Navigating Tuckman’s Stages: Leading Groups from Forming to High Performing Post #5

Continued from an earlier blog entry:

Stage Three – Active Norming

As an active leader, if you have followed our guidance, you have already established “norms” by now of inclusion, dispersed participation, and of calmly and intentionally surfacing differences. There will always be some norms in any group that the members are unaware of, but taking an active role makes it far more likely that the norms in your group will support high performance, whereas a passive approach might lead to performance barriers such as members being alienated and under-utilized, or important topics being avoided. Besides the norms we have already covered, there are others which consistently support high group and organizational performance. The “Characteristics of Healthy and Unhealthy Systems” chart, from our founder Robert P. Crosby’s “Solving the Crosswork Puzzle,” illustrates such norms (for example, regarding Influence is there “None” or an “Appropriate” amount? Is Management “Frantic” or “centered?” More of these norms are mentioned below). I can’t post the chart here due to wordpresses format, so if you would like a copy please contact me.

These characteristics apply to groups as well as to whole systems. For the purpose of your group, it’s very important that you have clear and aligned sponsorship from every boss that has a member in the group. This sponsorship should be traced to a single point in the organization (the initiating sponsor) to the extent possible (trickier, if not all members are from the same organization for example). The measurable outcomes to be achieved by the group must also be clear and understood by all members and all bosses sponsoring a group member. This work on clarity and alignment is often minimized or even skipped, and if so, always resulting in a significant barrier to the group achieving its goals.

Hand in hand with sponsorship alignment, and again often neglected, is role clarity (including time commitment/management) and consequence management if group members and/or their superiors fail to support needed and agreed upon activity. The initiating sponsor must monitor these dynamics and overall progress if they want the group to succeed. The ability to monitor and the likelihood of progress depend on yet another of the characteristics graphed above: a commitment to single point accountability for decisions and tasks (who will do and decide what by-when). Further decision clarity, such as who needs to be consulted prior to key decisions, and who needs to be informed, is also vital (for more on decision making clarity, see “Stage Four,” below). This clarity must be driven both by the team leader and the initiating sponsor.

Along with inclusion, dispersed participation, and constructive management of conflict, the above are minimum norms necessary if you want your group to succeed. If not, why bother forming the group in the first place?

Next segment: Stage Four – High Performance/Self Renewing Activities

About crosbyod

Crosby & Associates OD is a catalyst for high performance & morale. Our methods are a unique blend grounded in research and decades of experience. In the spirit of Kurt Lewin, the founder of OD, as we partner with you in the present we transfer our methods to you so you are independent in the future. Learn more at
This entry was posted in Leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s