Teamwork Vince Lomabardi

DSC02726Welcome guest blogger Paul Palagyi, leader in the secular and sacred community…and my husband of forty years! Having worked on and developed teams in many spheres, he shares his wisdom about team development.

After 41 years of working in my profession, church leadership, community organizations, and other miscellaneous activities, I have come to realize one important thing…

As the leader, manager, and facilitator it is critical that one recognizes the developmental stage of the team and how it is moving forward.

In today’s environment, new and unfamiliar people may staff a task. They may have never worked together nor will you be familiar with them yourself.  Additionally, they could be at different geographical locations. These facts can and will add to the complexity of your task making it more difficult to stay on track and accomplish your mission.

When a team runs smoothly, members can concentrate on their primary goal. In contrast, a team that fails to build relationships among its members will waste time on struggles for control and endless discussions that lead nowhere.

The more you know what to expect as your group progresses, the better equipped you will be to handle difficulties. You will be able to recognize and avoid many disruptions, and together work through those that cannot be avoided. To build the group skills needed to meet these goals, you must start by understanding what lies behind most troubles.

Stages of Team Growth                                                       

As the team matures, members gradually learn to cope with emotional and group pressures they face. As a result the team goes through fairly predictable stages:

Stage 1: Forming

When a team is forming, members explore the boundaries of group behavior. This is a stage of transition fromrowing race individual to member status, and of testing the leader both formally and informally.

Forming includes these feelings:

  • Excitement, anticipation, and optimism
  • Pride in being chosen
  • Suspicion, fear , and anxiety about the task ahead

Because there is so much going on to distract members attention in the beginning, the team accomplishes little, if anything, that concerns its project goals. This is perfectly normal.

Stage 2: Storming

Storming is probably the most difficult stage for the team. They begin to realize the task is difficult and more difficult than they imagined, becoming testy, argumentative, and blaming others. Members argue about just what actions the team should take. They try to rely solely on their personal and professional experience, resisting any need for collaborating with other team members.

Storming includes these feelings:

  • Resistance to the task and to approaches different from what each member is comfortable using
  • Sharp fluctuations in attitude about the team and the projects chance of success

Stage 3: Norming

During this stage members accept their roles in the team, as well as their fellow members. Emotional conflict is reduced as members become more cooperative.

Norming includes these feelings:

  • Acceptance of membership in the team
  • Ability to express criticism constructively
  • Belief that it seems that the task will work out

Stage 4: Performing

At last team members have discovered and accepted each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Performing includes these feelings:

  • Members have insight into personal and group processes and an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses
  • Satisfaction at the teams progress

photo_14947_20091014The team is now an effective, cohesive unit. The duration and intensity of these stages vary from team to team.

Understanding these stages of growth will keep you from overreacting to normal problems and setting unrealistic expectations. That only adds to frustration.

Don’t panic! With patience and effort the assembly of independent individuals will grow into a productive team.

Use the descriptions here to compare your team with the normal pattern for maturing groups.

What stage are you experiencing with your current team?

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