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5 Stages of Team Development by Tuckman: Explained In-Depth

Every team has to go through a rigorous process that involves 5 stages of group development. The five stages of group development are forming, norming, storming, performing, and adjourning. There isn’t a team that can work on a project immediately after their first meeting.

During the first meeting, the atmosphere will most likely be very awkward. Everyone in the newly assigned team will be sitting and exchanging eye contact but unsure how or where to begin.

You start getting comfortable with one another as time goes by. You begin to understand each team member’s strengths, delegating tasks and coordinating with each other. You start operating as a team rather than a group of individuals as a result of this.

In this article, we will dive deep into each of these five stages of team development so that you can gain a better understanding of each stage.

We will also be covering the importance of the 5 stages of group development and what benefits you can achieve by investing in them.

5 Stages of Team Development Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing & Adjourning

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What are the 5 Stages of Team Development?

According to a psychologist called Bruce Wayne Tuckman, every team progresses through five phases of development. The five stages are formation, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

The stages begin when a group first meets and ends when the project is completed. Not only do the five stages rhyme well together, but each stage is also appropriately named and plays an important role in the development of a high-functioning team.

What are the 5 Stages of Team Development

In 1965, Tuckman named these five stages of team development theory after his name, “Tuckman’s Stages”. The theory was built based on the team dynamics research he conducted.

He suggested that these stages were unavoidable for every high-performing team to work together successfully and produce high-quality outputs. In the beginning, the five stages of team development consist of only four stages.

Then in 1977, Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen introduced a fifth step to the four phases: “Adjourning.”

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Stage One of Team Development: Forming Stage

Forming is the first stage of team development. Imagine yourself on the first day of your new job or meeting your group mates for the first time for a course assignment. These feelings you feel are similar to how a newly formed team will feel.

In the beginning, the team starts by introducing themselves, and everyone is polite and friendly. The atmosphere is very positive; everyone is enthusiastic about being involved in a new project and getting to know each other.

5 Stages of Team Development - Forming Stage

During this stage, you can discuss:

Each member’s skill-set. Understanding your strengths and skills is insufficient if you are working in a team. You will also need to know what are the other team members’ unique skill sets and the role they play in the project.

Fully understanding everyone’s role and responsibilities allows the team to solve problems quickly. They also know who to reach out to for specific information or advice.

Project and result overview: As the team lead or project lead, you need to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how they contribute to making the project a success.

In your first meeting, spend additional time explaining and setting your expectations about the goals and deadline of the project. Creating a safe environment where team members are encouraged to ask questions or share their opinions openly will help in ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction.

Project timeline: Make sure that each team member knows the amount of time they have for each task. Break down the larger goals of the project into smaller milestones. Then assign the tasks with a clear deadline to each team member according to their strengths and skills.

As the group becomes more acquainted, positions and duties will emerge. Team members must understand their roles and begin building relationships with others.

This stage focuses primarily on understanding and developing relationships between team members. Thus, it is unlikely for the team to be highly productive at this stage.

Stage Two of Team Development: Storming Stage

Once the team members become familiar with each other, it is almost similar to being in a relationship. You may find the person is flawless and perfect at the beginning. But as you spend more extra time with the person, you start discovering that they’re not.

That’s when you must either learn to accept them for who they are or risk ending the relationship abruptly. During the storming stage, the initial enthusiasm and politeness are mostly gone.

Everyone starts to realize the deliverables and tasks at hand that they must deliver before the deadline. The initial enthusiasm and urge to be courteous have most likely gone off.

5 Stages of Team Development - Storming Stage

In this stage, members’ personalities may collide. They may start having disagreements about how to do a task or express their concerns if they think someone is not doing their fair share of work.

Members with a dominant personality may even challenge the project leader’s authority or leadership. It is crucial to note, however, that most teams will encounter conflicts or disagreements.

As a leader, your role is to remind your team members that conflicts are natural. Disagreements occur because each team member has a unique viewpoint on how to address the difficulties that the entire team faces.

Some entrepreneur teams bypass the storming stage entirely or look to avert conflicts at all costs. Remember that avoiding conflicts tends to cause the problem to worsen. So, it is important to recognize conflicts and work together to find common ground and move forward as a team.

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Stage Three of Team Development: Norming Stage

Team members begin to see and appreciate the contribution and strengths of their team members during the norming stage. Everyone is on the same page, working together as a team.

