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Weathering the Storms in Team Development

The biggest challenges team’s face are usually the unaddressed interpersonal conflicts and internal discrepancies that seem too intimidating to talk about. Challenges such as athletes gossiping behind teammates’ backs to create social cliques or athletes and coaches ridiculing one another to other members of the team or staff build more conflict that directs attention away from the team’s success. If left alone, this can lead to the deterioration of the team. Many times coaches and athletes choose not to bring the interpersonal problems up in front of the team because they either think that the problem will dissolve naturally or that talking about them will bring about more problems. Usually the conflict works its way through the team in exactly the opposite way.

The Toughest Stage: Storming

The stage of team development that we are discussing is called the “storming” stage in the Tuckman (1965) model of team development. It’s a natural stage of team development that all need to work through in order to become successful. The sooner conflicts and discrepancies are tackled head on, the sooner the team can move into norming behavior and practices that approach high level performance. Storming may be resolved quickly or may not be at all. Tension often develops as a result of unresolved storming and leadership of the team is often questioned in terms of what the team is working toward and how they are working toward it. For example, a team may question whether or not they will win the state championship or even the next game if they are not running specific systems and tactical drills that they think are important. Sometimes more senior members of the team may even question the commitment of the younger members or vice versa which starts interpersonal conflict.

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