A team cannot be expected to perform well right from the time it is formed. Forming a team is just like maintaining a relationship. It takes time, patience, requires support, efforts and members often go through recognizable stages as they change from being a collection of strangers to a united group with common goals.
Bruce Tuckman presented a model of five stages Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing in order to develop as a group.
The first stage of group development is the forming stage. This stage presents a time where the group is just starting to come together and is described with anxiety and uncertainty.
Members are discreet with their behavior, which is driven by their desire to be accepted by all members of the group. Conflict, controversy, misunderstanding and personal opinions are avoided even though members are starting to form impressions of each other and gain an understanding of what the group will do together.
Typical consequences of the forming stage include achieving an understanding of the group's purpose, determining how the team is going to be organized and who will be responsible for what, discussion of major milestones or phases of the group's goal that includes a rough project schedule, outlining general group rules that includes when they will meet and discovery of what resources will be available for the group to use.
At this stage, group members are learning what to do, how the group is going to operate, what is expected, and what is acceptable.
The second stage of group development is the storming stage. The storming stage is where dispute and competition are at its greatest because now group members have an understanding of the work and a general feel of belongingness towards the group as well as the group members.
This is the stage where the dominating group members emerge, while the less confrontational members stay in their comfort zone.
Questions around leadership, authority, rules, policies, norms, responsibilities, structure, evaluation criteria and reward systems tend to arise during the storming stage. Such questions need to be answered so that the group can move further on to the next stage.
In this stage, the group becomes fun and enjoyable. Group interaction are lot more easier, more cooperative, and productive, with weighed give and take, open communication, bonding, and mutual respect.
If there is a dispute or disruption, it’s comparatively easy to be resolved and the group gets back on track.
Group leadership is very important, but the facilitator can step back a little and let group members take the initiative and move forward together.
Once a group is clear about its needs, it can move forward to the third stage of group development, the norming stage. This is the time where the group becomes really united.
At this stage, the morale is high as group members actively acknowledge the talents, skills and experience that each member brings to the group. A sense of belongingness is established and the group remains focused on the group's purpose and goal.
Members are flexible, interdependent, and trust each other. Leadership is distributive and members are willing to adapt according to the needs of the group.
This stage of a group can be confusing and is usually reached when the task is successfully completed. At this stage, the project is coming to an end and the team members are moving off in different directions.
This stage looks at the team from the perspective of the well-being of the team instead of the perspective of handling a team through the original four stages of team growth.