Stages of Group Development


New teams often experience growing pains, no team members can work efficiently together without taking the time to get to know each other. In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed an easy-to-digest model that shows how teams in different areas go through similar stages of group development. Learning these five stages of group development will enable you to shape successful teams that perform to the best of their ability. Five stages of group development are commonly known as: – Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

What is Tuckman’s Model of Group Development?

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed his group development model in 1965 to explain how healthy teams add up over time. Tuckman’s model identifies five stages through which groups progress: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Each of the five stages of team development represents a step on the ladder of team building. As group members climb the ladder, they transform from a random gathering of strangers into a high-performing team that can work toward a common goal.

Here Tuckman’s five stages of group development are explained in detail:

Stages of Group Development
  1. The Formation Stage of Group Development: – The formation phase is the first phase in Tuckman’s group development phases and is the same experience as your first day at a new job or a new school. At this stage, most of the group members are extremely humble and still very excited about what their future holds. Since group dynamics and team roles have not yet been established, the team leader will often take over directing individual members. During the Tuckman formation phase, new team members can discuss team goals, ground rules, and individual roles, but since this phase of development prioritizes people over actual work, the team’s high performance is expected at this time. is unlikely. During this stage, you may discuss:
    1. Member’s skills, background and interests;
    2. Project goals;
    3. Timeline;
    4. Ground rules;
    5. Individual roles.
  1. Storming Stage of Group Development: – The second stage of group development is the storming stage. The storming stage is where dispute and competition are at its greatest because now group members have an understanding of the work and a general feel of belongingness towards the group as well as the group members. Have you ever reached a point in a relationship where you become aware of a person’s characteristics and they frustrate or annoy you. Maybe they squeeze the toothpaste from the top of the tube instead of the bottom? eat with your mouth open or do they listen to the same Drake song 15 times in a row? Well, congratulations, you have entered a storming phase. Being in a team is like being in a relationship. At first, you might think that someone is perfect and innocent. But then you realize they are not. Once you become aware of their flaws, you either learn to embrace them or the relationship will end quickly. The reality and weight of completing the task at hand in the storming phase has now stunned everyone. Initial feelings of euphoria and the need to be humble have probably worn off. Personalities can clash. Members may disagree on how to complete a task or express their concerns if they feel that no one is weighing them down. They may also question the authority or guidance of group leaders. But it is important to remember that most teams experience conflict. If you are the leader, remind members that disagreements are normal.
  1. Norming Stage of Group Development: – During the norming phase, people begin to notice and appreciate the strengths of their team members. Groups begin to settle in a groove. Everyone is contributing and working as a cohesive unit. Of course, you may still think that your techno person’s choice in music is unpleasant. But you also admire his knowledge of web design and coding skills, and value his opinion on anything tech-related. The storming sometimes overlaps with the norming. As new tasks arise, groups may still experience some conflict. If you’ve already dealt with the disagreement, perhaps it will be easier to address this time. Now that everyone has begun to engage and familiarize themselves with team processes, teammates feel comfortable giving each other constructive feedback as they work toward completing new tasks. Since these new tasks often come with a high level of difficulty, it is not uncommon for groups to return to the storming phase.
  1. Performing Stage of Group Development: – If you’ve reached step four, give your back a pat. You are on your way to success. In the performance phase, members are confident, motivated and familiar with the project and their team that they can work without supervision. Everyone is on the same page and moving at full speed towards the end goal. The fourth stage is the one that all the groups try to reach. Still, some don’t make it. They usually fail to address conflict and cannot work together. The performance phase is the most enjoyable of all the development phases. At this stage, your team’s performance is at an all-time high. This high-performance level means that all team members are self-reliant and confident enough in their own problem-solving skills that they can function without the oversight of leaders. Everyone is working like a well-oiled machine, free from conflict and moving towards the same end goal.
  1. Adjourning Stage of Group Development: – The fifth stage of Tuckman’s development sequence is the stagnation phase. This final stage was not actually added to the Tuckman model until 1977, and it is the saddest of all the stages of team formation. The deferred phase assumes that the project teams are only present for a specified period of time; Once the team’s mission is complete, the team dissolves itself. You can compare this phase to a breakup because team members often find it difficult to separate from the people, they have formed close relationships with. In fact, this phase is sometimes referred to as the “grief phase” because it is common for team members to experience a sense of loss when the group is dissolved.

Why are the 5 stages of group development important?

The groups are so coordinated during the performance phase that it comes naturally. But, don’t be fooled. The most effective and high-functioning teams are cultivated.

Putting a group of talented people together doesn’t mean they will make a great team. Hoping that your company or project will be successful is not the case.

Understanding Tuckman’s development process can increase your chances of reaching your project goal(s).

Where do “Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning” come from?

Stages of Group Development

The terms we use for the stages of team development were developed by Bruce Tuckman, an educational psychologist, who published his findings in a paper titled Developmental Sequence in Small Groups in 1965. His theory, which is referred to as Tuckman’s Stages, is centered around his research on the dynamics of teams and team building. His common belief of team development that the stages are all necessary for a group to work together as effectively together as possible in order to see success. 

While his work started with only the first four stages, in 1977 Tuckman and his doctoral student Mary Ann Jensen added the fifth stage, adjourning, to indicate when a team has completed a project.

Each of these five stages clearly represents a step that teams go through, from start to finish, to work on a project as they complete all of the necessary steps and tasks for it to be a success.

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