Use the Phases of Team Development (Based on Bruce W. Tuckman's Model of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning) to Help Teams Grow and Advance: 2022 Update
14 February 2022
For permission requests and high resolution versions of the Phases of Team Development image, see below.
Want happier and more productive teams? Among other things, it takes great leadership. And proven strategies can provide a real edge! That’s where the groundbreaking work by Bruce W. Tuckman — Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton — comes in.
Tuckman conducted extensive research on group dynamics, and he published a related model in 1965. At that time, the model included four phases: forming, storming, norming, and performing. However, Dr. Tuckman subsequently determined that adjourning was so important that he, with Mary Ann Jensen, updated his model in 1977 to add adjourning as the fifth phase. According to Tuckman, all five phases — Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning — are necessary for teams to grow, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results.
Tuckman’s model has stood the test of time because it remains highly relevant and beneficial. Since his work was published, it has been supported by additional peer-reviewed research. And it has received recommendations and coverage from leading organizations including Google, Harvard Business Review, IEEE, MIT, Fast Company, NASA, Microsoft, TNW, Project Management Institute, Scrum Alliance, Scrum.org, Gartner, CIO, RAND Corporation, Software Engineering Institute, University of Edinburgh, Cisco, KPMG, Warsaw University of Technology, Software Engineering Institute, DevOps Institute, American Express, SANS Institute, Zurich University, SAP, ViacomCBS, Oxford University, American Management Association, AT&T, University of Southern California, IBM, and many others.
Agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author, international speaker, thought leader, and influencer Scott M. Graffius developed a related custom illustration, Phases of Team Development. It highlights the performance level, characteristics, and proven strategies for each of the five phases. Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, DevOps Leads, and other professionals can apply the information to help handle challenges or issues experienced by teams. By doing so, they’ll advance the teams' happiness, productivity, and success.
Graffius updates the content periodically. He released an updated version of the visual on February 14, 2022. This article features the newest version of the Phases of Team Development illustration. Read on for details including information on permission requests and downloadable high-resolution versions of the image.
Five Phases of Team Development
Characteristics of Forming include displaying eagerness, socializing, generally polite tone, sticking to safe topics, unclear about how one fits in, and some anxiety and questioning.
Strategies for this phase include taking the ‘lead,’ being highly visible, facilitating introductions, providing the ‘big picture,’ establishing clear expectations, communicating success criteria, and ensuring response times are quick.
Traits of Storming include some resistance, lack of participation, conflict based on differences of opinions, competition, and high emotions.
Strategies for this phase include requesting and encouraging feedback, identifying issues and facilitating their resolution, normalizing matters, and building trust by honoring commitments.
Features of Norming include purpose and goals are well-understood, more confident, improved commitment, members are engaged and supportive, relief (lowered anxiety), and developing cohesion.
Strategies for this phase include recognizing individual and team efforts, providing learning opportunities and feedback, and monitoring the ‘energy’ of the team.
Characteristics of Performing include high motivation, trust, and empathy; individuals defer to team needs; effectively producing deliverables; consistent performance; and demonstrations of interdependence and self-management.
Strategies for this phase include ‘guiding from the side’ (minimal intervention), celebrating successes, and encouraging collective decision-making and problem-solving.
Typical traits of Adjourning (also referred to as Transitioning or Mourning) include potential sadness, recognition of team and individual efforts, and disbanding.
Strategies for this phase include recognizing change, providing an opportunity for summative team evaluations ('lessons learned'), providing an opportunity for individual acknowledgments, and celebrating the team’s accomplishments — which may involve a party and possibly an after-party.
As shown, performance fluctuates as teams move through the phases. Review the characteristics to help identify the team's current phase, then apply the corresponding proven strategies to help them advance.
Permission Requests and Downloadable High-Resolution Versions of 'Phases of Team Development' Illustration
To request permission to use the 'Phases of Team Development' visual, contact Scott M. Graffius at the email address indicated in the image above.
High resolution versions of the Phases of Team Development image are available at the following links: here for the JPG file and here for the PNG file.
Citation: Graffius, Scott M. (2022). Phases of Team Development. Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.13140/RG.2.2.19112.85766. DOI link: https://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.19112.85766.
Select (partial) list of publications
- Alford, J. (2019, April 11). Our Co-Production Journey: From Sandpits to Bird Boxes. London, United Kingdom: Imperial College London.
- Bennett, M., Gadlin, H., & Marchand, C. (2018). Collaboration Team Science: Field Guide. Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health.
- Couture, N. (2016, October 27). A Note About Teams. CIO. Boston, MA: International Data Group (IDG).
