As you develop from a very simple team to a fully developed team, you add complexity, you add layers, you add specializations. Each development stage allows the team to develop specific competencies. Each stage solves one problem and causes the next problem. If the team skips a stage they are limited in their ability to conquer the next stage of development.
My name is Sari van Poelje. I’m the Director of Intact Academy and of Agile Business Innovation, you can find us online at www.intactacademy.com and www.agilebusinessinnovation.com. We’ve published more than 100 vlogs on individual development, team development, and on agile business innovation. Check out: YouTube
Last time, we talked about the four developmental stages of teams. Like people, teams have stages of development. Each stage solves one problem but causes the next. Also, each stage causes you to learn a specific competency, which means that if you skip a stage, you’ll need to catch up later. As team coaches, we have to know these stages because we’re supporting and challenging development in the team.
The first stage was that the leader was doing everything on their own. If this happens, they have maybe one other person, a partner or family member in there with them. A lot of people get stuck in this stage and the team doesn’t develop beyond that. The good thing about that stage is that you have complete control. You know what you’re doing, you know what you’re doing it for and you don’t need to manage other people. The flip side is that you’re very limited in the volumes you can reach.
You’re limited by your time which is a non-renewable resource. We have approximately 200 days a year in which to work. From that you want to take vacation, you want to sleep, you have a private life. All in all, usually, entrepreneurs have approximately 100-160 days in which to do paid work. The rest of your time is spent on acquisition, on administration, on accreditation of whatever you’re doing. If you’re a mature professional, it’s 160 days. If you’re just starting your business, you have about 110 days in which to really make your money. If you do everything on your own, you can see that 110 days to create the volume and make the big money is more difficult.
Most entrepreneurs start hiring new people in the second stage of team development. These members still keep on going in and out of the team at that phase. The good thing about that stage is you learn how to manage others. You have to start accepting that you’re not the only one doing stuff. You’re gonna have to teach other people to do stuff and also monitor their progress. That’s a very difficult stage for most entrepreneurs.
The role of the team coach is to teach, to help the leader to let go and to focus on managing others instead of doing everything themselves. Also, the leader at that stage has to start focusing on the outside world and leave the inside world of the team to their members. Focusing on the outside world means the leader has to learn how to pitch, how to sell, and to bring new ideas in. That requires a different competency from the early leadership but also from the membership in working more autonomously. This stage could solve part of your problem of volume, but it causes the next problem, which is delegation. It requires additional learning.
In the third stage of development of the team, you start vertical differentiation. You’ve got team leaders in between you and the membership, if you’re the founding leader, and it solves one problem, which is the delegation problem. You can concentrate on this ‘outside in movement’ that you need as a founding team leader, however, it causes the next problem. Your information, your direct link to the work floor, gets cut as a founding member, because now you’re working through team leaders.
At this third stage where you only have vertical differentiation, you will have solved the delegation problem, but it’ll cost you more because suddenly you have team leaders to pay. They cost more than the people on the work floor. It’s an iffy stage. If you do it well, what you learn is to market your product and to do that ‘outside in, inside out movement’ so you create much more revenue. Then the cost of the team leaders in between you and the members isn’t such a problem.
The fourth stage is horizontal differentiation in the membership. You create minor internal boundaries between the members: you now have members who focus on the production, members who focus on improving the sales and marketing, members who focus on customer relationship management. With this, the team leaders now have specializations to manage. It solves one problem, because you can do sequential production. The customer comes in from one direction in the process, goes through the different specializations and goes out through after sales. This creates standardized processes within the team, which is more reliable for the customer. That solves one problem and it causes the next. What happens is that all these specializations start to isolate themselves, with a view to create autonomy within the specialization. This means that the view of the whole production cycle, the whole customer journey, gets cut between the different specializations. It means you have to make an extra effort to create cross functional cooperation. As well as managing top down, you also have to make sure that the members themselves start to manage amongst each other. You need to focus on creating a cooperation contract. As a team coach, you can teach people to do that.
As you can see, yes, you go from a very simple team to a fully developed team. You add complexity, you add layers, you add specializations. Each stage solves one problem and causes the next problem. At each stage, the team has to learn a different competency, and that’s where team coaches come in.