MIL’s Asset Management Team supporting the U.S. Department of the Treasury is on a mission to re-establish and improve its infrastructure. In transition at the end of 2018, the Asset Management Team was challenged with goals to grow, face obstacles, address problems, and find solutions, plan work, and, most importantly, deliver value to the customer. Or as psychologist Bruce Tuckman references in his group development framework, “Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.” Revamping the team to qualified, results-focused initiators led to new ideas, skillsets, and essential balance.
Forming the “A-Team”
For a variety of reasons, incumbent members of the Asset Management Team departed within a few months of one another, resulting in the assembly of a new team. Due to the time lapse between hiring and adjudication, there was an extremely limited amount of overlap to transfer knowledge. It was also clear that there existed a lack of cohesiveness and trust among team members, which created an environment of dissonance. To grow from this stage to the next, each member had to relinquish the comfort of non-threatening topics and risk the possibility of conflict. To support this, a series of meetings were held for employees to get to know each other better and develop solid working relationships. This forming process allowed the team to prepare for the next stages toward establishing a positive work environment.
Weathering the Storm
Storming is a natural and important stage when looking to establish a better relationship while also establishing trust. Storming was most evident in issues surrounding chain-of-command and knowledge sharing. What was needed in this case was someone who had received knowledge transfer from the original group to share insights with the rest of the team. Recognizing the strength that the knowledge-sharer brought to the situation was important to moving beyond the storm. Dialog with all team members—as well as one-on-one—to address concerns, expectations, and resolutions, rooted feeling of importance, care, and value in team members. Embracing personal goals and interests made the bond greater with emphasis on milestone achievements and commitment to shared success and growth. Team lunches and meetings aided team spirit, along with productive conversations on the betterment of work.
Creating the New “Norm”
As the team started working together, familiarity with each other’s unique responsibilities, experiences, and diverse mindsets grew. Team leadership evaluated strengths in each person to determine how to delegate responsibilities to best suit capabilities. Focusing on employee strengths, both real and perceived, is a way an organization can optimize productivity as well as empower the employee toward success for the client. For this step, it is important for team leaders to know the strengths and positive attributes of all employees in order to maximize those abilities and best utilize opportunities for growth. To move in one direction, you first need to clearly understand the destination. When a team has clear goals to achieve and receive regular feedback, performance and overall effectiveness improves.
Performing to Achieve
By improving communication and providing clear objectives, the Asset Management Team was able to rapidly reach the final stage of Tuckman’s group development process. Multiple work functions were proposed, created, and introduced within the team’s structure, such as warranty, staging, and deployment; chain-of-custody accountability; space utilization/management; obsolete asset inquiries; SCCM integration; property custodians; and workflow improvement amongst various departments. With a collaborative effort, the team was able to maintain the asset management repository with over 11,000 assets records and dispose of obsolete equipment throughout the Treasury Department resulting in a disposal of over 10,000 IT related hardware and hard drives. The feedback from the customer has been positive and amazing—which only motivates the team further!
By openly embracing our diversity, strengths, and even our weaknesses and by establishing and committing to shared goals early, a team can quickly weather a storm, while also building a cohesive and high-performing group that contributes to the customer’s mission and success.
About the Author
Precious Doyles an IT Asset Management Professional with over 10 years of experience implementing and managing all aspects of the IT Asset Lifecycle process.