Team Dynamics: What Are the 5 Stages of Team Development?

The 5 stages of team development are something every newly formed group goes through. These stages are very important for team dynamics and chemistry. Some groups progress through the stages faster than others but they all go through the stages. The five stages are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

This model of forming, storming, norming, and performing was developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 and was coined The Tuckman Model. In 1970, he added the adjourning stage. This is a great model that explains the stages of team development that groups go through.

Importance of Understanding the 5 Stages of Team Development

As a supervisor and leader, understanding the stages of group development can help you progress your group through them faster and build strong team dynamics. It also helps you know what to expect when forming a new group. Too often supervisors think a team is a complete failure when they go through the storming stage. I have seen this many times in my career and a lot of times instead of helping the group advance through this stage, supervisors end up prolonging it. It’s important to notice when the group is going into a stage so you can help them progress through it.

The 5 Stages of Team Development Defined

Image of the notes for the 5 stages of team development. Forming, Storming, Norming, Perofrming, adn Adjourning.

Team Dynamics: Forming Stage (Forming Definition)

The first stage groups go through, is the forming stage also known as the developing stage. This is the stage where team members get to know each other. Getting a feel for what each person is capable of. During this stage, people are normally polite and conflict is typically low.

It is important for you as the leader to clarify team member roles and the goals of the entire crew. Remember, it’s important to be very clear with your expectations and each member’s role in the group. If you assume people already know something, you are setting yourself up for failure. These actions will set you up for a less severe storming stage.

A great way to accelerate your crew through the forming stage is with team building activities.

Team Dynamics: Storming Stage (Storming Definition)

Image of a storm representing the storming stage of team development and team dynamics.

During the storming stage, people have gotten to know each other, and conflict may be a little higher. People may also begin to go against leadership and the norms established in the forming stage. Some members of the group may begin to question whether the goals of the team are worth it or attainable. Even ones that are still trying to pursue the goals of the team, may have trouble because they don’t have the support of others in the group.

This is the most critical stage in the stages of team development. It is in this stage that a crew is most likely to fail. Therefore, it is important for you as the leader to recognize when a group is in this stage so you can help them move on to the next stage. It’s important to not try and force a team past this stage. As a leader, you should try to guide the group through it. If there are conflicts between members try to help them resolve their differences and remind everybody how important each member is to the team.

For more information on moving past the storming stage click here.

Team Dynamics: Norming Stage (Norming Definition)

Groups gradually move past the storming stage into the norming stage. This happens when conflicts begin to resolve, and everybody begins to respect and understand each other’s roles on the team. Cooperation and teamwork begin to pick up because members are trusting each other more. Working as a team begins to become the new normal.

When your crew is in this stage, it’s important to encourage teamwork and collaboration. Ensure individual egos are kept in check and praise the group as a whole for their accomplishments often. Help your team realize how much stronger they are together and how much more they can accomplish as a cohesive unit. This will help your team move on to the next stage and not regress into the storming stage.

Click here for more information on the importance of feedback and how to do it properly.

Team Dynamics: Performing Stage (Performing Definition)

Image of teamwork Team Arrows representing the performing stage of group development

When groups reach this stage, they begin to operate at very high efficiency with relative ease. Even when faced with problems, they solve them with little to no intervention and move on. The team operates in a manner that is almost automatic and independent. The leader must do very little to keep the crew on track because they share common goals and understand each member’s role in accomplishing those goals.

Team Dynamics: Adjourning Stage (Adjourning Definition)

This is the final stage of group development many groups eventually face. This is when it is time for a team to dissolve. Whether it’s because it was a time-based project or maybe the company is restructuring. This is not a time to burn bridges because you may work with some of these employees in the future. If possible, it is good to have a debrief with members of the groupto find out what worked and what didn’t. This can be useful information for everyone in the group including you as the leader. The meeting can be something as informal as a group lunch or even an exit survey of some sort.

How to Use Stages of Group Development

It is very hard to force a group to work well together. They must progress through the stages of team development naturally before they make it to the performing stage. Understanding these stages can help you develop a group development model or plan.

As a leader, you want to recognize what stage your group is in and do your best to facilitate them into the next stage. Once your group makes it to the performing stage, they should need very little direction but always keep an eye on your team to ensure they are not slipping back into one of the previous stages.

Related Content: Group Dynamics: Understanding Team Member Roles in The Workplace.

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Group Dynamics: 5 Stages of Team Development

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