Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

3.3 An action plan to strengthen the team is compiled according to Standard Operating Procedures.

ryanrori January 5, 2021

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How do groups form?

Stage 1: Forming

Individual behaviour is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict.  Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on being busy with routines, such as team organisation, who does what, when to meet, etc.  But individuals are also gathering information and impressions – about each other, and about the scope of the task and how to approach it.  This is a comfortable stage to be in, but the avoidance of conflict and threat means that not much actually gets done.

Stage 2: Storming

Individuals in the group can only remain nice to each other for so long, as important issues start to be addressed.  Some people’s patience will break early, and minor confrontations will arise that are quickly dealt with or glossed over.  These may relate to the work of the group itself, or to roles and responsibilities within the group. Some will observe that it’s good to be getting into the real issues, whilst others will wish to remain in the comfort and security of stage 1.  Depending on the culture of the organisation and individuals, the conflict will be more or less suppressed, but it’ll be there, under the surface. To deal with the conflict, individuals may feel they are winning or losing battles, and will look for structural clarity and rules to prevent the conflict persisting.

Stage 3: Norming

As Stage 2 evolves, the “rules of engagement” for the group become established, and the scope of the group’s tasks or responsibilities is clear and agreed.  Having had their arguments, they now understand each other better, and can appreciate each other’s skills and experience.  Individuals listen to each other, appreciate and support each other, and are prepared to change pre-conceived views: they feel they’re part of a cohesive, effective group.  However, individuals have had to work hard to attain this stage, and may resist any pressure to change – especially from the outside – for fear that the group will break up, or revert to a storm.

Stage 4: Performing

Not all groups reach this stage, characterised by a state of interdependence and flexibility. Everyone knows each other well enough to be able to work together, and trusts each other enough to allow independent activity.  Roles and responsibilities change according to need in an almost seamless way.  Group identity, loyalty and morale are all high, and everyone is equally task-orientated and people-orientated.  This high degree of comfort means that all the energy of the group can be directed towards the task(s) in hand.

Stage 5: Adjourning

This is about completion and disengagement, both from the tasks and the group members.  Individuals will be proud of having achieved much and glad to have been part of such an enjoyable group.  They need to recognise what they’ve done, and consciously move on.  Some authors describe stage 5 as “Deforming and Mourning”, recognising the sense of loss felt by group members.

You can buy all sorts of tools to identify individuals’ preferred roles, and help teams to make the best use of each role.  Although your preferred roles are relatively unchanging over time, most of us can happily perform two or three of the roles, thus filling any gaps in the team’s profile.  That also means that one person can cover more than one role – clearly important if you have a team of less than eight people!

The concept works best when used openly within a team or across an organisation.  Individual preferences are only useful if they’re known to others, so teams can assess who can best fulfil each role.  You can use role identification as a form of team-building: it reinforces the fact that everyone is bringing something to the team, so you all need each other if you are to be successful.The eight roles are follows.  The brief descriptions are of the “pure” roles that you’re unlikely to find in practice:  what you’ll see depends on the mix of preferred roles in each individual.  The abbreviations after each title are the common shorthand used when describing and charting the roles.

EXTROVERT ROLES

Outward looking people whose main orientation is to the world outside the group, and beyond the task(s) in hand

PlantPL

The Innovator. Unorthodox, knowledgeable and imaginative, turning out loads of radical ideas.  The creative engine-room that needs careful handling to be effective.  Individualistic, disregarding practical details or protocol – can become an unguided missile.  

Resource InvestigatorRI

The extrovert, enthusiastic communicator, with good connections outside the team.  Enjoys exploring new ideas, responds well to challenges, and creates this attitude amongst others.  Noisy and energetic, quickly loses interest, and can be lazy unless under pressure.

ChairmanCH

Calm, self-confident and decisive when necessary.  The social leader of the group, ensuring individuals contribute fully, and guiding the team to success.  Unlikely to bring great intellect or creativity.

ShaperSH

Energetic, highly-strung, with a drive to get things done.  They challenge inertia, ineffectiveness and complacency in the team, but can be abrasive, impatient and easily provoked.  Good leaders of start-up or rapid-response teams.

INTROVERT ROLES

Inward-looking people principally concerned with relations and tasks within the group.

Monitor EvaluatorME

Unemotional, hard-headed and prudent.  Good at assessing proposals, monitoring progress and preventing mistakes.  Dispassionate, clever and discrete.  Unlikely to motivate others, takes time to consider, may appear cold and uncommitted.  Rarely wrong.

Team WorkerTW

Socially-oriented and sensitive to others.  Provides an informal network of communication and support that spreads beyond the formal activities of the team.  Often the unofficial or deputy leader, preventing feuding and fragmentation.  Concern for team spirit may divert from getting the job done.

Company WorkerCW

The Organiser who turns plans into tasks. Conservative, hard-working, full of common sense, conscientious and methodical. Orthodox thinks who keeps the team focussed on the tasks in hand.  Lacks flexibility, and unresponsive to new ideas

Completer FinisherCF    

Makes sure the team delivers. An orderly, anxious perfectionist who worries about everything. Maintains a permanent sense of urgency that can sometimes help and sometimes hinder the team. Good at follow-up and meeting deadlines. Different roles are important at different times, and the effective team will be aware of who should be ‘centre stage’ at a given time.