LET’S BUILD A TEAM: INTRODUCTION TO TUCKMAN’S 5 STAGES OF TEAM BUILDING MODEL
What is Team Building? Who is Tuckman? What is Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Team Building model? What are the most effective ways of Team Building? Whether you are a returning or a new reader, welcome to Project Cubicle! In this article, we are going to discuss the infamous Tuckman’s Team Development Model.
Meeting a your team members for the first time can be both interesting and intriguing. You might either have a common perspective or an absolutely different one in your current task, your team members might not share your view or may be difficult to work with. That’s life, said Sinatra once. It really is. With all its ups and downs, today we are going to look into the phases of a team coming to life.
Okay, let’s take it from the top.
How do you meet a person?
You encounter them in some way, and no one has the slightest idea about each other until one of you takes a leap forward and attempts to either ask about you or introduce themselves. For some people, meeting someone for the first time might be frustrating, and that’s natural. It might not be easy.
However, let’s assume that one of you made an attempt to get to know each other and you’ve made a brief acquiantance. Great! So what happens then? As individuals, you begin to share information about yourselves. How you are, things you like, where you are from, your ambitions, and so on. You begin to actively communicate. However, can we say that a group dynamic appears in a sudden? You still are individual beings, right? You have your own thoughts and own wishes, and you do not immediately embrace being a team with that person.
This person might be someone you’ve met at your working environment or someone who you share a common ground with. Now let’s say that you have to find a way to get along with that person, however they have a characteristic you absolutely cannot tolerate.
What happens then?
You eventually find a way to communicate with that person, despite that characteristic you dislike. Again, that is life.
With that example, we will now not have a hard time understanding the Storming phase. Let us leave our example at there and begin!
Shortly on B. Tuckman
Bruce Wayne Tuckman was an American Psychological Researcher who practiced the area of Group Dynamics. His theory, which this article is based on, “Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development” was published in 1965. The “Adjourning” stage was not included in his theory until 1977. Tuckman also did his studies on the procrastination of college students’ and his Tuckman Procrastination scale. As a professor, he worked in The Ohio State University in the field of Educational Psychology where he founded the Walter E. Dennis Learning Center with the intention of assisting college students to achieve success and excell in their academic lives. He also authored a textbook about success and learning, “Learning and Motivation Strategies: Your Guide to Success”, with D. A. Abry and D. R. Smith. As you see, he was all about success!
5 Stages of Team Formation in Tuckman’s Team Building Model
Stage 1: FORM
- Team members are unclear about the goal.
- Team members are unfamiliar with and do not trust each other.
- Norms of the team are undetermined.
- People are not committed to the team and the common vision.
- There might be pride or prejudice among the team members.
This is the spark stage, where the team members get to contact each other for the first time and establish base level expectations, identify similarities, develop trust and agree on a common agenda. Is it a project or a task? Will they need to depend on each other for a while? Remember the example we’ve discussed above? This is the handshake stage, where the bonds are formed to last until at least the project or the task is done.
What happens then?
Stage 2: STORM
- Individual differences stand out.
- Agenda(s) is/are determined.
- Team members set boundaries.
- Team members attempt to gain position and power.
- Team members lack the team spirit.
- Team members are eager to try new ideas.
- Problem solving might be not beneficial.
Thunder and lightning. This phase might turn out to be a nightmare, if not handled carefully. What do we mean? The differences of ideas, feelings, and opinions will be expressed here for the first time. The expectancies of members will be difficult and different in most cases. While a number of them will have no issues regarding their dependency, a few and sharp of them will have embraced their independence and they will take their time cooperating with people, instead of working by themselves. The members will have the most precious opportunity at this stage to improve their communication skills and gain novel ones. Identifying power, resources and control circumstances falls on the shoulders of the team leader. Also, the leader should approach the team members cautiously to make them embrace his/her leadership. And there will be STORM. The second phase of Tuckman’s Team Building Model.
Let’s move on to the third!
Stage 3: NORM
- Purpose of the team is well defined.
- Team members have necessary tools and resources to achieve the determined goal.
- Team has a high confidence.
- Leader supports and encourages team behaviour.
- Team is creative.
- Team members are individually motivated.
- Feedback is well received, objective and constructive.
- Team is committed to cooperative motivation and goals.
Assuming that the team leader achieved to build a cooperative group dynamic and the team members have begun to tolerate each other’s individual differences, at this stage team members are in agreement about the processes for problem solving and the necessary steps to succesfully complete the project. Required decisions are being made through negotiation and building of consensus. We can say that we have a team, ready to run the mile!
Then.. Shall we run the mile?
Stage 4: PERFORM
- Team members are motivated and believe in the team’s vision.
- Team operations are efficient and cooperative.
- Team members are open and empathetic.
- Team performance is in its best.
- Risks are viewed as acceptable and are coped with.
- Individuals focus on the team’s needs instead of their own and they take pride out of the team’s success as well.
Now that we have a team ready to run the show, we can begin. The goal? Precisely to get results, by working smart and collaboratively. Members care about each other’s status and growth. The group now has a unique identity built on the members being interdependent on each other. It is time to perform this surgery, meanwhile also finding solutions to problems using relevant control mechanisms. The goal is now being achieved and each member has gained invaluable wisdom and growth.
Stage 5: ADJOURN
- After an exhausting stage of rehearsals and performing, team members finally have learned the means to work with each other and collaborate.
- Team members are happy with the team’s success.
- Team members have individually improved themselves and achieved growth.
- Team leader has achieved improvement in conflict management and establishing processes.
- Team members are now ready to move on with new opportunities using the skills they have newly gained or upgraded.
As they say, thank you for coming to our show. The curtain is now ready to close and the life span of this team and project have now come to an end. With all the invaluable experiences and growth, achieved with this project, the team members are now ready to move onto new opportunities and lineups. The newly made connections will be precious for the future and might even lead to new friendships! It’s been a fruitful journey and it’s time to set sail towards new coasts and oceans. We hope you enjoyed the ride!
Now that we’ve seen every stage of Tuckman’s Team Development Model, let’s see what are the common characteristics of the steps if need be and we apply them to build our own unique team!
Characteristics of Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Team Building
- The steps build on the previous ones
- This one is connected to the second characteristic, where we exquisitely introduce a rehearsal example to prepare for the show. Still, for starters we’d like you to think about a staircase here. Is it possible to climb to the top before the climbing the steps in front of the top one? Unfortunately, no. That’s why we can think of Tuckman’s Team Development Model as a staircase with steps that build on each other, eventually letting you reach the final step. However, every time you wish to climb on to that floor, you begin climbing those steps all over again. And this ladies and gentlemen, is the Tuckman’s Team Development Model.
- The steps are of value and they prepare the team for the performing stage
- Think about having a rehearsal for a huge show. You have it over and over again, preparing for weeks, months, and sometimes even years! Let’s also say that you are practicing a chareography. How do you practice it? Do you learn all the moves at once or do you break them into small parts? Breaking them into parts might be helpful if you are going to learn a really long one. That’s what these steps are all about! It’s also why they are beneficial in preparing for the performance!
- Skipping any step will cause danger to the team and it’s highly unsuggested
- Each step is important for the next one and together, they create a long-term cycle for the team members and the team itself to succeed.
- With each challenge, the same process is repeated
- With each challenge, the bonds between the team are strenghtened all over again and new skills are gained while old ones are upgraded.
In this article, we’ve explored Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Team Building Model. We’ve learned that Team Building is like climbing a staircase and building a project together may be associated with performing a huge show!
What do you think might be food for thought in Tuckman’s Team Development Model? Would you do anything differently?
Let us know below!