“The psychologist B.W. Tuckman identified the four stages of a team’s developmental process:

Forming learning to deal with one another.
Storming conflicts are brought to the surface and must be resolved.
Norming team members settle into their roles and a team feeling begins to develop.
Performing the team is united and working on the task at hand.”

Quoted in Why Teams Don’t Work, Harvey Robbins & Michael Finley, Petersons Books, 1995.


Smile & ponder

This is the story about four individuals named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. Anyhow, it ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when actually Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Of course, this confusion would never occur in the workplace if managers adopted and fostered a team approach.


Don’t forget

Teams fail for many reasons, but the most frequent causes are:

  • The team lacks visible support or commitment from management at the top.
  • The team members lack self-discipline and are reluctant to take responsibility for their own actions.
  • The members have received little or no training in team dynamics.
  • The team has focused on the tasks – but not on the interpersonal relationships of members.
  • There are too many people on the team and its structure is shaky.
  • The team has been plagued by poor leadership.

Deborah Harrington-Mackin, The TeamBuilding Tool Kit, AMACOM, NY.



“In an effective team, team spirit has to be created so that the members work for the benefit of the group. To achieve its task the group needs each member, and so it is in the interests of the group to develop the skills of each member… Good individuals do not automatically make a good team until they learn to operate as one.”


People are important

The success of the Japanese management philosophy kaizen, or continuous improvement, helped Western business to rethink the traditional industrial-age organisation. Kaizen is based on viewing the company as a team striving, with the full participation of the rank-and-file, to continuously improve the organisation.

One of the architects of this philosophy was an American, the legendary W Edwards Deming. Upon his return to the United States, Deming was asked what the Japanese had taught him. Without looking up from his dinner, he replied: ‘People are important.’

Harvey Robbins & Michael Finley in Why Teams Don’t Work.


A team in decline

Something is wrong in your administrative team or work group if individuals who have normally been supportive and reasonable start to display the following characteristics:

  • Begin to perform poorly by missing deadlines or producing substandard work.
  • Do not take responsibility for their actions.
  • Get involved in serious and unresolved conflicts.
  • No longer show much interest in team activity.
  • Exhibit destructive criticism or dismissive behaviour towards others in the group.
  • Expect others to solve their problems.

Remember, as the manager, it is your responsibility to observe, diagnose and treat dissaffection, disunity or demotivation.


What makes a good team

In ‘Caught in the Middle: A Leadership Guide for Partnership in the Workplace’, US management consultant Rick Maurer writes that good teams everywhere share certain characteristics. Lack of any of these traits may mean that thew team has problems that aren’t being addressed. In his view team members should:

  • Have fun. Good teams enjoy themselves and working with each other. A lot of smiling and good-natured teasing means members are working well together.
  • Listen well. Team members listen to the opinions and respect the feelings of others.
  • Encourage each other. Members want each other to succeed.
  • Share resources. Team members work co-operatively and share material and information. They don’t hoard nuts for their own use.
  • Pitch in. Team members fill in for each other and share the burden because they understand that work must get done for the sake of the organisation.

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