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Understanding the five stages of group development

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Updated on:
June 10, 2024
June 10, 2024
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Tuckman’s Stages lay out the five key phases teams go through. It all starts with the forming stage, where the squad figures out who’s doing what and how they’re gonna roll. Then comes the storming stage, where folks might butt heads as they push their roles and ideas.

Next is the norming stage, where the team starts to gel and work as a unit. The performing stage is all about getting stuff done well, using the roles and processes they’ve set up. And finally, the adjourning stage wraps it all up, marking the end of the project and maybe even the team itself.

Introduction to group development


Group development is a big deal when you’re trying to build an awesome team. It’s got a bunch of stages that check out and boost the team vibe, making sure the team’s process is solid. This usually goes down following Tuckman’s Stages, which are:

  • Forming stage
  • Storming stage
  • Norming stage
  • Performing stage
  • Adjourning stage These steps spotlight team roles and help the team grow, leading to a smooth and effective workflow.

Definition of group development

Group development, or getting a team together, is all about creating a group that can hit their goals effectively. It’s about getting the lowdown on team dynamics and setting clear roles. It’s not just a one-off thing; it’s ongoing.

Bruce Tuckman’s Stages of group development spell out five key parts: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Each one is a stage the team goes through over time. Knowing these stages is a big help in making the team’s process work better.

Importance of understanding group development for agencies

For agencies, getting group development down pat is crucial for managing team growth. Knowing Tuckman’s Stages inside out—Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning—means you get team dynamics and everyone’s roles. This insight helps steer the team through the different phases smoothly.

These stages give you the inside scoop on the team process and arm agencies with ways to tackle the ups and downs that come with team development. A sharp understanding of these stages can really boost an agency’s productivity and success.

Overview of the five stages of group development

The Five Stages of Group Development, also dubbed Tuckman’s Stages, describe how a team grows from start to finish. The lineup includes the Forming stage, where roles are set; the Storming stage, where there might be some clashes; and the Norming stage, where everyone starts to sync up. The Performing stage is when things run like clockwork, and the Adjourning stage is the grand finale when the team’s done and might split up. These stages are key to managing how the team moves forward and performs.

Brief description of each stage


Kicking off Tuckman’s team-building playbook is the Forming stage. That’s when the team first huddles up and gets the rundown on their shared goals. The big things here are nailing down roles and getting the team’s process straight.

The Storming stage is where the drama happens, with team members clashing and hashing things out. It’s a make-or-break moment for team dynamics, where problems get solved and bonds form.

Then we hit the Norming stage, where the crew starts to click, sticking to the game plan and the rules they’ve agreed on. The Performing stage is smooth sailing, with the team working like a dream. And when the mission is accomplished, the Adjourning stage is when they high-five and head their separate ways.

Stage one: forming

The journey of team development kicks off with the Forming stage, where everyone figures out their roles and how the group’s gonna work together. It’s super important because it lays down the groundwork for how the team will vibe and the path they’ll take.

Next up, we hit the Storming stage. This is where things get real, with the team facing off over different views and figuring out the rules of the game. Getting a grip on Tuckman’s stages—forming, storming, norming, and performing—is key to getting through this rough patch. The endgame? Making it to the Performing stage, where the team’s at the top of its game, working together like a well-oiled machine.

Characteristics of the forming stage

In the Forming stage, it’s all about being polite and figuring out who’s doing what. Team members are all about digging into the team’s mission and what they’re aiming for.

They’re trying to keep things chill, make friends, and get the team’s groove going. This is the calm before the Storming stage storm, where disagreements and tension start to pop up.

Role of leadership in the forming stage

Leadership’s got a big job in the Forming stage—it’s when they set the scene, laying out who does what and how the team’s gonna hit their targets. Good leaders are all about spelling out the game plan, showing everyone the moves and strategies for working together.

The leader’s moves now will set the vibe for the next stages—Storming, Norming, Performing, and even Adjourning. If they’re not on their game, it could spell trouble later on, throwing a wrench in the team’s progress.

Challenges and solutions in the forming stage

The Forming stage can be a bit of a minefield, with challenges like not knowing who’s doing what, getting the hang of the team vibe, and some serious question marks over how things are gonna go down. Teams might struggle to figure out their goals, and there’s often a fear of stepping on toes or getting the cold shoulder.

But good leadership can clear the path. Leaders need to take charge, making sure everyone’s talking and getting involved. This sets the stage for the Storming phase, where things can get a bit more heated, and paves the way for smoother sailing through the Norming and Performing stages.

Plus, it’s a good move for team members to get the lowdown on Tuckman’s stages—forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Knowing what’s coming up can help everyone move through the stages without too much drama.

Stage two: storming

After the Forming stage, we dive into the Storming stage. This is where the team’s true colors show, with some conflict and competition as everyone’s roles and the team’s rhythm start to take shape. It’s a critical moment that really tests if the team can pull together and make things happen.

