The Stages of Team Building

The Tuckman-Jensen analysis of the stages of team building has become a foundational piece in understanding how teams come together or pull apart, how they perform well or fail to meet desired results.

Tuckman and Jensen state that teams go through five stages of team development:

1. Forming—the search for commonalities

2. Storming-breaking away from false harmony into individual power displays, leading to rifts between team members. There is a tension in this stage between unity and individualism.

3. Norming-behavior in this stage is more about consensus between team members and more of a shift from “I” to “We.”

4. Performing-behavior at this stage shows that the members can self-lead. This stage focuses on problem solving and completing assigned tasks.

5. Adjourning-This allows a sense of completion for the team members. Otherwise, there can remain a festering feeling of unfinished business.

All successful teams need to go through these stages. And, time needs to be allowed for the teams to go through these stages. There are two points that need to be emphasized.

1. For effective teams to develop teams must move completely through the forming, storming, norming and performing stages.

2. Team building activities among members must be present in order for collaboration to occur.
Personally, I have seen these stages of team development play out many times with my business clients and in my personal and business life. Identify the stages, know where you are at, and you will know how to proceed. Understand that changing one person on a team may cause it temporarily to go back to the forming and storming stage.

Also, a change in process within the team can cause it to go back to the forming and storming stage. These are not bad things. These are natural occurrences within the framework of teams. Understand the process of team development and you will have more patience, a clearer perspective and be a better leader.

Keywords: forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning, stages of team development, leader, successful teams, team building activities, Tuckman, Jensen, business clients, teams

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