In the last episode, I explored Tuckman’s team development model. A way to consider how effectively a team is functioning and it’s stage of development (with the aspiration of becoming high performing).
In working with leaders over the years, and in diving into hundreds of teams—the storming stage is looked on with such despair. Really? we have to do that? Go through that? (And I know there also sometimes saying, yo lookie here missie, we are so much better than that!).
Storming doesn’t have to feel jarring to be storming. We can be polite and professional and still walk out of the room talking about one another. When there are perspectives not being shared, or disagreements not being addressed openly, we are storming. Haven’t you ever been in a group that had artificial harmony? We all pretend and play nice?
The team leader as a facilitator helps to promote healthy conflict, or as Google’s Project Aristotle calls it, Candor and Conflict. Essential behaviors from their research on what makes teams effective.
Because most of us think it’s the people. Or their experience, or knowledge. Gosh, if I could only get so and so and so and so on the team, it would be awesome. Or those that have the deep knowledge, the expertise.
The challenge is if they have the knowledge and don’t have the complementary collaborative and conflict skills to add the value they can. And that is so frustrating as someone who has spent a lot of time on team development.
And the very best news is that is all teachable and coachable. And when you can create that environment, one of psychological safety in addition to the communication skills required, storming can feel less treacherous, less lightening and corresponding damage.
Here are tips to help your team through storming:
· Educate them on the stages of team development. When a team has knowledge that what they are going through is both to be expected and normal, it creates a safer platform for self awareness and change.
· Establish team behaviors for disagreements, problem solving and decision making that promote healthy conflict resolution. These should be not only norms, but clear expectations.
· Consider using a conflict style assessment or tool to enhance both understanding and behavior change. I’ve used both the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Inventory and the DiSC Conflict assessment. They are both very valuable tools to deepen awareness and understanding, also to promote skills development in this area. Contact me if you are interested in learning more about either of these awesome tools.
· Ensure the team has a focus on ideas not people. Debate ideas without making it personal.
· Model candor, transparency and healthy conflict. As a leader, this is a must.