Having taught team building to executive groups throughout my career and also being a part of a team many a time it was great to give myself a refresher course on both sides of the experience.
Being the boss of a team, yet wanting to be a part of the team was a fine balance to meet and it had to work. The experience happened this summer in where as an Area Manager for Suncare Central. People who had never worked abroad before, others who had travelled a lot and even a local resident were the team mix and each were bringing their own background, skills, needs and beliefs.
Many people don´t realise that there is a team dynamic and it crosses all boundaries, be they cultural, religion, age or personality. It was first mentioned by Bruce W. Tuckman in 1965 and revised by Tuckman and Mary Ann Conover Jensen in 1977 and is now accepted as industry standard. Here is how my team went through these stages….
Forming, the getting to know each other phase and the focus is on each other and not on the job to do. Rule setting, when we will meet, what we will do, what the responsibilities are of each person.
Bringing people together from totally different cultures can be tough but the team were all open minded about the experience. Ready to learn a new job and for some, a totally new skill of selling through advice. Yet each personality added to the team maybe their laugh would be what got us through the tough times. Learning to listen and not judge to the ´moans´that were bound to happen.
For me it was about leading by example and being the first port of call when something needed to be worked on. Everyone wants to fit in and that´s when we all make adjustments within our own characters to make that happen yet those changes cant last!
Storming when the niggles happen and the strong push to be ahead in the team. Competition and clarity are needed to clear the air and let the team move on.
It was all about team meetings and then also giving each person individual time to let them talk about their concerns. A chance for them to be heard, understood and helped through the storm. They were not only working with new people in their lives but also living with them giving no break from this intense relationship.
Norming the time of acknowledgement of each others skills and a shared focus on the goal for the team. A time for flexibility and ease of communication as it flows easily. The team feel secure in their place and individuality returns.
Evenings where we contacted each other to share in the company of one another or to enjoy an experience such as a sunset or a team picnic on the beach. Time when less observation and support was needed on a daily basis as each individual now knew their role, had the skills and could work alone. Trust in each team member means a time for me to catch up with paperwork and my responsibilities.
Performing focusing on the task and the achievements they want. Loyal, supportive and looking for innovative solutions to help them fulfill their goal.
Everyone knows their job and where it fits in with the team, all working at their peak and being at their best. Accepting that we are not all the same so results can differ as long as we all know we are pulling in the same direction and giving the maximum input that we can into the team.
A time to know that work occupies so many hours of the day and then the rest is up to you to go off and enjoy the life you can have when living abroad. Evenings out to other locations, days off on virgin beaches. City exploring, walking the wild coastline, the options are there for you to take.
Adjourning the group breaks up. The season is over the target is reached and time to move on to the next step in our lives.
First one leaves which causes the team to stutter for a while and go back a bit to storming. The dynamic has changed, roles do too and for a short while you feel the loss.
The season carried on and then another member leaves but without the stutter as we all now know the end of the season is approaching and we will all be leaving soon. The feelings of loss will happen as we go our separate ways without the support we have grown so used to and so happy with.
People often don´t think about team dynamics, they expect it to happen but without a push in the right direction your team can stay at Storming phase far too easily.