The Tuckman Model of Team Development

Tuckman Theory

First introduced by American psycho­logical researcher Bruce Tuckman, this theory covers and explains each step that needs to be fulfilled in order to achieve group success.

Devised in the mid-1960s, this teamwork theory focuses primarily on group development. In his theory, Tuckman put forward the idea that there are four main stages to every group project, and that each are made much easier through inter­per­sonal relati­on­ships and the content of the task at hand. In this article, we’re going to go over these steps and how you can apply them to your own work.

Tuckman's Theory Diagram

A basic diagram that shows the Four Stages of Tuckman's Theory

What Are the Four Stages of Tuckman’s Theory?

As we’ve mentioned, Tuckman devised four main stages of the group development process. Whether its completing daily routine tasks or taking on an entirely new project, the formula that Tuckman associates with success is as follows:

1. Forming

The start of the process. This is where the workgroup is formed and intro­duc­tions take place. During this stage, participants come to learn about the task at hand, including what obstacles are present and what oppor­tuni­ties may come up in order to overcome them. At this stage, workers are likely to be focused and engaged yet still focused on their individual thoughts and ideas.

2. Storming

Once the task has been assigned and the workgroup has formed, it’ll be time to brainstorm ideas, approp­ri­ately known as the “storming” phase. At this point, participants need to be opened to challenging and accepting ideas from the rest of the group. This is also the stage where any conflict and tension amongst the group is resolved.

3. Norming

By this stage, the group will have (hopefully) worked through their differences, whether that be ideas about the direction of the project or personality clashes. At this point, individuals will be more focused on their own roles and how they contribute to the final product. In simple terms, a sense of “team spirit” is formed, as well as the “norms” that the group has come to accept.

4. Performing

Known as the “­empowerment” stage, this is the point where roles and respon­sibi­lities have been firmly set in place, and individuals are all working towards a common goal. By the end of this stage, providing that the previous stages have been followed, workgroups are likely to achieve “unexpec­tedly high results”, according to Tuckman.

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