Maturing Your Team
Like individuals, teams experience a lifecycle. Hersey and Blanchard described it in terms of developmental stages; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Separating. The goal of the team leader is to develop the team to the point of performing desirably, and then sustain the highest level of performance possible. There are a number of specific actions to be undertaken by the team leader in order for the team to mature and fulfil its' full potential.
Teams go into the forming stage of team development when they receive a new task or a new team member. There is a brief honeymoon period while the team acquaints itself with the new entity. Just when the team leader is beginning to think that the integration of the new task or team member went smoothly, the team will move into storming stage. Shortly after a team warms up to the new task or person, familiarity begins to breed contempt. The team begins to notice things they don't like about the task processes, or the approaches of the new member, and the grumbling starts. The rebellion of the storming stage is quelled only by firm leadership, and clear expectations. The "you don't have to like it, you just have to do it," philosophy will help take the team through this stage. Additionally, the leader must hear and give careful consideration to the validity of the problems that the team is complaining about, and take action to correct the legitimate issues.
In the norming stage, the team will begin to normalize and standardize their routines and responses. The team leader needs to be highly vigilant during norming to assure that the team sets its' work standards high enough, and normalizes by reacting to team issues constructively, and solving team problems collaboratively. If these norms underlie performance, the team will hit its' stride during the performing stage and will achieve at or above expectations until the team loses either a team member, or a major team task. This will sent the team back to forming stage as the loss is replaced with yet another new task or member.