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The 5 Stages of Team Development

In Tuckman’s 1965 paper, only 50% of the studies identified a stage of intragroup conflict, and some of the remaining studies jumped directly from stage 1 to stage 3. Some groups may avoid the phase altogether, but for those who do not, the duration, intensity and destructiveness of the « storms » can be varied. Tolerance of each team member and their differences should be emphasized; without tolerance and patience the team will fail. This phase can become destructive to the team and will lower motivation if allowed to get out of control. Some teams will never develop past this stage; however, disagreements within the team can make members stronger, more versatile, and able to work more effectively together.

team development stage

His theory, which is referred to as Tuckman’s Stages, is centered around his research on the dynamics of teams and team building. His common belief of team development is that the stages are all necessary for a group to work together as effectively together as possible in order to see success. As a team goes through the stages, individual members learn more about their potential and how to work dynamically as part of a collective.

The Most Effective Ways to Motivate Employees and Increase Productivity

When the clouds part, the group moves from the storming stage to the norming stage of group development. In this stage, the team learns how to work towards a common goal and shared leadership emerges. The implication of Tuckman’s group development is essential for establishing a cohesive and productive project management team.

They have learned to work together and have some momentum in the team process. In the first stage of forming, this newly chartered group of people meets and gets to know each other. For instance, a team sponsor will ensure that the team has the budget and the staff hours available to support the project. Measure both the team’s and each individual’s overall performance to quantify all contributions. Minimize concerns around the potential for the team to lose momentum or dissolve by managing change and future expectations. Continue to encourage collaboration and teamwork by reinforcing the norms that have been established to this point.

At the performing stage, it’s easy to accomplish tasks since members are in tandem and understand the process. Team members thrive when handling individual and collective tasks since each individual’s skills are fully optimized. As strong personalities emerge, team leaders should ensure these individuals don’t inadvertently dominate the rest of the team and the project’s outcomes.

How Leaders Can Help at the Adjourning Stage

This stage begins to occur as the process of organizing tasks and processes surface interpersonal conflicts. Feedback is critical to improving your team’s performance while navigating through the five stages. In this regard, consider ending each meeting with constructive and insightful feedback to enhance the group process. Encouraging the notion that feedback should be given after every meeting makes it easier for team members to air their views. In this stage, the team comes together for the first time, and members get to know each other.

  • Forming— In the forming stage, team members are getting to know each other and trying to figure out how they can work together.
  • This is a highly productive stage both personally and professionally.
  • The team members are trying to figure out their roles and what the team should be doing, which can lead to some conflict.
  • The five stages of team development are forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
  • In most professional circumstances there will be instances where employees will need to work together to complete a common goal or task.
  • Remember that no matter what, problems and conflict can still emerge, but they’re handled and dealt with in a constructive and honest manner.
  • A team is a group of individuals who work together toward a common goal.

The final stage, adjourning, involves the termination of task behaviors and disengagement from relationships. Concluding a group can create some apprehension – in effect, a minor crisis. The termination of the group is a regressive movement from giving up control to giving up inclusion in the group. True interdependence is the norm of this stage of group development.

Performing — High-performance is the name of the game.

For example, if the project includes updating social media, sending email marketing campaigns, or even creating lead magnets, a tool like HubSpot is great for this level of marketing automation. Before committing to a tool, give your team some time to work with it and test it out to make sure it fits their needs. Lots of tools offer free trials, so use that time to experiment and check its compatibility with other products you use. By starting with a free trial, you have the freedom to learn as much as possible about the product before committing to it.

team development stage

Members become more comfortable with each other and understand the significance of utilizing their diverse perspectives to find practical solutions to any challenges. The fourth stage of team development and occurs once the team has established itself as a cohesive unit. Once the team has reached the performing stage, its members begin to feel confident enough to perform at their peak level. Keep reminding the team to check in with each other regularly in person or via instant chat, but stay out of their way. They will waste time and lose their focus if they have to answer frequent, unscheduled questions about what they’re working on.

