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Storming - a stage of friction and conflict

Who is in charge? How will we do this?

· team,to-sort

This stage is perhaps an early test of whether the team has the ability to be a high performing one.

Giesen and Osborne (2008) believe that teams that can effectively manage conflict at this stage move on to a 'good' norming stage.

Teams that do not effectively manage conflict here move into a 'bad' norming stage where team development stalls and dysfunction may set in.

The types of things that the team might ask at this stage are:

  • Who is in charge?,
  • How will we do this?

You might be asking yourself at this stage: Will I be respected?

During this stage team members need to know that:

  • their team leader is not afraid to address team conflict,
  • there are processes to address and resolve differences within the team,
  • the team is committed to creating and maintaining a work environment that fosters teamwork and allows for open communication,
  • support will be provided to help any team member who needs to develop their skills to allow them to work more effectively within the team, and
  • all members will be held to the same expectations of behaviour and work standards (Giesen & Osborne, 2008).

If a team has difficulty moving from this to the 'norming' stage it may be that:

  • the team has a a conflict-averse leader,
  • there are too many 'hot-button' issues that have been left unaddressed for too long and
  •  the unresolved nature of these is harming interpersonal relationships between team members, and/or
  • team members lack the ability to talk through conflict (Giesen & Osborne, 2008).