Have you ever wondered what really inspires teams to perform brilliantly? Well at Rambutan we’ve got some thoughts on the subject and would love to share them with you.
What’s really interesting is how teams form initially. We’ve followed Bruce Tuckman’s concept that teams will go through forming, storming, and norming stages before they really start to perform. Understanding the stages that Tuckman suggests, and then managing them, is vital for a team to succeed otherwise the process could stall. We’ve concentrated on the original four stages; if you’d like to know more about the fifth stage of adjourning follow the website link above.
Forming: forming a team
One challenge you might face as a leader is when a team is forming, think about what kind of behaviours you might see at this stage. Members tend to be positive and polite; they’ll ask lots of questions; and some members may be anxious or excited as there’ll be new challenges ahead of them. This means as a leader you play a directing role and have a great opportunity to get to know your team better, and for them to get to know each other better; sussing out each other’s strengths and weaknesses; organising team building activities; and making sure each member has clear roles and responsibilities as Sarah’s mentioned in our top tips. It’s a great opportunity here to ensure the team adopt the right mindset for their future challenges.
According to their 2012 Resourcing and Talent Planning survey, Hays suggests that the average cost for recruiting senior managers and directors is approximately £8,000, so if you have ten senior managers and directors for example that’s £80,000 spent on recruiting them. Isn’t it worth investing in them after they arrive to make sure they perform brilliantly? The Rambutan bunch think so.
Storming: understand your team and the situation
Unfortunately, team members don’t get on well all the time. Sometimes it’s because they’re concentrating on the task at hand and feeling the pressure; other times it could be something personal affecting them. You may see behaviours such as individuals jockeying for position and challenging each other, cliques may form and your authority may be challenged.
A study by the National Transportation Safety Board in the USA found that 73% of incidents that were logged occurred on the first day of flying with newly formed teams. This suggests that newly formed teams don’t perform as well to begin with, so they may need to be managed differently compared to a more established team for example. A newly formed team might need more directing whereas your approach with a more developed team would require more of a delegation style. Or maybe the team haven’t reached the storming stage yet!
It’s important to let storming happen, according to Tuckman, to allow a team to eventually perform to their potential. Keeping teams focused on their objectives at this stage can be the challenge for a leader, therefore we think it’s important to show strong leadership and remain visible to your team and stay engaged with them to steer them through to the next stage. Help is at hand for you in our top tips, so remind your team of the points we’ve mentioned on committed people during this stage. Adopting a coaching and selling approach at this stage will help you handle the storm with ease.
Norming: getting on nicely
With roles and responsibilities now clear and accepted you’ll notice team members are starting to settle into a state where decisions are being made; a working style is developed and there is respect for the leader. The team are able to give each other constructive feedback and although you will have been engaging with team members from the beginning it’s really important to remember the value of your team’s social development at this stage.
The Rambutan bunch believe employee engagement is core to an organisation’s success but you don’t have to just take our word for it. Sainsbury’s is a great example of a company that improved their employee engagement scores even in challenging economic times and with an interesting result.
As detailed in the Engage for Success report (2012), Sainsbury’s found a clear link between these higher levels of engagement and sales performance. Engagement had a positive and significant impact on sales growth with the level of engagement contributing up to 15% of a store’s year-on-year growth.
Individuals within teams will feel more engaged with the company’s vision by understanding their own part to play in the future; being involved in decision making; having a clear career path to follow; and having increased accountability. There are some great ways to do this, such as being a more visible manager and giving employees an opportunity to have their voice heard via a one-to-one meeting. If you want to know more, just ask us.
Knowing your team’s strengths is also important. We’ve mentioned some tools in our top tips to help you find them out, such as Belbin and Strengthsfinder, but it’s how you decide to use them which is the important bit. Depending on the results your approach may be to play to the strengths, or decide the best mix of individuals to form a team. You might consider what resources you’ll need to use to cover any weaknesses when necessary. We’ve created a ‘people matrix’ for a client in the past to illustrate the strengths within a team and highlight the gaps. This is a really useful, quick reference tool to help understand why people behave the way they do in teams and how to optimise performance by matching people whose strengths will complement each other. In short, we believe in playing to strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. A more supporting and participating approach by the leader will really go down well with your team at this stage.
Performing: challenge teams
The team’s activities have now progressed to a point where they are reaching their shared vision of the team’s goal; they’ll be role modelling your organisation’s values and giving each other feedback on how each other behave. At this stage it’s important to remember to keep individuals challenged and engaged by providing learning and development opportunities; allow them to try out new and different skills; celebrate achievements no matter what size; and allow them to take accountability for their own development. If you do this then individuals are likely to stick around as they’ll be hungry to keep on learning and share more experiences like the one you’ve lead them through brilliantly.
We think you’ll agree, to keep your team performing it’s important to keep team members interested and challenged once they’ve reached this stage. We know teams are made up of different types of people. It’s important to keep things fresh and interesting by introducing new ways to challenge their thinking. This will act as motivation to keep team members developing brilliantly. This stage requires the leader to take a delegating approach. So what could you do to keep your team refreshed? As a starter for ten you could try changing your team members around; setting new performance targets; and creating development opportunities for all. Don’t believe us? Try a little team refreshment and see how you get on!
We’ll leave you with some questions to think about:
- what challenges do you face with your team?
- what can you do that would help you?
- what are you waiting for?