- Daly, L. (2002). Identify Your Project Management Team’s Level of Development and Facilitate It to Success. Paper presented at Project Management Institute Annual Seminars and Symposium, San Antonio, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
- Deloitte (2017). Digital Era Technology Operating Models, Volume 2. New York, NY: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.
- Finkelstein, S. (2017, October 29). Why Companies Should Hire Teams, Not Individuals. The Wall Street Journal. New York, NY: The Wall Street Journal.
- Forbes (2018, April 23). How to Fast-Track Any Team to Success. Forbes. New York, NY: Forbes.
- Forbes (2012, October 27). How the iPad Mini is Defining Tim Cook’s Apple. Forbes. New York, NY: Forbes.
- Glover, P. (2012, March 13). Team Conflict: Why It’s a Good Thing. Fast Company. New York, NY: Mansueto Ventures.
- Graffius, Scott M. (2021). Phases of Team Development. Los Angeles, CA: Scott M. Graffius. Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.13140/RG.2.2.22040.42246.
- Jovanovic, M., Mesquida, A., Radaković, N., & Mas, A. (2016). Agile Retrospective Games for Different Team Development Phases. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 22: 1489-1508.
- Kane, G. C. (2014, October 7). Why Your Company is Probably Measuring Social Media Wrong. MIT Sloan Management Review. Cambridge, MA: MIT Sloan Management Review.
- KPMG (2017). The Digital Fund, Season 2. Amstelveen, Netherlands: KPMG International.
- Madden, D. (2019, May 19). The Four Stages of Building a Great Team – and the One Where Things Usually Go Wrong. Inc. Magazine. New York, NY: Inc. Magazine.
- Makar, A. (2011, July 13). Lessons Learned in Norming and Performing Team Development Phases. Louisville, KY: TechRepublic.
- Martinuzzi, B. (2012, June 8). Six Tips Guaranteed to Reduce Workplace Frustrations. New York, NY: American Express Company.
- Microsoft (2019, June 15). Is the Latest Technology the Key to Your Team’s Success, or is There Something Else? Microsoft Developer Support. Accessed at: https://devblogs.microsoft.com/premier-developer/is-the-latest-technology-the-key-to-your-teams-success-or-is-there-something-else. Redmond, WA: Microsoft.
- Mocko, G., & Linnerud, B. (2016). Measuring the Effects of Goal Alignment on Innovative Engineering Design Projects. International Journal of Engineering Education, 32: 55-63.
- Romanelli, M. (2019, September 11). Teamwork Accelerated. PM Times. Newmarket, Ontario, Canada: Macgregor Communications.
- Riggs, A. (2020, October 15). Why I Start All My Video Meetings with Collaborative Games (Spoiler: It’s Not Boredom). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: The Next Web (TNW).
- Rowley, D., & Lange, M. (2007). Forming to Performing: The Evolution of an Agile Team. IEEE Computer Society Proceedings. Agile 2007, 1: 408-414.
- Scrum Alliance (2020). Learning Objectives Examples. Denver, CO: Scrum Alliance.
- Sakpal, M. (2020, March 3. Learn How to Debunk These Five Restructuring Myths. Stamford, CT: Gartner, Inc.
- Stern, S. (2018, September 26). Is Your Team Working the Rory Underwood Way? Financial Times. London, United Kingdom: The Financial Times, a Nikkei Company.
- Telford, R. (2013, June 4). This is Where It Gets Interesting. Armonk, NY: International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation.
- Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental Sequence in Small Groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63: 384-399.
- Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. C. (1977). Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited. Group and Organizational Studies, 2 (4): 419-427.
- United States Army (2015). Innovative Learning: A Key to National Security. Washington, DC: Uni￼ted States Army.
About Scott M. Graffius
Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, SFE, ITIL, LSSGB is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, multi award-winning author, and international speaker. He has generated over 1.75 billion dollars of business value in aggregate for the organizations he has served. Graffius is the CEO and Principal Consultant at Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ and subsidiary Exceptional Agility™. His expertise spans project, program, portfolio, and PMO leadership inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid approaches. Content from his books, workshops, speaking engagements, and more have been featured and used by businesses, professional associations, governments, and universities including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Gartner, Deloitte, Project Management Institute, IEEE, SANS Institute, U.S. Soccer Federation, English Institute of Sport, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Wrike, Bayer, National Academy of Sciences, United States Department of Energy, United States Army, New Zealand Ministry of Education, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Tufts University, Texas A&M University, Warsaw University of Technology, University of Waterloo, National University of Ireland Galway, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and others. Graffius has spoken at 67 conferences and other events around the world, including Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. Thinkers360 named Graffius a global top thought leader and influencer in four domains: Agile, Change Management, Digital Transformation, and GovTech.
His full bio is available here.
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