Fri 27 October 2023
Upon the development of new teams, individuals frequently struggle in finding their roles and establishing a sense of cohesiveness team-wide. In this situation, Managers frequently struggle to advise or guide these groups without micromanaging. The fear of the team underperforming causes these managers to watch over their direct reports too closely and not trust that the work will get done properly.

When attempting to effectively establish team connection, it is critical that the team members are able to self-direct and establish roles, norms and expectations on their own. Establishing these roles can lead to better job performance and job satisfaction along with decreased turnover through value alignment in the development of these team environments. 

Throwing colleagues together to work on a project does not always lead to effective teamwork or belonging in a group. Group belonging, value alignment and devotion to the group all need to step from an intrinsic interest and motivation in the employees which will in turn lead to a better end product and efficiency within the team. The challenging portion of this experience for managers is to allow these members to face roadblocks and navigate troubled waters as a team.

To ensure group development, managers should monitor groups in guidance to follow four stages of group development that encourage a team's growth. Originally developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, here are the four steps of team development and how managers may use them to improve.

  1. Form
First is the Forming stage. In this stage, the team is assembled, objectives are identified and, frequently this stage will consist of relationship oriented discussion. For managers, it is crucial to allow new teams this stage of conversation and, although it may not be directly related to the task at hand, this stage heavily contributes to the team dynamic and therefore, the final outcome. Frequently in this stage, members may seem shy or withdrawn, a strong manager will focus on encouraging relationship building, team bonding and conversation within this group in order to prepare for the next stage while allowing team autonomy. 

2. Storm
Immediately following the forming stage of team development is the storming phase. Within this phase, teams may see first signs of conflict, disagreement or arguments. In this stage, a stable leader should allow groups to challenge each other's ideas and opinions from a hands-off role. Allowing teams to navigate the conflicts that arise will result in team unity and cohesiveness in following stages. Through disagreement and resolution of issues, the team is now experiencing alignment and goal clarity, and ready to move onto the Norming stage.

3. Norm 
After growth and re-alignment in the storming phase, the norming stage grants room to establish coherence and harmony within the team. Within this phase, managers should expect team members to find specific roles within the group and take on responsibilities to move forward with the specific task. Teams will now exhibit self-governance and cohesiveness in completing tasks. Through the norming phase, members will now have an accurate grasp on strengths and weaknesses of their teammates that enables efficiency and agility in problem solving. Development in previous stages will allow teams to experience rapid productivity, efficiency and satisfaction as a unified group in the norming stage. 

4. Perform
Finally comes the performance stage where previous conflict has been resolved, members are experiencing role clarity and the project is given full attention and focus from all members working toward a common objective. The performance stage of Tuckman's model can be classified by motivation and trust within teams in addition to self-management and interdependence. Although leadership styles may vary, managers should consider using servant leadership in this situation, allowing the team to take charge and serving as a resource for the group. This phase will see the conclusion of the project after ebbs and flows throughout the progression of the team. 

A bonus step of this process is the adjourning experience. Once a specified team's objective has been completed, team members are commonly saddened or may experience a feeling of bittersweetness that they will no longer be a part of this group and frequently interact with each other. This is an unavoidable ending to every team yet, managers should find faith in the fact that these team members were able to follow through with a project and this experience can improve camaraderie and belonging in an organization. 

Managers should have a relatively limited role in the evolution of teams yet, they should enable circumstances to provide feedback and address concerns in these teams. Collecting feedback on members allows managers to monitor the progress of these teams and intervene in times of trouble. Managers should be very sensitive to issues of inclusion and equity in these teams, ensuring that even the quietest members feel a sense of belonging and all members feel they are treated with fairness throughout the team and its processes. 

Although challenging, the importance of autonomy in a new team can be a significant differentiator in the success of a team. The roadmap to team development is demanding and requires patience yet rewarding. The development of a trusting team that embraces mistakes, encourages a positive work-life balance and builds a productive culture for its members will yield positive effects across the group and lead to improved organizational and team commitment in individuals. 

Encouraging growth in these teams allows for leadership experience and success and enables teams to face challenges in an adaptable manner with flexibility and teamwork. Through the course of time, these experiences will strengthen team members' ability to lead in effective teams across a variety of circumstances, both personal and professional.  Nevertheless, feedback is the most important additive to this experience, empowering advancement and opportunities for team members to fail in a comfortable environment and establish a productive team culture. 

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