Is Your Team Performing or Storming?

When there’s a lack of harmony on a team, chances are everyone is aware of it on some level, even if it’s just a vague sense of something’s not quite right. It could be really bad, palpable even from a distance – there could be internal turmoil, talking behind colleagues’ backs (which is never as secret as you might think it is), unrest, and open unhappiness. Or maybe communication just isn’t as smooth as it could be. There are hurdles like not being able to or wanting to talk face to face, digital communication dwelling awkwardly in the mystery tone-zone (was that sarcastic? mean? too informal?), or the relationships are professional but not much more than that.

I’m on multiple teams, and right now, not one of them is in the sweet spot. It stinks. It feels discordant, unsafe, and in the case of the team I manage, it feels like failure.

The four stages of team development as explored by my favorite leadership development tool, Officevibe, identifies the journey teams make in the course of change.

The difficulty the teams I’m apart of have had is that change is almost a near constant part of our workflow. We adaptably respond to the company’s needs and alter teams where need be. Just when it looks like we’re getting to “Norming” or if we’re lucky, “Performing” we have a change or a blow that sets us back to “Storming”.

“Storming”, what can be interpreted as dysfunctional teamwork, includes negative attitudes, competition, and breakdowns in communication.

My teams are storming. (Hi, teams, I love you, please trust in me!)

On one team, I can see as clearly as the words on the page the causes of our storms – staffing changes, work-life balance obstacles, and as ever, our ongoing Sysophisian challenge of figuring out how to effectively communicate with one another. Things are getting done, people are doing their own thing, but there isn’t harmony.

On my other stormy team, there’s distrust, competitive leadership, uncertainty, and complex relationships. It’s also, at times, highly effective. It’s the type of stormy team that when the clouds clear, they can accomplish some beautiful things – it can’t rain all the time! But it’s spring in Wisconsin, so, yeah, it rains.

Are you a member or leader of a stormy team? What’s to be done?

  • Know it: I know it. I am a leader of and member of teams that are forming, growing, feeling the pressure, and are sometimes storming. The first step is to accept it.
  • Don’t do nothing: Inaction and compliance are the safe and easy ways to let dysfunction win the day on teams. As a manager, I need to own it and work with my team to get to norming and performing. As a team member, I need to hold my peers accountable and not be complicit in behavior that holds the team back.
  • Get uncomfortable: I’m a highly self-conscious, sensitive, new and inexperienced manager. I’m pretty uncomfortable all the time. But, knowing my team is storming, and in part storming because of my role, I need to put myself out there, hear things that will suck to hear, and adapt to meet the needs of my employees, meet our team’s objectives, and grow as a leader – this is also true in my peer group – one’s got to lead by example!

Easier said than done, right? I know it.

We all want happy, healthy, and high functioning teams – if any of those 3 things are off, it’s time to check in and see what you can do as a peer and leader to get your teams from storming to performing.

How to Draft Your Dream Team

Summer is slowly slipping into fall, bringing cooler weather, pumpkin spice flavored everything, and unequivocally most important: the return of football season. As it happens, more of my coworkers than not are avid some-kind-of-sports fans. This lends itself to some (mostly) friendly competition in the form of fantasy football leagues.  

As is customary, to kickoff (pun intended) a fantasy league of the football variety, one must participate in the draft. For those who may not know what this entails, the brief version is that you gather in person or online with your former friends, now opponents and veritable enemies, and pull together from the available players as perfect a team as possible.  

Fantasy aside, back in our work environment, we’ve been slowly but surely crafting our own ideal teams. I pride myself, and every cohort of mine, on our ability to adapt and power through difficult days and second-rate situations. Being short staffed and overwhelmed is never in anyone’s game plan – you don’t plan your star players getting literally injured, having babies, or moving to new cities. But strategically adding quality players to the team who are equally equipped to handle whatever problem may crop up? That’s how you rise to the top week after week and take home the prize at the end of each season. 

What kind of players am I drafting to my team? 

  1. The QB: I’m going to want, scratch that, need a good quarterback. They’ve got to be the backbone of the team, know every play forward and backward and in their sleep, and always be ready to roll. 

