Tuckman's Stages of Group Development (2024)

Stages of Group Development

These stages are commonly known as: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Tuckman's model explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and leadership style changes to more collaborative or shared leadership.

Tuckman's original work simply described the way he had observed groups evolve, whether they were conscious of it or not. In CORAL, the real value is in recognizing where a team is in the developmental stage process, and assisting the team to enter a stage consistent with the collaborative work put forth. In the real world, teams are often forming and changing, and each time that happens, they can move to a different Tuckman Stage. A group might be happily Norming or Performing, but a new member might force them back into Storming, or a team member may miss meetings causing the team to fall back into Storming. Project guides will be ready for this, and will help the team get back to Performing as quickly as possible.


The initial forming stage is the process of putting the structure of the team together. Team members feel ambiguous and conflict is avoided at all costs due to the need to be accepted into the group. Team members look to a group leader for direction and guidance, usually CORAL project guides.

Observable Behaviors

  • Politeness
  • Tentative joining
  • Orienting with others personally
  • Avoids controversy
  • Cliques may form
  • Need for safety and approval
  • Attempts to define tasks, processes, and how it will be decided here
  • Discussion of problems not relevant to the task

Feelings and Thoughts

  • Many feel excited, optimistic, and full of anticipation
  • Others may feel suspicious, fearful, and anxious working with others
  • What is expected of me
  • Why are they here
  • Uncertainty and Apprehension

Team Needs

  • Team mission and vision
  • Establish specific objectives and tasks
  • Identify roles and responsibilities of team members
  • Establish team ground rules
  • Team member expectations
  • Operational guidelines for team
  • Effective in class meetings
  • Effective Chat meetings
  • 1st set of feedback from project guides

Leadership Required

  • Project Guides & Instructors
  • provide structure and task direction
  • Allow for get-acquainted time
  • Create an atmosphere of confidence and optimism
  • Active involvement
  • Team members believe an appointed leader necessary to make decisions
  • One-way communication from leader to team-members

To advance from this stage to the next stage, each member must relinquish the comfort zone of non-threatening topics and risk the possibility of conflict.


This stage begins to occur as the process of organizing tasks and processes surface interpersonal conflicts. Leadership, power, and structural issues dominate this stage.

Observable Behaviors

  • Arguing among members
  • Vying for leadership
  • Differences in points of view and personal style are evident
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Team organizing itself
  • Power struggles and clashes
  • Lack of consensus-seeking behaviors
  • Lack of progress
  • Establishes unrealistic goals
  • Concern over excessive work

Feelings & Thoughts

  • Feel Defensive
  • Confusion, loss of interest can result
  • Resistance to tasks
  • Fluctuations in attitude about the team
  • Unsure if I agree with teams mission and purpose
  • Question the wisdom of team members
  • Increase in tension and jealousy
  • Unsure about my personal influence and freedom in the team
  • We're not getting anywhere

Team Needs

  • Inter & intra personal relationships
  • Identify stylistic and personal differences
  • Effective listening
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Conflict resolution
  • Clarify and understand the team’s purpose
  • Reestablish roles and ground rules
  • How to deal with ‘some’ team members violating team codes of conduct
  • Receiving Feedback from project guide

Leadership Required

  • Project guide & Instructors acknowledge conflict
  • Project Guides suggest that consensus among team members
  • Get members to assume more task responsibility
  • Concept of Shared Leadership emerges
  • Teach conflict resolution methods
  • Offer support and praise
  • Actively involved Team members begin consulting one another – shared leadership emerging but have difficulty with decision making

In order to progress to the next stage, group members must move from a "testing and proving" mentality to a problem-solving mentality. The most important trait in helping teams move to the next stage is the ability of team members to listen to their team mates - what are they trying to say?


In this stage, team members are creating new ways of doing and being together. As the group develops cohesion, leadership changes from ‘one’ teammate in charge to shared leadership. Team members learn they have to trust one another for shared leadership to be effective.

