As we stated in the previous blog. Groups asked to use a new communications tool, like video conferencing, go through phases. We have already discussed the first two: forming and storming. It is at the “storming” stage that the most oversight has to be exerted to make video conferencing really work. This can be done by having the most experienced members, or some designated individual(s) intensively model the behavior for others. This might mean a lot of interaction with those using the system to see if they are having any problems and getting feedback on what is and what is not working for everyone to a more intensive schedule of video conferencing meetings to get people comfortable and make this style of communicating a familiar activity.
After a generally short, but intense “storming” phase, as people get used to the hardware and different style of interaction, as well as become more comfortable with their fellow desktop video-ers, the group enters the third “norming” stage. At this point, all webcams are on and the stuffed animals are gone and people are interacting, for the most part, normally.
Then comes the best phase. The performing stage, where groups and conversations begin to form spontaneously and ideas and the project and interactions really take off.
Keeping these four stages in mind, helps you understand that giving your people a new tool and then expecting them to run with it right away is unrealistic. Knowing the phases of how adoption of new communications technology goes and your role in making it happen, however, lets you know that the initial confusion and chaos and displeasure that comes in the initiation stages are all a natural part of how people react to change, especially one involving something as important as how they relate to each other.