tuckmans-model

What Is Tuckman’s Model of Group Development? Tuckman’s Model of Group Development In A Nutshell

Tuckman suggested groups transition through five stages of development, starting from the time the group first meets until project completion. As members of the team become familiar with each other, the team itself becomes more mature as relationships become established. During the developmental phase, the leader of the group also adopts a new leadership style. Tuckman’s stages of group development were developed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Tuckman’s stages of group development is a concise and elegant framework for team development and behavior.

Understanding Tuckman’s stages of group development

Tuckman suggested groups transition through five stages of development, starting from the time the group first meets until project completion. As members of the team become familiar with each other, the team itself becomes more mature as relationships become established. During the developmental phase, the leader of the group also adopts a new leadership style.

The model offers a relatively simple way to understand how groups evolve and is particularly useful in helping individuals work together as a cohesive unit. The model is also similar to the Tannenbaum and Schmidt continuum and Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership tool – both of which having been developed around the same time.

The five stages of Tuckman’s group development model

Let’s now take a look at the five stages a group progresses through:

  1. Forming – during the first stage, individual team members are introduced to each other. The atmosphere is formal and polite, but most members are excited to begin work and get to know their new colleagues. Personal skills, background, and interests are discussed. So too are project goals, timelines, ground rules, and individual roles.
  2. Storming – in the storming stage, the realities of having to complete the task are beginning to sink in. Excitement is replaced with frustration and anger, which causes some personalities to clash. At this point, the team can either become frustrated with the flaws of others or choose to accept them.
  3. Norming – here, team members start to notice and appreciate the unique strengths of their colleagues. There is also a realization that a variety of opinions and experiences ultimately make the team stronger. As a result, individuals feel they are part of something larger, which increases team cohesion and effectiveness.
  4. Performing – during the fourth stage, members are satisfied with the team’s process toward a goal. They feel confident in their abilities and also in the abilities of colleagues. Roles and responsibilities may also become more fluid as help is provided to those who need it.
  5. Adjourning – once the goal has been achieved, the team recognizes individual contributions and then disbands. This is sometimes called the mourning stage because members feel a sense of loss after separating from those they’ve shared a meaningful experience with. Any lessons learned from the process should be passed to a responsible person for use by future teams.

Why is Tuckman’s model important?

Tuckman’s model is important because it increases group effectiveness. Many businesses make the mistake of assuming teams operate at the fourth or performing stage indefinitely.

However, assembling a bunch of talented individuals in a room does not automatically result in a talented group. Here are some general tips to use in conjunction with the five stages:

  • Set a clear purpose – and then revisit it at regular intervals. Purpose defines the framework for which all subsequent decisions are made.
  • Set ground rules – if nothing else, rules define acceptable standards of behavior. Each person has their own style of working. Left to their own devices, these styles conflict with others and cause inefficiencies and a lack of productivity.
  • Identify a facilitator – a good facilitator enforces the ground rules and drives the group forward. The most effective teams can rotate leaders regularly to avoid burnout without affecting their performance.
  • Accept conflict – conflict should not be avoided but accepted as a natural and healthy consequence of individuals in a group voicing their own opinions. How conflict is managed determines whether the group improves existing processes and strengthens the bonds between individuals.
  • Participation – group participation is vital since the group is only as strong as its weakest link. Every member should be instilled with a sense of responsibility for completing their assigned tasks. To increase productive participation, time tracking or other employee monitoring software can be used.

Key takeaways:

  • Tuckman’s stages of group development is a concise and elegant framework for team development and behavior. The model was developed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965.
  • Tuckman’s stages of group development comprise five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Each stage has associated feelings or behavioral patterns which primarily help the group move past challenges.
  • Tuckman’s stages of group development suggest talent is only one part of an effective team. Some general tips for improving effectiveness include setting a clear purpose and ground rules, identifying facilitators, accepting conflict, and encouraging group participation.

Connected Group Decision-Making Frameworks

six-thinking-hats-model
The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.
value-stream-mapping
Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.
affinity-grouping
Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.
fishbone-diagram
The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.
scamper-method
Eighteen years later, it was adapted by psychologist Bob Eberle in his book SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development. The SCAMPER method was first described by advertising executive Alex Osborne in 1953. The SCAMPER method is a form of creative thinking or problem solving based on evaluating ideas or groups of ideas.
mece-framework
The MECE framework is an exhaustive expression of information that must account for all conceivable scenarios. While the framework is used in categorizing information and data processing, it is commonly used in formulating problems and then solving them. The MECE framework is a means of the exhaustive grouping of information into categories that are both mutually exclusive (ME) and collectively exhaustive (CE).
nadler-tushman-congruence-model
The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.
lewins-change-management-model
Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"