Tuckman theory of group development

Tuckman Theory of Group Development

in Business on September 16, 2020

Understanding Tuckman Theory of Group Development

COVID-19 pandemic has locked the humans in their homes. Businesses are shut, and economies are shrinking. But don’t let the dread of quarantine annihilate your productive minds and turn you onto a state of depression. Instead, use this time to sharpen your skills when the world is busy rejuvenating or recovering from the deadly virus. Rather than just sitting idle at homes playing video games or just relaxing, refer to the article that you have bookmarked due to dearth of time. Take online courses or study about theories or methodologies which can enhance your business functioning or productivity. One such business methodology is Tuckman’s theory of group development, which educates the managers, entrepreneurs, and businesses about ways of building a team. The theory concentrates on the way a team tackles a task, starting from the formation of a team, through the completion of an assignment or project.  

What does Tuckman’s theory explain?

Tuckman theory of group development

No business or organization could ever succeed without a team. The team formulates a concrete structure for an organization. Building a team isn’t specific to just adding strangers. But for an effective team, people working should coordinate with others and must be able to work together to contribute collectively to the team’s outcomes. But this doesn’t happen automatically. Team members go through various recognizable stages from being complete strangers to a united group of professionals working to achieve common goals. And Tuckman’s theory of team development explains gives a detailed overview of all such recognizable steps for the formulation of a successful team.  

Developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, it’s a well-known team development theory and one of the most influential groups formation models. Tuckman’s theory educates the folks about the stages of development a team goes through at work. The theory even applies to a group of friends, organizations, volunteer groups, and everywhere where you interact with a group. The theory is relevant to oversee team-building challenges as the theory pertains to completing any task undertaken by a team.

Apparently, until now, in our article, we have discussed the importance of team as an entity, but not the individuals working in it. It’s the same as discussing a car’s color, features without considering its engine and specs. Often, we see and interact with the external characteristics of the team. But what forms and keep the team functioning is its internal characteristics. In a team, its internal characteristics are the peers working in the team. Building a team needs coordination, communication, hardworking, teamwork. But it doesn’t come automatically. As a business professional, you would surely have experienced when you are assigned to a project you are complete strangers. Firstly, you sit around and stare at each other unknowingly where to start. As time passes, you know each other and want to except, you divide tasks and duties and knows how to coordinate with each other. Through this process, you start working as a team rather than a group of strangers. Bruce Tuckman accounted for the process of team formation in his theory and precisely defined the process in five simpler steps. By understanding the theory, you can quickly build an effective team.  

What are the Stages of Team Development?

In the year 1965, in his article “Developmental Sequence in small groups,” Bruce Tuckman” segmented the process of team development in four memorable phases, which include forming, storming, norming, and performing. Later he added the fifth phase is adjourning.  

  • Forming: It the foremost step of team building. In this phase, professionals are assembled, and the task is allocated. In this phase, most team members are excited, polite, confused, etc. Some are anxious s they have net understood their duties while others are just excited for the task ahead. Members work independently in this phase as they don’t know others well enough to trust over them. A leader plays a dominant role as he assigns duties and responsibilities.  Tuckman theory of group development
  • Storming: It’s the phase in which the team’s efficiency is evaluated, and its success rate is determined. In this phase, members start pushing to hit the boundaries established in the forming stage. Many groups fail in this stage. Relationships between the members break, and some don’t ever recover. In extreme cases, some teams are stuck at the storming stage.    
  • Norming: After completing the storming phase, the team starts gradually accelerating towards the norming phase. It’s a harmonious working culture where team members agree with the rules and values they operate. In this phase, people start resolving their differences, appreciate their member’s efforts. Now members know each other; they socialize together and even ask for help and give constructive feedback. The danger in the norming stage is sometimes that the team loses its creative edge or the spark which brought them here.  
  • Performing: In this stage, coordination and cooperation has been well established. The team is mature, well organized, and performing well. Now, the organization’s structure is rigid, and team members are highly motivated and committed towards their goals. Problems and conflicts still emerge, but they are dealt constructively.  
  • Adjourning: Every team eventually reaches to the adjourning phase. In this stage, the team’s objective has been achieved. Now the ultimate task is to wrap up the final tasks and document the efforts and results. As the objective has been accomplished, the workload is diminished, the team members may be assigned to other teams, and teams disband.  

How to Use Tuckman Theory of Group Development

  1. If you or your client is a team member: Use this model as a measuring unit to identify where you are in the Tuckman theorydevelopment stage. After evaluating, identify the steps you personally want to follow to help the team keep moving.
  2. When you or your client is in Leadership Role: Share the development model amongst the team members and ask them to identify where the team is in the development phase. Ask them for feedback about what the team needs to do to move further and perform well. These collective efforts and regular reviews help the team members to see the progressions made.  

Tuckman’s theory of team development empowers the management to understand where they are at – what steps they need to follow to build a powerful group, and what steps could help the team to perform better. This development theory could be incorporated into the management repeatedly due to changing goals, leadership, or team structure. Learn more about team formulation here in our blog Effective Employee Management Strategies.   


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