February 1, 2017
What stage are you and your team at? Honeymoon, Storming, or Norming?
Donna Bates, from On Point! Strategy, and founding partner of The Lab Factory says that in all big projects there are three distinct phases to start up. The Honeymoon Phase, The Storming Phase, and The Norming Phase. It’s important to understand that these are all normal, and part of working on a project.
The Honeymoon Stage is the beginning of a collaboration where everyone is excited and full of big ideas and big dreams. It’s the “falling in love” stage where team members grows a commitment to a project. There is a sense of euphoria and often creativity flows freely. Nothing seems impossible! It is also a time when members are likely to be the most willing to take bigger risks. Team members begin to get to know each other and understand the strengths that each person bring.
With more willing risk taking and high levels of creativity, this is the time to capitalise on building the big ideas such as mission, vision and values for your project as well as your visual brand identity.
The Storming Stage is where conflicts of personality, differing opinions, stress from workloads, and general unrest occurs. This stage is so important because it is in this stage that real meat of a project is accomplished. During this stage your team is tackling the hard questions, and often not everyone agrees. Because of this the storming stage can be the most trying.
On an individual level, this is also the time where team members have some of the most personal growth. Some of the cause of storming is due to the personal growth happening with each of the individuals as they are growing and up-skilling as the project develops. We as humans naturally like things to stay status quo, and when we are forced to make changes there is always some level of resistance to that no matter how self-aware we are. Knowing that this stage is normal allows everyone on the team to embrace the conflict and wrestle through the hard conversations that lead to great project growth as well as personal growth.
The Storming Stage is a good time for team members to capitalise on their strengths and learn from others strength. As a project, it is also the time to start precisely defining outcomes, individual rolls, and project scope.
The Norming Stage is when the project equalises and the new normal begins ticking along. The Norming Stage is where all the hard work starts to pay off. The seed of an idea that you began with has broken through the ground and the first tiny shoots of new growth appear above. All the hard work from the Storming Stage means that individuals have started to flourish in their new roles.
The Norming Stage is the time to build good systems and procedures, and most importantly stick to them. This is the time to hold strong boundaries around procedures and expectations, as it is these habits that will become your projects modus operandi moving forward.
Being aware of these stages means that as you and your team move through each phase, there is a confident expectation that the project is moving forward. Each phase brings it challenges, but the sooner those challenges are embraced, the faster you can move through them to the next growth point.
Also, remember that as a project matures these same three phase will continue to show themselves, even if it is at a more micro level. So, next time you have a big blow out or disagreement with a colleague instead of fearing that conflict, embrace it as there’s a good chance that it’s just a sign post showing you that you are moving forward.