to Storming – and you don’t want that to happen!

Effective Storming causes the team to gel – take advantage of this new dynamic — Norming

At the start of the Norming phase, team members:

  • Are aware of each other’s opinions and begin to value individual differences.
  • Start to consider team objectives and focus on developing ways of working together more effectively.

During the Norming phase, the team moves from:

  • Individualism to collectivism.
  • A task-focused to a goal-focused mentality.
  • Coming together as a team and overcoming conflict to refocusing on goals and being held accountable.

Speaker’s Notes:
Have you ever been on a team and had the feeling that things were finally starting to click? That’s what it feels like at the start of this phase – team members are aware of each other’s opinions and begin to value individual differences. They are also shifting their focus from individual to team objectives, and it’s becoming the norm for team members to work well together.

What are some signs you would look for to determine if your team is moving into the Norming phase?

During the Norming phase, several dynamics typically emerge.

  • The team will begin to shift from an individual to a collective mentality. With this collective view, team members start to trust one another and actively seek each other out for assistance and feedback rather than competing with one another.
  • They also will slowly shift from a task-focused to a goal-focused mentality. When the team starts focusing on team objectives, they’ll begin to work together more effectively – paving the way for the Performing phase.
  • Team members will move from focusing on coming together as a team and overcoming conflict to refocusing on goals and being held accountable.

At this point you can expect to see members of the team looking for opportunities to maintain harmony and solve issues. The team will start to become comfortable asking other members of the team for help, and you can expect to see substantial communication. The team will continue to reinforce their identified ground rules and focus on accomplishments. You may even see them develop inside jokes or their own way of communicating.

Continue to focus on goals and on motivating your team — Norming

  • Focus on the big picture.
  • Reaffirm team objectives.
  • Celebrate team successes – no matter how small.

Speaker’s Notes:
Your team may have been distracted by the team conflict during the Storming phase, so now is the time to continue to focus on goals and on motivating your team.

Start by focusing on the big picture.

  • Discuss why the team exists – to achieve the team’s shared goal. Drive team cohesion and buy-in by reiterating this shared purpose. To achieve high performance, you need every team member on board.

Next, reaffirm team objectives.

  • Reaffirm team objectives and use them as a compass to get everyone heading in the same direction.

And lastly, celebrate team successes – no matter how small.

  • After being mired in the conflict of the Storming phase, and to combat any lingering negativity, it’s important to celebrate the team’s successes.
  • Acknowledgement can go a long way in giving the team the confidence it needs to reach peak performance in the next phase and to motivate them to keep striving for success and to hit team objectives.

Let’s now turn our attention to accountability – the last consideration for this phase.

Understand the distinct characteristics of individual vs. team accountability — Norming

Individual

  • Accountable to their direct manager.
  • Earns the trust of management.
  • Individual contribution and performance are easily measurable.
  • Individuals have primary control over outcomes.
A visualization of Individual versus Team Accountabilities with one person on the left side and three people on the right.

Team

  • Accountable to and with team members.
  • Earns the trust of peers.
  • Individual contribution and performance are difficult to measure.
  • The team shares control over outcomes.

Speaker’s Notes:
The secret to having an accountable culture starts with understanding the distinct characteristics of individual versus team accountability – as a team manager, you need to consider both the individual accountability of your team members and the accountability of your team as a whole.

At the individual level:

  • Individual team members are accountable to you, their team leader, for their personal performance.
  • They are also responsible for earning your trust and the trust of upper management.
  • Individual performance and contribution are easily measured, and individuals not working within a team setting are likely to have primary control over outcomes.
  • Overall, to be accountable, individuals need to understand what is expected of them and how they will be measured. They need to have a voice and provide input into decisions that affect their work, have tools to complete their job, and be able to demonstrate their talent.

But at the team level, accountability is much more complex.

