Why all the drama? Part 2 — The Stages of Cast Development

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Last time I introduced the idea of Team Development and related it to the “drama” we often experience off-stage during each new production. I explained a little about the first two phases of the process: Forming and Storming. Now let’s look at the 3 remaining phases: Norming, Performing and Adjourning.

3. Norming

Norming is the process of adopting the, often unspoken, expectations of the group. For a cast this might be arriving on time, willing participation in warm-up exercises, getting off-book sooner rather than later, or even bringing snacks once a week! It might be saying “Hello” and “Good-night” to each cast and crew member or going out for drinks or coffee with others after rehearsal. Some behaviors are typical and traditional, but there isn’t a perfect list of “do’s and don’ts. :Each group is likely to have different Norms of behavior. Identifying and accepting these completes this phase.

4. Performing

Performing refers to being able to get on with the business that has brought you together. Don’t be fooled into thinking this starts on opening night! This phase starts when members develop trust in each other and begin focusing on accomplishing their tasks and obligations in order to move the overall project forward. Individual members may reach this stage at different times, but your cast won’t have become a Team until everyone is working toward the same goal.

Please understand, Performing is not the same as unanimous agreement. Nothing about Performing demands 100% agreement. What is required is that once a decision is made everyone accepts it and moves forward in the same direction – even those who would prefer a different course of action.

5. Adjourning

Finally we get to Adjourning. Your purpose is accomplished. It’s time to disband. For the cast of a show the final curtain has come down, or in the case of a Board of Directors your term may be over and it’s time to make way for the next member. How the transition from Team back to Individuals is handled will have far-reaching effects on your organization and whether these people sing your praises or curse your name.

Let’s look at our cast again. When the show is over is there a closing night party? Are the successes of the production reviewed and celebrated? Are the failures of the production discussed and evaluated to understand what happened and what could have been done differently? Do team members share the responsibility for both? Or do the cast members just pack up their make-up boxes and blow out the stage door without so much as a “See ya”? People will remember this final phase better than all of the ones that precede it, so how it’s handled will determine their enduring attitude toward their involvement.

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning are normal stages in the Team Formation process. A Team shares a purpose. Team members feel a personal investment in the success of the venture. They voluntarily work in the best interest of the project — not just for their own advancement, and they take pride in their participation. When a Team disbands the members walk away with a positive attitude about their involvement. It’s a lot to expect, but isn’t that what we need from our Cast Members and Board Members?

 Drop in on my next post for ways you can help your Group move toward becoming a Cast.

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Katie Strickland

A Collection of Strategic Communications Portfolio Work

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