Five Stages of Team Development

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What is a Team?

A team is defined as "a group of people working together towards a common goal." A team comprises individuals who are willing to put aside their differences to achieve something bigger than themselves. This is where the idea of 'team building' comes from.

KEY Takeaways

  • A team is a group of people working toward a common objective.
  • There are five stages of team development according to Bruce Tuckman: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning
  • Leaders must keep an eye on the changing needs of the team, and adapt accordingly.

Five Stages of Team Building/ Development

According to Bruce Tuckman's Model for Team Development, any team goes through these five stages: Forming, Storming, Normalizing, Performing and Adjourning.

These stages are used to describe how teams develop and perform. This is particularly useful for sports teams and applies to other groups such as businesses, families and even friendships.

  1. Stage 1: Forming
  2. Stage 2: Storming
  3. Stage 3: Norming
  4. Stage 4: Performing
  5. Stage 5: Adjourning


Stage 1: Forming Stage

The forming stage is where a new team starts off. When everyone gets together for the first time, they start to figure out what they are doing. This is also known as 'getting to know each other' or 'getting comfortable with one another. The most crucial thing in this stage is that people feel safe enough to be themselves. They don't have to worry about being judged or criticized by others.

The purpose of forming is to establish trust between team members and ensure that they have similar goals and values.

Stage 2: Storming Stage

Once things start to settle down, the team begins to experience conflict and competition. The storming stage is the most critical and challenging stage to pass through - a period marked by conflict and competitiveness when individuals begin to assert themselves. Storming is about asserting yourself, having opinions, being passionate and being competitive. During storming, you may experience tension as well as frustration because there are disagreements within the group. However, if you allow these feelings to fester, then they will eventually turn into resentment and anger. If you're not careful, storming could lead to arguments, power struggles, gossip and even sabotage. To avoid all this, take steps to manage your emotions and maintain good relationships.

Stage 3: Norming Stage

With maturity comes stability. Teams should be able to work together without constant conflict and disagreement. Members of the team start to see each other more frequently and begin to develop a closer relationship. They learn to trust one another and become comfortable around one another.

The third stage of team development occurs when everyone on the team has developed a strong sense of belonging and trust. During this stage, teams also start to establish rules and procedures to guide decision-making and behaviour.

Stage 4: Performing Stage

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.

Members of the team are comfortable sharing information and discussing problems openly. This is when the team starts to deliver results. 

Stage 5: Adjourning Stage

In the initial model proposed by Bruce Tuckman, he proposed the first four stages. This stage (Adjouning) was added later on in the model. Once the project for which the team was assembled, gets completed the team is disbanded.

When a team reaches this stage, it has achieved its goals and objectives. It has learned what works and doesn't, and now it is time to disband and move on.

Appropriate Leadership Styles During Five Stages of Team Development

- During the forming stage of team development, a democratic leadership style may be most effective in allowing team members to share their ideas and input, as the team is still establishing its goals and roles.

- During the storming stage, a more directive leadership style may be necessary in order to keep the team focused and on track, as conflicts and differences of opinion may arise.

- In the norming stage, a coaching or mentoring leadership style may be helpful in supporting team members as they work towards achieving their goals and becoming more cohesive.

- During the performing stage, a delegative leadership style may be effective in empowering team members to take ownership of their work and make decisions on their own.

- In the adjourning stage, a supportive leadership style may be helpful in ensuring that team members feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, as the team is winding down and preparing to disband.

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