31Aug

Team Development

The often overlooked ingredient for success

Many of you will be familair with the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model of team development. But do you know it's origins and how to utilise it?

Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming Storming Norming Performing model in 1965 while doing research work for the United States Navy where he and other social psychologists were studying small group behaviour. As well as investigating actual groups he also conducted a meta anlysis of literature in the area of group development.

The Forming Storming Norming Performing theory is an elegant and helpful explanation of team development and behaviour.

Tuckman's forming storming norming performing four-stage model

The progression is:

  1. forming
  2. storming
  3. norming
  4. performing

 

Here are the features of each phase:

Forming - stage 1

High dependence on leader for guidance and direction. Little agreement on team aims other than received from leader. Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. Leader must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team's purpose, objectives and external relationships. Processes are often ignored. Members test tolerance of system and leader.

Storming - stage 2

Decisions don't come easily within group. Team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader, who might receive challenges from team members. Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues. Compromises may be required to enable progress.

Norming - stage 3

Agreement and consensus is largely forms among team, who respond well to facilitation by leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement. Smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. Commitment and unity is strong. The team may engage in fun and social activities. The team discusses and develops its processes and working style. There is general respect for the leader and some of leadership is more shared by the team.

Performing - stage 4

The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader. The team has a high degree of autonomy. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team. The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way. Team members look after each other. The team requires delegated tasks and projects from the leader. The team does not need to be instructed or assisted. Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development.

Tuckman's fifth stage - Adjourning 

Bruce Tuckman refined his theory around 1975 and added a fifth stage to the Forming Storming Norming Performing model - he called it Adjourning. Adjourning is arguably more of an adjunct to the original four stage model rather than an extension - it views the group from a perspective beyond the purpose of the first four stages. The Adjourning phase is certainly very relevant to the people in the group and their well-being, but not to the main task of managing and developing a team, which is clearly central to the original four stages.

Adjourning - stage 5

Tuckman's fifth stage, Adjourning, is the break-up of the group, hopefully when the task is completed successfully, its purpose fulfilled; everyone can move on to new things, feeling good about what's been achieved. From an organizational perspective, recognition of and sensitivity to people's vulnerabilities in Tuckman's fifth stage is helpful, particularly if members of the group have been closely bonded and feel a sense of insecurity or threat from this change.

Tuckman went on to focus on educational research and educational psychology. Currently his scholarly interest focuses on motivation: its manifestation in the form of self-regulatory behaviour, and its absence in the form of procrastination, particularly as applied to the behaviour of studying. He is concerned with exploring the links between motivational factors and school achievement; and interventions that enhance the self-regulatory behaviour of students (such as goal setting, planning, and incentives).

Posted in Business Management

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