  • Being held accountable to and with your peers is a catalyst for motivating performance. A team is collectively accountable for a goal or outcome, and when team members are fully committed and individually accountable, the team is strengthened and better able to work at their full potential. It is important that teams see the link between their goals and those of the organization. Each team member must be accountable for their own individual performance as it contributes to the collective efforts of the team.
  • However, in team settings it is sometimes difficult to identify individual contributions and performance. It is important to ensure that each employee understands their responsibilities and what they must accomplish personally to contribute to the team’s outcomes. This results in individuals being held accountable for their own contributions.
  • Ultimately, the team shares the accountability for final outcomes. This holds team members accountable not only to themselves but also to the collective group.
  • We’ve found that in teams with the weakest performance, there is no accountability. In mediocre teams, managers are the source of accountability. But to excel in the upcoming Performing phase and become a high-performing team, team members need to manage the vast majority of performance problems with one another and hold each other accountable.

Let’s think about some potential barriers to accountability.

Activity

Identify potential barriers to accountability — Norming

  1. In small groups:
    • Identify potential barriers to accountability in your teams.
    • Brainstorm potential solutions to the barriers.
    • Capture the solutions on a flip chart.
  2. Choose a presenter to share your team’s barriers and solutions with the group.

Speaker’s Notes:

How often do you find people duplicating work or work not being completed? What about tasks being started by one person, only to be completed by another? In the Norming phase, take a moment to step back and think about accountability. As teams continue to do more with less, ensuring everyone is on the same page and pulling their weight becomes increasingly important, especially as we near the Performing phase.

Break into small groups. In your groups, spend ten minutes:

  • Identifying potential barriers to accountability in your teams and brainstorming potential solutions to the barriers. Capture the solutions on a flip chart.
  • Choosing a presenter to share your team’s barriers and solutions with the group.

Let’s hear the barriers and solutions you brainstormed. Who wants to go first?

Common barriers to accountability — Norming

  1. Behaviors aren’t being effectively demonstrated from the top down.
  2. Accountability isn’t linked to performance management practices.
  3. Punitive actions are taken following poor outcomes.
  4. There is a tendency to assign blame or make excuses.
  5. The work environment is highly competitive.
  6. The levels of coaching and mentoring are low.

Speaker’s Notes:

The reality is that accountability is not easy. To complicate matters further, it is often stymied by several barriers.

  • Firstly, leaders are not walking the talk. They say one thing and do another. Team members are not going to be accountable if they don’t see their leaders being accountable.
  • Secondly, accountability is not woven* into performance management practices. Including an expectation of accountability in performance management practices keeps it top of mind and in regular formal and informal conversations. Another way to look at this is to look at your values. Is accountability baked into your team values?
  • Thirdly, punitive actions are taken following poor outcomes. There are so many reasons why something can go wrong. If team members are fearful of “punishment,” they will not take any accountability. It can also limit their confidence when it comes to taking risks.
  • The fourth barrier is blaming and making excuses. This is one of the most significant barriers to be aware of. For many, assigning blame or making excuses for less-than-ideal outcomes is a very natural tendency. However, while it may divert attention temporarily, this behavior often leads to a lack of trust and negatively impacts the individual’s reputation.
  • Fifth, a highly competitive work environment can be a barrier. Team members may find it more challenging to take ownership of negative outcomes for fear that they will impact future promotions, special projects, or compensation.
  • And lastly, low levels of coaching and mentoring. Accountability is hard, and for many people it’s not a natural tendency. So, as team leaders we need to coach and mentor our teams to be more accountable. But this also means that we have to role model accountability. This ties back to the first barrier.

That’s it for the Norming phase of the team lifecycle. Do you have any questions before we continue to the Performing phase?

Forming is the foundation of effective team building

Tuckman's 'Orming' model, highlighting part 4 of the 'Team Lifecycle', 'Performing'. (Source: Tuckman, 1965)

In this phase you will:

  • Empower your team.
  • Schedule check-ins.
  • Track progress.
  • Use recognition to drive engagement.
  • Leverage development to drive performance.

