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Working with a team to accomplish a defined goal is not an easy task. It is particularly difficult in an emotionally charged endeavor such as creating a school improvement plan.
When a team is formed it goes through a predictable maturation process in order to become an effective unit. The process will have its highs and lows and emotions.
The following table summarizes the stages of team growth. At each stage its features about are summarized, the team members' anticipated feelings of are listed and the usual resulting team member behaviors are identified.
Stages of Team Growth
|Stage 1: Forming|
- When a team is forming, members cautiously explore the boundaries of acceptable behavior
- 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 perfectly normal.
- Excitement, anticipation, & optimism
- Pride in being chosen for the project
- Initial, tentative attachment to the team
- Suspicion, fear, and anxiety about the job ahead
- Attempts to define the task and decide how it will be accomplished
- Attempts to determine the acceptable group behavior and how to deal with group problems
- Decisions on what needs to be gathered
- Lofty abstract discussions of concepts and issues; or, for some members impatience with these discussions
- Complaints about the organization and barriers to the task
|Stage 2 Storming|
- Storming is probably the most difficult stage for the team.
- They begin to realize that the task is different and more difficult than they imagined, becoming testy, blameful, or overzealous.
- They try to rely solely on their personal and professional experience, resisting any need for collaborating with other team members
- Resistance to the task
- Sharp fluctuations in attitude about the team and the project's chance of success
- Arguing among members even when they agree on the real issue
- Defensiveness and competition; factions and "choosing sides"
- Questioning the wisdom of those who selected this project and appointed the other members of team
- Establishing unrealistic goals; concern about excessive work
- A perceived "pecking order"; disunity, increased tension, and jealousy
|Stage 3: Norming|
- Members reconcile competing loyalties and responsibilities.
- They accept the team, team ground rules (or "norms"), their roles in the team and the individuality of fellow members.
- Emotional conflict is reduced as previously competitive relationships become more cooperative.
- A new ability to express criticism constructively
- Acceptance of membership in the team
- Relief that it seems everything is going to work out
- An attempt to achieve harmony by avoiding conflict
- More friendliness, confiding in each other, and sharing of personal problems; discussing the team's dynamics
- A sense of team cohesion, a common spirit and goals
- Establishing and maintaining team ground rules and boundaries (the "norms")
|Stage 4: Performing|
- The team has settled its relationships and expectations.
- They can begin performing.
- Team members have discovered and accepted each other's strengths and weaknesses and learned what their roles are.
- Members have insights into personal and group processes, and better understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses.
- Satisfaction at the team's progress
- Constructive self change
- Ability to prevent or work through group problems
- Close attachment to team
Source: The Team Handbook, Peter Scholtes and other contributors, pg. 6-4 - 6-7. Portions of these materials are copyrighted by Oriel Incorporated, formerly Joiner Associates Inc and are used here with permission. Further reproductions are prohibited without written consent of Oriel Incorporated.
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