Despite the bumps in the road, the Storming stage is a chance for growth and getting on the same page. It’s setting things up for the Norming and Performing stages, where teamwork really starts to click.

Characteristics of the storming stage

The Storming stage is round two of Tuckman’s stages, and it’s where the gloves come off. Conflicts and competition are front and center as the team sorts out who’s responsible for what. It’s a bumpy ride, and the team’s harmony can get a bit shaky.

But this stage is all about building a stronger team. Those tough times help everyone understand each other better, getting them ready for the next levels—Norming and Performing—where they start to really gel.

Role of conflict resolution in the storming stage

In the thick of the Storming stage, sparks can fly as roles get pinned down and the team’s strategy takes shape. Sorting out these clashes is super important—it helps ease the tension and keeps the team’s spirit strong.

Here’s what can go down:

  • Arguments about who’s in charge of what.
  • Squabbles over how the team should work together.
  • Different takes on what the team’s aiming for. Nailing conflict resolution is crucial for moving on from the Storming stage to the Norming stage, where everyone starts to pull in the same direction.

Challenges and solutions in the storming stage

The Storming stage can be a real headache, with all sorts of issues cropping up—like the team not syncing up, clashes over who does what, and all sorts of opinions on how to move forward. It’s easy for things to get tense when everyone’s trying to figure out their place and how to work together.

The fix? Keep those lines of communication wide open, build trust and respect, and make sure everyone’s on the same page with the goals. It’s all about making disagreements no biggie, playing to everyone’s strengths, and fostering a team spirit. That’s the prep work for the Norming and Performing stages, where the team starts to hit their stride.

Stage three: norming

The Norming stage arises following the Storming stage in Tuckman’s Stages of team development. Essential to the team's process, this phase brings about consolidation as participants begin to resolve their differences, appreciate colleagues' strengths, and respect the team roles.

During this stage, team dynamics shift. Individuals start to feel a part of the group process. The atmosphere becomes cooperative and productive. This norming period sets the foundation for the next stage, the Performing stage.

Characteristics of the norming stage

At the Norming stage of Tuckman’s Stages, the team development process has moved past the conflict and competition of the Storming stage. This phase features advancement in team dynamics as members increasingly respect each other's perspectives and work in harmony.

The Norming stage is characterized by the group process of setting clear team roles, expectations, and rules. Shared goals enhance cooperation, improve relationships, and create a productive environment. Furthermore, members start to appreciate each other's strengths making the team more cohesive and mature for the Performing stage.

Role of team cohesion in the norming stage

In the Norming stage of Tuckman’s Stages of team development, team cohesion plays a crucial role in defining team dynamics and the team's process. This phase follows the Forming stage, and the Storming stage, where conflicts often emerge around team roles as individual personalities and differences come into play.

When a team reaches the Norming stage, members start to resolve their differences, appreciate colleagues' strengths, and respect your authority as a leader. The group process becomes more natural, and people feel more comfortable working within the team. Norming sees the team move into a phase where they start to work effectively together and deliver actual performance.

Challenges and solutions in the norming stage

In the Norming stage of Tuckman's Stages of team development, various challenges may emerge. These include the potential for complacency, lack of creativity due to conformity, and the possibility of unresolved issues from the Storming stage resurfacing. Team dynamics can also be negatively impacted, with some team roles being underutilized.

Addressing these challenges involves maintaining open and constructive communication. Also, encouraging creativity and diversity of thought helps in preventing monotony and fosters innovation. Furthermore, regular reviews of the team's process and role allocation ensures everyone's skills and strengths are optimally utilized.

Stage four: performing

The Performing stage is the fourth stage in Tuckman’s Stages of team development. This phase is characterized by high levels of cooperation, coordination, and productivity. At this stage, the team has successfully navigated through the Forming, Storming, and Norming stages and has established effective team dynamics and defined team roles.

During the Performing stage, the team's process and the group process operate in harmony, allowing for more focused task completion. The team members now understand their roles and responsibilities, fostering a smooth work approach within the team.

Characteristics of the performing stage

The Performing stage is a critical juncture in Tuckman’s Stages of team development. At this stage, the group process has evolved to the point where team roles are well-established, leading to a highly productive team dynamic. This is the peak of team performance with high morale, collaboration, and efficiency.

During the Performing stage, the team's process is oil-machined, and the team members are focused more on achieving the goals than interpersonal relationships. The adjective often associated with this stage is 'interdependent'. Challenges or conflicts at this stage are efficiently handled, making it an ideal stage in the forming-storming-norming-performing-adjourning continuum.

Role of autonomy in the performing stage

In the performing stage of team development, autonomy plays a crucial role in fostering a conducive environment for team effectiveness. 

