One rarely-recognized aspect of a small business that has a huge impact on the success of that business is team building. Knowing more about how teams function and what can be done to strengthen the team was the topic in this week’s Small Business Leadership Academy, led by Ruth Barratt, clinical assistant professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“One of the elements of building a high-performance team is spending the time outside of work on another project or social activity,” comments Barratt. While budgets have been cut for many company-funded outside activities, there are ways to get creative and still accomplish this important task. One of this year’s attendees spoke about how her and her co-workers volunteer at a food bank. “It didn’t really cost the company any money, but the employees are already very excited to do it again,” Barratt says.

Any team, regardless of its size, goes through the same five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. With each stage, there are certain emotions that team members will feel while they “find their place.”

  • Forming: Excitement, anticipation, anxiety, optimism
  • Storming: Reality sets in, frustration, dissatisfaction, adjustment anxiety
  • Norming: Shared goals, team cohesion, coping, acceptance
  • Performing: Teamwork, cohesiveness, leadership, performance
  • Adjourning: Separation anxiety, crisis, dissatisfaction, negativity

“Once you reach the performing stage, there is still a requirement to keep nurturing the idea of goals and keep everyone on the same path,” Barratt says. “When something goes well, celebrate that fact. When something goes wrong, have confidence in the team to sit down and follow up on it.”

Nurturing the team as a whole will result in a more productive and ultimately more successful team. Next week, attendees will discuss brainstorming and how to help employees to reach their full potential.

Listen to the Podcast:
The Importance of Team Dynamics

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U.S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.