Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing is a model of team development, first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. He added a fifth stage, Adjourning, in the 1970s. The Forming Storming Norming Performing theory is an elegant and helpful explanation of team development and behavior.
Tuckman’s team-building model explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and the leader changes leadership style. Beginning with a directing style, moving through coaching, then participating, finishing delegating and almost detached. According to Tuckman, all of the phases are necessary and inevitable. In order for the team to grow they most face up to challenges, problems, find solutions to problems, planning as a team, and to deliver results.
Tuckman’s team-building model emphasis that as the team develops, the leader changes leadership style. At the forming stage a successful leader follow a directing style which is similar to telling phase described in situational leadership model, at the storming stage leader coaches their team to come out from the conflict which is similar to the selling phase of the situational leadership style model, at the norming stage the leader facilitates its team to develop standards which is similar to the participating phase of the situational leadership model, at the performing stage leader delegate task to the members and almost detached which is similar to the delegating stage of the situational leadership model.
Forming stage is where the team is highly disoriented has high dependence for guidance and direction. In the case of the training process, the trainer will be the de-facto lead of the program. Since this is a blended training program with classroom and distance training as well as that individual team member needs to participate as a project team in order to learn more experientially, team lead as Program Manager has to be selected.
At this stage of the Tuckman’s team-building model, the team has little agreement on team aims other than received from leader or training facilitator. Apart from individual intention of participating in the training, individual roles and responsibilities within the team are unclear. Leader, program manager as well as the training facilitator who is the de-facto program manager, must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team’s purpose, objectives and external relationships. Processes are often ignored. Members test tolerance of system and leader directs.
At this stage of the teaming, decision does not come easily within group. Team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader, who might receive challenges from team members. Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues. Compromises may be required to enable progress. Leader coaches at this stage of the teaming stage.
Agreement and consensus is largely forms among team, who respond well to facilitation by leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement. Smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. Commitment and unity is strong. The team may engage in fun and social activities. The team discusses and develops its processes and working style. There is general respect for the leader and some of leadership is more shared by the team.
The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader. The team has a high degree of autonomy. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team. The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way. Team members look after each other. The team requires delegated tasks and projects from the leader. The team does not need to be instructed or assisted. Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development.
Tuckman’s team-building model fifth stage, Adjourning, is the break-up of the group, hopefully when the task is completed successfully, its purpose fulfilled; everyone can move on to new things, feeling good about what’s been achieved. From an organizational perspective, recognition of and sensitivity to people’s vulnerabilities in Tuckman’s fifth stage is helpful, particularly if members of the group have been closely bonded and feel a sense of insecurity or threat from this change. Feelings of insecurity would be natural for people with high ‘steadiness’ attributes.