Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing
Takes place when the team first meets each other. Team members are introduced to one another. Everyone reviews their backgrounds, experience and how they made their way to this group. This is where each member forms a first impression. This is the “feel out” stage – where members are thinking can I work with that person? Does the person have credibility? Who will give me trouble? Who will be my allies?
It is critical that the site manager be very clear about roles and responsibilities and how those roles will work together. In a new contact center, process and procedure many not be the “same” as what managers are familiar with. Some members on the team come from another company location, others come from other companies. Many times, processes are modified for the new location. Determining areas of responsibility from the start is critical to the team’s development. The site manager’s role is to provide very clear team goals and provide clear direction.
It’s unavoidable and the most stressful as every new team advances to this stage. In a new contact center with a new management team that includes managers that have never worked together, it is especially true that team members compete for status and acceptance of their ideas. In a new environment, some managers want to be super heroes and will perform duties and functions that belong to others. Every manager has their own opinions and ideas of what should be done and how, which causes conflict within the team. Everyone wants to look good and perform. This is an uncomfortable stage for most.
A strong and experienced site leader needs to be proficient in facilitating the team as it progresses through this stage. With guidance, the team will learn how to solve problems together and learn how to function as a unit as well as independently. The team will settle into roles and responsibilities. The site leader’s role is to play referee and coach members who are too dominating and encourage others less assertive to speak up.
When team members begin accepting each other and learn to work together for the good of the team, the team is ready to move to the next stage.
Team members shift their focus from self to team and begin to work more effectively as a team. They respect each other’s opinions and value their differences. Working together feels more natural. The team has agreed on team rules; how they will share information and resolve conflict, and determined what tools and processes they will use to get the job done. Trust emerges and relationships begin to change as they look for ways to collaborate instead of compete with each other.
The site leader’s role in norming begins to step back as the team members take over decision-making, take on more responsibility and are now able to resolve conflict as a team. The site leader’s role changes to coach moving forward. Now the team is poised for the celebratory stage.
The performing stage is when the team is operating at a high level like a well-oiled machine. It is an exciting time because now the team is focused on results. Everyone at this point has gotten to know each other, now trusts each other and relies on each other. Performing teams operate without much oversight as the self-manage themselves. They are highly motivated to achieve results and will make decisions quickly and effectively. When a disagreement arises, they work through it and come to a consensus without disrupting progress. The site leader’s role now is to monitor the progress of the team. Celebrate all wins to build team camaraderie. Not all teams reach the performing stage but when they do it is a high time for the contact center.