How a Scrum Manager Can Persevere When Developing a Development Team
The operative word in Agile Development is Team. The experience is a team effort and can be fraught with friction, notably at the project’s beginning.
In the journal’s article, ”Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing - Understanding the Stages of Team Formation,” tools are offered on how to resolve conflicts quickly so the team can reach its “performing phase” and ultimately make you proud.
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his 1965 article, "Developmental Sequence in Small Groups" (he later added a fifth stage, "adjourning"). Tuckman uses these terms to describe the path most teams follow on their way to high performance.
Forming a team takes time, and members often go through recognizable stages as they change from being a collection of strangers to a united group with common goals. Bruce Tuckman's model describes these stages, and when you understand the model, it will help your new team become effective more quickly.
In this stage, most team members are positive and polite. Some are anxious, as they may not fully understand the work the team will perform. Others are simply excited about the tasks ahead.
As leader, you play a dominant role at this stage, because team members' roles and responsibilities aren't clear.
This stage can last for some time, as people start to work together, and as they make an effort to get to know their new colleagues.
Next, the team moves into the storming phase, where people start to push against the boundaries established in the forming stage. This is the stage where many teams fail.
Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members' natural working styles. People may work in different ways for all sorts of reasons. But, if differing working styles cause unforeseen problems, they may become frustrated.
Storming can also happen in other situations. For example, team members may challenge your authority, or jockey for position as their roles are clarified. Or, if you haven't defined clearly how the team will work, people may feel overwhelmed by their workload, they could become uncomfortable with the approach you’re using.
Some members may question the worth of the team's goal, and they may resist taking on the tasks.
Team members who stick with the task at hand may experience stress, particularly as they don't have the support of established processes or strong relationships with their colleagues.
Gradually, the team moves into the norming stage. This is when people start to resolve their differences, appreciate colleagues' strengths, and respect your authority as a leader.
Now that your team members know one another better, they may socialize together, and they are able to ask one another for help and provide constructive feedback. People develop a stronger commitment to the team goal, and you start to see good progress towards it.
There is often a prolonged overlap between storming and norming because, as new tasks come up, the team may lapse back into behavior from the storming stage.
The team reaches the performing stage when hard work leads, without friction, to the achievement of the team's goal. The structures and processes that you have set up support this well.
As a leader you can delegate much of your work, and you can concentrate on developing team members
It feels easy to be part of the team at this stage, and people who join or leave won't disrupt performance.
Many teams will reach this stage eventually. For example, project teams exist for only a fixed period, and even permanent teams may be disbanded through organizational restructuring.
Team members who like routine, or who have developed close working relationships with colleagues, may find this stage difficult particularly if their future now looks uncertain.
Using these Tools
As a team leader, your aim is to help your people perform well as quickly as possible. To do this, you'll need to change your approach at each stage.
Follow these steps to ensure that you're doing the right thing at the right time:
- Identify the stage of team development that your team is at from the descriptions above.
- Now consider what you need to do to move towards the performing stage. The following chart will help you understand your role, and help you think about how you can move the team forward.
- Schedule regular reviews of where your team is, and adjust your behavior and leadership approach appropriately.
Directs the team and establish clear objectives both for the team as a whole and for individual team members.
Establish processes and structures.
Build trust and good relationships between team members.
Resolve conflicts swiftly if they occur. Provide support, especially to those team members who are less secure.
Remain positive and firm in the face of challenges to your leadership or to the team's goal.
Remember that it is okay to find ways of better utilizing your staff. If you need to switch out an unhappy team member, the action might be better than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Explain the "forming, storming, norming, and performing" idea, so that people understand why problems are occurring, and so that they see that things will get better in the future.
Coach team members in assertiveness and conflict resolution skills where this is necessary.
Step back and help team members take responsibility for progress towards the goal (this is a good time to arrange a team-building event such as sharing a meal).
Delegate tasks and projects as far as you can. Once the team is achieving well, you should aim to have as light a touch as possible. You will now be able to start focusing on other goals and areas of work.
Take the time to celebrate the team's achievements – you may work with some of your people again, and this will be much easier if people view past experiences positively. elp
In a perfect world, team members would work effortlessly together from day one. They would get along, communicate well, and productively focus on the team's mission. Unfortunately, we live in the real world. And, as we know, it takes time for teams to reach peak effectiveness.
We hope you find this information helpful. To read more, visit the online journal Mind Tools.