I want that in the leader of my work team, too. They should have the skinny on everything going on with the crew, day in and day out. They can problem solve on the fly, and the team can be confident that if we’re stuck in a sticky situation they can guide us through it. I’ll need to be able to trust them to lead us to victory and stop at nothing to get us and keep us there. 

  1. Go-To WR: Of course, my quarterback is going to need someone to pass the ball to. A good wide receiver is ready to go long, get a solid grip on the ball, and score. 

Similarly, on the team we need people to go the distance. Someone who is willing to go the extra mile whenever necessary, whether that be for a coworker or a customer or someone who’s just dialed the wrong number and got us instead, on each and every phone call and sale and interaction they have. 

  1. The RB: I’m certainly looking for a strong running back to take the handoffs and screen passes and who can stay on their toes, all the while shaking off defenders while gaining every yard they can. 

The sheer versatility of this position is important in any capacity. Knowing I have a team member I can trust to handoff something I’m working on when I’m out, being able to send someone a call or an email when I’m slammed with an overflowing email inbox, and hustle when an order is extra time critical.  

  1. D-D-D-DefenseAnd last but absolutely not least, I need a defense who can block all of the opposition’s attempts to score. 

Luckily, when my work team and I are up against any competitive advances, I can count on any of them to step up and block for me. If it means that we’re in a better collective position, they’re always willing to take a hit so we can keep barreling towards the goal line. 

I like to think I’ve drafted a robust and capable team, both in my fantasy football world and in my work world too. Since we’ve added a whole new slew of players here, I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m already seeing these qualities across the roster.  

The next time you’re looking to draft a new team member to whatever team you may be building, taking some external cues from unlikely places (like a competitive ESPN online league) might take you in the right direction. 

When The Reman Runner reflects on her ideal work team, she’s reminded of some tried and true lessons in team building – and drafting – from fall’s favorite fanfare: fantasy football. The result? A versatile group ready to jump in when needed and to defend the team no matter what. Who would you draft #1? Comment below or reach out to Rani directly.

How to Do Impossible Things

49 hours and 17 minutes ago, 13 of my peers and I were beginning a challenge that was physically and mentally impossible. Broken into teams of 2, 7 on each team, we were to follow orders and perform various dreadful movements at the command of Navy Seal Special Ops Veterans. We had all trained hard for 8 weeks prior. Nobody knew what we were up against, yet we all showed. Much of the event was hush hush leading up to the big day. I can only speak for myself, but the secrecy caused much anxiety, fear, diminished excitement and possible night-before-bed-wetting. Not my picture-perfect Saturday morning, but I had made a commitment and I was going with a great group of people. I was not going to let them down by bailing out. They were counting on me. I was counting on them.  

The week leading up to the event was filled with office chatter about the upcoming “death race.” Were we really prepared for whatever torture was going to be thrown our way? Was the secrecy really just mental manipulation to cause confusion and destabilize the group?  Was this really worth it, just to spend a day with the same people I see every other day?   

To sum it up:  

  • Maybe (no one died). 
  • Hell no (had I known, I probably would have stayed in bed). 
  • You’re damn right it was! 

I walked into this scared I wouldn’t be able to do what was expected. Feared getting hurt. Dreaded letting my team down. After the first 100 squats, mile and a half run, 80 push-ups, and two trips up the hill, I was sure my fears were a reality. I looked around and saw the same misery on everyone else’s faces.  

But we were in this together, and darn it, we were going to live by the “no man left behind” rule.  

We all made it through army crawls, sandbags, “sugar cookies” (no, not the kind you get at snack time) and many other brutal tasks. But no one did it alone. This event was teamwork in its truest form. All animosities, any personal feelings toward one another were put aside to simply make it through. Not to mention the promise of cold beer at the end helped tremendously.  

Here are the three things I learned from a Special Ops Super Saturday Smack Down: 

1. Courage: I was scared. I think we all were, even if the tough guys won’t admit it. Doing new things is scary, worth it, but sometimes terrifying. The fear lived inside me, but I was able to overcome that and face the challenge. Courage is not the lack of fear but rather the act of continuing to move forward and face it.  

The next time you are faced with a project or task you feel is out of your league, embrace the fear and use it for strength.   

