Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 3 – Managing the Norming Stage

In a recent post at this link, I introduced the Tuckman theory of how groups/teams develop. Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. Understanding the model can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.

Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Some stages seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means that a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed – a group that allows everyone to contribute their best!  A skilled manager can observe the stages happening and help the process along.  That means you get the best outcome for all in the least time.

In this short series, I discuss how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result. In my two last posts in this series,  I discussed Stage 1 Forming and Stage 2 Storming. In Stage 1 we described how the group will be looking for some ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. Now in Stage 3, people begin to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief that conflicts are being resolved.

Stage 3 – Norming.

If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 2, the group will now be resolving any conflicts which have arisen.  People become much less defensive and are willing to change their preconceived ideas or opinions on the basis of facts presented.  They ask questions of one another.   Leadership starts to be shared and cliques break up in the light of new information and new relationships.  A sense of group belonging emerges.

People share feelings and exchange ideas.  They explore possible actions for reaching the goals and creativity is high. They are on their way to being organized so that they can achieve their goals.

Trust builds and information flows well! Roles and responsibilities become clear and are accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement and smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. Commitment and unity are strong.

Leading the group through Stage 3 – Norming

What is the role of the leader?  The leader facilitates, enables and makes sure that data keeps flowing between group members.  Encourage the group by congratulating them when they listen to each other and work cooperatively. Now is the time to make sure they put in place detailed plans and systems, and standards, for completing the work. Encourage them to work together to achieve the task.

What if they get stuck in Stage 3 – Norming

Some groups stay in Stage 3 and complete the task with a degree of dependence on you as the team leader and others in the group.  The main danger of Stage 3 is  that members may begin to fear the inevitable future break-up of the group, so they may resist change of any sort.   This can mean they may not find novel and original solutions to problems.  Encourage the group to try out new ideas, and approaches, and to develop the confidence to work independently while remaining part of the group. Be a cheerleader – encourage your group and recognize them for the good work they are doing.

Now we are moving towards excellence  – the next post will be about Stage 4 Performing

I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions.  Please share your own experience of handling Stage 3. What lessons do you have to pass on to others?

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason