Team dynamics according to Bruce Tuckman: what the experience of submariners teaches us

    In the last video, we talked about the fact that the team should have a mammoth - a common shared goal that can only be achieved by everyone together. But just goals are not enough, because after the formation of the team, sociological effects come into play.

    And here the American psychologist Bruce Tuckman came to our aid, who happened to examine thousands of teams commissioned by the US Department of Defense. The military tried to understand how submarine crews would behave autonomously. Would anyone want to quit? Or is there to show the captain a black mark?

    Based on these studies, Tuckman formulated his concept, which we now gratefully use:

    And here it is necessary to recall a few stories from real life ...

    I first heard the Tuckman model in 2005, when we, a group of Intel managers, were taken to a 5-day training in Ireland. They locked in a hotel near some medieval castle, tormented by training from 8:00 to 20:00 and Guinness after 20:00.

    Since then, the model seems native and close, but damn it - every time it is amazing to observe its manifestations in real life! You put two smart people to work together. It would seem that here is an intelligent person and here is an intelligent person. Well, you work for the good of the fatherland and specifically the capitalist company. So no - let us first have a fight, and only then maybe (not always!) Work! :)


    Tuckman is a genius. A group always goes through these 4 phases to reach maximum performance. All we can do is to make the right managerial actions in each phase in order to speed up the transition to the Performing phase.

    Interestingly, the intensity and duration of the Storming phase are often laid at the stage of team formation. And about this there are a couple of thoughts and stories from life that we think are worth discussing.

    On the impact of people selection on team building

    For example, there is a key difference in interviewing. Somewhere only the team manager conducts interviews, somewhere the team members are invited to interview newcomers. There is a difference between “I hired a real Java engineer here” and “Yes, we agree to work with this guy.” In the first case, you may want to check the beginner for all sorts of different things, in the second - no.

    The choice is a very interesting thing. Maybe remember. How did football teams form in childhood? Two boys come out with the ball - the captains. And they begin to take turns choosing players.

    And here you are, and you really want to be chosen. But they don’t choose you. And finally! Someone alone says: come to me. Automatically you begin to experience some positive emotions (appreciated!), And other emotions to the second captain (right now, we will tear you!).

    An example from life. Five years ago, I realized that I could not cope with the paperwork. I’ll indicate the wrong legal entity, then God forbid I’ll be mistaken in the total - in general, it’s not mine. And there were more and more contracts - there was a need to hire an administrative assistant.

    How to hire them is unclear. I hired programmers, testers. More precisely. The recruiting department sent them, and I interviewed. And here you work for yourself, and where to look for administrative assistants - God knows him.

    My wife came to the rescue - she posted my small vacancy at the local women's forum.

    The effect exceeded the wildest expectations. I got 50 resumes. I felt like a big employer. Deftly screened a resume, leaving 10 candidates. Held telephone interviews. I didn’t have an office then, so for the whole day I occupied the Cheburechny “Brynza” in Primorskaya metro station for conducting personal interviews. He conducted 8 interviews, and almost burst from chebureks.

    In the end, he took Marina and we started to work. Marina asked for a training to see how this happens.

    And here comes the training: an excellent group, Yota office, 24th floor, glass walls and a view of the Gulf of Finland. We discuss the topic of interviews. Here, I say, I needed to hire an assistant. I had 50 resumes, I selected 10 candidates, conducted such interviews, such interviews. In the end, I decided that I would work with Marina.

    I look, something really clicks in Marina’s eyes. I only later realized that it was probably damn nice to be the best of 50 people.

    PS We are still working successfully with Marina, she is a great job!

    If the choice is made correctly, then the one who was chosen has a completely different attitude to the one who chose it. The one who chose him is actually the reason that a person is in this place. And from this point of view, it is better to be than not to be key members of the team at the interview.

    An example from life. A friend of mine shared this story from his new work:

    The moment from the beginning of the last project. Four people gathered in the room: the chief technical specialist of the office, two local programmer brothers and me. It should be noted that the chief a few years ago was at the head of his own office, which then merged with this. That is, he has a lot of organizational knowledge. So he says: guys, the strongest team that I have seen in this office over the past five years has gathered here today. Because the task is difficult, time is short, the client is important, etc.

    The rest was no longer very important, because it is very nice to be included in the best team. It motivates.

    The cunning manager launched the team so that the guys passed the first three stages of Tuckman very quickly. Proper Forming.

    Jim McCarthy and the reform of the teams below

    In 2006, I ended up at the Jim McCarthy Core Protocols training. Shortly before I did this, I unsuccessfully tried to read Jim’s book “Programming Team Spirit”. The book did not go - either suffered from the translation, or from the author, or the reader was caught. :)

    In general, Jim was once a program manager for the 1st version of MS Visual Studio (I want to find everyone who saw this version :)), and then, together with his wife Michelle, left for consulting and coaching.

    Before the training there were disturbing forebodings of what would happen like with a book. But the company sent, I could not refuse my boss, so I went. The training turned out AWESOME. Some unexpected techniques and teamwork tools, sometimes controversial, but categorically interesting.

    In particular, Jim talked about how he and Michel help companies reorganize.

    Suppose a project of 5 teams ends, and you need to distribute all people in a new project for new teams. How do they usually do it? The chief executive sits down with managers and distributes people to whom. Then comrade Tuckman hiccups on how often people remember the Storming phase.

    The McCarthy family suggests doing otherwise. With management, they figure out which teams in the new project will be, how many people should be in them, and who will be the team manager. Then in the room on the board they write:
    • Front-End, 7 people, manager: Vasechkin
    • Back-End, 4 people, manager: Petechkin
    • Mobile, 4 people, manager: Sashechkin
    • Testing, 6 people, manager: Olechkina
    • System analysts, 3 people, manager: Mashechkina

    Engineers are given a sticker on which they write their name, after which they attach the sticker to the team where they want to work.

    It is argued that the method always works except in one case - if an unsuccessful manager is assigned. In this case, you just need to replace the manager.

    In short, we tested this method twice at Intel. It really works! In some mythical way, people are distributed among teams. But if you think about it, then this is not so surprising. Each engineer can choose:
    • The technological field in which he wants to work
    • The manager he wants to work with
    • Colleagues he wants to work with

    And obviously. this reduces the intensity of Storming and helps the team get started quickly.

    Instead of an afterword

    The Tuckman model is very easy to apply to your past and present to understand where you are now and how your teams have experienced all these phases in the past. We hope that this will be useful.

    If you have your own methods (or stories) about accelerating the formation of teams - write in the comments, or immediately to our story contest .

    And in the next video, we will try to bring together all the tools for working with the team that we own.

    PS Previous articles about management tools:
    1. Management Tools: How to explain when you feel in one place?
    2. Practicing Andragog Tips: How We Learn
    3. Management Instruments: How to Play Nonlinear Chess
    4. Management tools: Why do customers require stupid reports?
    5. Management tools: 5 questions to clarify goals or why do you need a BMW X5?
    6. Management tools: 4 principles of constructive communication or why do we live in a mode of exploit?
    7. Management tools: 4-phase algorithm for solving problems with people or “What do you want if you are such a worthless manager?”
    8. Management tools: How to involuntarily troll the interlocutor and get a minus in karma
    9. Management tools: A set of furniture keys or how to come up with constructive arguments
    10. Management tools: intelligence-card “Formula for working with people”
    11. Management Tools: A Need Formula or How Are We Squeezed?
    12. Management tools: Mammoth as the main principle of team building

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