Tuckman’s stages of group development
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Tuckman’s stages of group development

In a previous blog, Lynsey talked about improving the performance of a team.

Whilst considering the management tips provided it would be helpful to consider the current stage of development for that team or group. So let’s have a look at Tuckman’s model of group development.

Tuckman’s model of group development

Tuckman’s model of group development suggests that, for a team to grow from a group of individuals to a performing team, it needs to move through 4 stages. For the team to be able to achieve peak-performance, it will go through 4 stages called Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing. An ultimate phase (added in 1977), Adjourning, completes the team development cycle. This final stage of high team maturity, occurs due to the changes in the surrounding environment. This often brings new challenges and therefore requires a restructure of the team. Through the Adjourning stage, the team development cycle will then be closed. This allows a new cycle to be started in order to build a new team that can tackle those changes.

How can this help you as a Team Leader?

Being able to identify the current stage of your team enables you to adopt the relevant approach to develop them to the next stage.  You will continue to do this until the team reaches a maximal performance level.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to:

Let’s have a look at each stage of Tuckman’s model and, more importantly, a list of recommendations to help you manage your team within each stage.

Forming stage

What can you as the team leader/manager do at this stage?

Set clear goals and expectations. Use KPIs to monitor performance.

Agree on behavioural standards and start to establish a positive team culture.

Spend time with individuals in the team to get to know them, their strengths and development areas.

Hold regular team meetings and remain involved and visual.

Storming stage

What can you as the team leader/manager do at this stage?

You need to remain in control, encouraging a constructive exchange of ideas.

If team members start to veer away from the team behaviours agreed upon in the forming stage then your job is to remind them.

Promote diversity and use it to the advantage of the team.

Continue to spend time with individuals in the team to support their development and that of the team.

Set team objectives that foster collaboration. ie. Goals that will be achieved using the unique knowledge, skills or expertise of each team member.

Norming stage

If the stormimg stage is handled well, the team should be in a position where each team member is clear on their accountabilities, working methods, and way of interacting with each other.


What can you as the team leader/manager do at this stage?

Develop individual team members through a personalised development plan. Make sure you develop all individuals in the team.

At this stage you can take a step back and allow the team to make improvements themselves. Be careful not to withdraw too much.

Keep stimulating healthy debate to help the team develop further and reach the performing stage.

Performing stage

The last duty for the manager in charge of the team will be to prepare for the future… If you are promoted thanks to your success in developing the team up to its highest maturity stage, it is then your responsibility to find the best successor and help the transition. If you stay as the head of the team, you need to anticipate what may come and disrupt the team performance (new technology, new mission, new product, new management…)

In both cases (a new manager or a disruption), the team will go through its last stage, adjourning, because the new conditions or environment will call for a revised structure, starting again with a new team development cycle at the forming stage…

So what does this mean for you?

By considering Tuckman’s model that divides the team development cycle into 5 stages: Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing – Adjourning and by identifying in which stage your team operates, you, as the manager in charge can better define the type of strategy that is required to develop your team up to the highest level of maturity, resulting in high performance.

While being clear on the objectives, values and KPIs during the norming stage, you (the manager) need to set the foundation to handle the difficult storming phase. Adapting to each individuals, promoting tolerance and open, constructive exchange of opinions while showing the direction as a leader should then allow you (the manager) to move the team from the storming stage to the norming one. Now all team members are working together, aligned to the team goals you (the manager) should set higher expectations and identify areas of improvement to reach the performing stage. All team members have an active role to play in moving the team to this high maturity stage.

Finally, because most businesses and organisations are by nature subject to external environmental factors as well as internal change, the team will very probably need adjusting. It will likely be adjourned and replaced by a new team. This new team starting a new cycle at the forming stage of Tuckman’s model…

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