Here’s What You Need To Know About Team Development Stages


Every team’s productivity is boosted by its commitment to growth and the ongoing efforts they are willing to make. In addition to the success in fulfilling the assigned goals, for teams to be highly accomplished, it is fundamental for them to understand the development process – as a team.

It’s true that picking random people and developing them into high-functioning teams is quite challenging. Especially in today’s competitive environment, the issue of creating a trusting team takes new dimensions.

For any team to be effective, the people in the team must perform together and put in equal effort for quality outcomes. It’s important to collaborate strongly and work together as a team.

Tuckman’s model of team development


Tuckman’s team development model focuses on the idea that teams do not form naturally and spontaneously – you have to work towards it. Instead, they develop specific stages, eventually moving from complete strangers with different skill sets to a unique set of individuals with similar goals.

Tuckman was a behavioral psychologist who came up with a team-building theory in 1965 – his research revealed that all groups followed a common four-stage pattern while developing teams. He later included the fifth stage. For years, industries have used Tuckman’s model to reach the desired results. Let’s look at the five stages of team development to unleash a team’s true potential.

The five stages of team development

The five stages of team development are,

  1. Forming – This is where the team members first meet each other.
  2. Storming – Team members openly share their ideas.
  3. Norming – By this stage, teams have figured out how to work together.
  4. Performing – Trust and a level of cohesion between team members are established.
  5. Adjourning – Teams complete their project and discuss what worked well and can be further improved.

Stage 1 – Forming


The first stage of team development is forming, where the team members come together for the first time and meet each other. This phase is relatively slow since the all the members are getting acquainted with one another. You can compare it with the first day at school or even a first date.

Team members learn about their roles and responsibilities during the meeting to attain the shared goal. All the ground rules are established during the forming stage. Team members discuss their respective backgrounds, skill sets, and other highlights.

The members learn to manage responsibilities, and conflicts remain minimal at this stage. Team members are excited and optimistic about getting started during this stage. Everyone in the team needs to develop good relationships and understand each member’s role to avoid future conflict.

The main things discussed in this stage are,

  • Team member’s skills, expertise, interests, and background
  • Project goals and expectations
  • Timeline of deliverables
  • Ground rules and responsibilities
  • Individual tasks of each member

Stage 2 – Storming


Storming is the second phase of the team development stages. It comes with a critical but challenging transition from the first phase forming stage.

The conflicts start in the storming stage; there is a possibility of failure at this point for building strong teams. Being in a team setting can be defined as being in a relationship. At the start, you think they are perfect.

But the sooner you realize they have flaws, you either understand to embrace them, or the partnership will not last long.

The ideas are openly shared between team members, and the imposing personality starts to highlight more. The team leads can encourage managing competition and conflict amongst members; to ensure the projects are timely tracked and scheduled in.

The members must embrace the good parts early and issues do not arise in other phases. Plenty of teams avoid the storming stage to avoid conflicts. However, it only makes the problem grow large. So, it’s best to recognize the conflicts and resolve them earlier.

Stage 3 – Norming


Once you have risen above the storm, your team can move onto the third stage of development – morning.

The norming stage arrives when the whole team starts working as one unit. By this stage, they have figured out the strategies that help them to work together. The roles and responsibilities of every member are on the table, and they work with more productivity as they understand the requirements and expectations.

Everything falls into place at this stage as everyone works as one cohesive unit. The team gains momentum in the workflow and is more comfortable with each other while understanding the importance of multiple perspectives.

Although members may support each other, there are still chances of conflicts arising at this stage.

As a team leader, it is essential to remember that overlap between the second and third stages might occur. Your team can hunch back to the previous stage or while handling the challenging aspects of the project. Team leaders must effectively manage the team from the top at this stage.


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Stage 4 – Performing


Next up in line is the performing stage. If you have managed to get your team to this stage, be proud of yourself – as there is only going up. In this stage, team members have trust, understanding, and respect.

The teams are performing at maximum capacity with little or zero guidance needed.

It’s easier to accomplish tasks at this stage as the members are more involved and they understand the whole process. Team members perform much better when handling collective and individual tasks since they are more optimized at this stage. Everyone is high on the same page and working hard towards the ultimate goal.

Any conflicts have little effect on the team’s performance because individuals have strategies for solving them without baiting the project’s progress and delivery timely. The issues might arise, but they remain pretty infrequent.

Everyone has learned to identify and make the most of each other’s strengths for a common purpose. This stage is usually critical, and any team’s success depends on it.

It is a detailed process of discussing, gathering, and rolling out the strategies for the team’s success. This is where most teams strive to get, yet some do not make it. Either they cannot work together or fail to overcome any conflict.

Stage 5 – Adjourning

This is the last and final stage in the team development process. It also works as a final phase of transformation, where the team finally accomplishes everything it sets out to do. It is also known as a termination, ending, or mourning stage, alongside celebration as the teams’ goals, has been accomplished.

The project is wrapped up, and the final documentation is completed. Groups banded for permanent projects can still undergo the adjourning process because of the reallocation or restructuring that comes with it.

This phase is the best opportunity to emphasize long-scaling relationships, celebrate accomplishments, and reflect on progress and achievements.

The members always debrief and discuss everything that went well and what can be improved for the coming projects. Leaders should support and help the team members transition through this phase smoothly.

Why are the five stages of development critical?

For any team to be successful and high-performing, all the stages of team development must be implemented to gain the maximum output. It may feel like you can skip a few steps. However, it’s best if you don’t.

Combining a group of skillful people and assuming they will be a great team is a hoax. The development of any team is the task at hand, and if you leave it unattended, it fails to grow.

As the team grows through the multiple stages, every member reveals more about their potential and how they can work together effectively.

The team development stages also help the members better acquaint themselves with each other’s skills and prepare them for future positions. When each phase carries through successfully, the entire group will be better, in sync, and effective. Ultimately, undergoing the five stages of team development is a way toward success.

There will be better opportunities for realizing the project goals within the set timelines at the forming stage. By adjourning, team members will be up for partnership again over other projects with the same team.

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