Tuckman's Theory of Group Development

The five stages of Bruce W Tuckman's Theory of Group Development Process (otherwise known as Tuckman's 5 stages) originated in 1965 with 4 stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. 12 years later, in 1977 Tuckman added a 5th stage, Adjourning to the process to address the issue of leaving a group and returning to independence.

The Stages Of Team Development

Tuckman's Stages Of Group DevelopmentForming is the first stage of Tuckman's 5 stage model of group development. This process can vary in duration significantly as some groups are formed with little thought and others are formed over a long and drawn out methodical method. This stage is also known as an "ice-breaking" stage where all the group members, unsure about who everybody is and what their roles are, get to know one another.

Storming is the second stage of the process. In this stage members of the group begin to address the questions of "what is my role in this group? and Who does what in this group?" Group members begin testing the leader's direction and decide whether the leader is right for the team. They also test political positioning in the group hierarchy and sometimes splinter into subgroups.

Norming is the third stage and often signifies a sound group as many groups do not exist beyond the second stage. These groups often have a member "other than the leader" challenge the group to resolve its power struggles so something can be accomplished. Members in these groups move past finding roles in the group and begin identifying what others in the group expect from them and the various roles.

The fourth and last original group process in Tuckman's theory is the group activity that is the easiest to imagine. It is the Performing stage where all members activate and begin performing their duties as group members. Members ask how to refine their performance and coordinate a better group performance through optimization of job tasks through whatever means such as global outsourcing, better communication skills, or new business strategies. All options are fair game.

As a result of effective group development communication opens up and members get things done without slowing down the performance of others. Group cohesiveness forms and the group can now accomplish more than the individuals could achieve acting alone.

Final Stage of Group Development

Finally, 12 years later the process of departing the group and returning to individuality was added as the last of Tuckman's stages of team development. This fifth stage is called adjourning and it is characterized as occurring after the work of the group is finished and the members begin moving on. Often this stage affects members with a sense of loss after having worked with others so long and so closely. Often members in this stage are eased into independence with celebrations and ceremonies that celebrate a "new beginning". Such ceremonies include graduations, funerals, retirement parties, etc.

Although the fivth stage was not originally included in Tuckman's Theory it is still considered an integral part of the model of group development by many acedemics. This stage is not completely addressed in Donald Egolf's book on Tuckman's stages of group development but it is good to consider even when reading older studies on the theory.