A dream team is a force to be reckoned with; it’s coordinated, aligned and productive. If your number one priority is to create, retain and galvanize a dream team, here are the essentials you need to know.
The typical phases of creating a dream team are forming, storming, norming and performing as described by psychologist Bruce Tuckman. But from my consulting experience in many areas of strategy, I’ve added the essential phases that aren't covered in team development: sustaining, adapting and innovating. Let's start from the top.
1. Forming Phase
In the team-forming phase, the team members learn about each other and about how to work most successfully together.
- Define goals and objectives. Agree on what are you trying to achieve as a team.
- Learn each individual's personal objectives and what he/she wants to get from participating.
- Share baggage, i.e., discuss habits, personal preferences and attitudes or sensitivities. Make room for a discussion of personal circumstances that can impact the team's plans (such as pregnancy due dates, civic duties, etc.). Allow room to fit these into the schedule.
Leaders plan. Give instructions and engage their team to get input. Team members are familiarizing themselves with each other.
2. Storming Phase
Unforeseen issues begin to surface as team members work together. Interpersonal challenges must be recognized as opportunities for improving communications and processes.
- Disruptive factors, like unexpected personality traits, can become apparent.
- Conflicts may occur. Many conflicts are not intentional. Remember, every person joined the team because he/she shared the vision of all of the other team members. Everyone wants to accomplish their very best for the team and wants the team to succeed.
- Miscommunications may result in conflicts when people don't understand their roles well enough, and consequently, do not do what others thought that they were supposed to do.
- Look at and welcome differences between individuals' thinking.
- Give and receive constructive feedback.
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During this phase, team members are discovering their differences. Communications are being improved. Conflicts are being resolved. And, leadership is providing guidance, much of which involves reselling team members on the team's original objectives.
Note that team performance can be predicted to dip during this adjustment phase.
3. Norming Phase
In this phase, team members come to notice the need for some ground rules for working together. For example, "We're not going to start meetings before 5:00 a.m. or after 10:00 p.m."
- Establish ground rules to help team members avoid placing unreasonable expectations upon one another
- Identify points of agreement as well as differing opinions.
- Redefine roles and responsibilities to optimally fit individuals' skills.
- Double-team. Have two people work on certain tasks to cover contingencies. For example, "One person might brainstorm assumptions, while another does modeling."
- Teach the team to remain open when setbacks occur; identify solutions and resolutions to issues.
Team members are starting to participate more fully at this stage, as leaders establish common ground.
4. Performing Phase
At this stage, the team is proficient and performing at peak levels. Team members can:
- Quickly and effectively implement tasks
- Celebrate successes
- Remain open when setbacks occur
- Seek resolutions to problems instead of blaming
- Continue to welcome constructive input
People now know what they need to do. And, they know their fellow team members' strengths and weaknesses, so they can complement each other's skills and compensate for limitations. Leadership is now characterized by delegating.
5. Sustaining, Adapting and Innovating Phase
This phase is often not included in the normal stages of forming a team, yet it is the most important phase if an organization wants to grow and succeed. Team members must adapt and have a spark of creativity to adjust as roles change. The blueprint for success is a solid culture and being aware of personal styles as well as constantly adapting and sharpening your team leadership.
The following are some factors involving team character that influence your culture and successful teamwork:
- The team members agree on what is required to reach the common goal.
- There is a teamwork culture of prioritizing working well together.
- An atmosphere of trust encourages the best performance by every member.
- Team members understand their specific roles and how those facilitate reaching the goal.
- People's lifestyles are well-balanced with their responsibilities for team tasks.
- Communications and expectations in regards to plans and milestones are clear.
Interpersonal Keys To Building A Winning Startup Team
To merge personalities into a cohesive team, acquire deeper insights into the four basic differences in ways individuals think and operate introduced below. Then, instead of treating people as you want to be treated, treat them as they want to be treated. Teach your team members to do the same.
- Relators are open and direct. They include others in decision making.
- Socializers are very open and direct and want to know that you're interested in them.
- Thinkers are more guarded and indirect; they hold high expectations of themselves and others.
- Directors tend to be guarded and direct. They need to achieve and are most comfortable when they're in charge.
The Framework For Your Leadership Model
Building the best team requires the kind of leader who encourages and nurtures team members' development. Prerequisites for leaders and mentors of such character include attributes of being interested in people, being a straight talker, and knowing when to pivot. Follow their examples:
- Interact frequently.
- Provide individual coaching to enhance your understanding of the team.
- Provide group coaching to allow each person to understand.
- Reward good work.
- Keep your eyes open to possibilities and continuously learn.
Evaluate your leadership success by how well you inspire people to do whatever needs to be done to reach the goal and to passionately believe in the value of doing it. Good luck on building your dream team!