Tuckman's 5 Stages of Teams Development Model & How to use it | by Emma-Louise

Happy Team Working on Project for Tuckmans Team and Group Model

Get Your New Group or Team Performing Beautifully!

Tuckman's Stages of Team Development Model Forming-Storming-Norming-PerformingI first remember learning about Tuckman's 5 Stages of Teams Development and model while a management trainee at a large company. I found it fascinating—because I instantly saw that this model applies to ANY groups—and relationships too.

Why Tuckman's Stages of Team Development is Helpful

Tuckman's Team & Group Development Model helps us understand the stages of development a team goes through at work, but it also applies to groups of friends, networking groups, volunteering organizations—in fact it applies anywhere you interact regularly with others in a group setting.

Learning about this model can help you at work AND at home, and it can also help you help your clients—whatever kind of coach you are.

Who invented Tuckman's Team & Group Development Model?

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman presented a paper outlining his model saying that four phases were necessary for a team to develop and grow:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
    and later:
  5. Mourning or Adjourning

Tuckman's 5 Stages of Team Development has since formed the basis of many future team and group models, and is used extensively by management consultants and in team-building.

Specifically, Tuckman's model helps managers, leaders and team members:

  • Notice what stage their team is at, helping team members to process and acknowledge the inevitable conflicts and changes during group development.
  • Helps teams and groups accelerate through the group stages with awareness and compassion for each other.
  • Ultimately improve team performance.

Tuckman's Team & Group Development Model

1. Forming

Forming is where people get to know each other—and the task at hand. What are everyone's strengths, weaknesses? When can they be relied upon and when not? What quirks do our fellow team members have? What are we working towards and why?

At this stage people avoid conflict and "play nice" with each other because they want to be accepted into the group. The group is learning about the objectives and goals - getting a feel for the work that must be done together. People tend to focus on practical details - who, what, when and where and work reasonably independently at this stage - while they learn where they and everyone else fits into the team.


  • A leader is essential at this stage to help the team figure out objectives and team roles and responsibilities.
  • It's likely that the team or group leadership may need to be quite directive at this stage.

WATCH OUT FOR: This stage can be frustrating for many as there is a large focus on information gathering - which takes time - and actions are often postponed until the direction is clear.

2. Storming

As people begin to feel safer, they will push the boundaries set up by the team in the forming stage—and conflicts may begin to erupt.

Clashes occur due to different personalities and differences in working styles—the ways things get done. Resentments and irritations that were buried in the last stage erupt and negatively effect the team's performance.

The team must come together to decide how to move forwards and solve the inevitable challenges and misunderstandings that come out as the task progresses.

While people are competing, they are also beginning to open up to each other too. And as they do this, the team begins to establish how they will work together going forwards.


  • The leader will need to be very accessible during this phase.
  • Team members may challenge the leader and/or jostle for position.
  • The leader needs to make sure that team members are clear on their responsibilities and tasks to keep the team on track.
  • Individual coaching may be needed if team members are difficult or not completing their tasks.
  • In addition, the leader may need to step into a more directive role to ensure the team remains professional, and resolves conflict in a non-judgemental and healthy way.

WATCH OUT FOR: Some teams get stuck in this stage. Team members may sabotage individual and group goals through unresolved conflicts. People must learn it is safe to share differing opinions and ideas - which can be a very challenging stage for people who are conflict averse. So, it's great when more experienced team members model good team behaviour.

3. Norming

Norming is where the plan comes together. During this stage the team agrees the plan, timelines and who should contribute what to the plan according to their skills.

Some team members may need to let go of 'their' ideas and make sacrifices for the greater good of the team. Also, team members begin to clearly see others' strengths and accept their weaknesses.

The team will also be developing trust - helping each other and asking for help, and many teams are socialising with each other by this stage.

Storming can still occur - especially when there is change or stress on the team, but in general the team is beginning to work effectively.


  • The "Norming" stage can be sped up with helpful facilitation from the leader—helping the team come to decisions for themselves and learning to complete their tasks as a unit.
  • The leader should be asking questions (coaching) rather than directing.
  • The leader can also organize socialising events to encourage healthy team-bonding that moves a group into the performing stage.

WATCH OUT FOR: It can be difficult at this stage for concerns and new ideas to be raised, as people are keen to leave behind the uncertainty and unpleasantness of the "Storming" phase. There is a pressure to move forwards and get things done and leaders must remain open to new ideas and ensure that conflicts are aired and dealt with.

