Welcome back
to our conversation focusing on Change Leadership.  We return to discussing corporate change after
my quick diversion sharing life lessons learned from my visit with my
Grandchildren in Arizona.  After four
weeks it was very hard to say good bye. At the same time it is great to be back
on my home turf in Florida.

In our last
conversation we learned from Karen Davey-Winter how leaders are also change
leaders and that there are (at least) three dimensions of change that must be
understood and navigated – our own approach and reaction to change, how to lead
our teams through change, and how to help the people we impact with our
changes, i.e. customers, ends users, etc. 
Karen will continue the conversation this week by focusing on the
changes that teams go through as they evolve, and how we can lead them through
that change. Take it away Karen:

“So how can we look at this
challenge? Many of you probably know Bruce Tuckman’s theory of group
development – Forming, storming, norming and performing. If we want our teams
to become high performing teams we need to understand these phases, and the
role that we play in moving the team through them.


In this phase the team is coming
together, a collection of individuals with a range of skill sets, perspectives
and interests. People are cautious, and concerned about being accepted by the
group. Our role as leaders is to bring the team together, help them gain an
understanding of each other, and the goals of the work that they are there to
complete. It’s critical to be able to articulate a vision, where they fit into
that vision, and how their contribution connects to the overall goal. Leaders
need to be very visible, able to clearly state the purpose of the work, and
show how the team needs to align to meet the goals.


As the team moves into this phase,
team members start to become more comfortable with one another, and their fear
of rejection by the group has largely diminished. This is where conflict starts
as different views, ideas and perspectives are exchanged in order to determine
how to deliver on the goals and priorities. The leader has a critical role in
establishing an environment in which conflict can be navigated and resolved.
Conflict is crucial to creativity and, somewhat counter intuitively, it’s also
critical for gaining consensus. Establishing an environment and ground rules
for navigating conflict will allow it to be seen as ‘healthy debate’ rather
than something that is a roadblock to progress. Unless a team moves through the
Storming phase it won’t become a high performing team, and without strong
leadership many teams get stuck in this phase.


Once a team has successfully
moved through the storming phase they can start norming, and this is where real
progress starts to be made. Instead of individuals working independently or in
conflict, the team gels, work is delivered, progress is made and collaboration
is high. People understand their role and the contribution they are making. As
leaders it is still important to reinforce the goals and vision of the work and
provide clear direction, but the leader can now take a more individualized
approach to leadership. Rather than being directive the majority of the time,
leaders can look at the situation and the people and see what they need,
providing support and empowerment.


If you’ve ever worked in a high
performing team you know how this last phase feels. It’s like you’re in a
groove, there is flow, you’re almost at the point where you’re finishing each
other’s sentences! It’s not that there’s no conflict, but the team moves
through it with ease. It’s not that you don’t have to provide direction, but
that you have to do it less often because the goals of the work and the ways
things get done are established.

So for all of you that lead any
kind of change initiative, or teams that are newly forming, notice what stage
your teams are in and how you are showing up as a leader. A small adjustment in
style can have a dramatic impact on your team, as can an acknowledgement that
the team is going through some changes, and that change is sometimes hard. “

Thank you
Karen for your perspective.  As always I love learning from you. 

You can enjoy a more detailed view into Karen’s perspective at this link:


Karen Davey-Winter, PMP, ACC, Executive Coach/Management Consultant, www.worklifeperspectives.com

As I listen
and reflect on Karen’s message,  I am
reminded of the many teams I’ve had the pleasure of building, leading,  and working with over the years.  The journey through the storming, forming,
norming and performing is not always linear. 
You can be riding on a perfectly calm sea under a beautiful blue sky and
not see the storm brewing in the background.   The complexity of the initiative, the scope
of impact, introduction of new requirements, change in team members, or technical
challenges along with additional factors such as the volatility of the
organization creates the potential of returning to storming even while
performing.  An uncontrolled return to
storming can be very harmful if it results in a team crash.

A team crash
is when the conflict and debate within the team is no longer effective or
productive.  You will recognize it by
in-fighting, “sides” forming, unproductive dialogue, slipped deadlines, and in
the worse of cases team members shutting down or resigning.  All in all, a most unfortunate state as I
cannot recall ever seeing a team crash recover on its own.  The longer you allow it go on the harder it
is to recover.  

As a leader
we best serve the team when we keep an eye on all aspects of the operations and
temperature to prevent a team crash. If one does slip by you must dive head
first in to discover root cause and resolve immediately.   If you’ve been there or are there and need
help with your specific circumstances please reach out to discuss techniques
for identifying root cause and tackling recovery. 

Until next time, have an effective week! 
Next week we
will continue with our change leadership discussion by focusing on our

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