Although a team can be said to be machine-like, the truth is that it is an organic thing; we are humans, after all. Teams indeed have a lifecycle, and teams pass through 5 stages in their lifetime: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Each stage represents the dynamics that happen through the course of team development. Simply put, forming is coming together as a team and meeting each other, storming is getting to know the team and how to work together, norming is getting used to functioning together and creating team norms that take effect, performing is actually getting the work done and moving smoothly as an efficient machine, and lastly, adjourning is when the team completes, abandons, or fails in reaching the goal or purpose of the team. The stages of team development follow no specific order after the initial forming; a team could revert back to storming if they encounter a problem while in the performing stage, and likewise for any other stages.
As Project-C is heavily team based, with small production teams forming a larger overall team, I found it in our best interest to go through a series of team-building activities. Last Thursday, the members of Project C were presented information on team development and led through exercises in building team cohesion by myself. As a Leadership Consultant, I often find myself observing organizations that reach one stage of the team development lifecycle and plateau or fall short before reaching their goals, whatever they may be. Even in performing, certain shortcomings always occur (accountability, communication, and tracking results being very common) that cause even the best teams and organizations grief. To avoid these common pitfalls, I tried to teach the Project C team about the team development stages and how to identify what stage they are in; in knowing this, team members will be able to identify potential issues before they arise. The team-building aspect was simply for fun and building camaraderie. An important aspect to working as a team is getting along with those you work with, so by having fun and letting our guard down around each other, we were able to build trust and instill good feelings toward all.
After the activities, several people commented that they had a really good time and actually met new people as a result. Imagine that...we had been working as a team for nearly 4 weeks and there were still people learning names! That is one heck of a forming stage. But regardless, the information was received well by the team and many positive feelings and energies resulted toward our work in the future. With our added sense of team cohesion, we can succeed abound.
If you are interested in leadership or team development, visit www.ohio.edu/leadership to learn more, request consulting services, schedule a presentation, and more!
(Member of Project C)