The belief that one person can do something great is a myth. Great things take a team or group of dedicated people to accomplish things of significance. You may be a manager, or have been tapped by a leader in your company to lead a team. Now what?
The first thing we need to know about leading a team is understanding what the “big picture” goal is for the team. It is actually the most important thing we need to know! Once you know the “big picture,” you can start to assemble your team. Everyone on the team has a role to play and every role contributes to the success of the “big picture.”
Every team that is assembled in joined by a common goal, but that does not mean they are all united. Teams go through an evolutionary process that has four steps. These four steps are so well documented and studied that they are deemed LAWS. You cannot avoid them or skirt around them, you MUST go through them and please don’t make the mistake others have made by avoiding them. These four steps are natural and they will happen whether you want them to or not, so embrace them and work through them.
Forming. Forming is the process of selecting who is on the team. Some teams require specific skills sets or attitudes to do well. For instance, if you are embracing a new challenge, you will want folks on the team that are creative. If you are implementing change, you will want a team that is fast and flexible.
There are two ways forming a team happens- either through nomination or proximity. Nomination is just that- you need certain skills, thinking or maturity and you ask folks to be on the team. Proximity is simply you have five people in the group and it would be awkward not to include them. A cautionary note to leaders, DO NOT only include your “favorites” or whom others would deem as your “favorites” on the team. This is a NO-NO!
Storming. Storming is the next phase of the process and it is also the most difficult to endure. During this process you will witness people positioning for power or stature, influence and domination of the team. People will naturally sort out where they will fall in the order of things, but just know this can be a bit unsettling to see first hand. Storming has it’s own timeline. You cannot force it, change it or influence it. It may take two, three or five meetings of the team before everyone has settled into their place. Once they have you will know it, feel it and see that everyone is now ready to accomplish what needs to be done.
Norming. The third phase is norming or the normalization of the team. Team members are comfortable with each other and they know what is expected out of them. There is also an understanding of what role they will play and perhaps the specific skill sets they bring to the team. During this phase they will also create an inherent trust with each other. This trust is temporary- almost like a hall pass- until it is earned through deliverables and accomplishments. From a leaders perspective, this is a very critical time for you to be working behind the scenes holding folks accountable for deliverables so the trust is not shattered at the next meeting or deadline.
Performing. Finally! The team is working together and meeting deadlines as they work towards your goal. The journey to get to this point may have been smooth or rocky, but either way it is a joy to watch. Now you need to shift gears from leader to manager of the team. In other words, get out of the way. Let them hold each other accountable for deliverables and also celebrate their accomplishments! Never, ever hold back on celebrating milestones. You will find celebrations are the fuel that feeds the machine and stokes the desire to do more than you ever expected.
One final note, remember the old saying, “there is no I in team?” Remove “I” statements from your vocabulary when referring to the team and you will go a long way in building a team that has a life of its own and unbound energy to accomplish goal after goal.