Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Norming Stage

You have successfully moved the team through the Forming and Storming  stages!  Getting through the Storming stage is critical but that doesn’t mean you’re done.  The first thing to remember is that just because you’ve made it through a stage, doesn’t mean you won’t slip back into one.  This is common, just like any relationship you will have good and bad times.
Understanding this will help you keep your focus and not ease up.  If you turn your back for a moment the team may slip back into Storming and you’re behind schedule.  Like the other phases you need to change your role again.  In the first stage you were and instructor or director if you will, then you became an instigator or maybe a hard coach is more appropriate.  Now you need to become a teacher.
The team is now in the Norming stage.  So what the heck does that mean?  In the Norming stage, the team is starting to gel.  They finally have their team dynamics worked out.  Everyone knows their part and place on the team, but not necessarily what to do.  This is where you come in.  The team is sort of in a state of limbo somewhere between unconscious incompetence and conscious incompetence.  Either way, they need your guidance and they are willing to be taught.  You need to teach and guide the team through their project and help them to get their sea legs.  Give them some guidance but let them figure it out.  If you take over and do it for them you will slip back into the Director mode.  When you go into Director mode (from the Forming stage) you focus their attention on you and not towards each other.  If this happens, you can actually throw them back into the Storming stage.
It’s hard to say exactly how long the Norming stage will last and the transition into the Performing stage is sometimes subtle.  We’ll look at the Performing stage next.

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