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High performance team building with Tuckman Ladder

Post pandemic, the team building challenges are different due to the fact that we all learned to work differently. Most of the organizations have flexible working policies which is a blend of work from home and work from office. Organizations have started leveraging contract workers or gig workers to accomplish their goals faster and more cost effectively. All these poses the need for innovation in the team building concepts. Tuckman ladder helps us to understand the team formation stages in a structured manner and helps to develop appropriate strategies for team development.

Tuckman ladder comprises of;

Forming Stage

Forming stage represents the stage in which the team members gets into the team for the first time. In projects, team formation and team building starts from the initiation phase and continues till the completion of execution phase. Since new team members are coming from different cultural and project backgrounds, it is important to establish the ground rules. The project vision, project charter and the team charter are of great help during this stage. These artifacts helps to lay the foundation for effective team building and team work. During the forming state of the team, the manager or leader's primary objective must be to make the team comfortable. It is a great opportunity to leverage on servant leadership. You as a manager or leader helps the team to settle down quickly. During the forming stage, the manager or leader must wear the hat of a facilitator and counselor.

Storming Stage

Since the team members are coming from different cultural backgrounds, immediately after the forming stage, one can expect a storming stage. During the storming stage, the team members try to establish themselves resulting in power struggles. This is very normal. During the storming stage, the manager or the leader must monitor and control dysfunctional behaviors and must wear the hat of a moderator. One should play the role of a moderator here. Establishing ground rules for effective teaming helps to manage the storming stage effectively.

Norming Stage

Once the team passes through the forming and storming stages successfully, then they get into the 'Norming Stage. During the norming stage, the team members understands their roles, responsibilities and the acceptable norms within the team (ground rules) and the goals to be accomplished very clearly. During the norming stage the manager or leader must play the role of a facilitator. The self organizing team concepts will help a lot for high performance team building during this stage.

Performing Stage

At the end of successful forming, storming and norming stages, the team arrives at the performing stage. They are ready to start the real work in a productive manner. Very often, this is the most difficult stage for a leader or manager. You picked up the team members, and transformed them into a high performance team with appropriate team building exercises. All of a sudden, they started performing well, even without your guidance. You become a kind of redundant there. This is the time one must put in extra effort in not to interfere with the team unnecessarily and interrupt their work.

Adjourning Stage

As we all know every game has a final match and after the hour of glory, the team will get adjourned. This is very true for projects as well, because projects are temporary in nature. As a manager or leader this stage is very crucial and it is very important to protect the good will generated while working together. This aspect becomes more important during these post covid work culture or the post pandemic work culture as more and more project teams are relying on contract workers or the gig workers more and more. If you are able to maintain the good will even after the project closure, it will become easier to avail great talents quickly in the future projects as well.

If teams work together for longer times as in manufacturing, all these stages will automatically happen over a period of time. In projects with tighter deadlines one do not have that kind a luxury. When majority of the teams are in the performing stage, if we add new team members then it can disrupt the teaming again. This is the reason why projects get delayed further when more members are added to a late project.

The manager or the leader must be able to drive the team through these stages very quickly in order to be productive fast. This is where the charisma and the creativity of the leaders and managers makes a big difference. We all play the game well to win, if we are playing against a common enemy. If the leader can identify and project the common enemy in the form of an opportunity or risk, half the job is done.