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4 Min. Read

Tuckman’s Theory: Five Stages of Team Development

Tuckman's Theory: Five Stages of Team Development

Teamwork in business can be tricky.

It always takes time for a new team to get used to each other and each other’s various different ways of working.

There is a theory that a team has to go through five stages of team development before it can fully reach its potential.

These stages were proposed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman and were named Tuckman’s Model.

But what is Tuckman’s model and what are the five stages he proposed? Let’s take a closer look.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is Tuckman’s Theory?

The 5 Stages

Key Takeaways

What Is Tuckman’s Theory?

Tuckman’s theory was first proposed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965. It stated that teams would go through 5 stages of development: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.

These stages supposedly start when the group first meets and last until the project ends.

Each of these rhyming stages are aptly named and plays a significant role in building a highly functioning business team.

The 5 Stages

1. Forming

The first stage of team development is forming.

The team has just been introduced to each other and the task has been allocated. This is an interesting psychological moment as team members tend to behave independently at this stage. Whilst there may be good spirits and good intentions, the trust won’t be there.

During this stage of the team development, it’s common to discuss:

  • Everyone’s skills, background and interests
  • The project goals
  • The timeline
  • Any rules or regulations
  • What individual roles each member will play

It’s important at this stage that the group starts to develop an understanding of the part each person will play.

2. Storming

The storming stage is when the initial excitement and good grace has run out. The reality and the weight of completing the project has now most likely settled in.

This is the stage where egos may start to show themselves and tempers may flare. The team may disagree on how to complete a particular task or voice any concerns.

At this stage, looking to a strong leader for guidance is vital.

3. Norming

This is the stage where things tend to settle down. Your team can get into the groove of working together towards a common goal.

However, during the norming stage, there can be a few overlaps with storming. As new tasks appear, there may still be some incidents of conflict. However, as you’ve already gone through the worst part these disagreements may be easier to address.


4. Performing

The performing stage is where your team can hit its stride. Each team member understands everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and they are familiar enough with each other to help.

This is the stage where each member is confident and motivated. It’s also where they can operate without strict supervision.

Some teams don’t make it to this stage, so if you do it’s a real achievement. It’s the stage that every group will hope to make as it’s when you can get your best work done.

When working in a supportive and cohesive team, creativity can be sparked and team members will have high morale.

5. Adjourning

It was only in 1977 that Tuckman added the fifth and final stage.

When the project ends, the team will disband. If they have reached the performing stage then there could be a sense of mourning if they have grown close.

However, having positive shared experiences will make it easier if you work with some of these people again.

Key Takeaways

Tuckman’s Theory gives a solid idea of what most teams go through.

If you are putting together a team to work on a project then it can be helpful to have an idea of what to expect.

By studying this theory and being able to spot the stages in real life, you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead and how best to tackle it.

Are you looking for more business advice on everything from starting a new business to new business practices?

Then check out the FreshBooks resource hub.