xiii) Adapting to a Cross-functional Team Structure invokes the Fear Cycle


organisational development change management

(source: Robert Kriegal et al, 1996)

Another Way of Looking at Team Evolution


Dominant Assumption

Socio-emotional focus

Group formation

Dependency (the leader knows what we should do)

Self orientation (emotional focus on issues of

a) inclusion,

b) power and influence,

c) acceptance and intimacy,

d) identity and role)

Team building

Fusion (we are a great team, with all alike)

Team as idealised object (emotional focus on harmony, conformity and search for intimacy; members' differences are not valued)

Team work

Work (we can perform effectively because we know and accept each other)

Team mission and tasks (emotional focus on accomplishment, teamwork and maintaining the team in good working order. Members' differences are valued)

Team maturity

Maturity (we know who we are, what we want, and how to get it. We have been successful, so we must be right)

Team survival and comfort (emotional focus on preserving the team and its culture. Creativity and members' differences are seen as a threat)

Some comments on team evolution

. Initially the team is a collection of individuals, each focused on how to make the situation safe and personally rewarding while struggling with personal issues of inclusion, identity, authority and intimacy, ie members are more concerned with their own feelings than the problems of the group; at the same time they are interested in who is the leader. Furthermore, there is a need to find out what the team is supposed to do and then to do it.

. The team's behavioural patterns start to develop when an individual in the team takes a position and the group responds by

"...either letting it stand (may be remaining silent), actively approving it, processing it, or rejecting it. Three sets of consequences are also observed: 1) the personal consequences for the member who made the suggestion (he may gain or lose influence, disclose himself to others, develop a friend or enemy and so on); 2) the interpersonal consequences for those members immediately involved in the interplay; 3) the normative consequences for the group as a whole......the early life......is filled with thousands of such events and responses to them..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

. The team is concerned about its assumptions about how to learn and how to deal with authority and influence. As the team develops

"...leadership comes to be seen as a shared set of activities rather than a single person's trait, and a sense of ownership of group outcome arises..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

. Many teams get stuck at the second stage of evolution by developing an inadequate authority system and capacity to defend themselves against external threats. Consequently the need for defining roles and clarification of personal relationships in the team.

. Next a team moves to a stage where they have learned to coexist and work together, even if they do not like each other, ie

"...emotional shift from maintaining the illusion of mutual liking to a state of mutual acceptance and functional familiarity is important so that it frees up emotional energy for work......now the group exerts less pressure to conform and build norms that encourage some measure of individuality and personal growth, on the assumption that the group ultimately will benefit if all members grow and become stronger..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

Some teams do not reach this point as members demand conformity and

"...high conformity pressures are symptomatic of unresolved issues in the group..."

Edgar Schein, 2004


"...it is a paradox of evolution or development that the more we learn how to do things and to stabilise what we have learned, the more unwilling or unable we become to adapt, change, and grow into new patterns, even when our changing environment demands such new pattern..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

. In the final stage, the team's culture will be as strong as the team's learning history has made it. The more the team has shared emotionally intense experiences, the stronger the culture of the team will be.

. In summary: in each team

"...all members must solve for themselves the problem of identity: who to be in a group, how much influence or control they will have, whether their needs and goals will be met, and how intimate the group will become..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

(source: Edgar Schein, 2004)


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