Leadership is critical for building effective teams. Leader's need to be effective in order to motivate and inspire their team, promote and create a positive work environment, and make their team feel valued.
Effective teamwork is essential in today's world. The formation of a team takes time, and normally follows recognizable stages. As a leader you play a critical role throughout the various stages. In order to effectively assist your team in becoming productive and effective, it is important that you understand the stages and your role. The stages of building a team are: forming, storming, norming and performing.
Forming the Team
In the formation of the team stage it is important that the leader is highly committed and has a positive approach. During this stage it is important to make the team members feel valued and important. When teams form, members are tentative and unsure. It is critical for morale and to create a strong base to build from. At this stage the team leader outlines the mission, looks for agreement on team roles and rules, and creates decision making guidelines. The leader has a dominant role at this stage by clearly directing the team and establishing the objectives.
Some of the feelings that team member will have at this stage include fear and anxiety, pride in being chosen, excitement and anticipation about the team. Begin building relationships - get to know each other. Discuss and understand individual strengths, weaknesses, similarities, and differences. It is important to clarify roles at this stage.
This is probably the most difficult of the stages. In the storming stage the goals and ideas are identified. Interpersonal conflicts arise, with arguments about roles and responsibilities. The leader's role in this stage is to facilitate discussion, ensure a common understanding of goals, provide support, work to smooth conflict and build relationships between team members, and remain positive. It is important that you encourage team members to become actively engaged and participate in identifying problems. Most teams fail during this stage so strong facilitative leadership is essential.
Don't ignore the tension. Discuss it, the causes and possible solutions. View conflicts as a useful and valid part of teamwork and deal with them in an open and constructive manner. Address the disagreements and provide time for appropriate discussion.
The team starts to move into the norming stage. At this stage team members respect your authority as a leader, and other members start to show leadership. During this stage the team has a strong commitment to the team goals. You start to see progress towards the goals. Your role as a leader during this stage is to step back and help the team take responsibility. Let the team move towards the goals.
To help the team move forward you could develop a specific project management plan with a detailed timeline; establish methods for solving problems; explore an evaluation tool for individual and/or team performance.
At this stage the team moves towards accomplishing their objectives. Members now know each other and are able to capitalize on each other's strengths. The team is now productive in identifying issues, solving problems and coming to agreements. Through steady leadership and performance the objectives have been met. Your role as a leader during this stage is to encourage high performance, facilitate communication, and celebrate success.
These stages of team building are always in this order. The length of time each team spends during each stage varies. Also, keep in mind that if team members change, you can fall back to Forming. The key is to focus on the steps to help move the team to the next highest stage.