Effective teamwork is an essential factor of improved performance in organizations. According to Tuckman and Jensen (2010), in their development, groups usually pass several important stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Depending on the stage, teams and groups demonstrate unique organizational features. Unfortunately, not all groups can successfully meet their organizational and team objectives. The reasons behind poor teamwork are numerous and varied.
These include but are not limited to the absence of shared protocols, the lack of task congruence, leadership failures, and ineffective distribution of team roles and responsibilities. As a mechanic in the U.S. Army, I was able to develop my own vision of teamwork. The U.S. Army operates as a complex network of teams and organizational systems that strive to achieve a common strategic goal.
Regardless of the job, everyone working for the U.S. Army must develop collective responsibility and a shared understanding of the Army’s mission, to be able to meet its goals and cope with all workplace responsibilities and tasks.
The Tuckman model
The Tuckman model of group development is a unique instrument of evaluating the quality and efficiency of teams’ performance. I must say that I am a mechanic working for the U.S. Army, where most, if not all, workplace achievements and successes depend on the quality of teamwork. Everything done in the Army is impossible without teamwork, which demands confidence, trust, cooperation, and collaboration within and between the units.
Collective commitment to the Army values, personal integrity, and respect toward other team members are vital for the success of military and non-military operations in the U.S. Army. Therefore, it is essential that teams monitor progress and performance at different stages of their development. Based on the results of the Tuckman test, our team is at the norming stage of group development. The Tuckman model suggests that the norming stage is associated with the growing effectiveness of the team.
At this stage, the team demonstrates increased cohesion and collaboration, appreciation of differences and emerging trust, open communication, strengthening relationships, and constructive feedback (Office of Human Resources, 2010). All these features are characteristic of the team in which I currently work.
The results of the Tuckman analysis
However, the results of the Tuckman test should be treated with caution. First, that our team is at the norming stage of group development does not mean that the group is fully efficient and productive. The fact that our team is multicultural has far-reaching implications for its performance. I fully agree with Dunkel and Meierewert (2004) in that “managers who know the cultural values of their employees can be able to predict more precisely the attitudes of their employees towards self-management or teams” (p.150).
Unfortunately, our leaders cannot always recognize the existing cross-cultural differences but impose the same set of values on all team members. Second, the Tuckman model of group development is not perfect by itself.
Tuckman and Jensen (2010) recognize that the model was not empirically tested. Therefore, the results of the Tuckman test can be used only as a recommendation for improvement. As our team develops, it will acquire new, unique features which will help us to improve the efficiency of our operations and organizational decisions.
The U.S. Army operates as a complex network of teams, groups, and systems that work to achieve a common strategic goal. Everything done in the Army is impossible without teamwork. Based on the results of Tuckman test, our team is currently at the norming stage of its development. Such teams display increased cohesion and collaboration, open communication, emerging trust, and constructive feedback. Unfortunately, that our team was able to achieve the norming stage of development does not mean that it is fully productive.
Cross-cultural differences present a serious challenge to the quality and efficiency of our team’s performance. As our team develops, it will acquire new, unique features which will help us to improve the efficiency of our operations and organizational decisions.
Dunkel, A. & Meierewert, S. (2004). Culture standards and their impact on teamwork – An empirical analysis of Austrian, German, Hungarian and Spanish culture differences. Journal for East European Studies, 9(2), 147-173.
Office of Human Resources. (2010). Norming: The third stage of group development. University of Minnesota. Web.
Tuckman, B. W. & Jensen, M. A. (2010). Stages of small-group development revisited. Group & Organization Management, 2(4), 419-427.