Building a high performing Team is a key part of the role of a Manager. ‘High performing’ comes from two distinct elements, high performing individual Team members, and a Team that is moving towards the stage of High Performance. An effective Manager is working one to one to improve individual performance, and working actively to develop his or her Team through the stages of Team development. Using Tuckman's model as a framework, we can tease out the Manager's focus and tasks at each stage.

The Manager at the Forming Stage
At the Forming Stage the objective is the Team Leader is focusing on three key areas.
1. Aligning the Team to their Company purpose, their Team purpose, their objectives and their goals. The Team Manager will reinforce these by informing the Team, reinforcing goals, rewarding and praising effort that leads to goal achievement.

2. Bonding the Team, and giving them a sense of Team identity. The Team Manager holds informal and formal meetings with the Team as a whole to build internal relationships and bonds.

3. Painting a picture of the path forward, the type of Team we will be in the future. An effective Manager knows the nature of a Norming or High Performing Team, and will describe this frequently to the Team. If they know where they are going, The Team is much more likely to get there!

The Team Leader at Storming Stage
This is the critical stage, and the trickiest one to navigate through. Team members come out from behind the reserved Forming stage, and the Storming behaviours begin. The focus of the Team Manager here is to keep working on the Alignment and bonding as in the Forming Stage, while also working on Storming Stage activities.

1. Encourage cross training and cross team project work. One of the dangers at this stage is the formation of small, tight sub-groups or cliques. We minimise this by ensuring Team Members rotate who they work with, or are paired up with different people to work on small projects. The benefit of this is that strong bonds are formed, we are sharing Team strengths and the Team members learn each other’s strengths.

2. Encourage the Team and Team members to begin to think for themselves. Whilst still reinforcing the Team purpose and the type of Team we want to be, the Team Leader begins to use coaching questions to challenge and develop the Team and Team members.

3. Introduce different Team Processes. At the Forming and early Storming stage, the Team Manager uses the Team Meeting as the main Team process. He or she will use this both to bind and align the Team, and to manage throughput of work. There will be frequent and well-structured Team Meetings. Later, the Team Manager will vary how the Team works together and they will develop specific Team processes to be used for different situations.
He or she might hold a brainstorm meeting, a problem solving meeting or a project de-brief meeting. They may hold daily Team huddles to manage throughput, and may delegate the chair of these brief meetings to Team members.

The Leader at Norming Stage
Now the Team Leader has developed effective Team processes, effective ways the Team can work together and has built strong Team bonds. The danger at early Norming stage is that Team will become too smug, too comfortable in their own routine. The goal here is to really challenge the Team, to give them new skills to learn and new milestones to achieve.

1. Involve the Team or sub-groups within the Team in more aspects of your own Role. This is the time to coach and mentor the Team towards delegation. The effective Team Manager is not now trying to do all the work themselves, to come up with the new ideas or solve all the problems. Team Members working in pairs or small groups can take on a lot of project work. Rotate the groups and the pairs so that all are being developed.

2. Build the business knowledge of the Team. This is the time also to educate the Team more about the nature of your business, your customers and your competitors. The more they know, the better placed they will be to make good decisions.

3. Encourage sharing of skills, and the dissemination of knowledge across the Team.

4. Foster a competitive element, but ensure it does not generate bad feeling. The aim is to build people who want to push themselves and continuously lift the bar higher and higher. Benchmarking themselves against better Teams and using this as a competitive, achievable goal gives a great sense of purpose. This is also the attitude of the High Performance Team that we are moving towards; they always want to be better than the rest.

These guidelines will help put you and your Team on a path to that high performing Team.

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi provides Management Training. She delivers Team Leader Training to Managers at all levels.