Observable Behaviors

  • Processes and procedures are agreed upon
  • Comfortable with relationships
  • Focus and energy on tasks
  • Effective conflict resolution skills
  • Sincere attempt to make consensual decisions
  • Balanced influence, shared problem solving
  • Develop team routines
  • Sets and achieves task milestones

Feelings & Thoughts

  • Sense of belonging to a team
  • Confidence is high
  • Team members feel a new ability to express criticism constructively
  • Acceptance of all members in the team
  • General sense of trust
  • Assured that everything is going to work out okay
  • Freedom to express and contribute

Team Needs

  • Develop a decision making process
  • Be prepared to offer ideas and suggestions
  • Problem solving is shared
  • Utilizing all resources to support the team effort
  • Team members take responsibility in shared leadership skills
  • Receiving Feedback from project guides

Leadership Required

  • Shared leadership
  • Give feedback and support from Project Guides
  • Allow for less structure
  • Promotes team interaction
  • Asks for contributions from all team members
  • Collaboration becomes clearer
  • Encouraging others in making decisions
  • Continues to build strong relationships

The major task function of stage three is the data flow between group members: They share feelings and ideas, solicit and give feedback to one another, and explore actions related to the task. Creativity is high. Collaboration emerges during this stage when team work ethic and shared leadership is understood.

The major drawback of the norming stage is that members may begin to fear the inevitable future breakup of the team; they may resist change of any sort.


True interdependence is the norm of this stage of group development. The team is flexible as individuals adapt to meet the needs of other team members. This is a highly productive stage both personally and professionally.

Observable Behaviors

  • Fully functional teams
  • Roles are clearer
  • Team develops independence
  • Team able to organize itself
  • Flexible members function well individually, in subgroups or as a team
  • Better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and insights into group processes

Feelings & Thoughts

  • Empathy for one another
  • High commitment
  • Begin understanding collaborative work ethic
  • Tight bonds emerge
  • Fun and excitement
  • Lots of personal development and creativity
  • General sense of satisfaction
  • Continual discovery of how to sustain feelings of momentum and enthusiasm

Team Needs

  • Project guides assure team is moving in collaborative direction
  • Maintain team flexibility
  • Measure knowledge performance – post test
  • Provide information
  • Giving and Receiving
  • Feedback and Dialogue with project guides

Leadership Required

  • Shared Leadership being practiced
  • Observing, Inquiring, Fulfilling, team needs
  • Collaborative efforts among team members
  • Project guides provides little direction
  • Team members offer positive reinforcement and support
  • Share new information

The Performing stage is not reached by all groups. If group members are able to evolve to stage four, their capacity, range, and depth of personal relations expand to true interdependence. In this stage, people can work independently, in subgroups, or as a total unit with equal competencies.


In this stage typically team members are ready to leave (course termination) causing significant change to the team structure, membership, or purpose and the team during the last week of class. They experience change and transition. While the group continues to perform productively they also need time to manage their feelings of termination and transition.

Observable Behaviors

  • Visible signs of grief
  • Momentum slows down
  • Restless Behavior
  • Bursts of extreme energy usually followed by lack of energy

Feelings & Thoughts

  • Sadness
  • Humor (that to outsiders could appear cruel)
  • Glad it is over – relief

Team Needs

  • Evaluate the efforts of the team
  • Tie up loose ends and tasks
  • Recognize and reward team efforts

Leadership Required

  • Project guides help team develop options for termination
  • Good listening
  • Reflection and carry forth collaborative learning to next opportunity

The final stage, adjourning, involves the termination of task behaviors and disengagement from relationships. A planned conclusion usually includes recognition for participation and achievement and an opportunity for members to say personal goodbyes. Concluding a group can create some apprehension – in effect, a minor crisis. The termination of the group is a regressive movement from giving up control to giving up inclusion in the group.

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Tuckman's Stages of Group Development (2024)


How will you explain Tuckman's stages of group development? ›

These stages are commonly known as: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Tuckman's model explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and leadership style changes to more collaborative or shared leadership.

