The Leader's Role in Advancing Through the Phases of Team Development

Tuckman's Phases of Team Development

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🔥 The Phases of Team Development illustration was updated. You can see the new version here.

Teams go through stages of development, and Bruce Tuckman established a popular framework on the subject. According to Tuckman, all phases—Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning—are necessary for the team to grow, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results. This article provides a brief overview of the model, including descriptions and strategies for each phase.

1. Forming

Characteristics of Forming include questioning, socializing, displaying eagerness, focusing on group identity and purpose, and sticking to safe topics. Strategies for this phase include taking the 'lead,' providing clear expectations and consistent instructions, and quick response times.

2. Storming

Traits of Storming include resistance, lack of participation, conflict, competition, high emotions, and moving towards group norms. Strategies for this stage include normalizing matters and encouraging leadership.

3. Norming

Features of Norming include reconciliation, relief, lowered anxiety, members are engaged and supportive, and developing cohesion. Strategies for this phase include recognizing individual and group efforts, providing learning opportunities and feedback, and monitoring the 'energy' of the group.

4. Performing

Characteristics of Performing include demonstrations of interdependence, healthy system, ability to effectively produce as a team, and balance of task and process orientation. Strategies for this stage include celebrating, 'guide from the side' (minimal intervention), encouraging group decision-making and problem-solving, and providing opportunities to share learning across teams.

5. Adjourning

Traits of Adjourning include a shift to process orientation, sadness, and recognition of team and individual efforts. Strategies for this phase include recognizing change, providing an opportunity for summative team evaluations, and providing an opportunity for acknowledgments.

The accompanying illustration summarizes the above information—and it shows how performance fluctuates as teams move through each phase. This information may be helpful for looking at your team.

A high resolution version of the Phases of Team Development image is available
here. For permission requests, contact scott@scottgraffius.com.

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© Copyright 2018 Scott M. Graffius, Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written permission of Scott M. Graffius/Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™.



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How Leveraging the Phases of Team Development -- Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning -- Can Help Your Teams Be Happier and More Productive

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2021 Update

Teams (agile or otherwise) go through phases of development, and Bruce Wayne Tuckman established a popular framework on the subject. According to Tuckman, all five phases—Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning—are necessary for teams to grow and deliver results. Scott M. Graffius developed a related custom illustration, Phases of Team Development, which he revises periodically. He released an updated version of the visual on January 4, 2021. This article features the new version of the Phases of Team Development illustration along with a brief overview of the characteristics and strategies for each phase. The new image is shown below, and read on for information on permission requests and downloadable high-resolution versions of the visual.

Five Phases of Team Development

Scott-M-Graffius---Phases-of-Team-Development-2021-Update---LR-for-Blog
How to cite: Graffius, Scott M. (2021). Phases of Team Development. Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.13140/RG.2.2.22040.42246.
For permission requests, see below.

1. Forming


Characteristics of Forming include displaying eagerness, socializing, generally polite tone, sticking to safe topics, being 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 that response times are quick.

2. Storming

Traits of Storming include resistance, lack of participation, conflict related to differences of feelings and opinions, competition, high emotions, and starting to move towards group norms. Strategies for this phase include requesting and encouraging feedback, identifying issues and facilitating their resolution, normalizing matters, and building trust by honoring commitments.

3. Norming

Features of Norming include an improved sense of purpose and understanding of goals, higher confidence, improved commitment, team members are engaged and supportive, relief—lowered anxiety, and starting to develop cohesion. Strategies for this phase include recognizing individual and team efforts, proving opportunities for learning and feedback, and monitoring the ‘energy’ of the team.

4. Performing

Characteristics of Performing include higher motivation, elevated trust and empathy, individuals typically deferring to the team's needs, effective production, consistent performance, and demonstrations of interdependence and self-management (also referred to as self-organization). Strategies for this phase include ‘guiding from the side’ (minimal intervention), celebrating successes, and encouraging collective decision-making and problem-solving.

5. Adjourning

Typical traits of Adjourning (also referred to as Transitioning or Mourning) include a shift to process orientation, sadness, recognition of team and individual efforts, and disbanding. Strategies for this phase include recognizing change, providing an opportunity for summative team evaluations (which may go by
lessons learned, post-project review, retrospective, or another label), providing an opportunity for individual acknowledgments, and celebrating the team's accomplishments—which may involve a party and possibly an after-party.

The illustration summarizes the above information—and it shows how performance fluctuates as teams move through each phase. This information may be helpful for looking at your team.

Downloadable High-Resolution Versions of Visual

Scott M. Graffius, the creator and owner of the Phases of Team Development illustration, has downloadable high-resolution versions of the visual on his website. Links follow:



For permission requests, contact the email address noted in the illustration.

Bibliography

Select list of publications

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About Scott M. Graffius




Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, ITIL, LSSGB is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author (Agile Scrum and Agile Transformation), and international speaker. Content from his books, speaking engagements, and more has been featured and used by media outlets, publications, businesses, governments, and universities including Yahoo Finance, Computer Weekly, Innovation Project Management, MobileAppDaily, Gartner, Oracle, Cisco, RSA, Ford, Liberty Mutual Group, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, Bosch, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, James Madison University, Santa Clara University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, and others. Thinkers360 named Scott a global top thought leader and influencer in three domains: Agile, Digital Transformation, and GovTech. His full-length bio is available here.

About Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions

Scott M. Graffius is the CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™, a professional services firm, where he partners with client companies to help them achieve their strategic objectives and business initiatives through project management leadership. A fantastic agile transformation experience and result with a client organization in the entertainment industry was the inspiration for Scott’s first book, Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. It helps teams develop and deliver products in short cycles with rapid adaptation to change, fast time-to-market, and continuous improvement—which supports innovation and drives competitive advantage. The book has garnered 17 first place awards an it has been featured by over 30 media outlets and publications. The book is available in paperback and ebook/Kindle formats in the United States and around the world. To learn more, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.

About Agile Transformation: A Brief Story of How an Entertainment Company Developed New Capabilities and Unlocked Business Agility to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Change

Thriving in today's marketplace frequently depends on making a transformation to become more agile. Those successful in the transition enjoy faster delivery speed and ROI, higher satisfaction, continuous improvement, and additional benefits. Based on actual events, Agile Transformation: A Brief Story of How an Entertainment Company Developed New Capabilities and Unlocked Business Agility to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Change provides a revealing behind-the-scenes account of a successful agile implementation at a global entertainment company. The award-winning book is available in paperback and ebook/Kindle formats in the United States and around the world.

About Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions

Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions helps client organizations strengthen their project management capabilities and realize their strategic objectives and business initiatives. The firm provides advisory, training, and facilitative consulting services related to project, program, portfolio, and PMO management inclusive of agile, waterfall, and hybrid approaches. While every engagement is unique, business outcomes typically include getting more projects done, faster delivery and time-to-market, improved on-budget performance, better management of risks, improved customer and stakeholder satisfaction, more consistent realization of business results, and greater competitive advantage. Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions provides a Delighted Client Guarantee™. For details, visit https://www.Exceptional-PMO.com.

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© Copyright 2021 Scott M. Graffius, Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written permission of Scott M. Graffius/Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™.


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