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 "Team Development"




Decision Making

Reaching a Consensus as a team

Growth Stages of Team development

Stage 1 - Forming

Stage 2 - Storming

Stage 3 - Norming

Stage 4 - Performing

The Productivity Curve

Team Assessment

Stepping up to Team Leadership



Decision Making





Organizations use a variety of methods for making decisions.  The appropriateness of any one method depends greatly on the situation in which the decision must be made.  Some of the more common methods for making decisions include autocratic, democratic, consensus and unanimous.



The decision is made by one individual.  This individual is often the person in charge, the manager or supervisor.  This individual could also be a technical expert.



The democratic method of decision making is very common.  It is also called majority rule.  Voting is usually the way it is accomplished.  In simple form, everyone gets a vote.  The issue, idea, or person with the most votes wins.



Unanimous decision making means that everyone agrees that the best possible decision has been made.  This is different from consensus where some group members may feel the best decision has not been reached, but they do agree to support the decision.



Consensus decision making occurs when all team members are committed to support the decision that has been made.  Consensus does not mean that everyone agrees on the best possible decision - but that they can support the decision reached and do not feel they are compromising their ethics, values or interests in doing so.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Types of Decision Making Strategies




(As few as one person decides)




Low commitment from non-participants


(More than half of team decides)




Low commitment from "losers"


(All agree on the decision)


High commitment, fast implementation


Often slow, and can overlook other options


(All commit to carry out decision)


High creativity, high commitment


Takes time, patience, and facilitation skills



Reaching a Consensus as a team


Consensus decision making is a method which requires the dedicated involvement of all team members. In reaching consensus, it is helpful for all team members to consider the following criteria:


  • I've heard your position;
  • I believe you have heard my position;
  • The decision does not compromise my values and ethics;
  • I can support the proposed decision.



  • A work crew agrees to support new process changes
  • A team establishes a set of operating guidelines



  • Assures that there is open debate of all issues and ideas and that every team member has a chance to provide input. 
  • Complex decisions are well thought out resulting in high quality decisions. 
  • All team members support the decision once it is made.


  • The consensus process can be relatively long and challenging. Reaching consensus requires a great deal of communication, patience and understanding of others' views. 
  • Effective facilitation is necessary to assure that all team members have the opportunity to voice their opinions and share their insights.


Steps to Reaching Consensus


The following steps are helpful when reaching consensus as a team.


1)   Define the decision to be made as a team

      This can be accomplished by simply stating the purpose of the decision and alternatives available.


2)   Gather information

      This may require postponing the decision long enough to get the information needed to consider all aspects of the issue.


3)   Prepare your own thoughts regarding the issue

      You should know how you feel on a given issue before discussing it as a team.


4)   Share your thoughts with your team

      Be sure that you express your thoughts and feelings with your team members.


5)   Listen to the views of others on the team

      Allow others to fully express their views and try to understand their perspective.


6)   Make a decision as a team

      Reaching consensus as a team requires that you concentrate on reaching a decision that everyone can support.


7)   Implement and support the decision as a team

      Once made, everyone on the team must take ownership for the decision and do all they can to see that it is successfully implemented.


Helpful Hints to Remember When Trying to Reach a Consensus

  • Be prepared to discuss the issues Do your homework and be prepared to explain your position. If everyone does this, the best decision is easier to make.
  • Stay focused on the purpose of the decision

    It is easy to let the discussion get off track.  Side discussions only confuse the decision making process.
  • Say what is on your mind and take responsibility for being heard

    To speak up is an important responsibility of each team member.

  1. Listen so that you understand others

    Listening is critical to consensus decision making. Each team member must listen to the other in order to fully understand each member's point of view.
  • Consider differing opinions as helpful to making a quality decision

    The objective is to make a quality decision. Differing points can add to the  quality.
  • Avoid the urge to wrap things up too soon

     Make sure that everyone has been heard and that all points have been considered.
  • Don't be afraid to address conflict

      Conflict can help to assure that a quality decision is reached.  Make sure, however,

that the conflict is centered on the issues at hand and not the people involved.

  • Confront ideas and issues, not people

    Keep the discussion focused on the issues.
  • Work for a quality decision and not just your preferred choice

    This requires that team members be flexible and open to new ideas.
  • Agree to the final decision only if you feel you can fully support it

    Be honest about what you think. If you know you will not support a decision,       don't pretend you will.
  • Keep an open mind to new ideas and suggestions

    What you think and what you feel are important not only to the quality of a decision, but also to the quality of the implementation.



