Tuckman’s model of group development suggests that teams pass through multiple stages; Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing, along the way to achieving true potential.
His model of group development suggests that a team will pass through a number of phases along their way to potential greatness. Teams will grow, rise to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results as they progress through the model.
Let’s take a look at the four stages of Tuckman’s Model. The stages are:
As a team is created for the first time, they will enter the Forming stage. Team members at this point will have little understanding of their roles and overall team strengths and weaknesses. This will often lead to a planning session where team members behave quite independently and work in isolation on their own individual tasks. The team could still be motivated but due to the isolated working, it is highly likely that they will be unaware of any weaknesses within the team or of what the team objectives are. There will be a mentality of “I’ll do my task” rather than looking at how they can work collaboratively to achieve a global goal.
As the team develops, it will reach the Storming stage. At this point, the trust will begin to form within the team as members start to feel more comfortable working with each other as a result of closer collaboration. Team members will begin to understand and identify their roles thanks to speaking up and often debating conflicting opinions with peers. Ultimately, this will allow the team to work more closely, starting to see the beginnings of an aligned goal. Teams in the Storming stage will need a lot of coaching as they will not be comfortable with empowerment at this point. Strong coaching can guide the team and lead them in making key decisions, whilst setting them up with the confidence and support they need to move to the next stage; Norming.
The Norming stage is where teams begin to work effectively and, whilst not necessarily considered elite performers, will continue to deliver work on a regular cadence without breaking a sweat. At this point, team members have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each other and do everything they can to avoid conflict, often side-stepping any potential unrest for the sake of the wider goal. A team in the Norming stage will start to show empowering behaviours as they take accountability as a team for the goals which they deliver.
Few teams can reach the Performing stage and maintain this status. Teams who are classed as Performing will make the right decisions most of the time to ensure optimal performance. Performing teams are comfortable working outside their comfort zone when required, resulting in flexibility in team roles to ensure they are never short handed. The team is fully empowered and they will commonly support each other effectively to help develop their skills. It is, however, extremely common for even elite performing teams to slip back into the Norming phase as any slight change to the team (such as people being added or people leaving the team) can cause a disturbance in the setup. Teams who are constantly in the Performing stage are those who truly practice continuous improvement and are always looking for new ways to work.
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