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17 March 2008

Stomin' Normin'

Forming > Storming > Norming > Performing > Adjourning

You might be familiar with this 50 year old view of how teams interact and develop (Tuckman 1965.)

How often do you consider the team development phases when running projects? Do you use the same team each time, or do new people join on each engagement? Are you the new person to established teams when you start each new project?

One of the many challenges project leaders face is getting the team to gel and work effectively together as quickly as possible. In the context of this model you want to get people to the ‘performing' stage as quickly as possible.

There are a couple of good options for you; team ‘off-sites’ are good. Get your team working together in social or creative activities to help work through the forming, storming and norming phases.

It will probably take more than one session, but there are a number of project specific activities that are perfect for taking your team on this journey.

Examples can include workshoping a team charter to help people get focused on what the project is here to achieve.

This will help foster a team identity and get the team to identify with each other as part of one organisation with a common purpose a scoping workshop to help people storm through the phase of determining who is who and how the relationships will settle once you are doing the hard yards Reviewing the initial project plan and working through the initial risk assessment workshops are also useful for normalising values and expectations.

Once the teams have been through these exercises together they know what each other are planning to do, and see how they fit into the bigger project picture. You also have the opportunity to identify gaps and work out how to manage them.

When you have worked through the storming and norming phases you’ll find the team is are working more cohesively and delivering their work more quickly and accurately – you are in the performing phase.

As the project winds down people will be leaving, and many won’t be there at the end. Take the time and care to keep in touch with everyone on the team and invest some effort and money on a farewell lunch or other social activity that enables the team to have a final farewell and to celebrate their successes. (On longer projects you might do this at the end of each major phase.)
Photo by T(z)W. Tomasz at Flickr