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Those perfect teams

by Justin York Misc

Today I met with an old friend of mine, who is puzzling over the formation of a team and why he wasn’t quite getting the results that he was looking for; he and his organisation have employed several models and techniques around change and team building as well as role identification etc. One model that had been used to underpin some of the team formation was Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 model Forming, Norming, Storming & Performing for team development.

I feel that to a degree this model has great value in the workplace where teams need to get together and deliver! Yet I have seen on so, many occasions that this approach, has been started and the teams get together to 'bond' as a unit and move forwards and then several things seem to happen; one the normal everyday work starts to get in the way, two the project requires deliverables faster than the team can go through the process and three some of the teams either become demotivated or their performance plateaus.

The thing that I see is that those teams are made up of human beings and we are all different; we have different perspectives on life and tasks, we see the world differently, we sometimes hear what we want to hear and often we don't have the full set of skills to do the job. None of those things is wrong or bad, they're just out there.

My experiences of being put through Tuckman's model is that people process information differently and at different speeds. The reality I have seen is that this is a quick win approach to getting teams working well and the jobs delivered. The real outcomes have been somewhat different, conflict, too much change, people not fully understanding the objectives and the team fragments back into the group of talented individuals, striving for the best and often in different directions.

I believe that there is a stage in advance of Tuckman's model (which as I have already stated has value today) whereby the people are better understood by those picking the team in the first place; for example, if the management have a better idea of the innate personalities, learning styles, management and communication traits of their people then they can pick people who will best fit the roles.

Once you have that, and the management are providing the clear communication (across all the learning styles so everyone is engaged) the team can then start to see the objectives more clearly, they will work to their strengths, and because you have been careful in selecting the team members then you have a good mix of those skills and then they will begin to work towards that main goal, because they can all see it and they see where they fit in.

In my experience if you take that approach, you get improved motivation, performance and a better chance of hitting the outcomes; after all we all know that a plan is at best a guess and any number of factors will affect its delivery. The approach of suddenly setting those dates and values in stone often derails projects; understanding the people well enough will enable you to change the application of effort to better hit that target.

Rubicon-OPM® is the approach that I have developed to bring that understanding and smooth the delivery of projects or at the very least get closer to those outcomes.