You put a group of people in a room and hand them a piece of paper that contains a challenge. The group silently reads the paper and begins looking around at each other…waiting for someone to speak. As an outsider, here is what you may observe:
While this social experiment is interesting, most agile companies don’t have time for this. At Brown Bag, all employees share common traits and values. This allows to get to performing teams quickly. Sometimes we have a group of employees working for the first time together. Notice I said group and not team. They must figure each other out before they become a team.
The thing I enjoy most about my role is coaching the Project Managers on team dynamics. Helping them effectively move a group into a team. A few things that we ask ourselves when the team is forming:
Getting “yes” answers is easy if there is a good leader. A good leader will lay everything on the table and get everyone on the same page in one meeting.
As the team moves forward towards their goals, I continue to ask the Project Manager:
If I hear “no” to the above, I will hold the PM accountable to have sidebar conversations with individual team members. The goal is to lay out expectations and break down walls. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but I’ve found repeated success with encouraging honest and open communication.
If I hear “yes” answers to the above, I know that the team has moved beyond the storming stage, where the team is butting heads and moving in different directions, and they could be norming or performing.
Our Project Management team aims to get their teams to the norming stage as quickly as possible. With a focus on team dynamics and repetition of working with the same people, we can identify where the team can get better and how to get to the next level.
Try out asking some of these questions to get your teams to the performing stage.