Which stage of group development is most important and why? ›

The storming stage of group development is one of the most critical stages, but it's also the most dreaded. This stage is marked with turmoil and interpersonal conflict as group dynamics are established and members compete for their ideas to be heard.

What are the 5 stages of Tuckman's ladder of group development? ›

Bruce Tuckman, an educational psychologist, identified a five-stage development process that most teams follow to become high performing. He called the stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

What are the benefits of Tuckman's model? ›

Benefits of the Tuckman theory

The Tuckman theory helps groups progress through the five stages of group development. It allows for a smooth transition from one stage to the next by actively guiding the process with guidelines that provide structure, boundaries and milestones.

What does Tuckman's theory explain? ›

Tuckman's theory focuses on the way in which a team tackles a task from the initial formation of the team through to the completion of the project. Tuckman later added a fifth phase; Adjourning and Transforming to cover the finishing of a task.

Why are the 5 stages of team development important? ›

Understanding the five stages of team development enables you to get teams started, resolve conflicts more smoothly, share information effectively, achieve top results, and then review outcomes to keep finding ways to improve.

Why are Tuckman's stages of group development important? ›

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman described how teams move through stages known as forming, storming, norming, and performing, and adjourning (or mourning). You can use Tuckman's model to help your team to perform better. First, identify the stage your team is at, then use our tips to move them through the stages.

What is the most crucial stage of development? ›

One of the most critical stages of development and learning is from birth to five years old. The first five years of child development are crucial to their health, well-being, and the overall trajectory of their lives in various ways.

What is the most influential stage of development? ›

Recent brain research indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child's development.

At which stage in Tuckman's model is trust the lowest? ›

The correct answer is "storming." In Tuckman's Model, trust is typically the lowest during the storm...

What question does a group ask during the forming stage of development? ›

The first stage is the forming stage where an individual is new to the team and learns about the culture and overall environment, as well as, its task and responsibilities. The general question asked could be "Why are we here?"

What is norming in Tuckman's ladder? ›

Norming Stage

The name “Norming” suggests normalisation or things cooling down. The project environment starts to get normal after the turbulence it faces in the storming stage. In this phase, team members begin to work together.

What are the weaknesses of Tuckman's theory? ›

Based on Norton's observations, the Tuckman model doesn't work like predicted. The linear phases are not undertaken in set periods of time. Teams may never get out of storming, or they sometimes transition into norming to return and stagnate into storming for long periods of time.

What are the cons of Tuckman's model? ›

3 Consequences of Tuckman's model
  • The duration and intensity of each stage can vary between teams. ...
  • Teams usually have to progress through the earlier stages in order to reach the performing stage. ...
  • It is possible for a team to return to a previous stage and progress through these stages may not be linear.

Why is Tuckman model important in project management? ›

Implications of Tuckman's Model for Project Management Teams

The implication of Tuckman's group development is essential for establishing a cohesive and productive project management team. Each stage relates to a project phase and establishes roles and mutual goals.

What is an example of the norming stage? ›

What is an example of norming stage? An example of the norming stage would be a period, usually around six months into the research project, where the team members understand each other's preferences. The preferences include preferred working methods and personal boundaries and showing respect for them.

What is an example of the storming stage? ›

Storming Stage Example

It can be a petty clash of personalities or incompatibility in communication styles. Or it could be something more serious, such as a disagreement about the team's goals. It could even exhibit itself as one team member accusing another of not pulling their weight in the project.

Which of the following statements is true about Tuckman's five-stage model of group development? ›

Final answer: The true statement about Tuckman's five-stage model of group development is that it includes the stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

What are the stages in order in Tuckman's group development model quizlet? ›

  • Forming Stage. The group development phase in which member and group goals are explored and interpersonal relationships are tested.
  • Storming Stage. ...
  • N0rming Stage. ...
  • Performing Stage. ...
  • Adjourning Stage.

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