No More Touchy Feely Team Building Workshops

Published: March 22, 2016

All too often, leadership wants to jump ahead to strategic planning before stabilizing the infrastructure of their teams. In the classic Tuckman group theory of Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing, they prefer to skip the “storming” and “norming” phases. They’re uncomfortable – too touchy feely. Let’s just form and perform. Unfortunately, teams can’t sustain performance without storming and norming. The conflict and diversity that characterizes these phases are necessary ingredients for team effectiveness.

In the cycle of team development, the hard work of hammering out rules, roles, boundaries, differences, philosophy, mission, values, and vision is the foundation that supports creativity, exploration, discovery, and innovation. When teammates go out on a limb with a new perspective, they need to know the safety net beneath them is secure. When colleagues manage significant changes in the workplace, they rely on the closeness and collaboration they forged with coworkers to refocus on the road ahead. In short, the discomfort of the touchy-feely stuff eventually becomes the fuel for successful navigation of growth and change.

Take the time to build the foundation by answering these questions as a team. Make sure to allow for respectful conflict and disagreement in the process.

  1. Why do we exist? Why do we believe our work is important?
  2. What do we do? What are the products and services we aspire to deliver?
  3. How do we do it? How do we go about our work that distinguishes us from our peers?
  4. What is our goal? What is our long term vision for the team?

The vision pyramid becomes the filter through which all future actions can be evaluated. It anchors your team’s footing. Once it is in place, feel free to move forward with strategy. Your team’s culture will support it.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.