The 5th stage

There is a 5th a less spoken about stage of the Tuckman Model: Adjourning.

Josh Ether

4/6/20172 min read

a group of people standing around a group of people
a group of people standing around a group of people

Most experts agree that there are four main stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing. However, some experts argue that there is a fifth stage, known as adjournment.

Expanding on the concept of the fifth stage, known as adjournment, provides an interesting perspective on the complete life cycle of a team. While the Tuckman Model traditionally focuses on the four main stages of team development, the adjournment stage recognizes the importance of acknowledging the conclusion of a team's work and the subsequent disbandment. Let's delve deeper into the adjournment stage and its significance:

Adjourning: The adjournment stage, also referred to as the "mourning" or "termination" stage, marks the end of a team's journey. This stage recognizes that teams are not meant to last indefinitely, and their disbandment is a natural part of the team's life cycle. During this stage, team members experience a mix of emotions, ranging from a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment to feelings of loss, nostalgia, and uncertainty about the future.

In this stage, the focus shifts from task-related activities to reflection and closure. It provides an opportunity for team members to reflect on their collective achievements, lessons learned, and personal growth throughout the team's existence. It also allows individuals to express their gratitude and appreciation for their teammates' contributions. Celebrating successes and recognizing individual and collective efforts can help foster a positive ending to the team's journey.

Moreover, the adjournment stage offers a space for team members to transition smoothly to their next endeavors. It involves wrapping up any loose ends, such as documenting and sharing important information or transferring responsibilities to other individuals or teams. This ensures a seamless handover and helps maintain continuity beyond the team's disbandment.

It is important for team leaders to acknowledge and support their team members during the adjournment stage. They can facilitate open and honest conversations about the team's achievements, challenges, and personal growth. Providing opportunities for team members to express their feelings, concerns, and aspirations can aid in the process of closure and pave the way for a positive transition.

While the adjournment stage is often overlooked in team development models, recognizing its importance contributes to a holistic understanding of the team's life cycle. Teams may disband for various reasons, such as the completion of a project, organizational restructuring, or the fulfillment of a specific objective. Embracing the adjournment stage allows team members to part ways on a positive note, fostering a sense of accomplishment, and leaving room for new opportunities and future collaborations.

Understanding and acknowledging the adjournment stage as the fifth stage of team development adds depth to the Tuckman Model. By recognizing the disbandment of a team and providing closure, team leaders can ensure that team members conclude their journey with a sense of fulfillment, paving the way for new beginnings and future growth.