The Four Stages of Growing a Team
Every church or ministry leader will benefit from understanding the key stages of team development (both paid and volunteer). The four Stages of team development were originally identified by educational psychologist Bruce W. Tuckman in the mid-1960’s.
Still valid today, they are:
Forming is what happens at your leadership retreat or first meeting. Everyone comes with company manners and is nice to each other. You might do some bonding games or talk about all you will achieve together. Hopefully you leave pumped and feel almost like you’ve found a fresh love.
Back home and back in the trenches, reality hits. The turf wars begin. Team members begin to jockey for acknowledged expertise in an area. Things get tense. You may wonder what you were thinking when you agreed to be a part of the team!
The storming phase has begun. Teammates are diligently working to identify who does and knows what. Pressure increases on how the team works together and challenges how the team deals with differing opinions around the table. Successfully working through this uncomfortable season will establish group norms. Just like after any storm, calm follows, relatively speaking that is.
Norming is building on the outcomes from the storm. This leads to growing trust within the team, and real forward progress begins.
With clear norms, performing becomes doable because the team is attuned to the same wavelength. It’s almost as if you can read everyone’s mind. The team delivers high-performance, and life is good.
Unfortunately, the process doesn’t always work quite this smoothly. Many teams never get beyond storming. Not quite understanding what is going on, leaders risk allowing things to get personal. This can become a de-motivator, and team members may start jumping ship, stalling progress. Teaching your new team the four phases can help them knowingly and successfully move through the storming phase.
Since most teams experience some turnover in their life span, it is vital to be aware that whenever a new member joins the team or someone drops from the team, the process will usually revert back to the storming phase. Be sure your team members are equipped to survive the storming process and work through to norming.
Awareness of what’s going on in your team and what phase you are in can smooth the growth of your team.
Lead your teams well. Michael