Of course, there will still be some habits or personalities that you may find others irritating. But you learn to appreciate them for who they are and what they contribute to the team and project with their skills.

Storming and norming can occasionally coexist. As new tasks emerge, the team may start having conflicts or disagreements again. But because the team has experience dealing with conflicts before, all of you will be better at managing them this time.

Stage Three of Team Development: Norming Stage

Stage Four of Team Development: Performing Stage

Making it to the fourth stage: the performing stage is a big deal! It means that you are getting closer to success. At this stage, team members are independent and motivated to work on their tasks without much supervision.

Compared to the previous stages, everyone is much more in-sync and working efficiently toward the project’s end goal. As the leader, ensure that you consistently check in with your team members.

By doing so, you can ensure everything is going on the right track and provide support or guidance when necessary. Your main role here is to keep everyone’s momentum going to make sure the project completes on time.

Stage Five of Team Development: Adjourning Stage

When the team is at the adjourning stage, it is usually when the project is soon to be completed. The conclusion of a project can be very discouraging for a high-performing team.

This is because the team members who have worked together closely over the past few weeks or months have no choice but to go their separate ways. The adjourning stage is also where you and your team members take a moment to reflect and look at what all of you have achieved.

During the conclusion of the project, you can discuss the whole project journey with your team members. Allow each team member some time to share their experiences. Seek their opinions on what went well and what didn’t go well to identify areas of improvement.

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Why are the 5 Stages of Team Development Important?

A high-functioning team does not happen effortlessly during the performance stage. It needs to be cultivated. The team members need to go through the forming, storming, and norming stage before getting to that level. Putting a group of talented people together does not guarantee success too.

It is essential to determine whether each individual has the right fit. Understanding Tuckman’s stages can increase the likelihood of developing a high-performing team.

The five stages of group development are critical because it ensures that all the team members are working together to achieve the project’s goal. The emphasis is on building a team that will flourish and helps the organization to achieve long-term success.

Participating in the stages of team growth is vital in helping team members to learn about their roles and responsibilities. Group development also provides the team with a chance to learn about the rest of the team’s talents which contributes to the team dynamics.

Good Examples of Team Development in the Workplace

List of 10 Benefits of Team Development

  1. Cultivate a performance-driven organization
  2. Networking and understanding each other better
  3. Improve teamwork and boost team performance
  4. Create fun and motivating work environment
  5. Create collaboration and foster a culture of innovation and creativity
  6. Hold each other accountable for their responsibilities
  7. Improve company’s organizational culture
  8. Improve employees’ inter-department/function relationships
  9. Improve employee engagement and morale
  10. Help employees discover their strengths and areas of development

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Activities for the Different Stages of Group Development

1. Establish a clear purpose and mission statement.

What is the purpose of your team or company? What values are important to you? What problem are you going to solve and why? A clear purpose and mission statement will help you to answer all these questions.

Every company has its vision, mission, and values that everyone in the company must uphold. It is the framework that will guide everyone’s decision-making. Without these, you or the organization will lose its direction.

When individuals become so engrossed in a task, they may forget why they are doing it in the first place. It’s difficult to keep sight of the “big picture”. For a team to progress, you will need to ensure everyone is aware of the goals.

As a leader, you should reinforce the purpose and mission to your team regularly.

4 Activities for the Different Stages of Group Development

2. Establish ground rules and make sure everyone follows them.

Most people don’t like rules, but they are here to help remove any uncertainty and improve the quality of work. Without them, nobody knows what constitutes appropriate behavior in the workplace.

Everyone has their preference and way of doing things. Without rules, teams become disorganized and susceptible to conflicts. Their work productivity will also be affected. Thus, establishing ground rules should be one of the first tasks for any team.

3. Allow other members the opportunity to facilitate or lead discussions.

Every team should have a leader who is responsible for leading and guiding meetings. They are in charge of making sure everyone is motivated and working efficiently toward a common goal.

Being a team leader doesn’t mean that you are the only person who should always take the lead during meetings or discussions. It is exhausting enough to lead a team. If you try to accomplish everything on your own, you will experience burnout.

Sometimes a more qualified team member can facilitate a particular discussion better than you. So, you should give them the opportunity to lead those sessions.

4. Everyone must contribute and participate in team meetings.

The purpose of forming a team is to collaborate and fulfill the team’s objectives and goals. Everyone has a role to play and contribute towards achieving the goals. It is critical to foster an open and transparent environment within the team.

