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Tuckman's Stages of Group Development

How Tuckman's Stages of Group Development are Highly Beneficial

This article on Tuckman's stages of group development will explain Tuckman's theory on the various stages that a group passes through before performing to its full potential.
Workspirited Staff
Last Updated: Mar 14, 2018
Bruce Wayne Tuckman developed a theory in 1965, known as "Tuckman's Stages" which explained how individuals work in a group. After 12 years, Tuckman revisited his original theory and made an addition to it which further enhanced the theory. Tuckman's theory is one of the many theories that aim to help managers with team building process.

Stages of Group Development

Tuckman's theory explains that during the course of a group development, a group passes through four stages to become a goal-oriented, cohesive unit. The four stages, as per Tuckman are:

Forming
Forming is the first step of Tuckman's model and this stage is characterized by uncertainty, shyness and anxiousness. In this stage, the group members sub-consciously show a desire of being accepted by the fellow members of the group. The duration of this stage may vary from one group to another as some groups are formed on an impulsive basis, while others are a result of a careful thought process. In this stage, group members spend time knowing each other and their leader. Individual roles and responsibilities, although explained are unclear as it is the learning stage of the group. At this stage, group members also try to avoid conflicts and serious issues.

Storming
In the second stage, individuals get a clearer sense of what is expected of them and it also marks the beginning of conflicts and ambiguities. Storming is a challenging stage of the group as individuals start to question the responsibility of other team members. Members of the group start vying for rewards, leadership, power and authority. It depends on the organization whether the conflicts come to the surface or remain subdued and the role of the group leader is very important at this stage as the prospects of the team can be harmed to a great extent if the team is not managed properly. A group should develop a strategy to counter conflicts and ambiguities and move to the next stage.

Norming
Norming is the stage in which group members shed their prejudices against the other members of the team and strive to work as a group. It is important to note here that not all teams will reach this stage as tackling the issues that arise in the storming stage takes strong leadership qualities by the group leader. In norming, the group members acknowledge each others contribution to the team and work together to develop a cohesive team. As members get to know each other in a better way, they get to learn new things from each other and there is a flow of idea between them. The leadership is shared and members take initiatives for the betterment of the team. Members look for creative ideas and a sense of team bonding is developed in this stage. Some drawbacks of this stage are that the team members may resist any change and may feel uncomfortable when working with people outside the group.

Performing
This is the most productive stage of a group as team members perform to their full potential. The team starts delivering on all parameters and even tries experimenting with some new ideas. Members are now autonomous and there are no ambiguities about the structure of the group. Performing is the stage at which all teams desire to be when the team is formed.

Adjourning
In 1977, approximately twelve years after Tuckman developed the original theory, he along with Mary Ann Jensen updated the theory by adding a fifth stage. This stage is characterized by dissolution and some thinkers call this stage mourning as group members feel a certain loss when the team is dissolved. Members prepare themselves to move on to other tasks and say personal goodbyes.

It should be noted that although the fifth stage of group development, adjourning is not included in the Tuckman's theory, it still is an important part of the whole theory. There are numerous thinkers who claim that Tuckman's theory looks good on paper but by seeking to present a general picture of the group development, it can't be practiced in all scenarios. Nevertheless, Tuckman's theory is a helpful tool for managers to study the behavior of team members while working in a group.
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