Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development Explained

Team Development

Dr. Bruce Tuckman is the psychologist who found that team development progresses through four stages, which include forming, storming, norming, and performing.

This article will discuss each of these stages in detail by exploring the qualities that are typically associated with each stage.

Teams go through stages of growth, much like children do as they grow into adults. Teams evolve from early formation through several phases to a fully-fledged organisation when they are properly maintained.

Teams, like young infants, might become trapped in an immature stage, resulting in stunted growth and inefficiency. Influential team members may successfully drive a team toward maturity with particular positive behaviours.

Understanding the stages of growth and realising that each team member has a significant role to play at each level is crucial to building a healthy and effective team. Tuckman (1965) identified four stages of team development, including Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.


Early on, team members “test the water” to identify the group’s behaviour. Members typically say that they need to agree on their aims, determine their first objectives, and create ground rules. During this time, the members look for guidance from the leader. Tuckman linked the formation stage to the time exhibited by young infants of orientation and dependence. The ensemble is usually at its finest at this period.

At this point, most members of the group are exceedingly courteous and still very optimistic about the future. Until the team dynamics and duties have been established, the team leader often assumes the responsibility of directing the members of the group. Team goals, ground rules, and individual responsibilities may be discussed during Tuckman’s formation phase but it is doubtful that the team will be high-performing at this point in time.


In this phase, conflicts amongst team members often occur. Here, the team is at its highest danger of deception. Members of a well-oriented, open, optimistic team ask questions, compromise, and challenge one other constructively. This energy should encourage innovation, but disagreement may also generate animosity. Members might create sub-groups to nurture the dispute.

Task avoidance might occur if members benefit from the energy generated during hot contests. Even if some teams never pass this level, it should not be ignored. Conflict does not have to be unproductive. Teams without storms never learn to handle differences.


In Norming, the group members begin to feel like they’re achieving something that benefits the group. The structural resistance has diminished as the members became more comfortable with one another. Some conflicts might have been resolved or an equilibrium was reached.

As the storm passes, team members learn to address problems and concentrate on the task. The risk is that members might focus on conflict prevention such that they are unwilling to communicate challenging thoughts. There is also an undesirable tendency for “collective thought.” The competitive and informal atmosphere might limit the prevalent mindset.


This step is the reward for the hard effort of the team member. What was a collection of people has become a team. Objectives, roles, and standards are widely agreed upon, and members are dedicated to delivering outcomes. They confront disagreements, challenge ideas without becoming personal, and take communal delight in a team accomplishment—the smooth functioning team at the performance stage characterised by creative conflict and inventive issue solutions.

Adjourning Stage (Fifth Stage)

The fifth phase in the growth of Tuckman is the adjournment phase. In fact, this last stage was only incorporated into the 1977 Tuckman model and the most melancholic of all team-building phases. The postponement phase implies that project teams exist only for a certain duration; after it has fulfilled the team’s goal, it disintegrates themselves. In fact, there is no need for team members to stick together if the particular project they got together has completed.

Now they should move and get together for further goals and missions or new projects. It may be equated to a breakdown as it is frequently difficult for team members to remove themselves from others with whom they have established intimate links.


Tuckman’s model assumes that an individual is in some capacity a leader and a team member, which doesn’t fit well for the majority of projects that are run by companies. Instead, companies focus on developing their projects in a specific area, with a focus on team and project management, and this has become increasingly important in a more global economy.

When we talk about a team we’re talking about a group of people who have the same goals and who will take care of these goals as a team. In some cases a team consists of just one individual who is responsible for making the plan, and he or she is the sole team member. However, the majority of teams are more than one individual. If you are building a team for the first time, it may not be clear who should be leading the team, or if that should be decided by the client or by a group of people.

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