4. Performing

In short, the team is now performing. The team is stable and the goals are clear. This is when the team has developed processes that work for the team and people follow them.

Performing teams also get the job done with minimal supervision and conflict. People are motivated and competently get things done. Conflicts are no longer threatening and different perspectives are seen as valuable. When a team fully meets this stage, it is a high-performing team.


  • The high performing team is largely autonomous and a good leader will now be delegating, developing team members and maintaining a visioning role.
  • For the team to perform at its best, a good leader will encourage creative conflicts and help celebrate and reward achievements. This empowers the team, especially if the leader steps back once a team is performing.

5. Mourning or Adjourning

Bruce Tuckman teamed up with Mary Ann Jensen in 1977 to add a fifth stage: adjourning, sometimes called mourning.

This stage is about wrapping up the task and the team breaking up. It may be a difficult stage for some team members who enjoy the routine, or who have made good friendships. A leader can help by working with team members to plan their futures and what comes next.

How You Can Use Tuckman's Team & Group Development Tool

Are you or your client a team member?

Use this model to establish where you are in the development stages, and decide what steps you personally want to take to help the team move towards performing.

Are you or your client in a leadership role?

Try sharing this model and asking team members to identify where they think they are in this Group Development Model. Then what does the team need to do to move through the stages and perform better?

Finally, taking this a step further, a regular team review of this model can help team members to see the progress being made, and reward them for it.


NOTE: These 5 stages of team development can be cycled through again and again in a group or team due to changes in goals, team structure or the leader.

Hopefully the cycle is shorter the next time around, especially if team members are aware. And a good leader watches for these shifts in order to step in and support the team back to higher levels of group functioning.

Tuckman's Team and Group Development Model empowers us to understand what stage we are at - and identify actions that we can take to help our team perform better. In addition, as well as taking specific action we can also decide to simply model great behaviour for others.

I'm curious what you think about this model? What about how it might apply to friends and romantic relationships? Share what you think by commenting below.

If you liked this article on Tuckman's Team and Group Development Model you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Happy Team Working Together Well by Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock


  1. Ralph Kison

    Very good summary highlighting the phases and emotional and personal impact to be aware of.

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear shezad, I am so glad you found this article on Tuckman's Team & Group Development Model helpful 🙂 It's a topic I'm interested in - and have seem the sequence play out many times, both in work and volunteering! Warmly, Emma-Louise

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Emmie, hmmmmm. I'm not aware of any negatives of this theory. This Tuckman's Team and Group Model just says these are phases a team tends to cycle through. It's not a hard and fast - they go through Stage 1, then Stage 2. It's more to be aware of these phases and use them to inform your leadership or coaching (and for self-management too!).

      If I think of anything though, I'll let you know 🙂

      Warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Dobrin Dobrev

    Hi Emma-Louise,
    I would like to cite your article "Tuckman's 5 Stages of Teams Development Model & How to use it" but I cannot find the date of its publication. Can you help me with this?
    Thank you in advance for your time.
    Kind regards,

  3. yes no wheel

    I found this blog post very helpful. I have been working with teams for a while now and I find this model to be very helpful. I have found that it is a good way to track the progress of a team.

  4. Thanuja

    According to Tuckman’s Group Development Model, all groups become more
    and more effective as they progress through the first four stages of group
    development”. Do you agree with this statement? Elaborate your answer using
    suitable examples

  5. Florian

    Hi Emma-Louise,
    I would like to adapt your figure "Tuckman's 5 Stages of Teams Development" for a scientific publication.
    Can I use it in an adapted way ?
    Thank you in advance for your time.
    Kind regards,

    • Marcus

      Hi Florian, This article may be shared and reprinted providing that 1) the article is unedited and kept intact and 2) You use the following attribution statement below:

      Article by Emma-Louise Elsey, professional life coach and founder of The Coaching Tools Company.com. Reprinted with permission from "The Launchpad" newsletter and blog - for people who love coaching. Get more helpful articles for coaches, coaching tips, free resources and more. Visit The Coaching Tools Company [https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com/get-your-team-performing-beautifully-with-this-powerful-group-development-model/] OR [https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com] to learn more.

  6. Mckenzie Stevens

    I found this really helpful when creating a Powerpoint Slideshow about this topic and I just want to thank you for helping me because this website was the easiest to read and had a lot of information within it. I thank you Emma for creating this for everyone to use. (I did not copy)
    From: Mckenzie


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