Tuckman's Stages

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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 matters. Not much progress is made on the goals for which the team was formed. The team is very dependent on the leader during this stage. The leader will have to answer many questions about team objectives, purpose, resources, and external relationships during this initial, self-discovery phase. The second stage, the storming stage, is the stage of conflict. This is probably the most uncomfortable stage because many people tend to avoid conflict, but it is an important one. Emotions often run high as arguments over important ideas, concepts, and solutions are explored. The individual members attempt to carve out their place and responsibilities during this stage and power struggles may develop. The group is beginning to develop clarity of purpose, but the leader needs to work toward keeping the groups attention on team goals rather than the distractions of various relationship issues. The third stage, the norming stage, is a comfortable stage. Conflicts are resolved and the group becomes a more cohesive unit. Each members skills, strengths, weakness, and experiences are understood by the group. Each members place is recognized and respected. Member support and appreciation are evident and effective listening is realized. The leader should now strive for a role of facilitator and steer the team to group consensus on larger matters as well as leadership duties on smaller matters should be delegated to others. Facilitation and enabling are the leader's goals during this stage. The fourth stage is the performing stage. Group members will now focus their energies on the true purpose and goals of the group. The comfort level with others in the group allow for changes in roles and responsibilities when needed. The members are interdependent upon each other and trust, morale, and pride are high inside the group. The team works effectively and efficiently. The leader will need to delegate tasks and projects to the team, but the members can now work on them without low-level...
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