Software development

Tuckman’s Theory: Five Stages of Team Development

One recommendation is to see whether the team can adjust their working hours to increase the overlap times and opportunities for collaboration. These working hours could be periodically shifted to ensure no location experiences a tricky work-life balance for an extended period. During the performing stage, the team functions as a unit and the energy of the group will benefit the task.

tuckman stages of team dynamics

Each of these rhyming stages are aptly named and plays a significant role in building a highly functioning business team. The names of these four traits have been variously revised by others over the decades, so you might find different terms used in different contexts. The four general traits are now often described as Dominance, Influence/Inspiring Steadiness/Supportive, and Compliance/Conscientiousness (see Figure 4.2.3). In this stage typically team members are ready to leave causing significant change to the team structure, membership, or purpose and the team during the last week of class. While the group continues to perform productively they also need time to manage their feelings of termination and transition.

This simple overview of the Tuckman ‘Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing’ model offers a simple way to understand how groups develop. Working in remote Agile teams can often present significant challenges. However, many of our teams were at least partially remote, and we could build and iterate on those known patterns. Agile teams are well-positioned to adapt through their commitment to agility, teaming, and relentless improvement. Ensure instructions are clear and activities are adapted for remote participation. Out-of-hours technical support, covering all required time zones.

Using the Stages of Team Development

See also Leadership tips and Leadership theories, both of which relate strongly to understanding and managing groups. The discussions above have been about creating the right conditions to support remote working. This final section outlines practical recommendations for meetings and events throughout the iteration when conducted online.

It’s important at this stage that the group starts to develop an understanding of the part each person will play. The following table represents the team attitude on these three factors during each stage of development. It also gives managers and team leaders an idea of what to expect when bringing their team together. By establishing a routine during the storming stage, you’ve laid down the norms of behaviour that are accepted and understood by the team.

tuckman stages of team dynamics

Members start to feel part of a team and can take pleasure from the increased group cohesion. Teams initially go through the “forming” stage in which team members are positive and polite. Behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, which avoids controversy or conflict. Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on more routine work . Team members are also gathering information and impressions about each other, about the scope of the task and how to approach it. This is a comfortable stage to be in, but by avoiding conflict not much actually gets done.

In this model, seven different variables impact the development and effectiveness of a team. Five variables are considered internal factors, while the other two are considered external factors. Though it can be good to keep your eye on the positives, the Lencioni model shouldn’t be overlooked for its negative view of what to avoid. No matter how successful your team is, it can be helpful to understand what factors could be detrimental to your team and what to do if you end up facing one of them. The last stage in the model is called adjourning, which has to do with closing things off and departing on a positive note. There are many emotions and some complications that can come with this, and that’s why I want you to understand it in detail.

This section reviews a variety models often applied in workplaces that can help a team perform optimally and manage crises effectively. In this stage, team members are creating new ways of doing and being together. As the group develops cohesion, leadership changes from ‘one’ teammate in charge to shared leadership. Team members learn they have to trust one another for shared leadership to be effective. Everyone has a clear shared vision of their roles and processes, and they’re focused on meeting the team’s goals. Maybe your team is humming along in the “performing” stage, then a new person joins.

Less time is needed to form, storm and learn to norm; performing teams can move quickly and interdependently to tackling the task at hand. Adjourning and going their separate ways can often be somewhat emotional for these teams. Figure 4.2.2 depicts the trajectory of each team member during each stage.

Navigating the “norming” stage

How did you know what behaviors were acceptable or what level of performance was required? Teams usually develop norms that guide the activities of team members. Team norms set a standard for behavior, attitude, and performance that all team members are expected to follow.

The most commonly used framework for a team’s stages of development was developed in the mid-1960s by Bruce W. Tuckman. Although many authors have written variations and enhancements to Tuckman’s work, his descriptions of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing provide a useful framework for looking at your own team. Breaking up a team can be stressful for all concerned and the “adjourning” stage is important in solidifying team goals and reaching personal conclusions. During this stage, it is important for the team to brief and share their improved processes with the rest of the organization. It’s not uncommon for team members to maintain a close relationship long after the team disbands. Teams will inevitably bounce back and forth between the “Storming” and the “Norming” stages whenever issues arise.

In the storming stage, virtual team leaders should be aware that sub-groups may develop in the team. Distractions from relationships and emotional issues may affect team performance. Alasdair A. K. White together with his colleague, John Fairhurst, examined Tuckman’s development sequence when developing the White-Fairhurst TPR model. They simplify the sequence and group the forming-storming-norming stages together as the “transforming” phase, which they equate with the initial performance level. This is then followed by a “performing” phase that leads to a new performance level which they call the “reforming” phase. Being part of a high-performance team can be extremely rewarding, but it requires time and commitment to get to that stage.