Speaker’s Notes:
We’ve moved through the Forming, Storming, and Norming stages of the team lifecycle, leaving us with the last phase to cover – Performing.

What does a high-performing team look like to you? To me, it’s when my team has tangible goals, feels empowered, works together toward a common purpose, depends on each other for support, and buys into and attains our team goals.

As a team leader, you should take these actions during the performing phase:

  • Empower your team.
  • Schedule check-ins.
  • Track progress.
  • Use recognition to drive engagement.
  • And leverage development to drive performance.

Activity

What is empowerment and why does it matter? — Performing

Empowerment:

  • Degree to which employees have accountability and control over their work in a supported environment.
  • Delegation of work based on individual employee capability.
  1. In small groups, brainstorm ways individuals and teams can be empowered.
  2. Choose a presenter and share insights with the entire group.
  3. Next, reflect in your Workbook on specific ways you can empower your team.

Speaker’s Notes:

During the Performing phase, empowerment is a key focus to enhance team performance.

But what is empowerment?

Empowerment is the:

  • Degree to which employees have accountability and control over their work in a supported environment.
  • Delegation of responsibility based on employee capacity – this is the thoughtful assignment of work. Tailor the degree of empowerment to the individual's capacity, which includes their knowledge, skills, attitudes, perceptions, and willingness.

When leaders empower their team members, the team can move from average to high performance. Empowered team members have greater buy-in, accountability, and dedication.

Let’s spend some time delving into empowerment.

First, in small groups, let’s discuss ways in which individuals and teams can be empowered. Pick a presenter to share your ideas with the larger group.

Who’d like to share their ideas first?

Those were great ideas. Now let’s put them into practice. Spend a few minutes reflecting in your Workbook on specific ways you are going to empower your team.

Take action to empower your team — Performing

To feel empowered, employees must:

  • Understand what is expected of them.
  • Have input into decisions that affect their work.
  • Have the tools they need.
  • Be able to demonstrate their talents.

Empowerment is NOT:

  • Delegation without support.
  • Giving up all power as a manager.
  • Driven or given by the manager.

Speaker’s Notes:
We’ve already discussed some excellent ways to empower your team. But here are some ways you can help to empower your team to make the most of the Performing phase of the team lifecycle.

To feel empowered, employees must:

  • Understand what is expected of them.
  • Have input into decisions that affect their work.
  • Have the tools they need. Have you ever been assigned to a project but lacked the skills to get it done? It’s something that’s happened to most of us at one time or another. I’ll never forget the terror I felt when I was tasked with fixing formulas in an Excel workbook when I’d never even used Excel before! To avoid turning a moment of empowerment into a feeling of fear or failure, provide your team with the information, tools, and training they need to get their job done.
  • And, to feel empowered, team members need to be able to demonstrate their talents.

Lastly, it’s important recognize what empowerment is not. It isn’t:

  • Delegation without support.
  • Giving up all power as a manager.
  • Or driven or given by the manager.

Have you ever been on a team when empowerment went wrong? What did that look like? How did it make you feel?

Schedule checkpoints based on employee capabilities — Performing

Skilled in the task:

  • Let employees take the lead in setting up checkpoints.
  • Encourage employees to discuss issues they need help with as they arise.

Tackling a new task:

  • Stop by their desks to check in and offer help.
  • Ask them to share what they’ve done at reasonable intervals.
  • Have employees buddy with others who have more experience.

Speaker’s Notes:
Once you have worked to empower your team, assigned responsibilities, and set boundaries, don’t assume your job is over.

Empowerment is a two-way street that involves responsibility and accountability on both sides. Set checkpoints to ensure things stay on track. Checkpoint frequency depends on employee capabilities.

If the employee is skilled in the tasks you’ve empowered them to undertake:

  • Let the employee take the lead in setting up checkpoints, but ensure you get the information you need. A status update every week or two keeps you in the loop but also out of the way.
  • Encourage them to discuss issues they need help with as they arise. Have them propose a solution to the problem first – this helps build their confidence and reinforces your trust in their abilities.

