I was recently provided a book to review (Wheelan, Susan A., Creating Effective Teams, 5th edition, 2015 SAGE Publications, Inc.) about how effective teams are created and the evolution that successful teams typically follow.  As netlogx consultants, we normally exist on several teams at any given time, whether that be an internal team comprised of our peers and our Organizational Team Lead, a Project Team comprised of several different levels of responsibility and experience, or an internal committee formed for a short duration just to “get stuff done”.  I thought that a few of the stand out ideas would be appropriate to share.

The concept that I considered most accurate and appropriate for our organization was the staged evolution of top performing teams.  Top performing teams evolve from freshly assembled groups by developing across four distinct stages.  They are:

  1. Dependency and Inclusion: A leader typically volunteers or is self-appointed.  Members are concerned about fitting in and what their defined role is in the group.  Communication is typically polite and tentative and limited to a few vocal, expressive members.
  2. Counter-dependency and Fighting: The group is trying to establish a unified set of goals and values which creates conflict.  Members may begin to experience or express dissatisfaction with the roles they initially assumed.  Member participation and communication increases.  The leader is consistently challenged.
  3. Trust and Structure: The group is organized by roles and procedures. The leader’s role becomes less directive and more consultative.  Cohesion and trust increases.  The individual commitment to the group goals and tasks is high.
  4. Work: A period of intense team productivity and effectiveness.  Members are clear about the team goals and agree with them.  The role assignments match the member’s abilities and periods of conflict are brief.

As I read and processed the information I could easily relate to my team experiences.  It is worth noting that in this author’s research it takes teams six months or more to move through the four stages and some teams never get there.

Another interesting thought is the ownership and responsibility of each team member to assist in the progress towards becoming a top performing team.  It can’t be done just through effective leadership.  Each team member needs to recognize the process and strive to advance the team towards the goal of being a top performing organization.  The author made an observation that there are countless types of Leadership training available and undoubtedly many of us have attended and experienced those in our careers.  What is lacking and what they have worked on creating is effective member training.  In my opinion that means simply that all team members should be aware of the stages of team development and what the distinct indicators are for each of the stages.  I hope that by sharing this information I can assist our consultants and employees in their team development into well oiled, top performing teams!