Adapting Tuckman’s Team-Development Model into our own household during this Circuit Breaker period
“Boy, you so free, come and help me mop the floor!”
“Ma, I will help you later. I am working. I’m in a conference call.”
“But you’re home every day and just facing the computer! Why can’t you take 5 minutes to help me?”
“Ma, why can’t you understand that I am working, not on leave?”
The government’s Circuit Breaker measure has got all of us to work from home. However, based on the conversation above, it is safe to say that many of us might be facing the issue of having such distractions at home that would lead to possible quarrels and unhappiness. At this point, some of us might start to think about whether staying home together for such a long period is even good for us physically, mentally and emotionally. All of a sudden, going back to work, seeing your colleagues, getting swamped with the workload after workload upon your boss’ constant requests does not seem so bad after all.
Teambuilding at Work vs Teambuilding at Home
In the span of our lives in the workforce, most of us have been to at least one teambuilding programme. What were the objectives behind these programmes catered to the workforce? Most of the time, it is to achieve team cohesiveness by motivating peers to work together by expanding each other’s strength and the importance of addressing weaknesses among ourselves. For corporate teambuilding programmes, this motivation is usually being enforced through positive reinforcement as well as improved communications. However, like we always emphasise to our participants, teambuilding does not stop after the programme. The learning and new habits should be brought back to their workplace, in continuation to forge a stronger working relationship with one another for the long run.
Now, if work is part of our daily lives, and we have subconsciously always tried to accommodate one another to form a better working relationship, what about the relationships we have at home? Is it not true that home is the most significant part of our lives? Is it not true that our family members are one of the most influential people in our lives? If we can put in the effort to work on our work relationship, could we incorporate teambuilding learning back at home?
Tuckman’s Team-Development Model
In a teambuilding programme, it is hard not to share about the Tuckman’s Team-Development Model. “What is this model?” you may ask. In 1965, American Psychological Researcher, Bruce Wayne Tuckman, carried out his research about group dynamics. Through this research, he published the theory “Tuckman’s stages of group development” which have significantly been used till today. This model comprises four phases of group development, namely Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
This theory has not only elegantly explained and elaborated on team development, but also recognizing team behaviours and feelings. Other models such as Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum, even Hershey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership have shown similarity to Tuckman’s model. However, back to Tuckman’s model, it has helped many teams to understand why situations are happening in a certain way that can be an essential part of the self-evaluation process. By recognising behavioural patterns, it has proven useful as a basis for team conversation, instead of placing team into “diagnosis” (Stein, 2020).
Bringing this model back at home, regardless of colleagues of family members, everyone is only human, and human and team development is not always linear. A great example that Judith Stein from MIT’s Human Resource (2020) mentioned – imagining a five-year-old kid reverting to his or her thumb-sucking habit when a newborn arrives.
Let us look further into Tuckman’s stages of group development in our home setting with our family members, how we can understand this framework during this Circuit Breaker period, and ultimately achieving the performing stage together as a family.
Stage 1: Forming
Forming is “honeymoon period” of every initial get-together. Back in an organizational team setting, primarily when the team is newly formed, and a new member has joined, most people are noticed to be more polite and positive to one another with occasional “Hi, how are you?, How was your day?”. This cordialness usually happens due to people being a little awkward with each other since no one is used to each other’s presence and working habits. Additionally, this is also when people decide to “have a mask on” to cover their true self.
You may be wondering, “But, forming a family will only happen when we have a new baby or relative joining the household, isn’t it?” Before Covid-19, we would usually spend about 9 hours or more at our workplace or even in school during the weekdays. During the weekends, some would enjoy their days out socialising and meeting friends. With that, it only leaves us with dinner time for the family to be together before bed time. Little did we know during this Circuit Breaker where everyone are encouraged to stay at home all day; being present and seeing each other for almost 24 hours a day, have become the forming stage for each family household.
Stage 2: Storming
During this stage, people will usually start to push each other to their boundaries. This could be due to collective displeasure and frustrations regarding working styles and even habits. At storming stage, people tend to feel more comfortable to confront the other party to address the issue directly. Confrontation during storming stage is usually done in either the loud or quiet approach. In the working environment, loud approach happens when it is done face to face while the quiet approach is through gossiping or addressing issues passive-aggressively via emails. This is where people would usually notice each other’s “true colours”.
Bringing this back to our situation at home during the Circuit Breaker, the lack of understand or empathy in the household could aggravate and cause the storming stage to happen. For instance, parents might have a different set of expectation for their children at home – parents could be constantly nagging at them to complete the housework even during their Work From Home working hours. Additionally, being cooped up at home could lead to mental and emotional distress that sparks quarrels at home. At first, a noisy approach may be regular as family members might be unhappy with one another or taking each other for granted, but as time goes by, it could lead up to the quiet approach where they conclude that their family members do not understand them.
Before moving on to the next stage, take this time think – “What caused this to happen?” and “What is it that they do not understand?” If most of the storming at home right now is due to the lack of understanding, how can we better communicate with one another to create a better understanding for us to work at home? However, it is important to note that storming stage is vital in any relationship; disregarding or avoiding it could possibly lead to more misunderstandings, exacerbating relations.
Stage 3: Norming
Teams that managed to reach this stage showed that they have started to resolve their differences, embracing each strength and weaknesses, and also compromising each other to move towards a common goal. This is a stage where team members are more inclined to socialise together, offering and asking for help, as well as providing constructive feedback.
Regardless of the working environment or in a household environment, members that achieved this stage would make a more conscious effort to resolve issues harmoniously and through positive reinforcement. Since everyone is starting to feel genuinely more comfortable with one another, we would easily express our real feelings and thoughts more carefully. Ultimately, with these meaning conversations at home, we can focus on making our home not only a comfortable place in the comfort of everyone’s presence, but we could also be working from home in a conducive and efficient manner.
Stage 4: Performing
At this last stage, team members would already be satisfied with each other’s progress as they are more aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This would lead to them feeling the attachment of being part of a wonderful team. Members are confident in each other’s abilities and traits. Along with these feelings and emotions, team members could focus on shared goal and ultimately achieve it together.
Moving forward, during this Circuit Breaker, together as a family, our shared goal is to ensure that we strive through this tough period safely, maintain both roles as a family member and an employee. Only by being committed to one another, we can support each other at home mentally and emotionally to ride through this storm.
In conclusion, as cliché, as it may sound, “blood is thicker than water”. During such tough periods, we have to be healthy and be there for one another; ensuring each other’s safety and wellbeing in our household. As the saying goes, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” Having constant squabbles at home? Why not try implementing and practising Tuckman’s Team-Development model at home? Who knows, not only we can survive through this global pandemic and Circuit Breaker, we could also forge a stronger relationship and bond with our family members.
Let us know how did this framework has worked out for you at home during this period, or is there any other method that you tried. Always remember, if we can maintain a quality working relationship, we should not neglect our family relationship, as well as family, comes first. Take care, and stay safe.