Bruce Tuckman's Team Development Stages

Bruce Tuckman's Team Development Stages is a well-known model developed by Bruce Tuckman. The model is renowned for its rhyming descriptors of the team development stages Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning/Mourning.



Consider your own career, team-based hobbies, or indeed any of the reality TV shows over the years: Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity, The Apprentice, etc. and you will likely observe all of these stages.


The Five Stages of Bruce Tuckman's Team Development Model


Below, we have outlined the five stages of Bruce Tuckman's Team Development Model to offer you a greater insight into the model.


Forming

At this stage, the team is coming together, there is often excitement and nervous anticipation and team members have expectations about what's to come. They tend to be on their best behaviour whilst they identify the lay of the land and those they are about to work with.


Storming

The team is getting to know one another and they start to notice similarities and differences, these differences can begin to cause a divide in the team and they need to be worked through. These can show as open conflict or disagreement and sometimes they are quickly resolved and other times they require more support in moving forwards.


Norming

By this stage, there is a common understanding of roles, responsibilities, and expectations as the team have a clear purpose, direction, and understand their own and others objectives - they are finding out how to play their strengths with and for one another and are able to work through challenges and setbacks.


Performing

This is is a stage of pride, where the team is producing excellent results, they have respect for each other's contributions and proudly credit one another for their work. They are able to achieve more collectively than they'd achieve alone. They set challenging targets, enjoy hitting them, and can respectfully hold each other to account for progress, results and learn from setbacks.


Adjourning/Mourning

At this stage, the team is disbanded and there is often a sense of both celebration after the successes achieved by the team, as well as a sense of loss and sadness that the team's purpose has come to an end. There is a time for reflection and acknowledging the ups and downs and a period of unknown expectations about whether the future will deliver such a team for them to be a part of again.


The Leader's Role


One of the key roles of a successful leader is to help their teams develop to the high performing stage by enabling them with the time, knowledge, skills, tools, and behaviours to create this success for themselves.

The five stages of Bruce Tuckman's Team Development Model are helpful to a leader to recognise where the team is and choose suitable development techniques to help them move to the next stage. For example, if a team is at the storming stage, a team-based communication model such as the CoreStrengths® Relationship Intelligence profile might be a suitable tool to help them build awareness of their strengths and how they play these as a team.


Although depicted in a somewhat linear way, the model is not always linear and Tuckman states that a team can move stages depending on the context and the situation.


Here at The Leadership Coaches, we work with a wide variety of teams at all sorts of stages, to help them develop and often attain results much quicker than if they take the journey of discovery alone.


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