If the employee is tackling something for the first time, keep close and check in with them frequently.

  • Stop by their desk and ask how they’re feeling about the task. Ask if they need help with anything. Let them know that you’re there if they need you. Ask them to more formally share what they’ve done at reasonable intervals; employees may not come to you if they are struggling. For long-term projects, do this weekly or every few days. For short-term tasks, check daily.
  • For easier questions, have employees buddy with others who have more experience with the task, creating an opportunity to learn from team members.

Track progress with regular check-ins — Performing

  • Ask them how they are doing on a personal level.
  • Follow up on previously set expectations.
  • Ask if they have encountered any roadblocks.
  • Provide feedback and recognition.
  • Document new expectations.

Speaker’s Notes:
Track each team member’s progress with regular check-ins. This is not about keeping tabs on employees, but rather about building relationships and maintaining progress toward meeting team objectives. I’m sure many of you already use some form of check-in with your team members, but here are some ways to be sure those check-ins are productive.

Start off by checking in with your team members on a personal level. This helps to build or maintain that personal connection between the employee and you as the manager.

Next, follow up on how they have done against previously set expectations. Ask them how things have been going and ask for an update on their progress. This is an opportunity to understand how the employee has been performing against expectations. This is also an opportunity to set expectations until the next check-in. Communicate if priorities have changed and if tasks or responsibilities have shifted accordingly.

Also, ask if they have experienced any roadblocks – anything that has prevented them from being successful. Remember, it’s important to collaborate on solutions. This draws on the third “i” in the 3i model – involve.

Use the check-in as a time to provide relevant feedback – either positive or negative. Take the time before these check-ins to prepare if you do have to give feedback. Plan what you are going to say, create examples, and identify how you will confirm that the employee understood the feedback. It’s also important to give positive feedback to recognize the successes of team members so they know their contributions and successes are valued.

And lastly, document any new expectations. Ask the employee to send a brief follow-up email regarding the expectations. This can help to ensure that you are both on the same page, and it creates a resource for them to refer to if they become unclear on the expectations.

Use recognition to drive your team’s engagement — Performing

Recognition is the acknowledgement of demonstrated desirable behavior. It’s tied to behaviors that align with core values or support organizational performance.

Day-to-day recognition is not necessarily associated with specific criteria and happens more frequently. It’s closely related to appreciation.

Formal recognition follows a defined process and is associated with predetermined criteria and behaviors.

Speaker’s Notes:
When your team is in the Performing phase, along with empowering your team, assigning responsibilities, and tracking progress, turn your focus to recognition to kick performance into overdrive.

The link between recognition and improving team dynamics is strong. Eighty-four percent of respondents to a SHRM (2015) survey said that recognizing employees in a way that links with your organizational values improves relationships among employees. Meanwhile, a survey by the Boston Consulting Group found that employees felt the most important aspect of work is appreciation, followed by good workplace relationships as a close second (Strack et al., 2014).

But what is recognition? It’s the acknowledgement of demonstrated desirable behavior. And it’s tied to behaviors that align with core values or support organizational performance.

There are two main types of recognition. There’s day-to-day recognition, which is not necessarily associated with specific criteria and happens more frequently. It’s closely related to appreciation. And then there’s formal recognition, which follows a defined process and is associated with predetermined criteria and behaviors.

Design recognition for maximum impact — Performing

Day-to-day recognition

  • Give verbal recognition.
  • Communicate about recognition.
  • Recognize the recognizer.
  • Start meetings with success stories.
  • Assign special projects.
  • Give time off.
  • Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Pass the trophy.

Formal recognition

  • Start a peer recognition program.
  • Give a charitable donation.
  • Give a tailored gift card.
  • Build a Wall of Fame.
  • Create a special background.
  • Invest your time.
  • Hold a Team Appreciation Day.
  • Provide a cash bonus.

