What does it take for people to come together, face problems head on, discover solutions, deal with obstacles and speed bumps along the way, and kick the ball into the goal and score measureable results?
In 1965, Bruce Tuckman proposed that all teams go through stages of group development. Regardless of whether this is a group of athletes on a sports team, professionals on a project team, or actors and a production crew putting on a play, all teams go through Tuckman’s transformational model.
Whenever I take a group through the Team Advantage process, they’ll experience Tuckman’s four stages of group development including: forming, storming, norming, and performing.
Here’s my take on Tuckman’s model as it relates to the incredible, edible, egg.
Forming – aka Walking on Eggshells
At this stage, team members are brought together with the intention they’ll be working on a project. Individuals introduce themselves to one another wondering how they’ll fit in and add value. Everyone is usually polite to one another, not revealing too much. Holding their cards close to the vest and focused on acclimating themselves with the dynamics of the group. All eyes are zeroed in on the team leader for focus, clarity, and direction on where they’re going. A team charter is a collaboration of the team in how they’ll communicate with each other, how disagreements will be handled, etc. More on the charter in another post.
Storming – aka Throwing Eggs
This stage can get messy. During the storming stage, people are jockeying for position, commanding their turf, and struggling for power and clout. Team members experience frustration, anxiety, polarization, fear and doubt of whether or not they want to play in this game. They’re unable to agree on how to move forward with team goals. True feelings are revealed and ego’s can and will get bruised. Cliques are formed with new alliances hell bent on creating their own rules.
Norming – aka New Carton of Eggs
At this stage of the Tuckman model, the team has hashed out their differences and found a common language to start fresh and move forward. Members come together, solidify the team charter, define their roles, view themselves as a group vs. individuals, and achieve a level of normalcy. The team leader can step in the wings and give the spotlight to the individuals. This model is fluid in that the team can go back to storming when obstacles are encountered. For the most part, the team starts humming the first few measures of ♫♪ Kumbayah ♪ and join forces as a unit.
Performing – aka Let’s Make a Delicious Omelette
Teams that have made it through the first three stages have built trust, character, respect, accountability, and a certain level of stability. To some it might seem they were spinning their wheels the whole time when in fact they were establishing a foundation for progress and success. During the performing stage of the Tuckman model, the group is laser focused on their endgame and delivering a product or service that meets the needs of the sponsor. When everyone is charging towards a united goal, this is when a high performance team emerges from the process.
In 1977, Bruce Tuckman added a fifth stage he calls Adjourning.
“We reviewed 22 studies that had appeared since the original publication of the model and which we located by means of the Social Sciences Citation Index. These articles, one of which dubbed the stages the ‘Tuckman hypothesis’ tended to support the existence of the four stages but also suggested a fifth stage for which a perfect rhyme could not be found. We called it ‘adjourning’. ” (Tuckman 1984)
Adjourning – aka Let’s Find a New Recipe
There comes a point when the team’s work is finito. They’ve joined forces for a certain period and now it’s time to dissolve the group and pursue another mountain to climb on a team or solo level. Individual members will present their work, celebrate their wins, and move on to bigger and better things. This can be a time of mourning for the team. Members of a high performance team have built strong relationships, enjoyed the camaraderie, and might not want the party to end. Team members have created new or buffed dormant skills that will serve them throughout their career.
In future weeks, we’ll take a closer look at each stage and how a coach can add value to the process.
What’s been your experience in working with teams?
Photo by A C Moraes