Frameworks are a common theme in RevOps—after all, what are systems without frameworks to begin with, right? However, a framework created around team building might not immediately come to mind.
This type of framework isn’t one that is based on one of those quizzes aimed at calling out personality type, leadership type, or even learning type. And it’s certainly not the holding-hands-and-singing-kumbaya type of team building – though there’s nothing wrong with that if it happens to be your thing.
Nope! This framework is much more simplistic and focuses on where the team dynamic starts and the different stages of its growth. Jen Igartua, CEO of Go Nimbly explains:
“You’ve got forming, storming, norming, and performing,” she says.
According to Six Sigma Daily, The concept of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing (FSNP) describes the four stages of psychological development a team goes through as they work on a project. Teams move through each stage as they overcome challenges, learn to work together and eventually focus on accomplishing a shared goal.
It’s been quite an effective model for Jen to look at what’s happening around her team, see how it’s behaving, and define the stage the team may be in. Communicating this process to her team ultimately helps everyone navigate their tasks and relationships better across the company.
Easy enough to understand, “forming” is when new team members are coming on board. There’s a lot of energy in this phase, and while it isn’t all positive, much of it can be. While people might not fully know their roles yet, they are excited about the future. It can definitely be chaotic in this initial trajectory phase, but it isn’t nearly as dangerous as the next phase to come - storming.
“The storming [phase] is actually where people have the least amount of energy,” Jen explains. “That’s when people tend to leave. It’s the most uncertain [time].”
“Storming” lacks the newness and excitement that forming holds, but people are still scrambling to define their roles and figure each others’ places out during this stage. This can obviously lead to conflict, which can quickly turn into passive aggressive behavior, or just turtling and seeking something new that feels safer and better.
“You can see people catastrophizing,” Jen says. “It’s a really scary part of a team.”
But, if a leader can identify that stage of the team’s growth, there’s the ability to say, “Hey, hang on a sec. We’re just in the storming phase! Hang in there, it’s going to get better.”
“A lot of things can come into perspective,” says Jen. “You could think, ‘yes, people are frustrated’ or ‘yes, this is confusing, how do I create certainty?’ How do I tell people that we’re on this journey so that they understand that this is normal?”
Jen says it’s natural for people to think they are on a sinking ship, but the reality is seldom that. She says it’s because humans are inherently social creatures – despite how introverted you may think yourself to be.
“We’re very good at aligning vertically, but we’re really bad at aligning horizontally,” she says. “We’re good at following what our boss says and the team that we’re really integrated with, but we have a hard time looking further than that.”
When team rituals are formed and people settle in, they break through storming and hit the “norming” phase. There is buy in; there is a collective vision. In this phase, the team is sharing information and ideas are flowing between them without information hoarding. People are celebrating each other’s successes in this stage.
“The team knows how to show up,” she says. “You’ve got rules of engagement and you’ve got a culture [established].”
Once this happens, the team further gels and moves into the “performing” phase. Silo syndrome doesn’t even have a chance here. It doesn’t matter who hits a goal because it’s celebrated by the team as a whole. There is no finger pointing about goals that weren’t hit, but instead everyone comes together to work towards those potential wins of the future by strategizing together.
“We’re one team taking responsible risks,” she says. “That’s where the fun is. It’s a big alignment on what to do next. When you start hitting those things, as a leader, you know the team is moving in the right direction.”
Knowing the stages of team building is great and all, but how does a leader identify who to bring on board, and when?
“When you’re building a team holistically, you want the skill sets, strategy tools, insights, and enablement,” says Jen. “That’s not one human. That’s what we have to build across the board. It might be spread across eight people.”
Each of the relevant skill set areas needs emphasis and someone has to be the person to bring it to the group. This said, one area Jen feels doesn’t get enough attention is emotive storytelling.
“You’re the director. We want a leader that’s able to storytell what we’re doing,” she says. “You have to be able to tell that story of your impact.”
Why? Because the bottom line is storytellers get the sale. They get the budget, they get the headcount, they get the software spend. They are also able to influence teams – both their own and those they don’t have authority over.
“If you’re not good at [explaining] the ‘why’, you’re not good at storytelling,” she says. “Why do we do this? What’s in it for you? Why should you follow this? Storytellers get a lot of buy-in and form deep relationships.”
“One of the frameworks that I really love is this idea of gap versus thinking,” says Jen. “Another telltale sign of a really great revenue operations team is the ability to identify the gap, and then do the work.”
Think of it as a brainstorming exercise where a team thinks of everything that would make work easier (tools, ideas, staff, etc), then proceeding to prioritize them in a systematic way. Regardless of the framework used to do so, it comes down to making a strong impact by putting emphasis on the right work.
“Sometimes, you don’t want to look at the worst experiences,” Jen says. “You want to say, ‘where do we have an experience that’s a six that we can make a nine so we can create more peak experiences? That’s what people affected by our work will remember.’”
It’s all about finding the things that make the biggest impact.
“All we can do is wake up in the morning and choose to do the thing that matters most,” Jen says. “And if you have a team that understands how to find that, you’re in a good place.”
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About the Author
By day Jen Igartua the CEO of Go Nimbly–working with high-growth companies to create a frictionless, human buying experience with RevOps.
By night, she’s creating sweet games with her friends at Pillbox Games, making crafts, and taking improv classes (which is how “Yes, and” became a key part of how they work and innovate at Go Nimbly).
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