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Dr. Bruce Tuckman Stages Models


Before work teams become mature and productive units they undergo a series of stages of development (Nelson & Quick, 2007, p.205). Dr. Bruce Tuckman in 1960 developed one of the most widely accepted groups development models, the Tuckman model. The models initially consisted of four stages namely; forming, norming, performing and storming (Richards & Clarks, 2006, p.68). Later the models incorporated adjourning/mourning stage in the model. The model demonstrates phases that groups and teams experience before they can attain performance effectiveness. Thus, this paper will explore the major stages of Tuckman’s team development models.

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Primarily, the forming stage significant characteristic is high dependence on guidance and direction and inclusion issues (Nelson & Quick, 2007, p.205). At this stage team members are trying to orient themselves with each other. Thus, team members collect personal information regarding their leaders and co-workers. Through self-disclosure team members aid other team members to relate with them. Moreover, the leader seeks acceptance from team members (Forsyth, 2009, p.129).

Generally, team members have no clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Therefore, in this stage the team leader is tasked with defining roles and responsibilities of individuals, purpose and objectives of the team and external relationships. Moreover, communication at this stage is relatively polite. Essentially, every team member should develop a sense of belongingness and interactions become spontaneous before the team can move to the next stage.


At this stage, group members are in competition for authority and prestigious roles, therefore there are many conflicts. These conflicts if handled properly lead to team cohesion otherwise team integration is compromised. The major source of conflict is disagreement on procedure and antagonism towards the leader. Similarly, “team members evaluate each other with regards to trustworthiness, emotional comfort and evaluative acceptance” (Nelson & Quick, 2007, p.205). It has been established that the most effective leadership style in this stage is the coaching leadership style since team members often challenge the leader.

Moreover, there is more clarity on the team’s purpose compared to forming stage. Teams that spent long in the forming stage are referred to as teams from hell and they are common in project-based organizations (Richards & Clarks, 2006, p.68).


Team members at this stage are getting used to each other and developing trust and a work climate that promotes productivity. The relationship between team members is characterized by consensus and agreement (Nelson & Quick, 2007, p.205). In addition, team members have accepted their responsibilities and there clarity of roles. Similarly, the teams attain greater unity, cohesion and norms that regulate behavior in the team are developed (Forsyth, 2009, p.129). The group is more unified and there is mutual cooperation between members. Moreover, there is increased communication between members. A facilitative leadership style is required where leadership roles are shared among team members.


In this stage, team members work together for a common goal and the effectiveness of the team is at an optimal level. Particularly, the team members have a clear understanding of the team’s mission and purpose. Therefore, the team works collaboratively to achieve the team’s goals (Forsyth, 2009, p.129). At this stage the team can work with little interference from the leader since the team makes decisions, resolve conflicts constructively, and amends the structure when necessary. Team members engage in good decision-making processes, and problem solving. Therefore, the team requires a leader with personal or interpersonal development and who can delegate work effectively.

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The forming stage involves high dependence on guidance and direction and inclusion issues. Moreover, the storming stage is characterized by conflicts due to competition for power, prestigious roles and antagonism to the leadership. Norming stage involves less role ambiguity, increased communication. At the performing stage teams have forged unity and mutual cooperation and they work together to attain the team goals. In adjourning stage the team has completed their tasks and they can move on to new assignments and the leadership role required in this stage is recognition.


Forsyth, D., 2009. Group Dynamics. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Nelson, D. & Quick, J., 2007. Understanding Organizational Behaviour. OH: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Richards, T. and Clarks, M., 2006. Dilemmas of Leadership. Oxford: Taylor & Francis.

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