Tuesday, 18 June 2019 14:13

What Stage is Your Team At?

It’s probably a fair assumption that most of the projects or tasks undertaken in the workplace are worked on by teams; ie a number of different people, each assigned with his or her own responsibilities in order to achieve a common goal. Even the most fundamental of projects can require a team of as few as two people with very different tasks to get a job done. Think; one to paint the wall and one to hold the ladder.

Amongst teams, there will be a range of different skills, abilities, personalities and ways of working that can create challenges that need to be overcome. In the 1960’s, psychologist Bruce Tuckman characterised the process that teams go through when reaching a productive state with the phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his article, "Developmental Sequence in Small Groups." He later added a fifth stage of “adjourning”.

It is very easy to apply Tuckman’s Model to a team that you work in or manage to understand where in the journey that team has been and is now. Here’s a brief description of each stage:

Forming: The team has just come together, and people are polite if perhaps a little reserved with one another as they learn and understand others’ job roles, ways of working and personalities. Individuals will be looking at how they and others fit in the team and some anxiety my bubble to the surface due to insecurity or lack of clarity. This is a crucial time for leaders to demonstrate strong guidance.

Storming: Team members have the measure of one another now and there may be conflict as some push for supremacy or dominance. Some may struggle to accommodate other members’ working styles and processes, which can create frustration. As a leader you may find your authority challenged, particularly if ground rules haven’t been set or if there is a lack of established processes. Storming can also occur when a new member joins a stable team as the dynamic shifts and members once again must establish themselves and their positions.

Norming: As team members resolve their differences, understand their own and colleagues’ roles, and the chain of command is established, we move to a position where we see some real progress towards the team’s goals. Members will start to rely on one another and feel able to ask for help from one another. They may even begin to socialise and form friendships. The norming stage can take a while to establish as new tasks or team members send the team back to storming.

Performing: Eventually we should get to a stage where the team is achieving what it was set up to do and manages this without conflict or resistance. A sign that the team has reached this stage is when it continues to function in the absence of its leader. A performing team should be able to continue effectively even if team members come and go.

Adjourning: This stage can occur if the team was set up to complete a specific task which it achieves and is subsequently disbanded, or if a restructure breaks the team apart. This can be a difficult stage for some people, especially when strong friendships have been formed, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “mourning”.

Recognising what stage your team is at will make your management of it more effective as you can implement tactics to progress to the performing stage more quickly. We discuss Tuckman’s model in more detail in our Level 2 Team Member and Team Leader courses which you can attend for free, along with other courses, if your business is in Worcestershire, Swindon & Wiltshire or Bristol & the West of England LEP areas. Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

Read 4689 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 May 2022 10:47


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