2. Trust: I know my coworkers pretty well. I spend 40+ hours a week with them. I like their Facebook posts and sing Happy Birthday to them. But until we were faced with carrying a 200lb pipe up a hill while being exhausted, sandy and wet, I couldn’t have told you that I trusted all of them. I had no choice but to trust that we would look out for each other, that we would all give 100% of what we had left. Someone could have gotten hurt or maybe even have fallen off a cliff (cough, The Video Guy), but we trusted in our team to make the right choices and use our strengths (and weaknesses) to protect each other and get the job done.  

Trust those that are invested in the same goals as you. If they fail you, they will fail themselves. It can be hard to let go and let others have a stake in the success, but some missions are too big to run solo.  

3. Teamwork: I always preached teamwork and I thought I understood it, but I was wrong. Not until I was nose deep in the lake with a 50 lb. sandbag on my shoulders could I have understood just how much my team mattered to me. I have a problem asking for help and that’s my personal demon, but at this point, the 50lbs was turning into a wet 75lbs quick. I can’t give enough thanks to my teammate who literally took the weight off my shoulders when we hit dry land.  

Even when you think you can conquer it all and work through the pain, let a willing pal take some of the work off your back. Even if only temporarily, it will give you the time you need to recover and come back even stronger.  

As Monday rolled around, we were still bonding. The synchronized groans, the war stories, the differing perspectives. We went to hell and back with each other and are a little closer because of it.  

The difficult things at work or in life are just that: hard, challenging, or even impossible. But from personal experience, I can tell you that when you arm yourself with a team, those victorious steps feel that much sweeter.

Trudging through Lake Michigan with a 50lb sandbag taking on water fast, it occurred to The Siren of Support that without her team, Siren or not, she’d be toast. That day, Sari was stronger with the company she shared, and she ponders, aren’t we all? Share your thoughts below or message Sari directly. 

Building Eagle-Eyed Teamwork

Teamwork: cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause.

Through teamwork, we:

  • Build trust
  • Blend complementary strengths
  • Foster creativity
  • Maximize knowledge
  • Encourage accurate solutions
  • Raise motivation and morale

A proud Philadelphian, I watched the rewards that can be reaped from working together this past weekend. Despite their quarterback, Carson Wentz, getting hurt at the end of the season as well as other starting players getting injured, the Philadelphia Eagles were victorious in Super Bowl LII. When everyone thought the season was over, QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles defense stepped up, trusting and leaning on one another. Their victory wouldn’t have been a reality without this focus on teamwork.

Although I work out of the office, I am still part of my team and enjoy collaborating on ways to increase sales. It’s no surprise to me that sales increase when a sales team works together toward a common goal – putting aside ego or self to get the team to that ultimate number. Collaboration among team members allows cohesiveness, increases productivity, and helps boost sales. And, as the Eagles can likely attest, it’s pretty fun to be a part of a team, and to win, as a team.

It’s easy to find yourself on a team, but to be on a successful, winning team, you must come together with respect, trust, and knowledge:

  1. Respect is key when it comes to building high-performance teams. Each team member should confidently display respectful behavior to each teammate. This means allowing others to speak, actively listening, and not allowing egos to get in the way.
  2. Trust within the team is also very important. Far too many teams fall apart because they do not put enough effort into building trust together. Everyone on the team must feel comfortable to fail yet supported so they can soar. Teamwork is important in just about any environment because it creates a sense of the sum being greater than its parts.
  3. It is also important to know to whom you’re selling. Being a team player means you can lean on colleagues and leverage their knowledge base of customers to help clinch the deal.  My weaknesses may be someone else’s strengths, which is why proper communication amongst teammates contributes to our team’s and ultimately my sales success.

Similarly, the sales team I’m a part of proved our commitment to the team mentality these past few weeks, when half of us were on on the DL (flu). Like the Eagles, we came together, unified, fought through it, and came out on top.

It does not matter whether you are playing professional sports, selling transmissions, or installing them. Teamwork is the same.  Depend on those around you and give it your best.  When you work at building up the specific strengths and skills of all team members, you create a high-performance team that comes together, cohesively, to get results.


 In his REMAN U debut, The Sales Challenger gets to celebrate a win for his teams: the sales team he’s a part of & the first time Super Bowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles. Neither would be where they are today without the immense advantage a solid team offers. Comment below or connect with Marc directly.