When I heard that the topic for the Carnival of HR was beginnings, this seemed pretty topical for me, being six weeks into a new job.

I’m sure that you will already be familiar with Tuckman’s stages of group development; forming, storming, norming and performing. If not, follow the link: for a quick summary. This has been the focus of my last few weeks: the beginnings of a new team.

In just six short weeks we are zooming through the theoretical stages. We got the forming out of the way in the first week or so. We were polite, guarded, sounding each other out. Then we did a little storming. Sitting in a room and saying what we thought and felt about where we were today. As the theory suggests, it was a little bit painful at times. Not everyone liked what was said, not everyone was comfortable. But we drew the fabled line in the sand, but for the most part we’ve moved on. I hope.

One of the things that has been critical in our beginning has been the power of getting to know each other. Sharing who we are, our values and drivers, beliefs and triggers. It’s a long process but we have made a start. All those articles and books about being a team, building a team? If you want a team, and you want to get to the performing stage in Tuckman’s theory, then I believe trust comes first. It is your foundation. And to trust me they have to know me.

I took the opportunity to ask my team today what it had been like for them waiting for a new manager to turn up. How they felt on the run up, and what it has been like for them while we have been working through the kind of team we want to be. Two themes came through. The first was being in a vacuum. Waiting, hanging around, not wanting to start something new that the new boss would then come in and criticise, change or tear up. A limbo state. The other theme was described as ‘waiting for Christmas day’. There is a date that gets nearer and nearer. You have a mental list of what you ‘d like to get, but you have to wait to see if it is everything that you hoped it would be, or whether it will be a packet of embroidered handkerchiefs from Marks and Spencer’s. Here’s sincerely hoping I’m not the latter.

As the leader of a team, I believe authenticity is fundamental. I don’t have a work me and a home me, there is just the total me. I’ll admit that when I put my One Direction calendar up in the office (a gift one from one of the HR team) along with my #punkhr poster (courtesy of Simon Heath) it raised the odd eyebrow. But these things are who I am. There have been dozens of books written about making your first weeks in a new job effective, and I’m not proposing to add to this long list. I will say just one thing only. If you have a new beginning, be yourself. As Oscar Wilde said, everyone else is already taken.

Image, as usual, by the fantastic Graham Smith @AATImage.


1 thought on “Foundations

  1. Another brilliant write (how do you do it?). Fundamental to team performance is trust – you can’t get it without some honesty. Thankyou Gemma.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s