Team stages

From CEOpedia | Management online

Team stages is a concept, first introduced by Bruce Wayne Tuckman, a psychologist, in 1965. The theory was given an official name, "Tuckman's Stages". Researching processes and dynamics inside teams is the groundwork for "Tuckman's Stages". Earlier in his findings, Tuckman determined four stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. But several years later, fifth stage, Adjourning, was added to the theory[1].

Forming Stage

The Forming Stage is mainly for team members to get to know each other and to orient themselves in the new company. Level of uncertainty is relatively high, since some people are often reluctant to show emotions or engage in new relationships. Others can deviate from their normal behaviour in order to fit in and be respected, which can be problem in later stages. Several individuals may seek to become a leader and take command over the group. The goal of The Forming Stage is to identify the team's mission, allocate suitable roles for all group members, organise duties and responsibilities effectively. Developing a schedule for the project is also included in this stage, deciding the time for meetings, etc[2].

Storming Stage

The Storming Stage is considered to be the most challenging out of all the stages to go through. At this point team members are acquainted with the project, so conflicts between personalities appear. People start competing for authoritarian position in the group, which slows down overall progress and performance. In The Storming Stage a clear distinction between more and less dominant confrontational workers can be seen. The latter ones prefer to not enter arguments and remain neutral. In order to overcome this stage conflicts need to be addressed and dealt with. People tend to ask questions, that revolve around benefits and incentives policy, criteria for individual and group assessment, during this period of time. Those questions have to answered so that group members feel secure, committed and have a sense of belonging to team[3].

Norming Stage

The Norming Stage is a stage where previous conflicts are worked through and the group gains more of a united front. At this point, competition for the leadership position is over and the team has agreed on who gets to take that role. Communication in the workplace becomes less stressful and more easy-going, group members develop positive relationships. During The Norming Stage performance level grows, because efforts are targeted towards the project and the actual objectives, as opposed to interpersonal matters. At this point in the team-development process, regular group members might start to be interested in showing more initiative and creativity in their work. When this happens, it is important for the opinions and ideas to be considered and encouraged, as people feel valued and involved, which is beneficial for the project and the team dynamics[4].

Performing Stage

The Performing Stage is the stage when team members already have some experience working in this particular group, the structure of the group has been organised and proved to be effective. Cooperation in this stage is for successful functioning. Level of productivity is high, because all team members have a deeper understanding of their role and everyone is working towards the common goal. Some conflicts or difficult situations might come up in The Performing Stage, but it is easier to resolve them. Several new objectives or developments of the initial plan can emerge, as people aim to achieve the highest results possible[5].

Adjourning Stage

The Adjourning Stage takes place after the majority of the objectives have been achieved. Team members focus on making minor changes, developments, updates and finishing minor assignments, as well as assessing the results, comparing the expected outcomes with the actual ones. When the project has come to an end, group members are usually being moved onto different teams and projects. Often some form of gathering in honour of finishing the project is welcomed and good for people[6].

Advantages of Team stages

The team stages theory introduced by Bruce Wayne Tuckman brings numerous advantages to teams. These include:

  • Improved understanding of team dynamics - Team stages provides a structure and guidelines that teams can use to better understand the different phases of their development, aiding them in identifying and managing issues as they arise.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities - Team stages helps teams to identify their specific roles, responsibilities and functions, assigning each team member a unique role that can help the team to work more efficiently.
  • Enhanced productivity - A team that understands the stages of development and the roles and responsibilities of each member can be more productive and efficient, as they are able to work together in a more cohesive and productive manner.
  • Improved communication - Team stages helps teams to better communicate, enabling them to more effectively share ideas and resolve issues.
  • Improved team morale - Team stages can help to improve team morale, as team members understand the stages of development and can better appreciate the value of their contributions.
  • A sense of accomplishment - Working through the stages of team development can help team members to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, as they can see the progress that they have made in developing and strengthening their team.

Limitations of Team stages

  • One limitation of Tuckman's Team Stages is its lack of flexibility. The stages are rigidly structured, with each team needing to go through the stages in order and with no room for deviation. This can limit the ability of teams to adapt to changing circumstances and make the best use of their resources.
  • A second limitation of Tuckman's Team Stages is the lack of specific guidance. The stages provide general outlines of how teams should move from one stage to the next, but there is no guidance for how to facilitate the transition. This can lead to teams struggling to move from one stage to the next, and can lead to stagnation.
  • A third limitation of Tuckman's Team Stages is that it does not account for the individual personalities and skills of team members. The stages are based on the assumption that all teams are the same and will move through the stages in the same way. However, different teams have different needs and different members have different strengths and weaknesses.
  • Finally, Tuckman's Team Stages do not account for the external environment in which teams are operating. The stages assume that teams are operating in a vacuum and do not take into account the impact of external factors such as economic conditions, political changes, and cultural differences.

Other approaches related to Team stages

In addition to Tuckman's Stages, there are several other approaches related to Team stages. These approaches include:

  • The Five-Stage Team Development Model, developed by Robert H. Bostrom, which adds a fifth stage, called the ‘Memorializing’ stage at the end of the process. This stage is when the team reviews what has been achieved and takes the time to celebrate and memorialize the successes.
  • The Team Performance Model, developed by Katzenbach and Smith, which combines the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing into one continuous cycle of team development. This model focuses on the team’s evolution and the continual improvement of its performance.
  • The Team Life Cycle Model, developed by Meredith Belbin, which is a comprehensive theory that looks at the dynamics of teams from the beginning of their formation to the end of their life. This model looks at the stages of team formation, team development, team performance and team decline.

In summary, there are several approaches related to Team stages in addition to Tuckman's Stages. These other approaches include the Five-Stage Team Development Model, the Team Performance Model, and the Team Life Cycle Model. Each of these models offers unique insight into the dynamics of team development.


  1. Bruce W. Tuckman, Mary Ann C. Jensen, (2010), Staged of small-group development revisited, Published by Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal, p. 43-46
  2. (2011), Uwe Bußmann, Silvia Schweighofer, Group Dynamics: The Nature of Groups & Dynamics of Informal Groups and Dysfunctions, Published by, p. 11-13
  3. Irena Stotz, (2013), Team development. How to assemble a successful team, Published by GRIN Verlag, p. 8-9
  4. Glenn M. Parker, (2011), Team Players and Teamwork: New Strategies for Developing Successful Collaboration, Published by John Wiley & Sons, p. 133-134
  5. Steve M. Jex, Thomas W. Britt, (2014), Organizational Psychology: A Scientist-Practitioner Approach, Published by John Wiley & Sons, p. 412-413
  6. Jennifer J. Britton, (2013), From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, Published by John Wiley & Sons, p. 197-199

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Author: Daria Boiko