Teammates often go through recognizable stages as they change from being a group of people to a close-knit team with common vision and goal. Bruce Tuckman’s model describes these stages properly, helping leaders enhance teams’ performance effectively and quickly.In his first article “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups” 1965, the American psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the memorable phrase “forming, storming, norming, and performing” to describe the path that most teams follow on their way to high performance. Later, in 1977, he added a fifth stage, “adjourning”, that involves completing the task and breaking up the team (in some texts referred to as Mourning).

Forming

“In this stage, most team members are positive and polite. Some are anxious, as they don’t have fully understood what work the team will do. Others are simply excited about the task ahead. As a leader, you play a dominant role at this stage, because team members’ roles and responsibilities aren’t clear.”

Tip for you during this stage: Set clear vision and goals, both for the whole team and for individuals and, above all, focus on building trust among team members and toward you!

Storming

“Next, the team moves into the storming phase, where people start to push against the boundaries established in the forming stage. This is the stage where many teams fail. Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members’ natural working styles. People may work in different ways for all sorts of reasons but, if differing working styles cause unforeseen problems, they may become frustrated.”

Tip for you during this stage: Remain positive and explain the Tuckman’s model, so those people see that things will get better in the future. It could help use some assessment indicators to help people learn about different work styles and strengths.

Norming

“Gradually, the team moves into the norming stage. This is when people start to resolve their differences, appreciate colleagues’ strengths, and respect your authority as a leader. Now that your team members know one another better, they may socialize together, and they are able to ask one another for help and provide constructive feedback. People develop a stronger commitment to the team goal, and you start to see good progress towards it.”

Tip for you during this stage: Step back and help team take its own responsibility towards the goal achievement. This is also a good time for proposing team-building initiatives too!

Performing

“The team reaches the performing stage, when hard work leads, without friction, to the achievement of the team’s goal. The structures and processes that you have set up support this well. As a leader, you can delegate much of your work, and you can concentrate on developing team members. It feels easy to be part of the team at this stage, and people who join or leave won’t disrupt performance.”

Tip for you during this stage: Delegate tasks as far as you can. You will now be able to start focusing on people career development and new goals.

Adjourning (or Mourning)

“Many teams will reach this stage eventually. For example, project teams exist for only a fixed period, and even permanent teams may be disbanded through organizational restructuring. Team members who like routine, or who have developed close working relationships with colleagues, may find this stage difficult, particularly if their future now looks uncertain.”

Tip for you during this stage: Take your time to celebrate the team’s achievements – you may work with some of your people again, and this will be much easier if people view past experiences positively.

Let’s use the Tuckman’s model to help your team reach the performing stage as quickly as possible! The earlier you identify your team development stage, the earlier you can use the right strategies that move your team through to the next stage!

With hard work, focus and long last vision, you’ll quickly have a high-performing team!

Enza Artino,
International Service Manager c/o Wyser; Coaching Competence Center Manager c/o Gi Group