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Essentially, it is a model that can be used to structure the growth and maturation of a team. Seamless absence tracking, automated performance cycles and more. The team that’s in this stage has laid all the groundwork to be a highly-functioning team. Accepting constructive criticism from peers is also essential for productive problem-solving, and defining rules of engagement upfront will allow for confidential dialogue with no judgment or ill intentions.

The storming stage sees tension arise amongst team members, often as individuals’ opinions or goals clash. Virtual teams now move beyond the introductory phase and put plans into action. Once everyone feels more at ease, the team begins to work together toward common goals. People become familiar with others’ strengths and weaknesses and learn how best to use them.

Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development explained: theory and criticism

Likewise, a strategic pivot for the company sends your team back to the “storming” phase. Sounds great in theory, but putting it into practice can feel daunting. With a structured approach, you can improve your team’s performance at each stage of development. Team members may feel a variety of concerns about the team’s impending dissolution. They may be feeling some anxiety because of uncertainty about their individual role or future responsibilities. They may feel sadness or a sense of loss about the changes coming to their team relationships.

  • Time is allocated on the calendar for each iteration for team syncs.
  • This creates conflict and problems in the team and can cause quite a strain on the team’s culture and, eventually, performance.
  • Team members look to a group leader for direction and guidance, usually CORAL project guides.
  • Timothy Biggs suggested that an additional stage be added of “norming” after “forming” and renaming the traditional norming stage “re-norming”.
  • We all perceive things in our own unique way based on past experience and what we know now.

Members may express frustration about constraints that slow their individual or the team’s progress; this frustration might be directed towards other members of the team, the team leadership or the team’s sponsor. During the Storming stage, team members may argue or become critical of the team’s original mission or goals. As the team begins to move towards its goals, members discover that the team can’t live up to all of their early excitement and expectations.

What is Tuckman’s Model?

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. Supervisors during this phase may be more accessible, but tend to remain directive in their guidance of decision-making and professional behaviour. The team members will therefore resolve their differences and members will be able to participate with one another more comfortably. The ideal is that they will not feel that they are being judged, and will therefore share their opinions and views.

Still, they hesitate to voice their opinions for fear of being excluded from the group. The team leader has a guiding role in this difficult transition stage. He has to encourage team members to speak freely and to be open-minded.

It’s the stage that every group will hope to make as it’s when you can get your best work done. Your team can get into the groove of working together towards a common goal. This is the stage where egos may start to show themselves and tempers may flare.

However, be mindful when designing fun interactions for the team. Everyone’s idea of fun differs, and people respond differently to these activities. Team members should not be made to feel uncomfortable or forced to participate if they do not want to. Getting the team to suggest activities will help avoid this situation collectively. One approach is team sync to check whether remote team members can effectively access all the information and resources they need to work the following day.

By understanding how teams are formed, grow, adapt, and achieve their goals, we can construct a framework of tools and best practices that foster successful virtual team formation and performance. Different team structures require strategies to initiate, manage, and nurture participation. Through research into the various stages of virtual team development, we can develop an in-depth understanding of each stage so that organizations have a better chance of managing them efficiently and effectively. This article will examine the stages of virtual team development to give insights into learning what processes underpin successful virtual team dynamics. This is the second stage of team development, where the group starts to sort itself out and gain each others’ trust. This stage often starts when they voice their opinions; conflict may arise between team members as power and status are assigned.

Phase Five: Adjourning

Remember that ultimately you can’t decree a performance culture upon your team – the team as a whole will have to go through the stages itself. Your role is to be aware of the challenges the team will face and support the team throughout this journey. As a practice that supports Built-in Quality, pairing ensures that all work has a second pair of eyes on it, identifying opportunities for improvements and recognizing potential errors and defects. It also provides that team members spend time working together. This supports knowledge sharing and skills development and drives collaboration. It also prevents the isolation effect experienced by remote team members, highlighted previously.

Leadership responsibilities can be shared as you facilitate and enable your team. You’ll get to know your team members’ personalities and attitudes to working. There might be clashes, and some will start to question the leadership and challenge decisions because they believe there’s a better way. This stage doesn’t focus so much on proper processes, or even having clearly defined roles. Draw a simple four-stage diagram and ask each person to place a dot or sticky note next to the stage they think the team is at.

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