For more ideas on methods of recognition, check out McLean & Company’s Recognition Ideas Catalog.

Speaker’s Notes:
When it comes to recognizing your team members, don’t try to reinvent the wheel – use a mix of day-to-day and formal recognition.

Before you pick your methods of recognition, note that your team members know best how they like to be recognized and which initiatives will be effective. So use these suggestions in conjunction with information gathered from your team members through surveys or focus groups to determine individual preferences.

First, let’s look at day-to-day recognition. Perhaps on the surface it might seem less important, but over time its well-planned, thoughtful use can be more effective than one or two grand gestures a year. Here are some ideas you can try with your team:

  • Give verbal recognition. Simply saying “thank you” or providing verbal praise can be powerful.
  • Communicate about recognition. Let your employees know you’re trying to create an atmosphere of recognition and encourage them to show gratitude to their peers.
  • Tying nicely into communicating about recognition, you can recognize the recognizer. Identify and celebrate employees or managers who actively recognize others.
  • You can also start meetings with success stories.
  • Also, assign special projects that may provide a development opportunity or responsibilities that are outside of their day-to-day work.
  • Give time off. Allow a recognized employee to start an hour late or to leave an hour early and make it their choice when they use the hour.
  • Don’t neglect your employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries.
  • Finally, play pass the trophy. Use a trophy or other fun object that’s easily passed around to recognize an employee. Present them the object at a team meeting and then have them pass it on to the next team member being recognized. A team I was once a part of used a stuffed, colorful unicorn as a trophy to recognize when a team member when above and beyond – symbolizing their “special unicorn” status.

Then there’s formal recognition. To use this type of recognition with your team, you can:

  • Start a peer recognition program that includes behavior-based criteria linked to the organization’s goals and values.
  • Give charitable donations and tailored gift cards to recognize great work.
  • Build a Wall of Fame where you can post notes from customers, peers, and leaders recognizing your team on the wall.
  • Create a special background for platforms such as Teams and Zoom that sets the recognized employee apart and celebrates their achievement.
  • Invest your time. Go for a one-on-one lunch in honor of the employee you would like to recognize.
  • Hold a Team Appreciation Day to celebrate your team’s completion of a challenging project. Order pizza, play games, and spend time deepening relationships.
  • And, of course, there’s always the tried-and-true cash bonus. Who doesn’t like some extra cash? Just be aware of the tax implications of this practice in your region.

Which of these day-to-day or formal recognition tactics do you think you might try with your team?

Use recognition to drive your team’s engagement — Performing

There’s no shortcut to high performance!

  • Personal growth and professional development are crucial for developing a high-performing team.
  • One of the biggest obstacles to thriving in the Performing phase is a lack of targeted development that improves team dynamics.

Speaker’s Notes:
As we’ve seen today, there’s no shortcut to effective team dynamics. Adding to this, personal growth and professional development take time and are crucial for improving team dynamics.

Becoming a high-performing team is a dynamic process, so the development it entails is not just a specific goal to be reached but rather a sequential cycle of self-motivated goal setting and achievement that continually drives and enhances employee capabilities. One of the obstacles to thriving in the Performing phase of the team lifecycle is a lack of targeted development that improves team dynamics.

Just one of the many areas of development you can home in on to drive performance is people skills – your team members’ ability to listen to, communicate with, and relate to others. This type of development can include training on how to have difficult conversations, demonstrate empathy, and excel at problem solving.

What are some development methods you’ve used in the past to improve team dynamics?

This concludes the fourth and final phase of team dynamics – Performing. Any questions?

Activity

Putting the team dynamics puzzle together An iconized version of Tuckman's 'Orming' Model.

Instructions

  • Three minutes to prepare.
  • No moving backwards.
  • A person can only move forward to an empty space.
  • A person can “jump over” a player from the opposing team.
  • Only one person may move at a time.
  • One spot per person – no sharing!
  • Players must end up on the opposing side.

