What does forming a team mean? In this practical guide, we explore team building and show you how it's done in five essential steps.
So, you’re forming a team? A few years ago, I took a job where I had to set up an entirely new function from scratch.
In this article, I share my experiences of forming a new team: a mix of fresh recruits, employees who’d been around some time, and someone who was unsuccessful in getting my role.
When I started thinking about team building, the first thing I did was imagine what the ideal team would be like. I'd visualize a high performing team with the right skills, abilities, and attitudes. A team with a flat structure. One that aids communication and encourages innovation.
But how should I go about realizing my vision?
Straight away I thought of Tuckman's model for small group development: Forming, storming, norming, and performing. And my immediate focus was on forming.
But what does this mean? For this first stage of team building, the advice is clear…
5 Steps to Forming a Team
When you're the new boss, goodwill may exist, but trust is likely to be low. What's more, there is likely to be little agreement on team aims, and when roles and responsibilities are unclear, team members are going to behave independently. In my experience, this was especially true of one person in particular.
That's just the way it is!
Naturally, there is a high dependence on the leader for guidance and direction. The leader will also be tested by the team. So, the leader must be ready to answer many questions about the team’s purpose, aims, and relationships with key stakeholders.
But what does this mean?
The way in which the team operates is important to me. I expect the team to reflect my values and behaviours.
How will people behave? What is the culture of the team?
To be effective, everyone needs to be clear about the way they work together. The team needs a common identity, to share the same values, goals, and objectives.
Ground rules provide guidance for specific behaviours and expectations.
Now, there's no right way of doing things in such situations. The lazy leader must adapt and do what is right for the team. And, to achieve this, it's better to engage the team first to agree the ground rules.
In this situation, the team suggested we draw up a team charter. This was a good idea as it gave everyone a voice and only took a short meeting to help everyone focus on the right things from the start.
Roles and responsibilities
After agreeing the ground rules, the team can begin to define roles and responsibilities.
How will the team work together? How are different personality types accommodated?
I was accountable for bringing people with the right skills and experience to the team. However, it wasn’t until the team started working on a task that I got a real insight into how well members worked together. This was the time to match people to roles and identify gaps within the team.