“We’ve just hired a new person, and they have no idea what they’re doing!” “One of my colleagues has started to act irrationally, and it’s really getting on my nerves.” “My new boss is so much more demanding than my old boss.”
As someone who conducts employee surveys and focus groups—and spends time helping teams work together more effectively—I hear these sorts of complaints all the time. What I’ve found interesting is that while people attribute the behavior to something intrinsic about the other person (clueless new employee, irrational colleague, demanding boss), there’s often underlying cause for the perceived behavior.
One of the most frequent underlying causes: something has shifted to upset a team’s dynamic.
Defining Team Dynamic
Your “team dynamic” is the way your team works together; it includes the role each individual plays and the relationships among team members. Your team dynamic can have a positive or negative impact on the team’s performance, and your dynamic shifts as your team changes and shifts.
Bruce Tuckman’s Stages of group Development is a classic team dynamics model we frequently refer to when working with teams in conflict. The model states that as a team develops, it cycles through four phases:
As a team moves through these phases, its performance is impacted, as indicated in the graph below.
Any shift in the team—a new member, a new project or responsibilities, or large shifts within the organization—can throw a performing or norming team back to the forming or storming stage.
In fact, a clueless new employee, irrational colleague, or demanding boss might actually be a sign of change that has forced a team into storming. Recognizing this, the team can take concerted action to move towards more optimal performance.
Storming to Performing
So if you’re forming or storming, what can you do to move your team towards optimal performance?
Need a little help transitioning your team from storming to performing? Join us for Conflict Mitigation & Team Dynamics to learn techniques and tools for healthy communication, helping your team move from disharmony to productivity.
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