Keeping Teamwork Alive

A Journey: Four Stages of Team Building

I want to share with you some thoughts on building teams. Businesses have customers, and suppliers, and warehouse space, and databases. That's all very good and important. But it's the people that add the magic ingredient.  

Over the past few of years, Berlin Packaging has gotten much bigger. We've gained new employees from acquisitions and through organic growth.

We've approached all these new faces with an aim to get the most out of the new team. When a new team comes together, there are four stages a team goes through. These stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

 

THE FIRST STAGE IS FORMING.

In this case, people are getting to know each other, everyone is polite and avoiding conflict, and people stick to what they know best and operate independently. Think about the first time you met your spouse's parents; this is a great example of the behaviors we see in the Forming stage.

 

SOME TEAMS MOVE ON TO THE STORMING STAGE.

Here team members are starting to brainstorm and debate goals and tactics. There is some friction, but it's healthy friction.

 

SOME TEAMS THEN MOVE TO THE THIRD STAGE, NORMING.

Here the team has set protocols for how to work together towards a common goal. They've set norms and expectations for each other.

 

THE FINAL STAGE IS CALLED PERFORMING.

The team is working smoothly without inappropriate conflict. Team members have become interdependent. It's a well-oiled machine. Results are terrific.

Not all teams get to this last stage. This only comes about when true trust and skill exist.  

And this is not a one-way process. At Berlin, we're always moving within and across this continuum. As we add people or change the make-up of our teams, we need to make sure we appreciate the step we’re in and build again towards High Performing teams.

I believe that if you don't take each other for granted and invest in building and maintaining a great team, then we'll all have more fun at work and make more money as well.