Stages of Team Development

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Identifying factors that are critical for building and developing teams. Explanation of the Stages of Team Development of Bruce Tuckman. ('65)


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Tuckman Stages of Team Development

What are the Stages of Team Development? Description

The Tuckman Stages of Team Development can be used for identifying factors that are critical for building and developing small groups.

Tuckman's Stages of Team Development model seeks to explain how a team develops over time. The five stages of development are: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. The Adjourning stage was added later in 1977. According to Tuckman, all of the phases are necessary and inevitable - in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.

Origin of the Stages of Team Development. History

Bruce Wayne Tuckman (1938- ) published in 1965 a short article "Developmental Sequence in Small Groups". In 1977, he added the fifth stage: Adjourning (Stages of Small Group Development Revisited). The model of group became influential in group development theory, partly thanks to its rhyme.

Usage of Tuckman's Stages of Team Development. Applications

  • Build and develop teams.
  • Analyze the behavior of teams.

the Stages of Team Development. Process

  1. Forming. Project team initiation phase.
    • Project Team is initially concerned with orientation, accomplished primarily through testing. Such testing serves to identify the boundaries of both interpersonal and task behaviors. Coincident with testing in the interpersonal realm is the establishment of dependency relationships with leaders, other group members, or pre‑existing standards.
    • Team Members behave quite independently. They may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team. Some team members may display traits of uncertainty and anxiety.
    • Project Manager must bring the team together, ensuring that they trust each other and have the ability to develop a working relationship. Directing or "telling" style. Sharing the concept of "Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing" with the team can be helpful.
  2. Storming. Various ideas compete, often fiercely, for consideration.
    • Project Team gains confidence, but there is conflict and polarization around interpersonal issues
    • Team Members are showing their own personalities as they confront each other's ideas and perspectives. Frustration or disagreements about goals, expectations, roles and responsibilities is being expressed openly.
    • Project Manager guides the project team through this turbulent transition phase. Coaching style. Tolerance of each team member and their differences needs to be emphasized.
  3. Norming. Rules, values, behavior, methods, tools are being established.
    • Project Team effectiveness increases and the team starts to develop an identity.
    • Team Members adjust their behavior to each other as they develop agreements to make the teamwork more natural and fluid. Conscious effort to resolve problems and to achieve group harmony. Motivation levels are increasing.
    • Project Manager allows the team to become much more autonomous. Participative style.
  4. Performing. The interpersonal structure becomes the tool of task activities. Roles become flexible and functional, and group energy is channeled into the task.
    • Project Team is now able to function as a unit. It gets the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision.
    • Team Members have a clear understanding of what is required of them at a task level. They are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. A "can do" attitude is visible. Offers to assist one another are made.
    • Project Manager lets the team make most of the necessary decisions. Delegating style.
  5. Adjourning. The tasks are being completed and the team is disassembled.
    • Project Team. Some authors describe stage 5 as "Deforming and Mourning", recognizing the sense of loss felt by group members.
    • Team Members' motivation levels can decline as uncertainty about the future begins to set in.
    • Project Manager: Good point to introduce new projects in order to recommence the forming stage of team development. Detaching style.

Strengths of the Stages of Team Development model. Benefits

  • Provides a level of guidance for team development.

Limitations of the Stages of Team Development framework. Disadvantages

  • Note that the model was designed to describe stages in small groups.
  • In reality, group processes may not be as linear as Tuckman describes them, but rather cyclical.
  • Characteristics for each stage are not set in stone, and as the model deals with human behavior, it is sometimes unclear when a team has moved from one stage to another. There may be overlap between the stages.
  • The model does not take account of the individual roles that team members will have to undertake. Compare: Belbin Team Roles
  • There is no guidance on the timeframe for moving from one stage to another. This is a subjective as opposed to an objective model.

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Stages of Team Development Diagram

Team Development


Stages Tuckman


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Stages Tuckman


Team Formation Stages


Stages Tuckman


Team Formation Stages


Stages Tuckman


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Compare with the Tuckman Stages of Team Development: Team Management Profile  |  Belbin Team Roles  |  PMBOK  |  IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB)  |  PAEI  |  Action Learning  |  Appreciative Inquiry  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Situational Leadership  |  Johari Window

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