The Tuckman Model

What is the Tuckman Model and how does it relate to teams forming?

Josh Ether

3/2/20172 min read

a group of men and women in red jackets and jackets standing in a circle
a group of men and women in red jackets and jackets standing in a circle

The Tuckman Model, proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, outlines four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing. While critics argue that the model oversimplifies the complexities of team dynamics, it still provides a useful framework for understanding team development. Let's explore each stage in more detail:

  1. Forming:

    The forming stage is the initial phase of team development. During this stage, team members come together, introduce themselves, and familiarize themselves with the team's purpose and goals. There is often a sense of politeness and a desire to establish a positive atmosphere. Team members may feel excited or anxious about the project ahead, and they tend to look to the team leader for guidance. Communication is usually formal and task-oriented at this stage.

  2. Storming:

    The storming stage is where conflicts and differences among team members start to emerge. Individuals may have varying opinions, expectations, and working styles. As they begin to collaborate and work together more closely, these differences can lead to friction, power struggles, and a clash of ideas. This stage can be particularly challenging, as team members may question their roles, challenge authority, or struggle to find their place within the team. Effective communication becomes crucial during storming, as open and honest dialogue can help address conflicts and move the team forward.

  3. Norming:

    In the norming stage, team members start to resolve their conflicts and establish norms, procedures, and shared values. They develop a better understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses, and mutual respect and trust begin to develop. This stage is characterized by increased collaboration, cooperation, and a sense of cohesion within the team. Roles and responsibilities become clearer, and the team starts to establish a rhythm and workflow. Norming is often accompanied by improved communication, as team members feel more comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas.

  4. Performing:

    The performing stage is the ultimate goal of team development. During this stage, team members work together seamlessly and effectively to achieve the team's goals. There is a high level of trust, respect, and open communication. Each member understands their role and responsibilities and is committed to the team's success. The team operates at a high level of productivity, leveraging their collective strengths and skills. In the performing stage, the team can overcome challenges, make decisions efficiently, and deliver high-quality results.

It is important to note that the Tuckman Model presents a linear progression from forming to performing. However, in reality, teams may move back and forth between stages, especially between storming and norming. This fluidity reflects the continuous nature of team development, as teams face new challenges, experience changes, and encounter conflicts throughout their lifespan.

By understanding the stages of team development, leaders can navigate the storming stage more effectively, anticipating conflicts and addressing them proactively. They can foster an environment of open communication, encourage collaboration, and promote trust and respect among team members, enabling the team to move towards the performing stage and achieve its goals