You can’t expect a new team to perform well when it first comes together. And this is particularly important to think about when your team is remote - or a hybrid of remote and on-site. In our opinion, when you hire a remote team (or any team actually), team members often go through recognizable stages as they change from being strangers to a united group with common goals. Forming an effective team takes time - so how do you manage this? What is a quick tool to understand the stages of team development and help your people become more effective more quickly?
Dr Bruce Tuckman published his 'Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing' model in 1965. He later added a fifth stage, Adjourning, in the 1970s. Why is Tuckman’s model still relevant and useful - and how can it help you? The theory is an elegant and helpful explanation of the path that most teams follow on their way to high performance. Using Tuckman’s model will help your team to reach the performing stage as soon as possible. It explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships are built - and the team leader needs to change their leadership style accordingly. In short, start with a directing style, move through coaching and then participating and finish with delegation - at which point the team should be almost detached from the team leader. This allows a new leader to take over and the original team leader to move on to developing a new team using this model.
The first thing you need to do is identify the stage of development that your team is at. Then you can use strategies that move your team through to the next stage in the team formation process. So what exactly are these five stages of team development - and what is the strategy you should use during each?
YOUR ROLE: you play a dominant role at this stage as team members’ roles and responsibilities are not yet clear. Direct the team and establish clear objectives for both the whole team and individual team members.
YOUR ROLE: establish clear processes and structures. Build trust and good relationships between team members. Resolve conflicts swiftly. Provide support - particularly to those who need it most. Remain positive and firm.
YOUR ROLE: step back and help team members take responsibility for progress towards goals. Now would be a good time to arrange (online) team-building events.
YOUR ROLE: Delegate tasks and projects as much as you can. Now that the team is achieving well, you should aim for as light a touch as possible and start focusing on other goals and areas of work.
YOUR ROLE: take the time to celebrate the team’s achievements. You may work with some of your people again and this will be much easier if they view their past experience with you positively.
So, to recap, make sure you change your approach at each stage of your team’s development to help them perform well, as quickly as possible. Schedule regular interviews of where your team is at and adjust your behaviour and leadership style accordingly. It will help to explain this model so that people understand why problems are occurring and know that things will get better in the future. Focusing on this strategy will ensure you quickly have a high-performing remote team.
If you’re interested in working with an offshore outsourcer who will help you work closely through these five stages of remote team development, download our eBook, '30 Essential Questions to Ask a Provider Before You Outsource’. It will ensure you're informed and have the right questions to ask when considering the next step.