Move your team past the storm
When planning a project, bear in mind that no one is able to do every single task on their own. That is impossible. Yes, even for you! You need a team to support you. As consequence, you will need to learn how to delegate to others if you are willing to keep your project on time and on budget. As you begin forming your team, you will find that there are challenges to combining a group of people and getting them to work well together. However, being aware of this natural team-forming process will help you manage the team much easier. This process is represented by the phrase Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.
In the forming stage, everyone tends to be on their best behaviour. Everyone is polite and excited. Others might be anxious, as they haven’t quite figured out what the team is about or what their role will be. At this point in the team formation, your role as project manager is the only one that might be clear. You want to work to build trust, demonstrate integrity, and understand which team members will do the best in which roles.
This is when the honeymoon period is over. You may find that some team members seek to challenge your authority. You might even hear team members questioning the purpose of the project. Personal conflicts between team members might rise up as well.
When you go through this phase, your leadership skills are key. If you can’t get the team past this phase, it is likely that the team will fail. You will need to address conflicts, redirect behaviours to what is expected of the team, clarify roles, and check that you have given instructions in a clear, straight-forward manner. Be flexible during this stage, and be sure to praise and reward achievements and positive behaviours.
As you move past the storming phase, you will move your team into the Norming stage. A hierarchy has been established at this point, meaning that your team members have accepted you as the leading authority of the team and may even have begun to take on leadership roles themselves within the team. You will need to make minor corrections as the team moves forward, guiding them back onto the path towards goal completion.
At this point in team formation, the team is functioning at its best. They are working under agreed upon methods with the joint purpose of reaching the team’s goals. The team structures, procedures, policies, and processes are set up such that they form a sort of team ‘culture.’
As a project manager you will find this the easiest stage that your team will go through. You will be able to delegate a great deal of the work that there is to do, and to trust that it will be done well. All this helps to prepare your team members for the final phase of team development – the team’s end.