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When Team ‘Storming’ Has Gone Too Far

When Team ‘Storming’ Has Gone Too Far

Working with Opposites: Focus on the Behaviour and not the Personality A couple of years ago, I wrote about managing the ‘Storming’ phase of Team Development and to-date it has been one of my most popular posts so I have decided to address the topic again. In this post I discuss how to detect that storming has gone too far, hindering productive team growth and potentially causing lasting damage. I will also discuss leading your team out of unproductive storming. [Related Post: Now, You’re Storming: Managing the Storming Phase of Team Development] If you are not familiar with psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s popular theory on the stages of group development, i.e. Forming,  Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning, please read my previous post on the topic linked above. When to Step In… The storming phase, when team members are no longer trying to just “fit in,” they are now trying to establish themselves within the group, is a natural progression that most teams go through. But can the ‘storming’ get out of control? Yes, absolutely. Like a parent with two fighting kids, there comes a time when you need to step in before someone gets really hurt. Protecting values, defending options, resisting change and struggling to establish norms are all commonplace in the storming phase. Most adult groups with an effective leader can work through these issues without too much resentment, hurt feelings and lost productivity. In fact, weathering out the storming phase with little leader intervention usually makes the team closer, stronger and more trustworthy in the end. Gone Too Far How can you tell when storming has gone too...
5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development

5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development

(Note – this is a 2016 summer addition ‘best of the best’ blog from the past.) In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed his now popular theory on the stages of group development. The original phases were Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Around 1975, he added another stage to the theory, the final stage which he called Adjourning. You can find Tuckman’s original article “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” here and a nice summary of the stages on the businessballs.com site here. This article addresses what I believe is the most challenging stage: Storming. The storming phase comes second in the stages after the initial Norming phase. In Storming, team members have gotten to know each other adequately and have established some baseline norms for the group. They are no longer trying to just “fit in” they are now trying to establish them selves within the group by expressing opinions and challenging others opinions. Members are now confortable to express dissatisfaction and push the edges of the team standards laid out in the norming phase. Storming may even be directed to the team leader when individual roles have not been clarified or developed into what they expected. Growing Pains I remember as a teenager just about every ache and pain I had, that was not directly from a bruise from my chosen sport of the day, was attributed to “growing pains”. The Storming stage is the growing pain phase of group development. No one likes it but it is essential part of growth. Unlike the teenage growing pains, there is no ibuprofen (what we call ‘I Be Broken’ on expeditions)...
5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development

5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development

In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed his now popular theory on the stages of group development. The original phases were Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Around 1975, he added another stage to the theory, the final stage which he called Adjourning. You can find Tuckman’s original article “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” here and a nice summary of the stages on the businessballs.com site here. This article addresses what I believe is the most challenging stage: Storming. The storming phase comes second in the stages after the initial Norming phase. In Storming, team members have gotten to know each other adequately and have established some baseline norms for the group. They are no longer trying to just “fit in” they are now trying to establish them selves within the group by expressing opinions and challenging others opinions. Members are now confortable to express dissatisfaction and push the edges of the team standards laid out in the norming phase. Storming may even be directed to the team leader when individual roles have not been clarified or developed into what they expected. Growing Pains I remember as a teenager just about every ache and pain I had, that was not directly from a bruise from my chosen sport of the day, was attributed to “growing pains”. The Storming stage is the growing pain phase of group development. No one likes it but it is essential part of growth. Unlike the teenage growing pains, there is no ibuprofen (what we call ‘I Be Broken’ on expeditions) pill to take for alleviating the pain and stress of the phase. This is where the...
Why Now Might NOT Be the Best Time to Resolve a Conflict

Why Now Might NOT Be the Best Time to Resolve a Conflict

This week, I address another conflict resolution question that came from an audience member at a recent presentation. “Is it a good tactic to avoid the conflict while the things cooled down and talk about it later with a clear and open mind to others position?” I believe the person is suggesting the ‘conflict resolution’ session be ‘avoided’ until things cooled down and not the conflict should be avoided. I don’t believe any conflict should be avoided, good or bad. It should always be managed, which may involve some type of intervention if it escalates. [Related: 5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development] As I was attempting to facilitate the resolution of a conflict between two clients, Mike and Frank, I had on a wilderness expedition it became clear to me this was not the right time. The conflict had been brewing for a few days and was gradually escalating in intensity. Their behavior was starting to affect the whole team, making everyone feel uncomfortable when Mike and Frank were around each other. As the leader, I knew their behavior couldn’t go on if our team was going to perform at its best, which would be needed to achieve our lofty goals. I wanted to resolve the conflict so I brought the two guys together to run through a conflict resolution model (download a detailed description of the model). The first step in the exercise is the Ventilation stage, where both parties have an opportunity to vent all their frustrations by detailing the exact effect that other person’s behavior is having on them. It is important...
2 Ways to Stay Accountable As a Leader

2 Ways to Stay Accountable As a Leader

As a leader, you spend most of your time keeping others accountable for their action and results but who is keeping you accountable? Are you at the top of your organization, department, project or even household? If you are, you probably don’t have someone keeping you accountable on a weekly or even monthly basis. Sure, you may have overarching stakeholders to please but they are usually focused more on the end result. Here are 2 ways leaders can keep themselves accountable: Accountability Partner I first learned about the idea of an accountability partner from Tom Stoyan of the Coaching in Sales Institute while attending his session at a CAPS Convention a few years ago. The idea is pretty simple: you connect with a person who is also interested in staying accountable and meet with them on regularly scheduled basis. The main purpose of these meetings is to address previous goals and set new ones. The meetings are also a good time to use your partner as a sounding board for new ideas or challenging issues you are facing. The accountability partner is not a mentor but a peer, typically at a similar stage as you are in your career. I have had the same partner now for 4 years and we meet about every 4 weeks, depending on scheduling, for about 60 minutes. Knowing that each month I will have to update her on the progress of my goals is often the push I need to accomplish them. A year ago, to further incentivize completing our monthly goals, we introduced a penalty. We usually have 3 monthly goals and...