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From forming to performing - where is your veterinary team at?

Posted in Management @ May 19th 2016 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
From Forming To Performing Where Is Your Veterinary Team At

Determining what stage your veterinary team is at can help to explain why it is or isn't performing so well.

One of the popular topics at the recent 3 day workshop I attended in Sydney as part of Diederik Gelderman’s 6 month ‘Veterinary Practice Marketing Made Easy’ course was on Tuckerman’s model of team stages.

Tuckerman’s Stages of Team Formation

Bruce Tuckerman first talked of the four stages of team development in 1965. He used the stages to describe the process that most teams follow on their way to becoming high performance teams. The well known stages are:

1.       Forming

2.       Storming

3.       Norming

4.       Performing

The 5th Stage adjourning or mourning was later added to the model.

So what are the stages and what does this mean for your veterinary team?

1. Forming (or…sniffing dogs)

This initial stage is when everyone is still playing nice! It’s the ‘getting to know you’ stage where team members are polite, reserved and perhaps even excited about the challenges ahead. They may be feeling some anxiety and asking themselves “Where do I fit in? What’s expected of me?”.

2. Storming (or…the honeymoon is over)

This is the tricky stage that occurs when everyone stops playing nice. Team members start pushing against each other, often due to conflicting working styles or preferences. They may be feeling some frustration around goals or tasks and because of uncertainly may also be feeling incompetent and confused.

Some teams never move beyond this stage and can be the reason why some workplaces suffer from low morale, motivation and ongoing conflict.

3.  Norming (or…working through our differences)

During the Norming Stage, team members start to show decreasing levels of dissatisfaction and develop some trust and respect for each other’s differences. Individuals self-esteem and confidence starts to grow as their place in the team becomes apparent and they may also develop a ‘team language’. There can be some overlap between storming and norming as new tasks may cause the team to lapse back in to the storming phase.

4. Performing (or…now we’re humming)

This is the good part! Individuals are excited about being part of the team and feel positive about task success. They’re performing at high levels and feel confident in the strength of the team. THIS is what working in a team is all about.  

Does every team go through these stages?

Most teams go through each of the four stages however the length of time they spend in each of the stages can vary. Teams can also revert to previous stages if aspects of the team change. For example, team members leaving or new members joining can cause a previously Performing team to revert back to Norming or even Storming stages. However, if the team was Performing well it is usually able to move through the stages much faster. 

So where do you think your team is at? 

Are they stuck at a certain stage?

What do you think might be causing your team to not reach the Performing Stage?

In the next post I’ll talk about what these stages of team formation mean to you as a manager or leader and perhaps help you to answer some of the questions above.


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