Interviewing a Team Building Consultant: READ THIS! (Part One)


So, are you planning to interview a consultant about doing a team building for your group?  Good idea.  It is useful to know how a consultant thinks about team building.

In my opinion, any team builder worth the label will know the four stages of team development, the four key issues that a team addresses and the eight dimensions that map team culture. 

Sounds like a checklist for your interview? It is! 

Over the next few blogs, I’ll provide you all you need for your interview.

For our first blog, let’s talk about the stages of team development.

The stages of team development (adapted from Tuckman) are a neat package of clear steps. 

Unfortunately, it is not so neat in real life.  Teams may move up and down these steps as new members or new goals emerge, so don’t assume that once you pass a step, you will not land on it again.

Generally, after joining a team, the first thing team members do is “test” to find the “accepted” (NOT acceptable!) boundaries for behavior (and to see what happens when the boundaries are breached!)  Your teenager does this when he misses curfew by 15 minutes.  Your team may do this by not making goals. This entry into the team and testing constitute the group process of forming.

The second thing a team does is polarize around issues – with ensuing conflict and emotion. “Why is he my equal?”  “Why do I have to get YOUR input before I act? There may be structural problems.  Some team members may not make it. Resistance to each other -- and to the boss characterizes the team, so the stage is called storming.

Resistance is overcome in the third stage as new standards evolve and are clarified, and new roles are adopted.  Intimate, personal opinions may be expressed. The team members feel comfortable with one another. This is the stage of norming, or creating agreed upon rules for team members. 

Finally, the team is able to actually perform the tasks assigned to each member. Roles become flexible, useful, and the team is focused on effective completion of tasks. This stage can be labeled as performing.

So, when talking to a team-building consultant, ask about forming, storming, norming and performing.  Ask yourself what stage you think your team is stuck in… and ask the consultant how to move past that stage….