Navigating the Phases of Team Development – from storming to performing

Working with some remarkable teams reminds me how privileged I am to be collaborating with individuals possessing exceptional skills, boundless energy, and extensive experience. Much like in our personal lives, our collective effort involves a journey of learning and adapting within our fields, as we prepare for the work ahead.

It’s important to acknowledge that at times, it is not necessarily a harmonious process. There are times of rub, times when mental models will differ. Emotions may become heightened. Times when we are in what Tuckman calls the “Storming” phase of group formation.

This is normal and like any relationship, there is a settling-in period.

It is, however, our level of awareness and Emotional Intelligence that will support us to come through this phase quickly and gracefully. It will be our ability to talk through tricky situations, rather than pack a tantrum. To show empathy over blame, and employ active listening, over a my-way-or-the-highway approach.

For those who dislike moments of ‘rub’, it’s an inevitable part of peopling together. No amount of running or pretending it will automatically go away will address the issues as they arise. It requires us to face them, to keep communicating, and to find a place of common understanding. 

From there we are able to reach a state of “Normaling”. This is when we have normalised our way of being and working together. Common understandings are reached, and agreements are made.

So, as we move from forming, through storming and into norming, it follows that you move naturally toward peak performance and transformation.

As you embark on integrating new team members or face new challenges, consider Tuckman’s model as a valuable guide, understanding that transitioning through these phases is a natural process. However, it’s essential not to remain stuck in any single phase.

As a leader, how are you supporting your people to navigate these stages?

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