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Tuckman's Stages

By | September 2007
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Tuckman's Stages
In 1965, soon after leaving Princeton University, Bruce Tuckman developed a theory of group development that has gained a great deal of popularity. The theory contained four distinct stages and he suggested that for a group to achieve maximum effectiveness, it needed to move through all four stages (Chimaera Consulting Limited, 1999, para. 2). I found it not only to be a useful model for understanding how my work team is evolving but also for understanding what needs to happen for the most effective team results. The Tuckman theory consists of four primary stages of development. These stages are named "forming," "storming," "norming," and "performing." In 1977, he added a fifth stage named "adjourning" and also referred to as "deforming and mourning" and refers to the break up of the group (Chimaera Consulting Limited, 1999, para. 9). Although it is an eventual stage, it is not, strictly speaking, an extension of the other four stages, but rather, an epilogue. This fifth stage is important to consider in regards to the well-being of the members, but is not directly related to the concerns addressed when considering this theory—the development and management of a team. As such, it will not be addressed in any detail beyond its mention in this paragraph. Tuckman's theory takes on importance because it shows the normal evolution of a group's existence. If a manager understands this normal evolution, then there is an understanding of what must be done to move the group along toward maximum effectiveness. This paper addresses the descriptions of the various stages and what the role of the leader is in each stage. The first stage is the forming stage. The team is new and the members are unfamiliar with each other. Each seeks group acceptance, with caution being the order of the day. Conflict is avoided. The team is discovering who "it" is. For the most part, procedural routines are discussed such as meeting times, team charters, and organizational...
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