Group Formation: The Five Stages of Group Development

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According to Bruce W. Tuckman, there are four developmental stages that most groups and teams go through. Tuckman describes these stages as forming, storming, norming, and performing. (Tuckman, 1965).

According to Bruce W. Tuckman, there are four developmental stages that most groups and teams go through.  Tuckman describes these stages as forming, storming, norming, and performing. (Tuckman, 1965). In 1977, Tuckman teamed up with Mary Ann Jensen to add an additional stage, adjourning.  Tuckman’s model suggests that when new groups and teams form for the first time, they must successfully go through the first four stages before they can reach the fifth and final stage, adjourning. 

Stage I

Forming: This is the orientation stage. The root word of forming is form.  And that’s exactly what happens during this stage. Individuals get together to form a group.  This is the beginning and the group members are getting acquainted with one another.  Members are going through the honeymoon phase.  People are usually very polite and respectful toward one another because everyone is excited about the group’s future.  This stage is also the security stage because the group members purposely try to avoid conflict. But instead, they are more focused on the positive aspects of the group members and the group overall.

Stage II

Storming: Now this is when things begin to heat up!  Tempers begin to flare up as conflict arises among the group members. The honeymoon is over! The root word for storming is storm.  And this is what takes place during this stage; the members go through a stormy phase.  During this stage members are in disagreement about who should lead the group and the roles of the other team members. Some members become resistant to assertive group members who feel they have leadership ability and are not shy about letting it be known. This stage is also testing time for some members, as some members will opt to leave while some will stay put.  In essence, this is a very critical stage. Why?  Because some new groups never make it pass this stage simply because they cannot come to an agreement about anything.

Stage III

Norming: Whew! At this stage the group members are able to resolve their differences and are ready to move forward.  The root word of norming is, norm. That’s right; things are back to norm.  The group members have survived the storm and things are looking bright for the future. The group has taken on a cohesive structure and the members are committed to team goals.  By now, members have agreed upon who should lead the group, duties are assigned and members are appointed to various responsibilities.  The group has good camaraderie and works toward achieving goals.

Stage IV

Performing: By this time the group’s morale is high and the members are loyal to one another. The root word of performing is, perform. This is the stage where the group reaches its performance expectations. Members are interdependent and feel that they can trust each other at this point. This is also the comfort stage because the members are comfortable with each other, are highly motivated, and are making good progress.  However, the group must successfully make it through the first three stages before they can reach this stage.

Stage V

Adjourning: Lastly, the final stage is adjourning.  Adjourn in this stage means to end.  Roles and responsibilities have been completed and the members have become less dependent.  Members will become disengaged from their teams members, their task, and the group overall. At this point, the group members are mourning because they find it difficult to accept the fact that the group has been or will be dissolved.  Members are sad because they have developed a close relationship with their team members and view the termination of the group a great loss.

Concluding, believe it or not, the five stages of group development are quite normal.  If you’re in doubt, the next time you get together with others to form a new group you should take the time to observe as these five stages manifest.  Or better yet, think about the time(s) when you got together with others to form a new group.  Do you recall going through these stages? What was your role and responsibilities in the group?  Did your group(s) make it past the storming stage?  If yes, did you feel a sense of loss when your group(s) dissolved at the adjourning stage?


Posted on Apr 11, 2011
Posted on Apr 5, 2011