Teamwork entails working collectively with a group of individuals to accomplish a common objective (Teamwork, 2011). Prior to engaging in collaborative work, team development is essential. In 1965, Bruce Tuckman, an American psychologist, introduced a theory known as Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development.
According to Tuckman, teams go through stages like Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing to grow and achieve outcomes. Tuckman later expanded this theory with the inclusion of the “adjourning” phase. Understanding and navigating through these phases of team development can greatly contribute to the success of a team. The initial stage in Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development is Forming.
“In the initial phase, known as the forming stage, the group familiarizes themselves with the task, sets ground rules, and explores the boundaries for interpersonal and task-related behaviors. Additionally, during this stage, group members establish connections with leaders, adhere to organizational standards, and build relationships with each other” (Bonebright, 2009). The forming stage lays the foundation for the team’s success.
Just like individual first impressions, the initial formation of a group sets the tone for future interactions. Each member brings their own strengths, weaknesses, and biases. To achieve success, the team must learn to work cooperatively.
Team cooperation is established in the forming stage. The forming stage can be used by team members to become acquainted and establish good interpersonal interaction and rapport. A good group rapport is integral to project success as it allows team members to work successfully together towards a common team goal.
During the forming phase, it is important for team members to be informed and open in their communication about the project or task. Assigning group roles, whether formally or informally, often occurs during this stage. Understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses can facilitate appropriate role assignment, with interpersonal interaction playing a crucial role. Additionally, assigning or establishing a leader is necessary to ensure organized and proper guidance in group work.
In the forming stage of team development, members unite as a team, identify roles, and become acquainted with the task. As per Tuckman’s team development model, the storming stage is characterized by Murphy’s Law. This is the phase where any possible issues inevitably arise. This is because significant matters start being addressed and disagreements among individuals are bound to happen (Chimaera Consulting Limited, 2001).
Conflicts may arise within a group or team during the storming phase of development that can test members’ patience. These conflicts can be unrelated to the group’s work, involving issues like dissatisfaction with job roles or disputes over performance. It is crucial to address and resolve conflicts in this stage for progress and success. Establishing ground rules is essential to prevent future issues from occurring, regardless of conflict type or resolution (Chimaera Consulting Limited, 2001).
According to Chimaera Consulting Limited (2001), the team’s progress is hindered until conflicts and issues are resolved. The team’s success or failure depends on the Storming stage of Tuckman’s Model. This stage has the potential to cause irreparable damage to relationships among team members. In the most extreme situation, the team may be unable to move past the Storming stage and regain its cohesion as a unit or group (The Teambuilding Company, 2011).
In essence, the storming stage is a crucial test for the team as it can determine their success or failure based on their ability to resolve conflicts. Following the storming stage is the norming stage, which is the third step in Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development. In this phase, the team establishes agreements, rules, values, behavior, methods, and tools. Team members fully comprehend the expectations for their tasks during the norming stage.
According to The Executive Fast Track (2011), the team has reached a stage where they are skilled, independent, and capable of making decisions without supervision. This stage is characterized by clear understanding of the process and collective commitment towards achieving the team’s direction and goals. The team works together to develop a mutual plan for success, sometimes requiring individuals to compromise their own ideas to ensure the team functions smoothly.
In the norming stage, all team members have the ambition and take responsibility for the success of the team (Wikipedia, 2011). Decisions in this stage are handled by discussing big decisions with all team members and leaving small decisions to specific team members or smaller groups within the team. Tuckman’s norming stage is characterized by cohesive interpersonal relations. The main task of this stage is to ensure data flow between group members.
At this stage, the group experiences the sharing of feelings and ideas as well as the solicitation and offering of feedback. The members also engage in exploration actions related to the task. As the group solidifies and establishes a flow of information, their interactions are marked by openness and sharing on both personal and task levels (Voelker-Morris, 2009). Additionally, team members begin to show leadership in specific areas while also respecting the authority of the leader.
In conclusion, the group reaches the fourth and final stage where interpersonal structure serves as a means for task activities. Roles become adaptable and efficient, and the group’s focus is directed towards the task at hand. Previous structural concerns have been addressed, allowing the structure to now contribute to task execution. This stage is referred to as the performing stage (Tuckman, 1965).
Some people believe that every individual has leadership qualities. This belief is reflected in Tuckman’s fourth stage of team development model. At this stage, the team should have established itself well, knowing the ultimate objective and the responsibilities of each member. The leader’s role becomes less prominent as each member becomes self-sufficient, driven by a common vision and their own inherent potential.
The team is familiar with its role and the expectations of each member, based on predetermined criteria. The team functions as an independent unit and has mechanisms in place to address conflicts in a constructive way. The team’s primary focus is to achieve the goal, while also maintaining positive interpersonal communication in its own unique style.
Tuckman’s model demonstrates how the leadership style and follower maturity (Hersey & Blanchard, 1988) align. Bonds between team members become particularly strong as they care for and support each other. The team is prepared to tackle new projects, relying on the leader’s guidance, even if it’s minimal. Detailed instructions or assistance are not necessary for members.
The responsibilities of a leader involve serving as a personal advisor, helping people with their personal growth, relationships with others, assigning tasks, and supervising. Eventually, all positive things come to a conclusion. In 1975, Bruce Tuckman incorporated the concept of an extra stage named adjourning into the model.
The adjourning stage is when the group breaks up, often referred to as the mourning stage due to the feeling of loss for team members. This stage is essentially the conclusion, although sometimes teams adjourn before completing all work. Ideally, after completing all work, the team should feel a sense of accomplishment and recognize the success of their teamwork.
A team is formed when individuals unite to achieve a shared objective. The development of a team is crucial in achieving success. Tuckman’s stages play a vital role in team development. Conflict resolution strategies are necessary for teams to overcome conflicts and attain success.
A common goal can be achieved and a team can be successful by adhering to Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.