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How teams work
How teams work

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3.1.3 Norming

When teams are over the storming stage they often breathe a collective sigh of relief, since the team has begun the transition from a group of individuals to becoming members of a cohesive team. A team identity has established itself and disagreements between team members are largely settled.

Features of this stage

  • The team should reach agreement upon the process issues that it may have begun debating in the previous phase of team development. Specifically, the team should agree the ways of working and interacting with each other (team rules), and individual team members should agree to the roles that they are going to take on in the team and the tasks that they will perform (team roles).
  • The team also reaches agreement upon the nature of the task and how they are going to tackle it. With their growing sense of identity and purpose, the task ‘belongs’ to the team and is not something that has been imposed upon them. The team often develops its own common language to facilitate communication within the team.
  • There is real progress on the task that the team has been assigned.

Advice for a virtual team

  • A useful team rule to establish is how frequently team members should check the team forum and their personal email for messages. This depends on how much time you are devoting (or expected to devote) to the team tasks. If you are in a work situation and the team’s work is your major task then you might need to check for messages from the team several times a day. If you participate in the team in your spare time then less frequently, perhaps once or twice a week, may be enough.
  • It is also useful to establish when individual team members will be able to contribute to the team – their typical working patterns. This helps other team members to know when and how to contact each other, potentially reducing discord within the team.
  • Check that each member of the team has a common understanding of the team tasks, and that everyone is clear about the team rules and language.