Archives For May 2016

You’ve probably experienced the same frustration: You struggle to delegate tasks – and when you do delegate, you struggle to maintain meaningful contact with the people you have delegated to.

I realized this problem in my own setup, when I was confronted with the same story over and over again. Either people were frustrated with not having enough responsibility, or they were complaining about not having enough contact for guidance. It felt for them as if we gave responsibility without ever following up or encouraging again.

It is as if I am in a constant struggle between two opposite ends of an evil pendulum.

That was until I became aware of Hersey-Blanchard’s contingency model – or situational leadership. They have produced a workable model where you neither have to be an Authoritarian leader that micro manage people, or follow a Laissez-faire “hands off” style. The situation (both the task and the people involved) literally predicts what leadership style will be most suitable. Their graph effectively maps what is needed.

To understand the graph, you actually need to read it backwards – or from right to left. On the X-axis you have the amount of guidance you will need to give. The Y-axis shows the support that the person needs from you. Obviously, the more guidance is needed, the more authoritarian you need to be. The higher the support, the more democratic you need to be.

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In the S1 quadrant, your guidance needs to be high. The follower is unable to do the task as you would like it to be done, and probably even unwilling. The decision style that is best suited for this scenario is authoritarian.

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In the S2 quadrant, the follower is now perhaps more willing but still unable to do the task efficiently. High directive and high support is needed from your side. The relationship will take the form of a Continue Reading…

Anyone who has ever worked in a team, will testify to the fact that although team members may stay the same, team dynamics will always change.

Bruce Tuckman actually identified this phenomenon already back in 1965, and it has since become known as “Tuckman’s 5 phase group development model“. According to Tuckman the 5 phases that are inevitable for a team to go through, are:

  • Forming: Team members get acquainted with each other.
  • Storming: Role definition and expectations are worked out
  • Norming: Clear expectations, consensus and responsibility takes form.
  • Performing: Focus and goal achievement
  • Adjourning/Reforming: Task completion.

If one would portray it visually, it would look something like this:

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So, what concerns me is the part that comes after “Reforming“. The performance curve can either drop or raise at this point. And this is why the reforming phase is such an important phase.

I find myself in precisely in that phase right now. I joined a congregation – and hence new team – in 2014. Once the “forming” phase and role definition was done, the “norming” and “performing” started. We have enjoyed several successes in a relatively short period of time.

But our one colleague – and as luck would have it, our team leader – retires this year. This means the role definition of the entire team changes once again. What’s more, is that we relied heavily on his wisdom. We will surely feel his absence.

But now the fate of the curve, rests squarely on our shoulders. The science of group dynamics says that it is impossible to stay unchanged on the plateau. The curve will either drop or raise.

This is a sober, terrifying and humbling awareness. As colleagues we need to reform and “re-invent” our team in order to raise the curve. That’s a tall order. I trust that the Lord will guide us in our endeavors. I am unashamedly and utterly dependent upon Him. Your prayers will be much appreciated.