Forming - Storming - Norming - Performing
This model was first developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. It is one of the more known team development theories and has formed the basis of many further ideas since its conception.
Tuckman's theory focuses on the way in which a team tackles a task from the initial formation of the team through to the completion of the project. Tuckman later added a fifth phase; Adjourning and Transforming to cover the finishing of a task.
Tuckman's theory is particularly relevant to team building challenges as the phases pertain to the completion of any task undertaken by a team.
One of the very useful aspects of team building activities contained within a short period of time is that teams have an opportunity to observe their behaviour within a measurable time frame.
Often teams are involved in projects at work lasting for months or years and it can be difficult to understand experiences in the context of a completed task.
The team is assembled and the task is allocated. Team members tend to behave independently and although goodwill may exist they do not know each other well enough to unconditionally trust one another.
Time is spent planning, collecting information and bonding.
The team starts to address the task suggesting ideas. Different ideas may compete for ascendancy and if badly managed this phase can be very destructive for the team.
Relationships between team members will be made or broken in this phase and some may never recover. In extreme cases the team can become stuck in the Storming phase.
If a team is too focused on consensus they may decide on a plan which is less effective in completing the task for the sake of the team. This carries its own set of problems. It is essential that a team has strong facilitative leadership in this phase.
As the team moves out of the Storming phase they will enter the Norming phase. This tends to be a move towards harmonious working practices with teams agreeing on the rules and values by which they operate.
In the ideal situation teams begin to trust themselves during this phase as they accept the vital contribution of each member to the team. Team leaders can take a step back from the team at this stage as individual members take greater responsibility.
The risk during the Norming stage is that the team becomes complacent and loses either their creative edge or the drive that brought them to this phase.
A perfect example of how this theory can be put to the test is within our NASA activity which forms part of our Crystal Challenge.
Forming – The team come together and are given the task. In this instance the scene is set, a crash landing on the moon, they have 15 items that they have to put in order of importance for them to survive in a harsh environment. The team begins to discuss the task at hand.
Storming – All team members have their own view on the order in which the items should be placed, the leaders within the group tend to take control however it is important in this phase that all views are listened to and acknowledged.
Norming- Following a lot of discussion, the team naturally move into the norming phase with one or two members of the group leading the discussion and putting forward the suggestions for the order that they have concluded with based on the general consensus. This is normally not those who have originally lead the discussion as they allow for others to put forward the conclusion, having already given their opinions.
This activity is based on effective communication and as a general rule all members of the group are fully engaged.
The rest of this article covers the final stage of Performing and Adjourning and Transforming.