Many years ago I went on a recruitment course, and I will never forget that the trainer talked about teams “storming, forming, norming, performing”. It was a variation of Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development, I think, and, as I remember it, varied for us recruiters to make a slightly different point. This being that even the most stable of teams eventually undergoes change, and therefore it’s always good to keep in contact with firms, just in case something does, and we could be of assistance. I think from my 18 years of experience it’s definitely true that nothing stays the same at many firms for long. Management teams change, and whilst strategy may not change too much, tactics and people do, and all can destabilise a team. So often the perception of a manager’s success can be linked to at what point in the cycle they take on a team, and, indeed, if they stay in a role a long time how they deal with the inevitable “storms”.
Sir Alex Ferguson won the Premiership 13 times, but he didn’t do this with one team. He rebuilt the team several times over and amongst his many great talents, he managed to get teams to spend longer in the performing stage, and went through the storming, forming, and norming stages very quickly. He is a legend (and I’m not a United fan), but he has a rare talent. Unfortunately many managers don’t have the luxury of legend status, and therefore during difficult times they sometimes lose the support of their team, and more worryingly their superiors. Sometimes they too have to be replaced, but sometimes firms should take more of a step back and understand this is the natural evolution of any workforce. It’s quite often the way that firms lose people they don’t want to, they leak skills, but it can also be a good time to ensure that you have the team and skills you need for the next phase of your development. Managers also need to develop the ability to form teams quickly and to ride our the storms.
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