Recently, we worked with a startup on team building as they wrangled with the rapid growth of their business. They needed bring on new team members and wanted them to be productive and effective as quickly as possible. Working with the leadership team we reviewed Bruce Tuckman’s four stages of team development.
These stages describe the process teams go through to work together effectively.
In forming stage, most members are positive and polite but the team is really is a set of individuals. The next stage is storming, now the team starts getting real about issues and challenges. Often conflicts around personalities and different working styles arise. Some members might even question the team’s goals. In the norming stage, people start to resolve their differences and build trust and respect with one another. They establish a set of norms for how to work with each other. When your team members reach the performing stage, they are able to achieve the group’s goals. At this stage you can delegate more work and the team is mature and capable of delivering.
Most teams go through each of the stages and there is a lot the leader can do to speed up the process and build a productive team. Below is a short video as well as some notes that sum up the leadership team’s responsibility and tasks to help over come the growing pains from rapid-ramp.
Forming Storming Norming Performing
Here is a good cheat sheet we put together for team building.
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- Are you a boss or a leader?
- Simon Sinek: Put People First
- Finding And Adding People Successfully to Your Startup Team
“People” includes finding the following types of team members: co-founders, contractors, early employees (not co-founders but next 6-12), employees (“real employees”), consultants, advisors.
- Plus Minus People The challenge for a startup is four fold:
- Screen out folks with negative productivity in the interview process.
- Avoid screening out potential employees who have great strengths in addition to some obvious weaknesses.
- Attract, hire, and retain enough strong players from the start to complete your first product in a timely fashion.
- Fire anyone who made an initially strong impression but who is actually negatively impacting the performance of the team (more broadly: identify and eliminate sources of negative productivity).
This last category, the “Plus Minus People,” are only truly dangerous if you don’t have the ability to detect and acknowledge that you have made a mistake.