Teamwork Lessons from “The Wire” – Performing Stage

Teamwork Lessons from “The Wire” – Performing Stage

  • Oct 17,2018
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The Performing stage is the fourth phase in Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development. We will discuss it by using examples from “The Wire,” the popular HBO series. We have already discussed the FormingStorming and Norming Stages in previous posts.

Picking up from where we left off from our previous installment, we have learned that the detail team has started to operate as a cohesive unit. Revelations and confessions were made by various team members in regards to why and how they all have ended up on this detail. The bulletin board located in the main office area is now populated with pictures and notes detailing the intricacies of the drug dealer network.

The members of the detail are now behind a greater goal of following the money trail, instead of going after the “low hanging fruit,” and just catching the low and mid level drug dealers. The detail is also starting to better understand the hierarchy of the dealer network. This requires the detail team to pool their individual skills together and to follow the guidance of Lieutenant Daniels and to trust the intellectual analysis of Detective Freamon.

The ability to rely on the skills of one another is heightened as the detail sifts through data, facts and paperwork to complete the puzzle of where the money comes from and where it goes. The puzzle loving Detective Prez excels in this capacity, as the rest of the team recognizes his aptitude and continues to bring him the missing pieces of the puzzle.

The efforts of the team pay off and they are able to build a case by following the money trail. By doing this, the team captures the head of the drug dealer network which disturbs the hierarchy for some time. However, during the process of the campaign, Detective Kima was shot! This unfortunate incident involving Detective Kima still manages to bring the team even closer together and propels them to achieve their goal faster.

In the Peforming Stage, team members:

  • Have a shared vision
  • Are motivated and aligned to complete tasks
  • Are focused on achieving a shared goal
  • Share information freely
  • Trust their teammates
  • Resolve conflicts positively
  • Take care of each other
  • Are protective of the team as a whole
  • Are proud to belong to the team
  • Are self correcting
  • Understand each member’s strengths and weaknesses

In the Performing Stage, the team leader:

  • Is available to support the team
  • Does not interfere with day to day activities
  • Provides feedback and assistance upon request
  • Recognizes and appreciates the efforts of the team
  • Continues to protect the team from interference by the rest of the organization

The PERFORMING Stage is a great experience for any team! It’s a stage that is not reached by the majority of teams who keep moving from the norming stage to the storming stage. However, for the teams that do reach it, there is a sense of satisfaction and achievement from working together and achieving a common goal. There is also a unified sense that the team is greater than the sum of its parts. The Performing Stage is where team members trust each other and trust the team leader. At this stage, a highly effective team is cohesive and the individual specializations of its members are complementary.

The “Performing” stage is NOT the end of the process. There will always be members leaving and new members joining any team. This affects the existing team dynamics, which causes the whole process to start again. Also projects end, teams dismantle and new project teams are created, and the journey begins again.

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