Speaker’s Notes:
Now that we’ve reviewed the four phases of team dynamics and realize how important they are for success, let’s see how well we put into practice what we’ve learned by doing a fun activity.

The goal of this activity is to move the players on the left side of a line to the right side, and to move the players on the right side of a line to the left side. Sounds easy right? Well, there are several rules that dictate how players can move.

Instructions:

  • You can only move forward to an empty space (there is no sharing of spaces) and only one person can move at a time.
  • A player with a number can “jump over” a player with a letter and vice versa.
  • There is no moving backwards.
  • Observers, your role is to observe and indicate if this team is a high-performing team with effective team dynamics. If yes or no, why? What behaviors did you observe? If you wish, you can write down your observation in your Workbook.

Common behaviors you or the observers will notice:

  • Poor communication between players – reason: they do not know or spend time to understand and appreciate each other’s strengths.
  • One or two participants dictating what everyone should do – reason: unclear expectations or responsibilities are not clearly communicated.
  • Participants won’t ask for help from observers when nothing in the rules mentions that they can not – reason: tension within the team, not engaging others.
  • Generally during this activity the players will get stuck either in the Forming and/or Storming stage.

Activity

Putting the team dynamics puzzle together An iconized version of Tuckman's 'Orming' Model.

Create a road map

  • Think about:
    1. Specific actions you will stop, start, and continue given the phase your team is currently in (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing).
    2. How you can guide your team to the next phase in the team lifecycle.
  • Review the Team Charter Template and plan a meeting to fill it out with your team if you don’t already use a Charter. If you already use a Charter, see if there is anything you could add or modify.

Visualization of a snaking road around the four steps of Tuckman's 'Orming' Model representing a road map for team dynamics.

Speaker’s Notes:

Now it’s time to build a road map. Drawing on everything you learned today, spend ten minutes in your Workbook outlining a road map for how you will build effective team dynamics and planning a meeting to create a Team Charter if you don’t already have one.

Think about: a) specific actions you will stop, start, and continue given the phase your team is currently in (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) and b) how you can guide your team to the next phase in the team lifecycle.

Then, review the Team Charter Template and plan a meeting to fill it out with your team if you don’t already use a Charter. If you already use a Charter, see if there is anything you could add or modify.

Training expectations check-in

Forming

  • Employ leadership tactics for success.
  • Consider each team member’s social style.
  • Establish team objectives.
  • Set clear ground rules.
A simplified version of Tuckman's 'Orming' Model without words. Source: Tuckman, 1965

Storming

  • Prepare for conflict.
  • Acknowledge conflict and develop rules of resolution.
  • Address residual conflict.
  • Keep objective and focus on the facts.

Performing

  • Empower your team.
  • Schedule check-ins.
  • Track progress.
  • Use recognition to drive engagement.
  • Leverage development to drive performance.

Norming

  • Continue to focus on goals and on motivating your team.
  • Consider accountability.

Speaker’s Notes:
Let’s take a minute to review what we covered during this training session.

We learned there are several actions you can take as a team leader to lead your team successfully through the team lifecycle.

On the slide are the specific behaviors you can use in each of the phases – Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing – to help guide your team through the team lifecycle. A copy of this is included in your Workbook so you can refer to it anytime.

Before we wrap up, let’s review your training expectations we documented at the beginning to make sure we covered everything or if we have some great topics to dive into in future training sessions.

ACTION PLAN TO IMPROVE FEEDBACK PRACTICES

Sustain effective team dynamics with these follow-up tasks — Performing

Model the behaviors 3-month follow-up 6-to-12-month follow-up Revisit the training
  • Champion the initiative.
  • Build ways to enhance team dynamics into standard processes
  • Hold informal follow-up discussions with your team members.
  • Work through barriers and celebrate successes.
  • Reflect on any changes in team dynamics practices.
  • Discuss continued changes with management and HR.
  • Review your Workbook.
  • Regularly touch base with your team and provide support.

