5 Stages of a Team Development Tuckman | Better Explained

Dr. Bruce W. Tuckman, a psychologist at Ohio State University, published a theory in 1965 called ‘Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.’

Initially, it was a 4-stage model, Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing, but later in 1977, a fifth stage of Adjourning was included by Mary Ann Jensen and Dr. Bruce Tuckman, both jointly worked on the last stage. It is also known as the Tuckman ladder model.

As you know, a project has a definite start and a definite end. It means the same will happen to every stakeholder of the project.

5 Stages of Team Development

Most of the teams follow these stages on the way to deliver high performance. These stages start when a group first meets and are then separated as the project ends.

Let jump in straight to see the five stages and have a brief discussion on;

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

I will try to explain these 5 stages by a graph to get a simple way to get into your memory.

Team Development Process

Let’s have a graphical representation of this process with time and team effectiveness point of view on any project;

5 Stages of Team Development.

You can see clearly that effectiveness is almost the same for the Forming & Adjourning stage but is way down in storming. As a project manager, your primary task is to handle this stage effectively than other stages.

Let’s see these stages one by one now;

Forming Stage

Here, in this stage, team members meet for the first time.

Team members are

  • Positive
  • Polite
  • Anxious
  • Excited

In this stage, the team members are like independent entities; no bond with others, and responsibilities are clear. Your role as a leader is to make efforts and let them mingle and introduce with frequent meetings.

Storming Stage

As you can on the above graph, any team’s effectiveness is drastically dropped in this storming stage. The named storm is justified here. Storming is the stage where most teams fail. As a leader, make sure to discuss the below in meetings

  • Each Member’s skills
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Set Ground Rules

Team members are not able to understand, and the following factors play an important role and hence need to understand correctly;

Boundaries – Members start to push against the established informing stage

Workload – Each Member think I am only working the most

Working styles – Each Member has their own natural style. This can cause unforeseen issues and may frustrate other members.

How to Handle Storming Stage

Set proper ground rules to follow as soon as possible. Team members can challenge your authority – show them the Project charter. Define the responsibilities clearly with proper authority for everyone. This will reduce the chaos among all. Some members may resist taking a task that is not clearly defined in their domain; hence make sure to identify and assign to a related one as soon as possible.

Norming  Stage

In the above graph, this is the stage where team effectiveness should go up exponentially. If not, then you are in big trouble for successful completion.

In this stage, the behavior of team members completely changed;

  • They appreciate each other’s strengths.
  • They socialize together
  • They ask one another for help.
  • They provide constructive feedback.
  • They develop a more substantial commitment to the project objectives.
  • As a team leader, you observe more respect in your authority. Also, you start to make good progress towards set goals.

You may often see a prolonged overlap between storming and norming because new tasks come up. And the team may go back into the storming stage. Sit and help the members take responsibility for the goal.

Performing Stage

You will see the maximum possible effects on your team at this stage. All the issues are resolved, and the team is fully involved in the project goals and organizational objectives.

Here, you will see the fruit of your efforts in making that structure. Work leads without friction, no resistance.

In the performing stage, you feel easy to be part of the team, and you can easily accommodate new people and makes no difference if some leave at this stage.

Now, you can start to focus on other goals and areas of work.

Adjourning Stage

This is the sad part and is the reality of project life that ends – a definite end. The team you have developed was only for a fixed period of time. I have seen permanent teams are disbanded as per organizational structures. Most of the people here need to find new opportunities, or else they need to merge on a new existing team.

You can say it is the emotional part as a bond is going to be broken. The working relationship one has developed is going to end. Hard times friends are gone, and the future is uncertain.


Being a leader always takes the time to appreciate and must celebrate the team’s achievements.  You can find them again or retain them if possible. It is rather easy to work still with people you have already been involved in earlier.

This Tuckman model has many questions on a PMP Exam.

Final Words

If you are still looking at handling the new Member in the existing team, you need to review that you got a member at which stage. If you get a membership at the performing stage, it may affect an overall team, but if you got in the storming phase, then it is the issue. The same is the case if anyone leaves the project depends on which stage you are in. Always make sure to establish processes and structures, earn trust, and build relationships, resolve conflicts.


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Dr. Bruce W. Tuckman, a psychologist published a theory in 1965 called ‘Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development’.

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13 thoughts on “5 Stages of a Team Development Tuckman | Better Explained”

  1. Nicely explained mate. Hope we will get more posts about PMP preparations. The graph was brilliant. I hope now I can easily crack questions about Tuckman ladder now.

  2. Tuckman really did a great job. We always see whatever happening in the team but this model helps us to reduce analyse and reduce the durations to get maximum output from the team we are working with.

  3. Thank you for making human-readable stuff on your blog. I can safely say the best in the lot and compare to the brand sites. I will recommend for PMP aspirants to have a visit before jumping into the exam. Tuckman really helped the project manager by defining these 4 stages and later on the fifth one.

  4. You must be a PMP certified to understand & write subsequently. Thank you for the graphical representation. Adjourning phase is really painful.

  5. The graph was g=fantastic and it made me clear on why effectiveness goes down in the storming stage. Will never forget again.

  6. According to the book “Project Management: the managerial process” (Gray & Larson, 2018) The stages of team development was described by B.W. Tuchman (not Tuckman) in his book “Development Sequence of Small Groups (1965).

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