Growth Stages of Team development



A team, like a living thing, changes over time.  At birth, the team has no clear sense of itself as an independent unit.  Then, over time, it undergoes four predictable stages of growth.  As the team matures, members gradually learn to cope with the emotional and group pressures they face.  As a result, the team goes through four fairly predictable stages; Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.  Forming and Storming typically occur during the first group meeting while norming and performing occur by the second.

The duration and intensity of these stages vary from team to team.  Use the descriptions here to compare your team with the normal pattern for maturing groups.  Understanding these stages of growth will keep you from overreacting to normal problems and setting unrealistic expectations that only add to frustration.  Don't panic.  With patience and effort this assembly of independent individuals will grow into a team.


Stage 1 - Forming

As a team first begins to meet, members cautiously explore the boundaries of acceptable group behavior.  Like hesitant swimmers, they stand by the pool, dipping their toes in the water.  This is a stage of transition from individual to member status, and of testing the leader's guidance both formally and informally.   At the "forming" stage, the group will have a lot of positive expectations.  They will be eager to get started on their tasks.  The leader at this stage should try to emphasize procedural matters.


Stage 2 - Storming

Feelings of panic and fear of the unknown characterize the "storming" phase.  Storming is often the most difficult stage for the team.  Storming usually occurs during the first meeting; right after people have had a minute to get acquainted with their situation.  People begin to realize the task is different and more difficult than they imagined.  They can become testy, blameful, and overzealous.  People begin to act as if they've fallen into the ocean and are drowning.  They begin "thrashing about".


Stage 3 - Norming

During this stage, members reconcile competing loyalties and responsibilities.  They accept the team, the team ground rules (or "norms"), their roles in the team, and the individuality of fellow members.  Emotional conflict is reduced, as previously competitive relationships become more co-operative.  In other words, as team members realize they are not going to drown, they stop thrashing about and start helping each other stay afloat.  "Norming" should begin occurring around the time of your groups second meeting.



Stage 4 - Performing

By the "Performing" stage, the team has settled into its relationships and expectations.  They can begin performing, diagnosing and solving problems, and choosing and implementing changes.  "Performing" usually occurs during the second meeting right after people begin to feel more settled.  During the "Performing" stage, the group takes a more positive and eager attitude.  Their productivity and ability to work autonomously has improved.  Members go out of their way to help each other.  They take pride in the group's accomplishments.  All members contribute and the leader no longer has "special status".



The Productivity Curve







Team Assessment

Directions:  This short assessment will help you evaluate how well your team is working together.  Statements 1 through 10 are traits of effective teams, as a group.  For each statement, circle the number indicating how little or how much you think the statement applies to your team.


 Strongly Disagree



Strongly Agree


1.  The team knows exactly what it has to do to get the project done.







2. Team members get a lot of   encouragement for new ideas.







3.  Team members freely express their real views.







4.  Every team member has a clear idea of the team's goals.







5.  Everyone is involved in the decisions we have to make.










6.  We tell each other how we are feeling.










7.  All team members respect each other.










8.  The feelings among team members tend to pull us together.










9.  Everyone listens to each member's











10. There is very little bickering among team members.














Supervisory Leadership

Participative Leadership









Build trust and

 inspire teamwork





Get input

for decisions


Facilitate and support

team decisions





Develop individual performance


Expand team







group effort


Create a

team identity








Make the most of

team differences



to change





Foresee and

influence change


Baseline Skills For Team Members


  • Building trust and teamwork.



  • Training and coaching other people.
  • Active listening.

  • Orienting new team members.
  • Learning a new technical skill.

  • Giving constructive feedback.
  • Making sound group decisions on both big-picture and local nitty-gritty information.

  • Getting your point across.
  • Analyzing processes and finding opportunities for improvement.

  • Resolving issues with others.
  • Dealing with changes.
  • Using a basic problem-solving process.


  • Keeping others informed.



  • Finding needed help.
  • Using problem-solving tools and techniques.

  • Winning support from others.
  • Participating in problem-solving sessions.
  • Using group interaction tools (to avoid group-think, handle differences of opinion, etc.).


  • Leading problem-solving sessions.



  • Planning.
  • Identifying customer expectations.

  • Securing recourses.
  • Handling customer dissatisfactions.
  • Addressing performance issues with other team members.


  • Recognizing the efforts of others.





The Tortoise and the Hare.pdf