March '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 M A R C H P R I N T W E A R 7 5 Your Personal Business Trainer BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Handle this issue proactively. Explain the difference between consensus and com- promise before it becomes a battleground. Have the team experience several win-win successes on minor topics before tackling the weightier ones. THE PHASES OF TEAMS Have you ever observed a team that, on pa- per, had all the talents and skills necessary to succeed but fell short of their goal? The 2018 San Francisco Giants and New York Mets immediately come to my mind. Here are two teams that languished in medioc- rity and failure while their salaries and past accomplishments should have produced winning ball clubs. How did that happen? In the 1960s, Corsaire, a French behavior- al scientist, studied the dynamic phases of various teams. He noticed common stages that every team experiences from its incep- tion, through its challenges, and ultimately to the team's completion of its mission. He observed four distinct stages of team development: • Forming • Storming • Norming • Performing A newly assigned team will quite natu- rally pass through the forming stage while individuals first transition into team mem- bers. When the chemistry of a team signif- icantly changes with the addition of new members and resignation of others, even an old, well-established team may have to revisit this stage. During forming, the team leader should expect a below average amount of produc- tivity as members feel their way around the new environment. Trust and leadership are key issues at this point of team devel- opment. If confusion and dependence on the leader for direction persist, the team may eventually disband for lack of inter- est or accomplishment. When members are assigned to teams rather than volun- teering their services, "abandoning a sinking ship" is a likely possibility. And, remember, some people quit and leave, while some quit and stay. The latter is the kiss of death for any team. The next natural stage of team development is storming. Team members engage in conflict, sometimes for conflict's sake. Team leaders should anticipate such team mem- ber behavior as infighting, defensiveness, territorial tendencies, and competition. When the focus is directed toward the personalities of the team rather than the task at hand, storming can be destructive. However, there is something to be said for expressing one's opinion passionately. I would prefer hearing conviction in a team member's voice to an apathetic "uh-huh." When storming occurs, channel the group's energy toward the project. Remind them of the mission and their responsibilities as a team member. Acknowledge the energy exhib- ited by the rabble-rouser but be careful not to reward the means they used to express their displeasure. It seems counter-intuitive to say that if your team does not engage in storming, then stir the pot a bit. Make a check of the team's commitment to meeting the deadline by rattling a few cages and forcing people to take a stand on an issue. If the team leader observes a laissez-faire attitude toward the project, perhaps the team has slipped into the "silent killer" stage of norming. Sometimes, team leaders are hesitant to intervene when productivity is good, but not great, and the word of the day among the team is "harmony at all costs." Norming is not a bad thing, especially after an extended period of storming. But, eventu- ally, the status quo and settling for "good enough" won't yield results much better than before the team was formed. If a team is going to get stuck in a particular stage, better it be the performing phase. Per- forming is characterized by maximum productivity through synergy. Team members begin confusing work with fun. You know the team is in the performing stage when sub-groups can be formed to handle minor tasks, and the opinions of the non-attending members are accurately represented. Workgroups at this stage view autonomy as a reward and expect it from the organization. AWARENESS IS THE FIRST STEP A good manager or owner will take the time to become a student of the behavior of indi- viduals as team members. Let's face it. The thing that sets supervisors apart is their assumed responsibility of understanding past actions, assessing present performance, and accurately predicting the future behavior of their people. Become aware of the issues surrounding the formation of teams and stay at least one step ahead of any roadblocks. Share your concern with team leaders and members. Most impor- tantly, ask more questions than doling out directives. It will be your best bet to getting team members to "buy into" the team building process. Good luck! PW Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated and promotional apparel industries. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is presently an independent consultant to various apparel decorating businesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to continued from page 13

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