Speaker’s Notes:
As champions of this initiative, managers will play an important part in the training follow-up. Follow-up is paramount to ensuring long-term sustainability of effective team dynamics and to identifying any challenges that need to be addressed.

  • Model the behavior:
    • Champion the initiative by demonstrating effective team-building behaviors.
    • Remember to ask for feedback and be open to receiving it.
    • Build ways to enhance team dynamics into standard processes within your team.
  • 3-month follow-up:
    • Conduct informal follow-up discussions with your team members three months following training.
    • Work through barriers and celebrate successes.
  • 6-to-12-month follow-up:
    • Reflect on any changes in team dynamics practices.
    • Discuss continued changes with management and HR.
  • Revisit:
    • Use your Workbook to refresh yourself on the content of today’s training.
    • Regularly touch base with your team to determine whether they require any additional support.

Thank you for your time today and for making this a wonderful training experience!

NAVIGATE TEAM DYNAMICS

Training Session Evaluation

Speaker’s Notes:

That ends today’s session on team dynamics.

Before you leave, please take the time to fill out these training evaluation forms and return them to me.

Works Cited

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Beheshti, Naz. “10 Timely Statistics About the Connection Between Employee Engagement and Wellness.” Forbes.com, January 2019. Web.

“Developing and Sustaining High-Performance Work Teams.” SHRM, n.d. Web.

Eikenberry, Kevin. “Aligning Your Office Team With Organizational Goals.” The Sideroad, 8 March 2010. Web.

Fisher, Kimball. “Teams and the Bottom Line.” The Fisher Group, 2009. Web.

Ford, Edward L. “Leveraging Recognition: Noncash Incentives to Improve Performance.” Workspan Magazine, November 2006. Web.

Hill, Linda, and Kent Lineback. “Turn Your Group into a True Team.” Harvard Business Review, June 2011. Web.

Keller, Scott, and Mary Meaney. “High-Performing Teams: A Timeless Leadership Topic.” McKinsey & Company, June 2017. Web.

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Mathieu, John E., and Tammy L. Rapp. “Laying the Foundation for Successful Team Performance Trajectories: The Roles of Team Charters and Performance Strategies.” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 94, no. 1, January 2009, pp. 90-103. Web.

Mendonca, Kathy, and Suzy Thorman. “Team Building Toolkits.” University of California, Berkley. Web.

Merill & Reid. “Social Styles.” Trigon Systems Consultants P/L, n.d. Web.

Micken, Sharon, and Sylvia Rodger. “Characteristics of Effective Teams: A Literature Review.” Australian Health Review, vol. 23, no. 3, 2000, pp. 201-208. Print.

“Planning Stakeholder Communication.” Mind Tools, n.d. Web.

“Resolving Team Conflict.” Mind Tools, n.d. Web.

Salas, Eduardo, et al. “On Teams, Teamwork, and Team Performance: Discoveries and Developments.” Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, vol. 50, no. 3, July 2008, pp. 540-547. Web.

Strack, Rainer, et al. “Decoding Global Talent.” Boston Consulting Group, 6 October 2014. Web.

Tuckman, B. W. “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” Psychological Bulletin, vol. 63, 1965. Web.

Tuckman, B. W., and Jensen, M. A. Stages of small-group development revisited. Group & Organization Studies, vol 2., no. 4, 1977, pp. 419-427. Web.

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Contributors

  • Alasdair T. Campbell Jr., Vice-President, Financial Industry
  • Alasdair T. Campbell Sr., HR Consultant
  • Elaine Crowlet, Executive Coach & OD Consultant
  • Rick Highsmith, President, Quality Team Building LLC
  • Johanne Landry, Services Conseils
  • Leon Noone, Principal Consultant, Noone Self Instruction System
  • Maxine Sesula, HR Manager, Cutting Inc.