No team is the same, no person is the same. If you are, or have ever been in a leadership position before, you know that most challenges are unique and cannot be replicated. But that doesn’t mean we cannot see patterns.
Humans are amazing creatures in finding patterns. Sometimes we are so good at it that we see information where it doesn’t exist. Like when we see faces in clouds or other objects. But this is not one of those cases.
Every team goes on this 4 step journey to become a high performing team. We, as leaders, should know at which step our team is so that we can help them reach the next one. So here it goes, the 4 steps your team must walk to reach high performance.
#1 Step – Forming
This is the 1st ever step your team will walk. In this phase, the team members don’t know each other and don’t know their strengths and weaknesses. There is no trust, they have never met before. There is very little agreement between everyone. No one knows exactly what their mission is and what to do. We miss a sense of purpose.
In this step, the team relies heavily on the leaders’ guidance and direction.
#2 Step – Storming
Like any human, after you start knowing someone you start distrusting them. Are they like this? Are they trying to go after my job?
The team members start hoarding their knowledge because they have no trust in their teammate’s abilities. Power struggles are constant, personalities clash with each other. Team members can start forming groups within the team. We can even say that teams start forming within the team.
A good outcome of this step is the sense of purpose. The team, while storming, starts finding its way.
In this step, the team will rely heavily on coaching. We as leaders need to help the team get over this slump.
#3 Step – Norming
Blue skies are starting to appear. Nothing brings people together more than a good fighting phase.
At this time, the team will start collaborating. The previous smaller teams unite into the full team. Things like team agreements start appearing. Consensus becomes the norm, not to say everyone will agree but they will compromise. The team’s internal roles and responsibilities are clear and everyone knows exactly how to contribute to the team’s mission.
In this step, the team needs help on the facilitation front. Here, as a leader, your goal is to help the team perform by helping them understand what is keeping them back. What they can do to move better and faster. What the team is doing that shouldn’t be doing.
#4 Step – Performing
Oh performing. It’s a step that rarely happens. Let me tell you now. It may take years to arrive at this step.
Here, the team is in full synergy. They auto-organize. They are fully autonomous and feel accountable for what they deliver. The team will start producing knowledge on their own, that they will share with other teams and help them grow.
When your team starts performing, there is a clear vision. A clear purpose for coming to work every day. The focus becomes the goal. What we are here to create, not how much we create.
In this step, your job as a leader is to delegate. You and your team have reached the top of the mountain. The peak of Everest. Now your job is to keep inspecting and adapting to make sure we stay here.