Here are a few reasons:

  • It encourages team roles to become more flexible, allowing members to leverage their skills and strengths truly, thereby enhancing team dynamics.
  • Autonomy in this stage promotes accountability which optimizes the team's process and results in increased productivity and morale.
  • Derived from Tuckman's Stages, having autonomy aids in avoiding recurrence of earlier phases like the forming, storming, and norming stage, ensuring the team remains purpose-driven.

Challenges and solutions in the performing stage

The Performing stage of team development often poses unique challenges. These may include maintaining optimum productivity, dealing with change instantly, and managing team dynamics due to individual growing competencies.

Each team member's role becomes critically important during this stage, as they contribute towards goal achievement. However, effective solutions here include continuous communication, delegation, and reinforcement of team roles. 

Balancing expertise with the norms established during the Norming stage can further smoothen this group process.

Bearing Tuckman's Stages in mind can aid in understanding possible roadblocks, thus enhancing the team's process in the performing stage.

Stage five: adjourning

The adjourning stage is like the grand finale in the team development saga. After the performing stage, it’s time to tie up loose ends, reflect on the journey, and give a big shout-out to everyone for their hard work.

It’s the last act of Tuckman’s Stages, wrapping up the whole show of team dynamics that’s been playing out. The earlier acts—forming, storming, and norming—set the stage for this final bow. Here, it’s all about celebrating the wins and bringing things to a close.

Characteristics of the adjourning stage

Rolling in after the performing stage, the adjourning stage is when the team’s process hits the finish line and everyone starts to go their separate ways. It’s the endgame for the group process, with team members saying their goodbyes and the team vibe winding down. It’s a mix of looking back at the team dynamics, toasting to the successes, and tipping the hat to everyone’s efforts.

Feelings can swing from high-fives all around to a bit of the blues, depending on how it all went down. It’s a crucial time for wrapping things up and stepping forward.

Role of closure in the adjourning stage

Closure is the name of the game in the adjourning stage. It’s the curtain call of Tuckman’s Stages, where the team’s process and everyone’s roles get a final once-over. The team takes a moment to reflect on the ups and downs since the forming stage and all the cool stuff they pulled off during the storming, norming, and performing stages.

It’s a chance for the team to spill their guts about the ride and what they’ve learned. Plus, it helps everyone gear up for whatever’s next on their to-do list.

Challenges and solutions in the adjourning stage

The adjourning stage can be a tough cookie, as it often means the team roles and the groove they had going start to fade out. This might leave some feeling a bit lost or less pumped because the team’s process is wrapping up.

But you can smooth things over with a solid game plan for moving on, and by throwing a little party for all the hard work. Keeping the chat lines open and giving props can also help make the shift from the forming stage to the adjourning stage a bit easier. That way, the good vibes from the performing stage don’t just disappear.

Practical application of the five stages of group development in agencies


Tuckman’s Stages are super important for team development in agencies. Teams usually move from the forming stage, where they figure out their roles and how to mesh, through the storming and norming stages, where they deal with clashes and start to click, growing tighter as a crew.

The performing stage is when they’re firing on all cylinders. Then comes the adjourning stage, which is the wrap-up party where the team’s process gets a high five and their wins get the spotlight. This step-by-step is key to managing the group process well and nailing those team goals.

Real-life examples of group development stages in agencies

Picture a new marketing team at a communications agency—that’s Tuckman’s Stages in action. They start in the forming stage, getting to know their roles and how they fit into the group’s process. In the storming stage, the gloves come off with some squabbles as the team dynamics get real. 

The norming stage is next, where they start to iron out the kinks, set some ground rules, and work better together. Then they hit their stride in the performing stage, crushing their goals. Once the project’s done, they hit the adjourning stage, closing out the team development chapter.

Tools and software for facilitating group development (e.g., Bonsai, Slack, and Trello)

Tools like Bonsai, Slack and software like Trello are lifesavers for team development, helping with the team dynamics through all of Tuckman’s Stages.

Link to Projects
  • Bonsai software is instrumental in facilitating group development with a focus on project progress. It offers a suite of tools that enhance team collaboration and streamline task management. With Bonsai, project managers can track milestones, manage resources, and monitor team performance in real-time.
  • Slack keeps everyone on the same page during the forming and norming stages, making sure ideas flow and everyone feels part of the gang.
  • Trello, on the other hand, is great for keeping track of who’s doing what and how things are coming along during the storming and performing stages. It’s also a clutch for making sure everyone knows their job and keeping an eye on the team’s process. And when it’s time to call it a day, both tools are aces for wrapping things up and looking back on how far the team’s come.

Conclusion: the continuous cycle of group development

Wrapping it up, team development is this never-ending loop with a bunch of stages. It kicks off with the forming stage, where the team’s roles get the green light, then heads into the storming stage, where they might hit some turbulence. 

The normal stage is where they start to find their rhythm, and the performing stage is when they’re all in sync, doing their thing. Finally, the adjourning stage hits the reset button. This whole lineup, known as Tuckman’s Stages, gives a solid game plan for understanding, steering, and boosting the team’s growth cycle.

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