However, there are some strategies you can do to help your team advance through the five stages with minimal conflict. When each of the five stages is carried through, your group will feel more in sync and be a high-functioning unit. No one is afraid to ask a question, bring up a concern, or pose a new way of going about certain tasks. Everyone can bring their whole self to the team, play to their strengths, and will step up and help one another when it’s needed. ProductFeatures OverviewSee how high-performing teams are using Fellow to level-up their meeting and productivity habits.

Free Resources

During the Norming stage, members shift their energy to the team’s goals and show an increase in productivity, in both individual and collective work. The team may find that this is an appropriate time for an evaluation of team processes and productivity. The most commonly used framework for a team’s stages of development was developed in the mid-1960s by Bruce W. Tuckman. Instead of letting team members battle it out in private messages select the best solution, be ready to invite them into a chat room to offer advice or ask some key questions. Very few team members will have your perspective on the entire project (or the full scope of your team’s segment of the project), so don’t be afraid to jump in.

With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, everyone can work visually and collaborate in real time while building flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, and more. But no matter what the reason teams are formed, they go through four stages, according to a 1965 research paper by Bruce Tuckman of the Naval Medical Research Institute at Bethesda. When team members change, whether a member leaves or new members join the team, the stages are often repeated. This is a slow, more casual stage while members get to know and trust each other.

team development stage

Adjourning— The adjourning stage is when the team comes to an end. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as the team completing its task or disbanding due to conflict. Regardless of the reason, this is the stage where the team officially ends. Maintaining an effective team is much like maintaining a garden; if left unattended, it loses its ability to thrive. Team development ensures that the team can thrive in the long term.

Five Stages of Team Development

Think of the forming stage like the first day of school or the first day at a new job. Everyone is ready to roll up their sleeves, get to know each other and get started on the project. ResourcesBlogLeadership, productivity, and meeting insights to fast-track your way to being a great leader. Slack IntegrationCollaborate on meeting agendas, share notes, and exchange feedback – without leaving Slack. Meeting MinutesCreate official records of the discussions and action items generated during meetings and save time with Fellow’s meeting minutes templates.

In the storming and adjourning stage conflicts might occur and they are something very common within teams. It is important to understand that conflict among team members may undermine team cohesion and performance (McShane et al., 2018, p. 307). It refers to the degree of attraction people feel toward the team and their motivation to remain members. More than that, the Tuckman model gives each team leader an intuitive framework to help them understand their role at each stage of the development process. They can use this to properly set priorities, benchmarks and goals, helping them make adjustments when needed and support their teams in their progress. Tuckman’s team development model focuses on the idea that teams do not form naturally and spontaneously – you have to work towards it.

John Fairhurst TPR model

Organizations are only as strong as the groups of people who help them accomplish objectives. In this stage team members are comfortable with each other and utilize their different perspectives to find workable solutions. Workgroups become a cohesive team when they learn to appreciate differences. Recognize and celebrate the team’s achievements, to make sure your work as a team ends on a positive note. This is important considering that at least some of you may work together in the future once again.


Let’s look at the five stages of team development to unleash a team’s true potential. As the real work kicks in, the project may present both technical and interpersonal challenges. Individual work habits, leadership decisions, or lapses in communication can cause tension within a team. The four stages of team development adjourning stage is an excellent opportunity for team leaders to encourage long-term relationships, celebrate the project’s closing, and reflect on the team’s progress and efforts. In an organization, the adjourning stage could translate into a change in employees’ job responsibilities.

Navigate the stages of team development

While some teams think they can skip this stage, it’s important to dive into it with the expectation that there may be some conflict. In order to not get bottlenecked in the storming stage, members have to work together and play to each other’s strengths to overcome obstacles and stay on pace. Also, take the time to address and overcome conflicts early on so they don’t stay an issue throughout the other phases. Objectives Stay on top of your team’s goals by clearly recording, defining, and tracking the progress of your OKRs in Fellow’s Objectives tool. Some leaders are afraid of this stage since tensions may get high during this phase of forming a team. They should be prepared for there to be some tension amongst team members but it is still worth it.

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