Creating a safe space allows team members to participate in team meetings and be unselfish with their knowledge to solve problems and achieve goals quickly.

Good Examples of Team Development in the Workplace

Identifying Issues

Problems such as poor communication or underlying tension between team members can hinder a team’s performance. Plan development initiatives to help improve the team’s communication and find ways to reduce workplace tensions.

Schedule weekly team meetings to have each team member report their weekly achievement and highlight any roadblocks they faced. Cultivate an environment where team members can share any information freely to help the team solve problems quickly.

You can also introduce an open door policy to encourage team members to share their concerns with you.

Good Examples of Team Development in the Workplace

Setting Expectations

A leader must evaluate their team’s standards. Your team’s behavioral expectations may be different from another team. For example, a team may emphasize submitting work on time but ignore the quality of the work submitted.

Hence, as a leader, you need to set the behavioral and work expectations clearly to your team members before initiating a new project.

Lack of clarity

When working on a project, team members need to understand clearly what their roles and responsibilities are. When team members are unsure about their goals, it can create role ambiguity and waste their energy working on unrelated tasks.

To ensure all the team members understand your expectations, schedule time to talk about the project’s requirements. Check-in weekly with them so that you can monitor their work progress, clarify and eliminate any confusion they may have regarding their tasks or project.

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Effective Team Development with Project Management Software & Tools

It is worth noting that the usage of project management tools can help expedite the process of a team working together. Project management software enables a team to cooperate, communicate, and execute work efficiently.

Here is a list of three project management tools to assist your team in collaborating more effectively.

1. Jira 

Is an agile project management software used to plan, monitor, and deploy software. It is a popular tool that was created for agile teams. Users can monitor bugs, deploy up-to-date software and enable teams to establish their workflows. It can be integrated with third-party tools, which allow teams to manage their projects and products from the beginning to completion.

2. Wrike

Is an award-winning work management software used for real-time collaboration, planning and monitoring projects, and automating reports. Gantt charts, Kanban boards, customizable dashboards, and custom request forms are Wrike’s 100% scalable features. Wrike also provides time tracking, budget management, and project portfolio analysis. Users’ data are also kept safe with Wrike’s enterprise-level security capabilities.

Effective Team Development with Project Management Software & Tools

3. TeamWork

Is a fantastic online platform that alleviates many pain points associated with project management. TeamWork provides users with an interface to access all the tools they require to manage their projects and milestones. Project managers or business owners can also monitor their team members’ time and workloads, track approaching project deadlines, issue invoices to clients for billable work, and much more.

4. MeisterTask

MeisterTask is a basic but effective Kanban framework that simplifies project management. This intuitive and straightforward online task management tool is a popular choice for organizations that value clear visual design and user experience.

It is extensive collaborative features like watching, mentioning, tagging, and task scheduling make it easy and fun for users to work with their colleagues both in-house and from home. MeisterTask is fast and logical because of its automation and integration with tools such as G Suite, Slack, and GitHub.

5. Basecamp

Basecamp is a well-known project management software utilized by many project management teams. This software provides a variety of collaboration capabilities, such as a specific discussion space where users can submit comments.

Users will also receive a status update or overview of the projects your team is currently working on. If you can’t find something, you may take advantage of this software’s excellent search engine to find your files.

However, this project management tool doesn’t provide users with milestones and customization choices. Users cannot specify an estimated timeline for a work to be completed or assign the work to multiple users.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Stages of Team Development

What are the 5 Stages of Team Development?

The five stages of team development, according to Bruce Wayne Tuckman, are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

What is an Example of Norming?

Having worked with Natasha for two months, Ben recognizes that Natasha has a wealth of experience in data science. She is great at compiling and analyzing large data sets to uncover patterns and trends.

Thus, Ben is working closely with Natasha to identify trends and draw informed insights from the large marketing datasets he collected. Ben can then compile the findings and analysis into a presentation and present it to his boss.

What is Adjourning in Team Development?

When the team is at the adjourning stage, it is usually when the project is soon to be completed. The conclusion of a project can be very discouraging for a high-performing team.

But it is also a good time for you and your team members to take a moment to reflect and look at what all of you have achieved.

What is Bruce Tuckman’s theory?

In 1965, Tuckman introduced the five stages of team development theory named “Tuckman’s Stages”. The theory was built based on the team dynamics research he conducted.

He suggested that these stages were unavoidable for every high-performing team to work together successfully and produce high-quality outputs.

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