Embrace the storm!

I hope you are familiar with the stages of a team made popular by Tuchman (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman%27s_stages_of_group_development). It is a pretty simple idea, teams go through different stages as they get better and more functional. Here’s a quick image to help you visualize the four stages.

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Storming could be the most critical piece of adopting a new idea or implementing a new initiative. It is natural and healthy for a team to disagree or have an emotional argument over things to which we feel passionate. These storming moments really help bring out the core beliefs that are being challenged and help to get everyone on the same philosophical page. After the storm is over, teams can flow into a more productive routine of norms and productivity. Of course, old habits and mindsets die hard and the storming stage could rear its head at any point as a team continues to work over time.

So, why don’t we see more storming among teams with which we work? I think the easy answer is that we are nice and don’t like people to be upset or have disagreements. As educators, we work hard to keep the peace and we are willing to except viewpoints that are different than our own especially when it comes from a colleague or veteran teacher. I think that is why we rush to get norms down and focus on production-because we are artificially jumping past the storming stage. for most teams, the storm may just be some grumbling or disagreement behind closed doors or among friends-that’s a good start for storming, but it doesn’t have the same impact on the overall team. Good leaders need to bring the storming stage to the forefront of the group when norms are being followed and goals are being met. This is a great time of year to do that. One of the best things we can hope for is that someone who has not been in agreement with the initiative or mindset has the confidence to speak up for that this agreement. This can be a watershed moment for teams.

So, embrace it! Keep the pressure on the goal or task of the team and when the storm comes don’t try to quiet it or wait for it to go away-let it blow a little and let the team experience their first success-surviving the storm! When the proverbial sun comes out-the team will have a clear vision of what to do next and moving forward will be much easier and more productive.

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