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Tuckman's Five Stages of Team Development

Tuckman's Five Stages of Team Development

Tuckman's Five Stages of Team Development

In 1965 Bruce Tuckman presented his description of the four stages of team development and called them 'Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing'. In the 1970s he added a fifth stage which he called 'Adjourning'.

Teamwork : Tuckman's Five Stages of Team Development


This stage denotes a group of people when they first come together to form a team.

They don't know each other, they don't know what the plan is, nor the standards which are expected of them. Team performance is at its lowest point.


This stage denotes the creation of social hierarchies, where the various personalities jostle with each other to determine their positions in the hierarchy of the group. This is a period of conflict as dominant personalities clash, and submissive personalities submit.

As the social hierarchy takes shape the work begins to flow and the productivity of the team improves.


This stage denotes the habitualisation of the social structures as people begin to settle down. Each person "knows their place" and what is expected of them. The productivity of the team improves still further.


This stage denotes the peak performance of the group, where everyone is in their "right place" and each person is perfecting their performance in their particular role, causing the productivity of the team as a whole to reach its zenith.


This stage denotes when the teams project is ended, and the team disbands, either temporarily or permanently. This marks the end of the team, and team performance ceases to exist.

Is the Tuckman's team model of value?

The model is of some value if leaders want to know what to expect.

It is not much value if leaders want to know exactly what to do and say in order to get the best performance from the team, at any stage of the process.

Descriptive verses Prescriptive theories.

Theories come in two main types, Descriptive and Prescriptive.

  • Descriptive theories describe what happens.
  • Prescriptive theories prescribe what actions we should take, in order to get the best results.

Most people need to know what to do and say, in order to get the best results, so most people need to learn prescriptive models.

Tuckman's model is descriptive, (not prescriptive), it does NOT give definite leadership responses to the five stages.

Consequently, we can categorise the Tuckman's Model as being "Interesting, but of a limited practical value".

Leaders need to learn exactly what to do and say

To get the best results, leaders need to learn exactly what to do and say. For this reason, there are better leadership models than Tuckman.

If you want to learn exactly what leaders should do and say, in order to get the best performance from the team, then please attend our Leadership and Management training course.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Teamwork

  • Three Most Important Elements for Effective Teamwork
    For an organisation to be successful, it must ensure that it builds effective teams. A team is only effective if all its members share a common purpose and identify with the same set of values. We look at how this can be achieved.
    Read Article >
  • A Good Team Builder
    How to build the team On the last presentation of the effective leader manager course, I posed the following question to the delegates: "What are the qualities that make a great leader- manager?" The group came up with the following list of attributes. The leader-manager is a person who is: A...
    Read Article >
  • Be a Team Player
    Think carefully about how you can make the lives of your fellow team members better. If you do, then you will be considered to be a positive, beneficial addition to the team. If you don't, you won't.
    Read Article >
  • How can I get the team to work together?
    Do your team members sometimes fight amongst themselves, and tend to work against each other; rather than with each other? If so, what can you do about it?
    Read Article >
  • How can I motivate the team?
    How can I motivate my team? As a leader, one of your jobs is to motivate the team to achieve goals and targets. But some people are not very motivated. And worse still, some people are actively de-motivated; they are cynical and negative. But you don't get much productivity out of...
    Read Article >

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