Navigating Turbulence when Forming New Teams

You can’t predict the path forward when facing new challenges. But leading a new team, thanks to “Tuckman’s Stages,” has elements of predictability.

Four stages – plus one:

#1. Forming:

  1. Mission – What are we here to do?
  2. Introductions – Who are we?
  3. Stories – Tell stories of past teams that thrived. What made them thrive?
  4. Timeline – How long do we have to complete our mission? (Operations teams establish intermediate goals.)
  5. Engagement – What contributions will each team member make?

Tip: Everyone at the table leaves with an assignment. This is especially true at the beginning. No drifting allowed.

You shouldn’t be at the meeting if you consistently leave without something to do.

#2. Storming:

  1. Navigate respect and status.
    1. How will we respond to new ideas?
    2. How will we respond to failure?
    3. How will we treat each other when we disagree?
  2. Celebrate diversity – how will we leverage each other’s strengths and compensate for each other’s weakness?

Tip: Team leadership requires you to notice tension and bring it up. The issues you avoid get worse. They don’t magically disappear.

#3. Norming:

  1. Collaboration – you maximize each other’s strengths.
  2. Standardization – you know how to respond to tension, conflict, and failure.
  3. Monitor – team leaders monitor team interaction for reversion to the storming stage.

Tip: Team leadership is less hands-on. Team members take initiative and responsibility. Work yourself out of being central to your team’s success.

#4. Performing:

  1. Mission focus – teams focus more on the mission and less on navigating relationships.
  2. Interdependence – you learn when and how to count on each other.

#5. Adjourning:

  1. Celebrate success.
  2. Face new challenges.

*The fifth stage was added due to contribution of Mary Jensen.

Team leadership:

Team leaders have four concerns.

  1. Monitor team interactions.
  2. Maximize everyone’s strengths.
  3. Bring up issues others might avoid.
  4. Deliver great results through others.

Effective interactions are the foundation of great results.

What suggestions might help people lead through the five stages of group development?

When leading teams, what should team leaders focus on?

*Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited, by Bruce Tuckman and Mary Jensen.