The different stages of your change team

In my last post, we looked at the early stages of forming a team and in this post I’ll discuss the ‘formal’ and ‘mature’ stages:

Formal Stage
The formal stage is likely to be more successful, but this success will be limited by inflexibility. The team at this stage of its development LeadingaNewTeamtends to be too regimental and fails to utilise the full capability of all its members. This is due largely to over-rigidly defined roles within the team. Probably the worst case of this being that far too much dependence is placed on the leader to co-ordinate, plan, make decisions as well as to control.

Typical characteristics of formal teams include:
• strong likelihood of overreacting – becoming too formal in procedures and roles
• strong leadership often seems the answer to problems of the chaotic stage – the leader is often criticised for failure to be strong enough during chaotic stage
• formal/specific roles (timekeeper/secretary etc.)
• poor flexibility
• not making use of capabilities of members

Mature Stage
Gradually, the team begins to develop out of the formal stage and starts to take ‘liberties’ with its own procedures without slipping back into chaos.

This progress to maturity is not guaranteed however.

If the team rebels against the rigidities of the formal stage too early, it can easily slip back to the chaotic stage.

On the other hand, some teams get stuck in the formal stage and never quite reach the mutual understanding and trust needed to move to maturity.

The breakthrough to the mature stage usually occurs when the team realises that some parts of their formal procedures are of no use to the particular task they are doing. The team cuts corners and finds it can cope.

Typical characteristics of mature teams include:
• procedures for objective setting, planning, discussions etc. that are agreed and based on the task or situation
• procedures that are flexible rather than rigid
• team roles that are more relaxed, with members contributing on the basis of what they can offer in a specific situation, not according to rigidly defined responsibilities
• communication that is good within the team. (ideas and suggestions are given freely and are listened to and built on)
• leadership style is more ‘involving and participative’ as the situation dictates

The team in its mature stage of development is likely to be very effective.