All actions on the battlefield happen in turns, it concerns each and every unit on the field. The order of turns depends on the Initiative parameter of a unit. Thus, creatures with higher initiative can even appear twice on the initiative bar, also called the 'ATB-scale'. The pre-combat positioning of units on the bar happens with a random deviation of 0% to 10%. Later, in course of combat, the order of turns changes, troops with higher initiative outstrip those with lower. The easiest example is when a stack that is about to get its turn, perishes, freeing its place in the turn order. Some spells can influence the order by changing the stack's initiative or altering their position on the scale directly.
If a stack or a character waits, its position on the scale is moved backwards for only half of the full cycle. The frame color of a stack represents the color of the player it belongs to. When you point your cursor to a stack, it is lit up both on the field and on the scale.