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Importance of Teamwork

‘’To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless." Mike Krzyzewski

Throughout my time in sport (and to some extend business), I have been part of and observed many teams and have seen teams become successful, have seen teams break from within and teams created within teams as they feel this is the only option for them to keep operating.

For me being part of a team is the most important thing and also is rewarding in a number of ways. However, creating an excellent group dynamic that works and contributes to success takes time and more importantly effort from all involved.

In 1965, Psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed a memorable phrase that you may have heard before which is "forming, storming, norming, and performing". This phrase was used to describe the path that most teams follow on their way to high performance. A fifth stage, "adjourning" (which is sometimes known as "mourning") was added some years later.

Although this article was written over some 50 years ago the key elements still ring true:-

A team has to form, whether that be the start of a new season, two clubs combining, or selection for a national team. This is also linked to when anything changes within the team such as a new player, a new staff member etc. This is also the first part of teamwork and it is important that common goals and aims are discussed and mutually agreed as this provides the foundation to which to build.

Storming relates to the many ups and downs you have as a new team. Sure there will be friction but it also it a really good learning opportunity to get to know how each team member works on good days and bad days and this can only strengthen the team. Focusing on what can come out of a negative situation can have an impact on how you view and adapt your mindsets and make this stage more enjoyable than just thinking it’s all negative.

Norming is the stage when things start to settle down and there are not as many peaks and troughs that had previously occurred. Some teams never reach this stage but with the right support and understanding of a common goal this stage is very satisfying to be involved with.

When teams reach the performing stage there is little that needs to be done to keep the team being as effective as it can be. It might be time to add more goals or add further definition to what you want in the long term.

The fifth stage is adjourning and this doesn’t often happen in sport teams but the easiest way of explaining this is when individuals or coming out of different age groups, looking to change teams, retiring from sport. Any situation where you are leaving something you have been part of and enjoyed being part of can be difficult comprehend. Therefore support should be offered and in place early to help with this transition.

Teams can go in and out of these stages, can remain in certain stages for years but once you understand the fundamentals of group dynamics and how teams are created it is easier to see where you want to go and put an action plan in place to get to where you want to go.

A recent tweet from @SportPsychTips read: A good team culture creates positive peer pressure, where players do the right thing because that’s what everyone else does.

I believe in this as I always think a successful team knows when to work as a team and when it is healthy to have your own space. It is important to understand and keep going back to what the common goals were in the first place, that way when the success comes you can reflect on your journey and what it took to get to there.

There is a massive power in a team that works together vs a number of individual working together under a team name. Build your foundations, put in the effort and you will see the benefits and only grow from these experiences.

If any teams or individuals who work with a team behind them feel that they would benefit from support in helping to develop, build or create a positive group dynamic please get in touch, I would love to hear from you and see what I can do to support you.

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