How to nurture your team to high-performance

By Bob Weiler

It is more than likely that your team (even if it has been in place for some time) is in the forming stage.

Over the last two years, the amount of change we have experienced, collectively and individually, has been tremendous. We’ve all dealt with personal challenges, loss, and even grief on an unprecedented level. For example, even in our organization, two leaders lost parents they could not say goodbye to because of COVID-related restrictions. During this time we’ve also all become aware of new opportunities and new possibilities. Many of us have re-focused on the most critical things in life and found new, more rewarding and impactful, ways of living and working.

Given these tremendous changes, individuals, teams, and organizations are now entirely different. While some teams have experienced loss due to layoffs, resignations, and even deaths, many teams have also had new members join and existing members show up in new ways. The bottom-line is that the team you have today is different than the one you had two years ago – or maybe even a month ago.

In 1965, Psychologist Bruce Tuckman introduced the memorable phrase “forming, storming, norming, and performing” to describe the path that teams follow on their way to high-performance. Recognizing where your team is at on this path is critical, as the stages are building blocks for cohesion and success of the team. The forming stage is when a new team forms. Those on the team tend to be unsure of and not aligned on the team’s purpose, goals, roles of the various team members. Given what you and your team have experienced over the couple of years, and the make-up of your team today, it is more than likely that your team (even if it has been in place for some time) is back in the forming stage.

For teams in the forming stage, we recommend focusing on strategy and leadership team alignment. With our clients, we use this process at both the strategic and tactical levels to align the team around vision, strategies, critical issues, operational plans, and key behaviors needed to drive business performance. We also help our clients build and sustain the organizational culture necessary for current and future success.

The Strategy and Leadership Team Alignment process includes a series of one-on-one meetings and workshops designed create alignment, foster communication, increase engagement, increase trust, drive better decision-making, improve operating discipline, and promote individual leadership development. Our process is iterative and engenders collective ownership not just within the leadership team, but also across the organization. This accelerates execution, enhances employee engagement, and drives performance and profitability.

Together, this helps to build the capabilities of a high-performing team, enabling the team to move more quickly through the storming and norming stages to the performing stage – the stage where your team is “in flow” and performing to its full potential.

Right now is a good time to reassess where your team – old, new, or in between – is given these past few years. In many ways, it may be more like a “new” team and taking time to re-visit the forming stage is important. It will set you and your team up for success as you work together to move your business, your customers or clients, and the organization forward.

And as you and your team progress through the stages, remember that teams can – and often do – move back and forth between stages. Check-ins with your team and changes such as a new team member, or the loss of a team member, can help you identify whether you need to move back a stage (or two), if you need to stay in a stage longer than you anticipated, or if you are ready to move forward. Whatever the case, it is always worth assessing where your team stands and then taking the right action to move forward.



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senior leadership team alignment