Tuckman's stages of group development

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The forming–storming–norming–performing model of group development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965,[1] who mentioned that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has become the basis for subsequent models.

Teaming model[edit]


The team meets and learns about the opportunities and challenges, and then agrees on goals and begins to tackle the tasks. Team members tend to behave quite independently. They may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team. Team members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves. Mature team members begin to model appropriate behavior even at this early phase.

The forming stage of any team is important because the members of the team get to know one another, exchange some personal information, and make new friends. This is also a good opportunity to see how each member of the team works as an individual and how they respond to each other. So forming plays a great role in group forming and to understand each other's behavior.


In this stage "...participants form opinions about the character and integrity of the other participants and feel compelled to voice these opinions if they find someone shirking responsibility or attempting to dominate. Sometimes participants question the actions or decision of the leader as the expedition grows harder...".[2] Disagreements and personality clashes must be resolved before the team can progress out of this stage, and so some teams may never emerge from "storming"[3] or re-enter that phase if new challenges or disputes arise.[4] While potentially difficult, this phase is seen by the model as being inevitable and necessary. Groups should not expect to avoid the phase altogether: but 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 as a team. Supervisors of the team 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. Normally tension, struggle and sometimes arguments occur. This stage can also be upsetting.


"Resolved disagreements and personality clashes result in greater intimacy, and a spirit of co-operation emerges [5]". In this stage, all team members take the responsibility and have the ambition to work for the success of the team's goals. They start tolerating the whims and fancies of the other team members. They accept others as they are and make an effort to move on. The danger here is that members may be so focused on preventing conflict that they are reluctant to share controversial ideas.


"With group norms and roles established, group members focus on achieving common goals, often reaching an unexpectedly high level of success"[6]" By this time, they are motivated and knowledgeable. The team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channelled through means acceptable to the team.

Supervisors of the team during this phase are almost always participating. The team will make most of the necessary decisions. Even the most high-performing teams will revert to earlier stages in certain circumstances. Many long-standing teams go through these cycles many times as they react to changing circumstances. For example, a change in leadership may cause the team to revert to storming as the new people challenge the existing norms and dynamics of the team.

Further developments[edit]

Adjourning, transforming and mourning[edit]

In 1977, Tuckman, jointly with Mary Ann Jensen, added a fifth stage to the 4 stages: adjourning,[7] that involves completing the task and breaking up the team (in some texts referred to as Mourning).

Norming and re-norming[edit]

Timothy Biggs suggested that an additional stage be added of Norming after Forming and renaming the traditional Norming stage Re-Norming. This addition is designed to reflect that there is a period after Forming where the performance of a team gradually improves and the interference of a leader content with that level of performance will prevent a team progressing through the Storming stage to true performance. This puts the emphasis back on the team and leader as the Storming stage must be actively engaged in order to succeed – too many 'diplomats' or 'peacemakers' especially in a leadership role may prevent the team from reaching their full potential.[citation needed]

Rickards and Moger proposed a similar extension to the Tuckman model when a group breaks out of its norms through a process of creative problem-solving.[8][9]

John Fairhurst TPR model[edit]

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. Their work was developed further by White in his essay "From Comfort Zone to Performance Management"[10] in which he demonstrates the linkage between Tuckman's work with that of Colin Carnall's "coping cycle" and the Comfort Zone Theory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Developmental sequence in small groups. Tuckman, Bruce W.Psychological Bulletin, Vol 63(6), Jun 1965, 384-399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0022100
  2. ^ Leadership the Outward Bound Way: Becoming a Better Leader in the Workplace By Outward Bound USA, Rob Chatfield ISBN 9781594850332
  3. ^ http://study.com/academy/lesson/stages-of-group-development-forming-storming-forming-performing-adjourning.html
  4. ^ https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_86.htm
  5. ^ Leadership the Outward Bound Way: Becoming a Better Leader in the Workplace By Outward Bound USA, Rob Chatfield ISBN 9781594850332
  6. ^ Leadership the Outward Bound Way: Becoming a Better Leader in the Workplace By Outward Bound USA, Rob Chatfield ISBN 9781594850332
  7. ^ The Five Stages of Project Team Development, Gina Abudi – Retrieved May 18th 2010
  8. ^ Rickards, T., & Moger,S.T., (1999) Handbook for creative team leaders, Aldershot, Hants: Gower
  9. ^ Rickards, T., & Moger, S., (2000) ‘Creative leadership processes in project team development: An alternative to Tuckman’s stage model’, British Journal of Management, Part 4, pp273-283
  10. ^ White A, From Comfort Zone to Performance Management, 2009, White & MacLean Publishing

Further reading[edit]